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If nothing else you have to admit, that's one hell of a presentation for this game's main page. A magenta-tinted title with a weird logo of some sort, and a shuttering animation to go with it. Background consisting of an interconnected series of what looks like some fleshy, fatty goop. And right below, a picture of a gun... with a mouth and eye, looking all T__T at you. You catch a glimpse of the screencaps, look at them. I don't see how even the most cynical of snot-noses can deny the artistic talent and creativity put into making these images. Of course, your natural reaction is to immediately download and play this game. (what, you say it isn't? Well I'm telling you right now that it IS, and you don't want to see what happens to those who refuse to comply!) The title screen comes up and dear god what the hell is going on here? A planet-sized crescent-shaped monstrosity with multiple eyes has punctured an earth-like planet, literally bleeding, and shaking and stretching it about. I had no idea planets could be so elastic but there you go. Naturally going in you probably aren't expecting something about kings, castles, knights and wizards, and if there are anything of the sort in this game they are a distorted version of them beyond our reality.

The game takes place somewhere called "The Rift." But some catastrophic event has crumbled it and turned it inside out, tossing every area all over the place causing it to be a mess of its former self (play the followup game Gingiva to see how this came to happen). You play as a silent character called only "The Nomad," whose identity is concealed by plates of armor. You then see an animate gun bouncing around the ground. You'll pick it up and it'll start talking to you. And talk does it ever! It goes by the name "Genie." It's the same gun seen on the front page here. It tells you about The Rift and what happened and because of the disaster that it currently is it now it needs to be "cleansed," which is a euphemism for if it moves, kill it. Yeah, I don't think when a talking gun speaks of "cleansing" people it's discussing shampoo or toothpaste. Yes, this is an interconnected world filled with NPCs of all varieties, and ALL of them can be killed. Yes, you heard me. That guy that saves your progress? You can shoot and kill him. The busdriver who can transport you from place to place? Him too, but be careful not to break your game while doing so, because he's the only guy who knows how to open the door of a bus. And besides those there are some NPCs you can directly engage in turn-based battle, as well a number who will directly engage you too. Battles play out like any turn-based jRPG you will have played, but there are some twists. Technically there is nobody to recruit and you're the only person to be on the field of every battle, BUT you can summon three spirits, which use up your magic, to fight alongside with you for this one battle. They're all very useful in providing offensive attacks, boosters, negative status effects for enemies, healing and so forth. If one of them dies you can resummon them and they'll be back at full health and MP. Once the battle is finished however and you enter a new one you'll have to resummon them again. As hostile NPCs are relatively rare and save points, which also restore all your health and MP, are fairly easy to come by, none of this should pose a problem. Not to say all battles are winnable from the start. As this is an open-ended game, you can turn into a corner and encounter someone too far above your level to beat. A few levels up though and you should be able to handle mostly everyone without too many problems.

So what is this all about? Why do these creatures need "cleansing"? Genie does have reasons, ones that are a bizarre and disturbing analogue to gun violence, that is
its bullets are really "eggs" to which it can reproduce within the corpses of its victims, a grotesque way of saying "violence begets violence"
. Actually the whole game is meant to be a criticism of FPS games, rather ham-fistedly so, but as conveyed through the Genie character you get a memorable and colorful personality who delivers some bizarre and sometimes downright chilling dialogue. At the very beginning Genie will say that every time you pull the trigger its tongue will be there licking your finger and that its gaze will be upon the victim's as they die even if you look away. If a gun could be a living thing, I could easily see it being very much like Genie. Oh yeah, and it sort of engages in some creepy flirtations with you from time to time. Quite the character to be sure, but not one you'd want to identify with unless you're a creepy killer-type yourself.

Otherwise outside of "kill things for Genie's benefit" there isn't much of a story per se. Interacting with NPCs will result in seemingly non sequitur dialogue, and as it turns out a lot of them are apparently taken from occult texts and the last words of serial killers before being executed. I didn't find out about this until after playing the game so I couldn't tell you what seemed like what, but this is definitely something to look out for if you're just about to go into playing this game. Oh yeah the NPCs themselves are indescribably strange. They look bizarre on the map, and on the battle screen they look perhaps even more bizarre (definitely more detailed I can say that, the art design in the game is fantastic), and also never look even remotely like they do on the map. Many of them are indescribable beasts, some are even based on deities from mythology and eastern religion. So, about killing everyone - the idea is to condemn you for doing so, even those that attack you first. For every kill in battle you receive a "Nothing" per kill. This represents your karma in a way, the more of these you get the worse a person you are and the more negatively perceived you are by NPCs around you, some who will even engage you in combat that normally wouldn't. I know at one point on the bus there's some tentacle-thing standing at the back of the bus who when you talk to after doing your fair share of killing for a while will change his dialogue from before and tell you simply "You have blood on your hands." It doesn't hit harder than that, a simple sentence, one recalled many times throughout the ages, direct and without beating 'round the bush. Worst of all is when you yourself engage other NPCs in combat. Some of them will actually plead for their lives, saying so in a text box above the screen. You can choose to escape or kill them anyway. It's this point Genie will come up and egg you on to kill them. I only did this at one point because said NPC was standing in the way and killing them off was the only way I could get up a stairway. Hey, they were being rude, they deserved it, so I says. It reminds me in a way of Fallout, funny enough, with the karma system, NPCs becoming randomly hostile or wanting nothing to do with you, and being able to kill everyone if you have the capabilities of doing so. Anyway, eventually, after accruing enough Nothings you will get the ability to actually "finish" the game. What does it involve? A foregone conclusion, really. In a game about mass slaughter it makes perfect sense. That's all I'm gonna say.

If this game sounds pretty morbid, well, yeah it is in many ways but it's not all murder, murder, murder. In fact there is a way to finish without killing anything, so I've read. I don't know how, but it seems to require really going out of your way to find it. All I know is that there is another means of leveling up, by an ability you have called "Exercise." It uses 1 MP per use. I don't know how many times you have to do this to level up sufficiently but it is there. And another thing you have, one which I hardly ever used, and when I did I only received results once, but it is also a cool feature that some will no doubt will want to experiment with. In addition to a gunslinger, you are also a musician, a bard of sorts I suppose. Your instrument is a guitar or lute of some kind. Equipping it and holding the down button will result in you playing a nice little tune, of which there are variations of depending on your location, and being in the right spot can yield nice rewards like items or even opening up barriers supposedly. As I said, only in one area I tried did it get me an item, and other places did nothing, but then again there's a lot I didn't do or see in the game. Also, most of the items you collect are little species of annelids of sorts with Latin names with humorous descriptions next to them. They do a variety of things, from healing, boosting stats, acting as offensive attacks, etc. And there are a LOT of different kinds. You just go to a screen and find them crawling around and pick them up, like that. There is one particular type that cannot be gotten, and if you try and pick it up it will bite you and run away, leaving a tiny bit of damage behind. You will find a decent number of these, and during the end sequences, they are in great frequency. I have not a single clue if it's even possible to pick these up. If it is, it's probably via some means or item that I never discovered.

The natural highlight of the game would of course be the the sense of discovery, exploring this completely open-ended world at your feet. It's not uncommon to find some barriers in the way, requiring you do one thing or another to open up, but mostly it's just a world for you to get lost in (at times very deeply so - one place I thought I was stuck for eternity until I found my way out, which I can't remember how - something to do with a passage in a cave), with almost no two areas looking the same. While this means the world lacks some cohesion and looks like a scrambled mess of bizarre what-the-effery (intentionally so if the Genie's story of the Rift is to be believed) it is very much navigable even despite some parts where it looks like you can walk on something but actually can't. It's just, go room to room, rummage around mazes of ethereality, collect things, talk to things, maybe battle things, and look at things, too. Though being as big as it is and without any interconnecting logic between areas, this also means that finding your way around and remembering where that
room you didn't go into was can be quite a task, and it's likely that unless you're really persistent in finding (and perhaps killing) everything and/or mapping things out, there's no way you will see everything this game has to offer in a casual playthrough. I know I sure as hell didn't. One good thing is that you can run in this game and even sidle as you do so, something I wish every RPG Maker game allowed, so navigation isn't as painful as it could have been. It's mainly because of this focus on exploration over story (and also the ability to just kill random NPCs) the game has been often compared to Yume Nikki, with the similarly surreal imagery and the way you can just run around and get lost anywhere at any time, but this game plays things out very differently than that game does in many ways, so don't go in expecting .flow or any other type of fan game because this ain't it.

This really is a fantastic game just for the absolute freedom it allows, in what actual moral decisions you can make and where you can go and when. And while the story isn't a definitive aspect it still manages to be about something, and even through the thick, overwhelming lenses of surrealism you can tell what it's going for and does it in a most clever manner. Even though for exploration-heavy games I prefer side-scrollers or first-person perspectives as they feel more natural and smoother navigation-wise this game does exploration with regular RPG Maker mechanics as well as it possibly can be done, and the things you'll see, read, and experience in this game is what will keep you going, whichever ending you get or when you decide to initiate it.