My experience with this game can be pretty aptly summed up as “pleasantly surprised”. The game’s official description implies it to be a tedious 2edgy4me thing about how God is evil and high school students need to use the power of SATAN to beat him!!! What I actually found was a surprisingly well-done story about mental illness and self-actualization. The tone of the overall plot is still extremely tongue-in-cheek, but when real issues come up it addresses them with astounding sensitivity and depth. The characters initially appear to be one-dimensional archetypes, but they are eventually revealed to come from places of deep pain and trauma, and their loyalty to one another is truly genuine and inspiring.

My main criticism is simply that it doesn’t seem to have the interest in delving as deeply into the heavy stuff as it perhaps could. It seems pretty clear to me that, despite a clear and genuine interest in portraying these sensitive issues, the game wanted to be a wacky bizarro fantasy romp first and foremost, and that permeates everything. This results in pretty extreme tone whiplash — the game can oscillate wildly between nonsensical comedy, serious psychological drama, and campy horror all within the span of a few scenes. Unfortunately, I feel like the serious stuff suffers more for this. The camp is baked into the engine from the ground up, as even the battle messages are silly things like “[Enemy] bites the dust!” for knockouts, and that makes a lot of the more serious battles extremely jarring. The ultimate result is that I felt very emotionally confused throughout this — it’s never unclear how you’re supposed to feel in any given scene, but I was jerked around so often and so suddenly that it started to lose impact, especially in the late game. The dev was clearly going for a genre mashup, but I think they overdid it.

Overall I get the impression that this was made by a talented but amateur author. It really screams “first project” — all the author’s ideas got crammed in without considering how best to tie them together. Thematically, it’s honestly kind of a mess — I think it would have made a lot more sense if the game had stuck to the high school theme and made the bullies into more major characters instead of transitioning into a generic high fantasy conflict with a pretty boring villain.

And the art is… not great. The dev didn’t seem to bother with shading for, like, anything. This isn’t too much of a problem for battler sprites, but the game occasionally tries to do handdrawn cutscenes, and they’re a mess. No lighting or shading means everything blends together, and it’s quite hard to tell what you’re supposed to focus on.

The gameplay works, I suppose? There are random encounters, which I hate, but battles tend to go quick and you level up fast. There is also some awkwardness where you learn new skills by level up, yet many bosses are puzzle bosses that depend on you knowing a specific skill. If you’re even slightly underleveled, you’ll run into a brick wall without understanding why. It probably would have been better if the game used an FFVII-like skill system that ensured you got skills when they were needed. (This is particularly a problem with Eyor’s solo battles, as she doesn’t get good offense skills until a pretty high level… as I only discovered some time after whittling down her boss fights with crappy low-level attacks.) At the proper level, though, bosses were a fun level of challenging, and you get quite a lot of skills to play with.

Overall, I’d recommend trying it out yourself, and try to stick with it past the campy opening act. (But trigger warnings for bullying, child abuse, bulimia, and suicide.) The developer is currently working on a sequel, so check that out too!


  1. Cerrie says:

    This is a common trope and other series have done it fall better

    1. St. Elmo's Fire says:

      I’m not sure what you mean. Can you elaborate, or give examples?

      1. Cerrie says:

        I get that you spend all your time reviewing pokemon stories and having a blog but most people are pop culturally aware enough they know what tropes are.


        Wastern animation

        Satan in South Park is a rather nice Punch-Clock Villain. He tortures people, sure, but mostly he is portrayed as naive and needy; his apparently-darker moments seem to mostly be an act. His boyfriend Saddam Hussein on the other hand… Furthermore, while we see more than a few people getting tortured, we also see plenty of people just wandering around doing their thing without hassle in parks and town squares that seem quite nice, considering the fire and brimstone surrounding them. Considering that only Mormons get into heaven in South Park, hell is filled with perfectly good people, so there’s no reason for Satan to be mean to them. They might even get a chance at one of those nice condos out by the lake of fire! And don’t forget the costume parties and Hawaiian-themed hula-dancing! And on one occasion, he even visited Heaven temporarily to ask God for advice.
        Satan: Thanks, God. I forgot how clear you made things. 
        God: It was good to see you again, Satan.

        God points out in the aforementioned episode that Satan’s gone through quite a bit of Villain Decay to get here.
        God: …Jesus, what the hell happened to you? You got kicked outta here for being a head-strong rebel, and now you’re a whiny little bitch.
        There’s Satan in Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil. While he’s not exactly good, he’s still a pretty nice guy and he even gets along with DJ Jesus at times.
        “Driving to bur-ning man! Driving to bur-ning man!”
        Robot Devil in Futurama is actually most of the time rather polite as a character, despite being a robot Satan, and the depths to which Bender sinks at times leave even him appalled.

        Possible example: In Star Trek: The Animated Series, the crew meets an alien who looks like the devil, and other aliens claim that he did form the basis of humans’ conception of the devil long ago, but what we see him do now is purely benevolent. Supposedly, he had a Heel–Face Turn.


        1. Gato says:

          Just wanted to say that the question was probably because you just wrote “it’s a common trope” in response to a long-ish post that talks about several different things. The whole “God bad, Satan good” thing is mentioned in the post, but it’s not obviously THE trope that the post was talking about unless you stop reading after the first few sentences. For all anybody knows, you could have been talking about the tone whiplashes, for example.

        2. illhousen says:

          I’m not entirely sure what’s the point of disagreement here? St. Elmo’s Fire said that he expected the game to be a standard story about evil God and good Satan, which is indeed a relatively common premise, but was surprised by the game having an unexpectedly complex characters for the premise. At no point the post implies that evil God is a novel concept.

          (I would also note that using knowledge of TVTropes as a benchmark for criticism cred is rather weird. TVTropes is a good time-waster, but that’s all it is.)

  2. Roarke says:

    It might be easier for all involved if you just linked to the trope page you’re talking about.

    Rather, the one you’re directly copy-pasting. The filter might think you’re a bot if you do that too much.

    1. Cerrie says:

      Yeah I never used this format before sorry

      1. St. Elmo's Fire says:

        Okay, but I’m afraid I’m still going to have to delete your quote posts because they are still space-wasting spam. If you’d like to continue the original conversation, please use the thread created from your first comment.

      2. Roarke says:

        No worries, happens to us all.

  3. Hyatt says:

    God is evil and high school students need to use the power of SATAN to beat him!!!

    Someone ripped off the endgame of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse.

    1. St. Elmo's Fire says:

      I don’t know what that is, so you’ll have to elaborate.

      1. illhousen says:

        SMT games focus on the conflict between Order and Chaos as represented by YHWH and Lucifer (it’s a Japanese take on Christian myths, so they’re about as accurate as Thor). From what I understand, both are evil by human standards, and the best route is generally to oppose both and promote humanity.

        You fight their forces by summoning and binding various demons (“demons” here basically mean any mythological creature, though).

        1. St. Elmo's Fire says:

          Oh yeah, I know the basic premise of the franchise, but what’s important about IV specifically?

          1. illhousen says:

            IDK, plot summary doesn’t seem particularly relevant compared to other games in the series.

          2. Hyatt says:

            IV Apocalypse, which is a sorta-sequel-midquel-alternate ending to IV main. The last chapter of the game is unseating YHVH, and you recruit Satan (who beforehand is on YHVH’s side as the judge) to help you.

    2. SpoonyViking says:

      To be fair, the idea itself is quite older than that.

      1. Hyatt says:

        But you can describe the endgame of SMT4A in (almost) literally those terms. Only quibble is “high schoolers”, since there’s no high school anymore, and about half of the heroes are slightly older than that.

        1. St. Elmo's Fire says:

          Only quibble is “high schoolers”, since there’s no high school anymore, and about half of the heroes are slightly older than that.

          Then, no, this isn’t a ripoff of SMT4A, because the high school component is kind of central to the plot here. SMT does not have a monopoly on “God is evil and Satan is good”. Moreover, as illhousen pointed out upthread, you missed the point of my review if that’s the part you’re focusing on.

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