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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

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Jennifer deWinter, Carly A. Kocurek, Anastasia Salter
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Robert I. Sutton
Progress: 140/210 pages
The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality
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The Mystic Marriage
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Isaac Asimov
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Fluency
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Progress: 58/367 pages

Visual novel review - This, My Soul

 

This, My Soul is a free sci-fi visual novel. The first time I saw it, it was listed as “in development.” I was cautiously excited - it looked slick and the android main character interested me, but there was no guarantee it’d ever be completed. I prefer to play finished products rather than demos.

Thankfully, this is now out of “in development” limbo. I’ve played it through three or four times since downloading it, and my final verdict is...meh. It has some really nice and ambitious aspects, but it doesn’t entirely follow through with all of them, and the android-human romance could have been better.

Backing up a bit, the story: You play as a woman who is the sole survivor of a spaceship accident of some sort. The game allows you to choose the woman’s name - if I remember right, the default is “Kyndle.” Kyndle was rescued by a laborer-class android named Silas, who put her in cryogenic sleep. Because the cryogenic pod is old, Kyndle can’t stay asleep for the entire trip back to civilization, but she also can’t stay awake for the full trip. The plan is for her to be awake at the beginning and then go back to sleep near the end.

In the meantime, Silas helps Kyndle get her strength and full range of movement back, and makes sure she regains some of the weight she lost. At times, Kyndle can’t even move without Silas’s help.

Players have several ways they can approach the game: they can be suspicious of Silas and resistant to the idea of being attracted to an android; they can be friendly towards Silas and more than a little attracted; they can be openly flirtatious; or they can be some combination of all three. There are three possible endings, which the developer/author called the Normal end, Friendship end, and Romance end. However, those aren’t really the best way to describe them.

The “normal” end is the one where Kyndle doesn’t really give a crap about Silas and his fate. The “friendship” end is bittersweet - I’d like to think that everything works out for the best, but it isn’t guaranteed. There can be a strong thread of romance leading up to this ending, depending on the options you choose, so it’s not strictly a “friendship” end. The “romance” end definitely ends with Silas and Kyndle together and is probably the best ending for Silas overall, but I still had some issues with it. It doesn’t require that you hit all of the story’s “romantic” scenes, and it presents readers with a happy ending but doesn’t bother to explain how Kyndle and Silas are supposed to achieve that happy ending in the long term.

There were some things I really liked about this visual novel. First, it made an effort at adjusting to reader choices. Early on in the story, readers could decide which job Kyndle had, out of five possible choices. Later conversation options then adjusted to these choices. If Kyndle was a medical officer, then she knew a bit more about cryogenic sleep. If she was a mechanical engineer, she understood a bit more about the ship’s functions. This was kind of nice, but it wasn’t carried out as thoroughly as it could have been. For example, I got really annoyed when medical officer Kyndle became outraged at Silas feeding her high calorie meals in order to increase her weight. I forget her exact words, but it amounted to “women don’t like to gain weight, why didn’t you ask me first.” But as a medical officer she should have understood that her time in cryogenic sleep had left her underweight and that she’d have to gain that weight back before going back to sleep.

This is technically a fairly short visual novel, but its numerous decision points and choices made it feel longer. The sheer number of decisions overwhelmed me at first, but I came to like them more during subsequent playthroughs. The “skip” button definitely helped - as in many visual novels, you could set it to skip text you’d seen before.

That said, I haven’t played through all the possible story choices yet, and I doubt I ever will. I tried, I really did, but some of them really didn’t appeal to me. Like I said earlier on in this review, you could opt to play this game several ways. I preferred being neither hostile/suspicious nor very flirty. The flirty options sometimes made me uncomfortable because Silas seemed so taken aback. In one instance, he even went as far as to remind Kyndle that he was a laborer-class android and not built for anything sexual. To me, his response came across as discomfort, and I really wanted Kyndle to just back off. I had similar problems forcing myself to choose the hostile/suspicious options all the way through.

It was weird how the game was so adaptable in some ways (different wording at certain points depending on the job Kyndle had) and yet so rigid in other ways. For example, during one of my playthroughs I tried to made Kyndle as suspicious as possible. I found myself unable to carry this through all the way to the end, so she became friendlier later in the game. Considering how she had behaved towards Silas up to that point, I’d have expected him to respond coldly or neutrally to almost anything she said, but that wasn’t the case.

There were times when it felt like the romance aspects were being laid on too thick. The worst was probably the massage scene (which I later figured out was skippable without any noticeable effect on the ending). How did a laborer-class android even learn to give a proper massage? I’d have expected medical officer Kyndle to have some questions about that, but nope. I did like the scene in the control room (navigation room?), though.

Art-wise, this was a mixed bag. The sprites looked great, but the CG art was nowhere near as slick and pretty. I wish the person who had done the sprite art had also done the CG art. Also, the music, while appropriate to the setting, wasn’t very memorable.

All in all, this wasn’t bad, but it didn’t work for me nearly as well as I’d hoped it would. Too many points in Kyndle and Silas’s romance made me uncomfortable, and even the happiest of the three endings left me feeling worried that society and/or the corporation that created Silas would tear them apart.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)