Cartagra is the first game I’ve tested for MangaGamer so far that wasn’t a nukige. It’s also the first game ever released by Innocent Grey, who later went on to create the Kara No Shoujo series which some of you may have already played. This game was originally released in 2005 for the PC, so it’s pretty old at this point.
But it’s been ported to a new engine which brings some very nice enhancements. The most obvious one is that the text rendering has been improved with the use of vector fonts. It looks very nice and crisp even when the game is running full screen, unlike most VNs where the text looks really blurry when it’s been scaled up. It would’ve been especially bad in this game because it originally only ran at 800×600. The CGs unfortunately do not get any kind of resolution bump, but they do still look nice. I’m a big fan of Innocent Grey’s art style and it also happens to scale up well because there aren’t many hard edges in the drawings in the first place. The other big addition is that snow in the background is now animated. It’s a small but nice touch. Also, while the game has no menu option to resize the game when it’s running in windowed mode (it’s always 800×600), it is possible to pass command line arguments for it start up at a different resolution for something in between a small window and full screen.
But the more interesting part is the actual content of the game. Set in 1950s Tokyo, the basic premise is that our protagonist Shugo is a private detective asked to investigate both a mysterious string of recent murders and a girl who disappeared ten years ago. There’s a fairly large number of choices as far as VNs go, and it’s not entirely obvious which route they’ll lead you down. There are a few romantic routes, a few bad ends, and one true end which Kara no Shoujo follows from. Speaking of the bad ends, if gore bothers you at all this is not the game for you. Even in the routes that aren’t bad ends, this is a very violent game and there are very graphic depictions people in various states of dismemberment. Overall, the game is very well written and translated and I enjoyed all of the routes. There’s a nice balance of suspense, mystery, horror, comic relief, romance, and plot twists to keep it all interesting. I like most of the characters except your little sister Nana, who is both very creepy and obnoxious.
While Cartagra is certainly not a nukige, it is still an eroge. Shugo lives in a brothel, and ends up sleeping with the prostitutes working there on several occasions. I haven’t counted, but I think there’s somewhere in the vicinity of fifteen sex scenes throughout the game. They’re all pretty vanilla; unlike the previous games I’ve tested there are no especially unusual kinks here. Like most MangaGamer titles, everything is uncensored. I think all of the girls are hot, but Kazuna is probably my favorite.
To wrap things up, I think Cartagra is a great game for anyone who likes either the horror or mystery genres. It’s an especially great game for anyone who has previously enjoyed Kara no Shoujo, since a few of the main characters here reappear as more minor characters in that game. It is very much not a great game for anyone bothered by gore or extreme violence.