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Ganonfrog is Reviewing Your Game! What Do You Do?

Despite all that the RPG Maker engines do to encourage you to... well, make RPGs, occasionally a user will take the system and find the "RPG" part rather unnecessary. Perhaps they'll remove the stats and battle system and replace them with third person shooter elements, or an adventure game inventory. Other times they'll take away those things and replace them with a story. That's what's known as a visual novel, and those are exactly what I'm hunting down and reviewing.

Choice is one of the surprisingly many visual novels out there on this website, and probably one of the most straightforward to the genre as it's normally defined.

Visual Novel Aspects:

Everything that's seen on this site with the visual novel tag is getting a rating on how well it fits the definitions of the genre. This is largely to get people to stop mislabeling things as such, because for some reason I care.

Choice fits about as well into the genre as an RPG maker game can without removing movement. There are no battles, at least by standard RPG definition, and most gameplay outside of exploration is handled through text choices that can lead to minor branching of the storyline, and multiple endings. It has every right to use the tag.

Score: 4/5

TAG APPROVED (As if it matters)


As mentioned above, the gameplay is almost entirely made up of text based decisions in this game. Interestingly though, it doesn't quite handle it as a game normally would. Once choices start being introduced to the story, after a couple of small exploration segments inside of the city, they do so rather dramatically. The main character finds herself in a tight situation, one that could risk her life, when time suddenly stops, and she's given the chance to choose how she handles it in split second time. Each one of these situations is handled in a step by step manner, allowing Iris to string together actions to carry out her goal as a multi-piece plan. This tense and involved execution of what is otherwise an extremely simple concept is a shocking amount of fun once it starts to pick up. Often the success of your actions relies on careful examination of your surroundings and position to ensue that they work, giving strategy and importance to your decisions.

Furthermore, if you screw up in some way or another, the game won't simply end with your death and an abrupt Game Over screen. Instead, events carry on for some time, wrapping things up depending on what your failure resulted in. These are obviously all intended as bad ends, because none but the final ending lead to anything positive, but it still does a good job of giving a sense of consequence to your decisions.

Now, while most of the choices in this game tend to be of the tactical sort, there is one small(?) portion of the game where you find yourself in hand to hand combat with someone. While this battle still takes place inside of the cutscene, with the same sort of layout of most of the other choices, this one involves a health bar, a set menu of three actions you can take, much like a turn based battle menu, and a much, much longer duration.

Far longer than it should be.

This battle takes place in an extremely lengthy hallway and doesn't end until either your opponent or you is backed into a corner. A corner that's further away than our planet is to the sun. This is made even worse that, while each of your successfully landed hits knock your opponent forward one space, each one of his also knocks you back. A simple streak of incorrectly made decisions, with seemingly random results, can cause you to lose all the progress through the corridor that you had been making for the past five minutes. Progress that had been made by continuously choosing from the same three decisions over and over.

It almost made me quit the game.

The only thing that stopped me was a sudden and fortunately timed realization of an extremely simple pattern that the opponent couldn't ever attack me back in. Whether this was because it was intended and possible to do from the beginning, or if it manifested as a strange side effect of my earlier button mashing is beyond me. All I know is





Repeat until victory or death by old age. Whichever occurs first.

Yet, for as much as that one portion frustrated me, and as open as I am about that, I did feel like everything else was quite well handled and unique.

Score: 3/5


Sadly, even through the interesting handling of its choice system, the place that Choice falls extremely flat is its writing. Being part of a genre that relies so deeply on its storytelling, this fact hits particularly hard.

As far as basic story goes, its actually a fairly interesting premise. Taking place in a modern setting, the game follows the exploits of Iris, upon her husband's death, uncovering a conspiracy that makes its way directly to her door. Iris herself comes off as a rather strong character, spending most of her time severely beating down all that tries to get in her way, and the situation feels tense from the moment it picks up.

However, it's all dragged down by bad grammar, writing, the all around difficult to parse script, and a confusing ending. While it was possible to pick up on what was happening through the first 2/3s of the short story, largely through your own choices as a player, everything falls apart in the final portion.

There were also quite a few strange moments of inconsistency, mostly in Iris' actions. Upon arriving home at her apartment, she sees a little girl that apparently lives next door. After having a short conversation with her, she comments in her head that she thinks the kid is cute. Only minutes later, she calls the same kid irritating and pretty much insufferable, without any new interaction between the two of them to prompt such a dramatic change in opinion. There are several other moments like this, and they really tend to stand out.

Also, it was fairly clear that the story had heavy Doctor Who influences. While this would certainly not normally be a bad thing, at the end I felt uncertain as to whether or not it was supposed to be taking place in the same universe as the show. This ambiguity was weird, especially when the end was as difficult to understand as it was.

Score: 2/5


Speaking of this game and Doctor Who. Most of the music is taken from the show, and while the mp3s are of good quality, and the music itself good for obvious reasons, the source was just too easily identified. As a game that wasn't advertising itself as being a fan game, the music only added to the sense that it was, taking away a lot of the originality added by other aspects.

Score: 2.5/5


Choice's graphics are largely custom, complete with an all around visual style that I haven't seen in any other RPG Maker game. The character sprites are cute and large, and the environments are mostly designed to fit them. While the animation was occasionally a little stiff, it was largely overshadowed by the quality elsewhere, making it difficult to notice.

However, there was one flaw that I found difficult to ignore.

The people would never be able to fit in the doors.

For the most part though, the graphics were cute, and definitely the strongest part of the game.

Score: 4/5


Choice is an interesting visual novel style game with cute, fresh graphics and an interesting decisions system, but is severely bogged down by an awkwardly written, confusing story and an extremely frustrating gameplay section. While definitely containing some cool ideas and portions done very right, its thin gameplay and short length make its flaws difficult to ignore.


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Ganonfrog, this is a solid review as always. Just some suggestions:

(1) Pics are a little on the large size
(2) You might want to develop some sort of markup format
(3) Content seems well balanced between praise and criticism.
Graphics look to be pretty well done, can't believe I missed this one.

I'm usually wary of games that have so many affecting decisions because they can easily fall prey to random chance of the designer's choice. Sounds like this one does in some areas.
StarSkipping was without a doubt one of my favorite members before he left (I don't even know why) but despite being English his English was pretty bad. :\ But once you get past the annoying dialogue you can see that his games were unique and usually had some good creative ideas that are worth exploring, maybe expanding.

Fair review, good job :>
if squallbutts was a misao category i'd win every damn year
StarSkipping's been really busy lately but he said he might be back soon. I was talking to him on FB a while back.
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