• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS

Not Just a Cute Little Lamb

  • Craze
  • 04/15/2015 11:28 PM
Disclaimer: I use some of the CGs from the game in this review. They do not really spoil anything except that those drawings exist -- but if you want to go into the game without knowing what any scenes at all look like, don't read this review. I will not be spoiling any story points outside of a hide-tagged blurb at the very end.

If you are interested in imperfect humans trying to justify their inaction or inability, April Was A Fool is the visual novel for you. Even if you don't usually play VNs, anybody who enjoys character-based RPGs or poking fun at fantasy would likely appreciate it.

Visually, the game is pleasing without being amazing. There are quite a few distinct poses for each character, and it doesn't usually feel like any are lacking (Kent's route aside -- I found it hard to follow his emotions in a few of his scenes due to what seemed like a limited amount of frames for him). Gunn's neck-scratching pose or Blake's thumbs-up are memorable and adorable. The backgrounds are hit-or-miss. Some of the sketches look just fine, such as the front of the UM Building, while others are a bunch of scratches. While this doesn't detract from the game too much, a bit more variety and quality would be appreciated in a rerelease. Half of the scenes seem to take place in a swampy forest; a few retconned changes would spice up playing through the various routes.

On the novel side, I think the highest praise I can give for the game's writing is that I didn't realize that there were multiple endings per route until I realized I hadn't unlocked all of the scenes. That might sound odd, but thinking that each route was linear means that any non-linearity is seamless. You are rewarded for being intuitive, and penalized for being an undue jerk.

Thankfully, the less-than-pleasant endings are quite enjoyable in their own morbid way. I definitely gasped and covered my mouth a few times. The reactions from the party and their subsequent action (or inaction) all make sense despite being dramatic and tragic. And it really is proper tragedy, too. These people have problems, but they are heroes. The bad endings are horrible in all the right, truly tragic ways.

The best part of April Was A Fool is the player's character, May. You can influence her words somewhat, but where May shines is how she reacts to the screwed-up people around her. She's gutsy! She'll kick you in the balls if you mess with her!

The above image has my favorite line of the dialogue in the game. May works so well as the game's central character because of her purposeful need to break this group's unhealthy status quo. She has the power to, after all; she's a rational outsider, she looks like the group's most favorite person, and she is really good at holding hands.

About that. May does a lot of hand-holding in this game, and it's always a powerful action. It seems so simple, but it's a display of faith and trust. Whether she is encouraging the peacemaker Gunn or letting Blake lead her to the front of the line, it's May's subtle way of showing the rest of the group that there's something more to that particular hero. Your choices dictate how well these small rebellions actually affect everybody else, but May tends to do them regardless. It's almost as if you're playing the role of the party's affect more than May herself, which is honestly fine by me.

Of course, being the cat, May has some more striking moments, usually assisted by an excellent comic scene or full-screen art piece. I won't go into depth due to this being a spoiler-free reivew, but let it be known that May's got guts. It makes her so much more effective for exploring this party of heroes than a true blank slate, and more enjoyable as well.

So is it a good, worthwhile game?

Yes! There are some typos, some too-sketchy backgrounds, and the characters can be a bit long-winded. They bring it down from a 5/5, but overall it's a very solid and engaging set of journeys that work together to form a cohesive whole.

Gunn spoiler (you should have played at least one route before reading this):

Okay, so. Gunn is totally -- well, maybe not the main character, because that's May, but -- the catalyst for everything good. Not only is he attractive and wonderful, Gunn is the only consistently nice guy. Even Blake and Kent can be jerks. Gunn always has everybody's best interests in mind, whether he's goading Blake or trying to get Erwin hurt. He is just... ugh, I love Gunn and how in every ending he's actively trying to fix everybody. He is the best. Everybody else sucks, Gunn rocks. The end.


Pages: 1
First off! Thank you for the review! I really enjoyed reading it :)

I'm curious which part of Kent's expressions you found limited? We made the expressions as needed, rather than having a set ahead of time to plunk in, so there wasn't any limitations on that. Though, I'm willing to bet it may have something to do with the fact that Kent's face doesn't always reflect his words. (which was quite often done on purpose with him) I really gotta get on finishing those backgrounds. Eventually they'll be the same quality as the ones in the CGs.

I'm really glad you enjoyed May so much as a character! As I've said countless times before, she was the biggest challenge for the writing for me. Our five heroes were all natural and practically wrote themselves, but finding the right balance of "character" and "blank-slate" to pull of someone who was both interesting, but not impossible to relate to was quite a struggle at first! I'm glad that struggle has paid off though!

I like that you point out the hand-holding as well ;)

Gunn is so popular! If I'm being honest, I didn't know what people were going to think of Gunn! That that worry has been proven a waste, because you all love Gunn!, and that pleases me :> Because he really does rock haha

Thanks again for the review!!
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
"he really does rock" i see what you did there

I get that Kent is hard to read, but maybe it's just that he was less dramatic than everybody else. I can remember Gunn's head-scratches, wand-at-ready pose, disappointed look... Erwin scratching his eyes out or twirling keys... Gabby's various magic poses and her "harumph" stance... Blake's goofy thumbs-up and his nervous glance... and then Kent (outside of zerker mode frame) just, uh, does a kissy face at his fox? I think I remember him throwing his hands up once or twice? I like the guy, but he just doesn't seem to do much posture-wise. I will say that I really liked his fox's demeanor during the climax of his endings'.

As a side-note, I got a friend to play through the game too. Gunn's bad ending was his favorite. I don't blame him, it and Kent's final CG are just so chilling.

Hmm Yes, his poses are less dynamic. Everyone has 4 unique poses, and they all have a pose they use least. Perhaps it is because the pose Kent uses the least of his 4 is his most dynamic pose (the zerker one) so his other stuff is less striking. Interesting... Not sure I would do anything to change that, but I'll keep it in mind. Perhaps there is some more areas where he can throw his hands up. (the intro bits he does quite a bit, but unfortunately because of his axes, he's pretty much always at the back of group shots and his arms are hidden)

Gunn's and Kent's bad ends are my personal favourites as well (with Erwin's in a close second) They were a real emotional rush to write! Originally the bad endings were pretty tame, but then I decided no... be true to yourself Maki; you're a demon who loves making people cry - go for it.

I think it makes unlocking them more worth it though. Dull bad endings just wouldn't give you the same feeling of accomplishment! Or... turmoil.
Pages: 1