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The First Review I Ever Wrote Was for This Game (It Was Denied)

  • Frogge
  • 05/17/2022 09:32 PM

Usagi by LunarRabbit
Length: ~1 hour

Note: This is a video review, but the transcript from the video can be found below. Review for Usagi begins at 8:30.

Lastly, for something actually was completed and has an ending, we have Usagi. This was actually the first Yume Nikki fangame I ever played. Unfortunately it was a pain in the ass to get running, probably because it was made in an older version of rpg maker 2003. I went looking for the old RTP for a while, and then I got a directdraw error and some missing file errors, so I just caved and decided to download easyrpg to run it. Luckily that made it run fine mostly without errors save for this one missing graphic in the balcony. I suppose Yume Nikki fangames aren’t famously known for being easy to run.

It’s a lot more traditional than Expiate is, you play as Umiko, a more traditional Madotsuki reskin unlike Corbin, and like usual you have a bed that takes you to the dream world, a computer that saves your game and a balcony to gaze out of. The only notable difference to other fangames here is that instead of doors, the nexus has paintings. Other than that, they pretty much work the same.

The goal in this one is actually to collect all the effects AND these items called mementos. Usagi actually does something I’ve always wanted to do in a fangame which is that every effect you get has a function rather than being purely cosmetic. You’ve got bunny ears as your speed effect, and while I do prefer speed effects that the character rides, it’s nice that at least it retains the look of your character and doesn’t morph you into something else. Rabbits are quite common throughout the game actually, it’s incorporated into a lot of npc designs and you do run into quite a few that are just straight up regular bunnies. It makes sense since the game’s title means rabbit in Japanese, although their relevance I can only guess.

The devil effect is your weapon and it lets you incinerate npcs. The vampire effect returns you to the nexus and actually has a pretty sick animation. The uniform effect makes chasers passive, and the ghost effect lets you access a hidden passageway in this one area. The only outlier here is the red hair effect for some reason, it’s the only one that has no function so I’m surprised it wasn’t just a memento.

I do have an issue here, which is that the bunny effect is a little too hard to find. The speed effect is what players end up using the most and will usually go looking for first, so it makes sense to hide it somewhere easy to find. While you do use the first painting to the left of the nexus to get the speed effect, which is good because it’s where most people will presumably start, it’s not actually in this world. Instead, you have to find and walk through a house, go through a specific door, navigate this area, and go into the door on the blue wall, go through these hallways and enter this specific door in order to get it. I would have much preferred it just be lying around somewhere in the pink world. I don’t really think the speed effect should be one of the most convoluted in the game to find. This is probably one of the only fangames I’ve played where ladders don’t take off your speed effect, though, that’s good stuff.

The worlds in this one are generally quite cool, this is one of the only fangames I’ve played that uses almost entirely edited or recolored stock assets, but the worlds still mostly have memorable identities of their own. Goes to show what makes a game is not the assets but rather how you use those assets. Although I’m fairly certain one of the sprites is a direct rip from Yume Nikki which is a bit odd.

The dream world in general is actually quite interconnected in this one. Just from going left to right in the painting order you’ll probably end up visiting a couple of the areas that tie into the nexus just by naturally exploring. The scale of it isn’t huge, but it’s nice that it all ties together. You’ve also got the obligatory maze world… hooray… This one is really bad, it’s not quite a labyrinth like usual but rather a lot of linear paths that either lead to a big loop or a dead end. If you go in the wrong direction you’ll find yourself having to backtrack quite a lot, it’s really annoying. Especially because it’s not just an interconnecting area for other locations or anything but you actually need to find one specific part of it to get a memento to beat the game.

Once you collect every effect and memento, you can wake up, and when you go back to sleep you’ll find that all of your effects have disappeared. The painting that takes you to the nexus is now black and the door to your room is open. Just as a heads up, I’m about to spoil what happens in the ending, so if you’d like to play the game for yourself, you might want to stop here, although there isn’t like a massive reveal or anything so getting spoilers probably won’t ruin your experience.

Once you go through the now open door, you end up in this monochrome area and after travelling through it for a while you end up on a bridge. Going left will infinitely loop the map so your only choice is to jump down this gap in the railing. You fall into the water, and then wake up, before Umiko lets out a really loud scream that actually scared me when I played it, and the game ends.
There’s another ending, though – throughout the dream world you encounter a character named Hamako. If you kill every Hamako you encounter then you can get another ending after collecting all the effects and mementos. Something interesting is that the chasers in this game are these blonde girls that only appear in locations where Hamako is, almost like they’re protecting her. Whether it’s blocking the path that leads to her, or straight up trying to catch you in the room where she’s in. It’s a pretty interesting use of chasers.

The ending mostly starts out the same. You go through the same door, but instead of a gap in the railing this time the bridge leads to a white void. You walk left for a while and see all the npcs you’ve encountered throughout the game before running into Hamako. She fades away and you go up a ladder before the credits roll in.

Both of the endings are pretty open ended, so it’s hard to interpret what Usagi could be about. Drowning is an image you encounter a few times. Whether it’s you jumping down the bridge into the water or this girl you encounter at the bottom of a pool. You can see the same girl in the hospital with Hamako by her side, so perhaps this girl is you. Perhaps Umiko was saved from almost drowning and taking to the hospital, and relives these events through her dreams. The blonde chaser girls are passive throughout the school except for in this one classroom, so I thought that could be interpreted as the girls in Umiko’s class bullying her. Those are all just theories, ofcourse, the game is about as ambiguous as you would expect from a Yume Nikki fangame so it’s hard to say it’s about any one definitive thing.

This is a really solid fangame that also took me a little over an hour to beat – that seems to be a common theme in this video. Other than the speed effect being so hard to find, and some ear bleeding music in one area, although that’s probably intentional, I didn’t really have any issues. The worlds are quite interesting and it’s a pretty smooth playthrough. If you can get it running, it’s worth the patience, and I really enjoyed my time with it.

It’s honestly hard to pick a favorite from this video. They all look great, play well, have nice sound design and interesting worlds to explore… I think if I had to pick Usagi would probably be my favorite, and being a completed and polished game probably helps, but as far as quality goes they’re all pretty close to one another. You could probably even play through all three in one day, so for how little they’re asking you to invest in them they’re definitely worthwhile.