Today on the blog, we have an editor’s corner from SharpestRose! This is part two of a two-part series. Read part one here.
Steam Prison is a satisfyingly hefty game, with a huge amount of plot waiting to be uncovered through the various routes and endings. The translator and I continued to be surprised by twists and turns all through our time working on it. Nothing is quite as it seems, and certainly not what you expect.
The story dips and weaves around itself in a beautifully complex pattern. Characters appear in routes other than their own, in a variety of roles. During one character’s route, for instance, books play a key role. On other routes, if you go searching for a book, it’s likely you’ll encounter that character along the way. Characters who show up briefly in one storyline become pivotal in others, but even the briefest of appearances provide extra depth and colour to their character.
There’s certainly lightness to be found in Steam Prison – it is, after all, a sequence of romance stories – but I’d never call this a lighthearted game. As I talked about in my last post, Steam Prison’s themes are often very, very dark. Here you’ll find frank discussions about sex, love, sexual violence, domestic violence, human experimentation, eugenics, euthanasia, suicide, medical negligence and malpractice, police violence, murder, torture, dehumanisation, poverty, drug dependence, survivor’s guilt, and lots of other cheerful subjects.
The points system which determines the plot branches, romances and endings isn’t action-choice based, but conversation-based. How well the heroine manages to survive her world and find love depends on how well she’s able to connect emotionally with the people around her, but because she’s led such a sheltered life, and also because she’s not a naturally soft or romantic sort of person, this can be a very tricky thing at times! Everyone in the Depths is a deeply damaged person in one way or another, and the lives they lead do not lend themselves easily to trust. As in the real world, it’s often much easier for two people to misunderstand each other than it is to find common ground.
For me, Steam Prison’s greatest strengths are its very vivid, multifaceted world and storyline, which make for a deeply immersive experience, and also the vibrancy of the characters you meet as you navigate this complex tale. Each of the unique heroes brings a different aspect of the heroine’s character to the fore and leads her into a new part of the strange, unfamiliar society she’s found herself thrown into.
The artwork is extremely pretty, the sprites expressive, and the sound work is great. I’ve listened to some music tracks more often than I’d like to admit, and I love recognising the voices of some of the actors in the cast from other works I’ve heard them in, such as OZMAFIA, Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome, and Touken Ranbu.
Doing the localisation editing for Steam Prison’s English release has been a lot of hard work, because I’ve given my all to help deliver the best possible version of this excellent game. But even at its toughest, even when the characters were going through hell, I always enjoyed finding out what happened next – gasping at the surprising twists and turns, weeping when terrible things happened, and grinning with delight when love ultimately triumphed.
I hope you enjoy Steam Prison even just as fraction as much as I have, because if you do then you’re in for a wild adventure.