I missed a lot of stuff here because I went home for the weekend, but (aside from all the food and the seeing everyone again bit, of course) one thing makes up for it: being able to download and play Tsukihime*. (The OTHER tangible thing was the new, totally cool, gorgeous looking 500 GB USB hard disk that I brought it back in.)
“Play” is not quite the right word, because you do very little except make choices every now and then and read the narration-it’s a visual novel, not an arcade game. But that suits me just fine, when the writing is this good.I wasn’t really planning on reviewing it here considering that, well, it’s supposed to be porn and this might be setting a dangerous precedent, but the fact is that it’s so much more than that, and even after being only halfway(or less; I hope less) through playing it, I can’t remember being this excited about anything in a while.
What is it? You could call it a paranormal romance- there’s a boy with a dangerous ability, and a girl that he thinks he loves who just happens to be a vampire princess. Of course, she’s an utterly unbelievably devastatingly beautiful vampire princess, but the adjectives are all mine: Kinoko Nasu and/or the good translators at Mirror Moon know how to describe someone without vomiting out a thesaurus, unlike some people who shall remain unnamed. She’s also 600 years old(at least) and stronger and faster than pretty much everyone else, and she behaves like a kid most of the time-this is brought out more in the anime(yes, there’s an anime) than in the visual novel. You could call it a psychological thriller, about a boy with partial amnesia who loses his mind and blacks out and who has killed at least one person with no idea why, even though [tiny SPOILER] she can’t exactly die.[end SPOILER]. You could call it a philosophical treatise on the nature of death and immortality, good and evil, and love and lust and attraction.You could call it just another Dracula variant, with members of the Church hunting down the vampires that are terrorising small towns, except that this time they’re in japan, not Transylvania. Or, of course, you could call it porn, although there’s not nearly enough of it.
The description on Wikipedia fails to do justice to the game because the true beauty lies in the writing, especially the Shiki’s long stream-of-consciousness monologues. Sometimes it degenerates to the entire screen filling up with “kill kill kill” to the backdrop of dripping blood, but even that has its purpose, namely, telling you that you’re going insane. The visuals are beautiful, but probably nothing beyond what we’re used to in most games or anime. They usually go well with the text, although more backgrounds and more sprites would have been better. Still, given that it’s a fan-produced(doujin) game, it’s all of very decent quality.
Of course, since it’s a Japanese game, we have to deal with the general pokemon-like names for all the attacks( “Mystic Eyes of Death perception”? “Reality Marble”?) but for anyone who regularly reads/views fantasy, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. What MIGHT be a problem for some people is that at least in the “Near Moon” routes, this is one of the darkest stories I’ve ever seen, although there are the occasional patches of humour. Overall, something no fantasy enthusiast should miss.
*For whatever reason, my download manager kept cutting off at exactly 20.0 MB every time I tried to download the file from megaupload here in the institute.