Today’s Tester’s Corner comes from Nurio! …Again!
Wait, didn’t I review Go! Go! Nippon! 2016 just yesterday? I must’ve gotten stuck in one of those time vortices again. Oh well!
There’s so much yet so little I can say about MYTH. When I was first asked to test this game, I was told it was similar to Higurashi.
“You like Higurashi, right?”
“Of course! It’s one of my favorites!”
“Great! You’ll love this one too, then!”
Well, they’re not wrong. I won’t pretend that this is a true masterpiece or something like that. But I love this game as you would love your ten-year-old cousin. At first sight, you feel a lot of discord and think it won’t work out between you two, but later, when you get to know them a bit better, you start seeing their good points, though quirky, and at that point, you start loving them more and more and find you might have more in common with them than you thought at first. Surely anyone with a fond family member with a huge age gap knows what I am talking about, right? If not, read on! (And even if you do, you can still read on!)
I would describe this game as the game of subversion. It sets you up with certain expectations and then pulls the rug right from under your feet when you least expect it. So, as I said, the game starts out with a few awkward things. Truth be told, I thought I would hate it! It throws concepts at you, and it makes you wonder if they’re really serious about this or not… It starts with our protagonist being strangely profoundly sulky, and it just feels like a game trying to be deeper than it actually is. You know the ones.
Then it cuts to an NVL-style section, and it just gets weirder from there. No more strange profoundness, but just… strangeness.
And this is not a spoiler. This happens literally at the start of the game… Anyway, our protagonist has a really stiff way of putting things, and as such, all the narrative is very stiff too. At first I didn’t think it was intentional and it was just bad writing…
And to contrast our stiff protagonist, we have this extremely loose girl.
That just makes it look like the writer of this VN doesn’t know if it should go for silly fun or serious depth. Looking back on these early scenes after having gone through the whole game is definitely very strange. After a while, the dialog evolves and becomes more natural, and you realize that this strange intro is very much intentional and serves a certain purpose that I of course won’t spoil here. In fact, beyond the intro, if you happen to find something that looks like a mistake, typo or glitch, chances are it’s intentional and it’s not a mistake/typo/glitch at all. When you’re done with this VN, everything seems like it was exactly how it was supposed to be.
So, what I am saying is, don’t let the first few moments of this visual novel deter you from the rest. It already starts getting better around the fourth day or so, and it only goes up after that.
That said, this game will leave you scratching your head, even after you finish it. But I’ll come back to that point later. First I want to talk about the mechanical and technical part of this game before moving on to characters and story.
I don’t know why, but for some reason, MangaGamer keeps assigning me to visual novels that have a dual language mode. Yes, MYTH has both a Japanese mode and an English mode. Either MangaGamer thinks I can speak Japanese or it’s just a trend now to have multiple languages in one VN. But either way, I think it’s a cool addition that can help people who are on their way to learning Japanese. …Or English.
And that’s not the only option you have. Not often have I seen a visual novel with this many options and buttons. Granted, the options I see here aren’t anything extraordinary, but the somewhat small screen coupled with the various options and buttons makes it just seem like a very impressive selection. Sometimes I feel like I need to search for a hidden key or option in the menus, but not here. I instantly could find the options I was looking for.
Something I need to point out is the audio quality. This is actually another thing this game has in common with Higurashi. The audio quality is… pretty bad. Actually, the music is really good, both in regards to quality and to style. In fact, a few of the tunes actually gave me real Higurashi vibes, which is a good thing. I won’t post samples here, because you should experience these songs on your own at the appropriate moments, I think. …That said, when it comes to sound effects, expect to have some dull audio that makes you wonder what exactly they’re trying to convey. Luckily, the sound effects are not quite as important as the music, the latter being way more influential in setting the tone and ambience of a scene. And before long, just like with Higurashi, you’ll start to like the audio for what it is, especially the music.
And as an added bonus, this game also has falling flower petals, but these don’t murder your computer, so that’s definitely a huge plus!
Now, if you’re like me, then the intro will leave you questioning a lot of things. It’s rough to get into due to the way it’s written. Though the particular writing serves a purpose, it doesn’t change the fact that it’ll be too confusing for some people, like myself. So, to save you from this anguish, I’ll quickly summarize my interpretation of the intro, no spoilers. Yes, I said “my interpretation”, because I do think there are multiple ways to interpret the intro (and the rest of the visual novel for that matter).
Our protagonist lives in a perfect utopia, but he is not happy with this to the point he appears downright depressed. Basic human needs have been taken care of, every problem and mystery has an answer, mankind is not dependent on nature anymore and is completely self-sustaining. And the list goes on. It’s a very calculating world without any randomness to it anymore. People are taught that the answer they seek is in a textbook, and that there are no real troubles anymore. But this also makes the world very samey and boring and that’s exactly the issue our protagonist has with this world.
There’s one more thing about this world. This world lacks shadows. Or at least its people do. And that’s when our protagonist suddenly sees a girl who does have a shadow and follows her into a world inhabited by shadows. In this world, only this girl has both a body and a shadow, while the rest of the inhabitants consist of only a shadow. Yes, literally. They don’t have a body at all; they’re just shadows. This girl is the first person our protagonist has seen with both a body and shadow… That is, until he meets two other girls exactly like that. Their origins are mysterious, though, as they both suffer from selective amnesia. And thus the four of them work together to find out exactly what is going on.
That’s all I can say about the intro without spoiling anything. But I hope that helps you make sense of it all when you start up the game! Now, I’ve kept saying “our protagonist” instead of using his actual name, so I think it’s high time I start introducing a few of the characters.
First up, we have our protagonist — Hm? What’s with the empty space to the left of that image, you ask? I just pulled these images straight from the Character Chart, which outlines all the characters and their relations as you keep playing this game. If you click on the character, it shows their sprite and some information to the left. I think this chart is vital, because before long, you’ll have an entire array of characters, and their relations grow ever more complex. Anyway, I already said most I could about Meito, but I can add that he’s critical and a quick judge of others. When he’s faced with a problem, he’ll immediately think of a solution.
Secondly, the first girl with both a body and a shadow that Meito meets. She’s aloof and happy and nothing really seems to get her down. She lives alone in a large house in a village in the world of shadows. She’ll be Meito’s guide of sorts to get around in the world of shadows, but good luck getting anything useful from her. She’s friendly with anyone and everyone, and there isn’t anybody who doesn’t like her, aside from maybe the critical Meito.
Sou is my personal favorite, though at first she was my most hated character, believe it or not. It takes a while for her to grow on you, but after a while, her antics are something you just love to see. Immature in both body and spirit, she has plenty of energy and makes jokes that fly over everyone’s head. Though she seems a bit like a small child, her jokes often have some sort of raunchy streak to it. Deep down, beyond the silly exterior, she is a nice girl who cares, though.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Sou is Riri. She’s sweet, mature and calm, much like a “Big sister” type of character. Both she and Sou appear in the other world on the same day, both with a body and shadow, but without any memories of their own. Riri meshes the best with Meito, both having a good head on their shoulders and being proactive toward a solution while the other two are simply having fun.
There are a lot more characters, but I fear trying to describe them all would be too spoilery and time-consuming. This Tester’s Corner is already too long as it is! You can think of these four people as the main characters, though, as the story will revolve around them for the most part, with Meito being the protagonist, from whose perspective you see the whole game.
There is one more thing I want to say about the characters. As I’ve mentioned before, the rest of the inhabitants are all shadows, which means that their sprites are rather simple.
As you can see, they’re literally nothing but a silhouette. At first, I thought this was just a lazy plot device to cut cost/time/effort on drawings, but when you realize they even made sprites for Meito when they really didn’t need to, you’ll notice that they honestly didn’t cut any effort anywhere in the art. Sure enough, the art style isn’t SPPL levels of beauty, especially with some wonky perspective or anatomy in some of the CG, but I think the game looks good in its own right.
I don’t know if I should say this, since it’s somewhat spoilery, but not really. If you’re really sensitive about spoilers, you can skip this paragraph. But what I want to say is that, since this game is a game of subversions, it also means that when you think it’s over, it’s not over yet. There’s more content hidden in this game than it lets on at first. The game isn’t over until the title screen is completely white like so. Only then can you be certain you’ve seen all the game has to offer. If not, go back in there and see if you’ve missed anything. Though I say this is the end, there are actually still some extras for you to check out after the main game, like “Sou’s Case Files”, which is a short non-canon series of logic puzzles, featuring Sou as our master detective. Okay, that’s the end of the very minor spoilers!
And I also believe that’s actually the end of my Tester’s Corner. I covered about everything I wanted to. All that’s left for me is to thank MangaGamer, because if I wasn’t put on this game, I never would’ve tried it out. But now that I’ve played through it, I’m really glad I did, because I look back on this game with a particular kind of fondness that I don’t have for a lot of titles.
Lastly, you may be wondering… “Nurio, where is the usual craziness? Your typical antics? Where is your onee-chan, the bears, your weird uncle?” And to that I say… Isn’t a crazy person not being crazy the craziest of all? Profound!