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Very graceful, very tasteful.



It is worth noting that "Grace's Diary" won first prize in a game design contest by Jennifer Ann's Group, a charity against teen dating violence. You're probably thinking: Really? This sounds like an education or "message" game! Will I really like this? If you're looking for a high-octane adventure, of course this isn't the game for you. But if you really want to take a short peek through the window of the lives of two friends, you will find the view "Grace's Diary" has to offer as picturesque, brief and moving. A game with possibly just fifteen minutes worth of game-play has certainly moved this player. It's a welcome addition to the growing array of games on this website, and to Hima's already-impressive personal game design resume.

We are first introduced to Grace, a high-school girl with a usual cheerful disposition but knows when she has to get down to business and be serious. She misses her friend, Natalie, and suspects that Natalie's boyfriend, Ken, may be the cause of their drifting apart. While Grace is usually depicted as grinning confidently, standing akimbo or with her arms folded with a stern expression, Natalie is depicted as more nervous, reclusive and sullen. A collaborator of Hima's, Piti, whom has worked with Hima on previous projects, does a marvelous job with the artwork. And the music, though I'm unsure of its source, was very soothing and pleasing and worked well for the visual novel style of the game, switching from the upbeat rhythm to the slower, more delicate tunes for some of the flashbacks and conversations.

The game itself is brief, as I mentioned before, and should not take someone more than a half hour to complete, if that. It is comprised of two sections. The first is a point-and-click where we observe various objects in Grace's bedroom. By doing this, we may be carried into a memory about Natalie. Sometimes you may have to interact with an object more than once to get the desired result. Any important notes are stored in an in-game memo. At any point in this phase, you can pick up the phone to call Natalie. But if not enough memories have not been triggered, you will find yourself at a loss of dialogue options to help convince her of the real effects of Ken's abuse. And this is the second part of the game. You have to choose from various dialogue branches to properly get through to Natalie. Make sure you remember each memory. The player should always save before making this phone call, as he might just get the bad ending.



And it's as simple as that. The only gripe I have with the game is that some of the dialogue is clumsily written and there are some grammatical errors. This is a usual case in Hima's games as English is not his native language, and I have little to no problem dismissing things like that. But it was a bit harder to do this time, as this is a visual novel dialogue-driven game. But the story is never lost, though. Grace's Diary's story is not an opus in any way. And it is not grand in any way. But it is relevant, simple and hits some of us close to home. Putting it in a game format like this just makes it more intimate and engrossing and I totally recommend it if you have twenty minutes to spare.


Posts

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This is a wonderful review - thank you for writing it and for your kind words about the game and its message.

After the game won our design challenge we worked with HIMA and updated the dialogue where there were any grammar issues. We probably should have done this before we published the game but as we're a very small charity it took us a while before we got around to doing that!

Anyway the current version of the game still has the wonderful art, music, game mechanics, and story - just now with a few tweaks to the grammar!

jagga.me/gracesdiary has links to play online (Flash) or download for your phones and tablets (Android).

TFT
WHOA wow wow. two tails? that is a sexy idea...
368
woah, this looks incredible. i cannot believe i have not came across this on rmn. i will have to try this, it looks very interesting. you cannot deny that hima has a pretty creative imagination when it comes to his games. something new every time. really impressive.
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