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An interesting and quirky horror adventure, with some flaws

Ok, so just to clarify, I’ve actually been meaning to write a review for this game for a while now (as well as others) but never got around to it (sorry devs, Jen&Sis!) due to my tendency to procrastinate with my writing ideas. Also, this is my first review for the site and I thought this game would be a good place to start, seeing as it left somewhat of an impact on me. It was kind of glossed over despite multiple playthroughs of it on YouTube, and despite being a horror game, one of the more popular genres in the community. I hope this can be the first of many reviews to come!

This game was released in 2018, followed up with some bug fixes and updates, which the devs themselves have been working hard to fix (I can understand the frustration...or maybe not, since I haven’t made any games yet...but still! I feel your pain, especially as first time devs!) So if I touch on any glitches in this review, please take it with a pinch of salt, though some did affect the overall experience of playing. Not to mention, this is the devs’ first game, their second being Hobbledehoy (which I need to get around to playing already.) And speaking of the devs, they’re really friendly folks which is always nice to see in the community and I appreciate all their hard work on the game!

Anyway, with the long introduction out the way, onto the actual review! It will definitely include some random thoughts I had while playing, just for that personal touch. I may have forgotten some details seeing as how I played this game over a year ago (that’s why I should have written this review sooner...)

Story and Characters
I was very interested to play this game when it came out, as I am with most new horror games, and seeing what new devs have to offer. The title screen definitely evokes a sense of mystery, who is this girl? And the features listed made it sound all the more enticing.

The main plot of the game involves you playing as Akana Amizade just chilling in her apartment, who suddenly receives a call from her good friend Liling, informing her that her forgotten friend Iblis is in possible danger. Akana, curious to know more about memories of her friendship with Iblis, decides to contact her home, which ends up with the maid, Bonne, inviting her round to visit. Strange stuff starts happening all of a sudden, such as weird visions and nightmares. An interesting journey with lots of twists and turns awaits Akana...

Hearing this storyline, it may sound like it’s nothing groundbreaking, which is true, but it catches your interest enough to keep the average player engaged throughout most of the game. A lot of RPG maker horror games rely on certain cliches and plot threads, and being the dev’s first game, I think it’s satisfactory enough, with the execution being decent. I will say the game has a lot of unexpected moments, some more weird and out of place than others; unfortunately it also suffers from some predictable and yet out there plot points regarding the latter half which I won’t spoil. However, it does have some genuinely good moments regarding character development and it’s definitely interesting most of the way through, so much so I can almost forgive it for these flaws.

In regards to the characters, Akana is extremely humour focused but also emotionally charged, which makes her engaging to play as throughout the game. She definitely has some good character development with the others, both emotionally and platonically, and reaches the end of her arc. Though she can make unintelligent decisions and be a tad annoying at times with her dialogue.

Unfortunately, I have to say, Liling is quite the opposite of that. Despite being the main character’s friend, she isn’t seen for most of the game except to deliver the rumours regarding Iblis and towards the end of the game, which is a shame. I see her more as a plot device than an actual character. Despite that, Akana does experience flashbacks during the game some of which involve her, though I wish there could have been more chances to get to know her prior.

Bonne is a
pretty standard servant character for the most part, but gets some interesting yet kind of predictable motivations revealed later on. She does have some good and emotional moments regarding her darker side.
Overall I’d say she’s ok.

Iblis herself, I have mixed feelings on. She certainly does get a lot of character development, especially regarding her friendship with Akana. This mainly happens through flashbacks as well as through conversations with her
particularly in the latter half of the game, in her corrupted state.
Though I can’t help but feel maybe not as emotional attachment to her as I’m supposed to? Maybe I find her a tad unlikeable at times?
Again, in her corrupted state. She is absolutely brutal to Akana, oh my goodness. Not to mention her evil laugh.
But I can appreciate how devoted Akana is to her through it all, with various outcomes for the two of them. And you do feel a little sorry for her especially since
Bonne possessed her using a demonic ritual, pretending her parents were gone when in fact they were actually dead. You monster, Bonne.

There are a few side characters, such as
Pimp the demon
who only shows up for a small portion of the game. He’s a little irritating to endure, but is an interesting and cute idea for a character. And
the little dead demon girl who chases you throughout the house(they reveal her name towards the end of the game) who is a typical brat who loves to play games with you, but also a victim of sorts.
There’s also...
GIR of all characters...yes...from Invader Zim...I’m not an Invader Zim fan by any means but he was certainly an unexpected surprise, but a pleasant one nonetheless. Though to be fair, they do foreshadow his appearance with a commercial on Akana’s TV.
who makes an appearance from the mid game to the end, helping you in regards to being another savepoint, keeping a death log for you and being too adorable. They even use voice clips for him!

In terms of character designs, the main cast are pretty standard but differentiate well. The other characters have more unique visual quirks in terms of their sprites and face busts
(and GIR’s sprite is super cute!)
I do like how Akana and her friends have multiple outfits throughout the game, that’s pretty cool. The face busts are a little uncanny looking, but work fine enough, with different expressions. I’m actually really interested in what the dev used to make them. I looked through the credits but couldn’t find it.

Overall the characters serve their purposes well, some more than others. Though I feel the side characters were a slight afterthought and a bit out of place, but they’re still interesting to a degree.

Honestly, I do not think the story is the highlight of the game.

It certainly tells a fairly good one, and I think the devs’ did a decently constructed effort for their first game. Though the writing loses focus at times. Or at least, the characters stick out to me more. I enjoyed the different character arcs, but it was more about the experience to me than anything else, in terms of gameplay, exploring different environments and memorable moments.

Graphics and Sound Design
Graphically, the game looks pretty decent. The mapping is well done and includes a variety of environments and interact-able objects, though there are some overlapping tiles and lighting issues (which were fixed if I’m correct). They can be busy and hard to navigate at times. It mostly uses standard RPG maker community resources, with some custom stuff. The sprites are good, with some cool little details such as little emotion bubbles and subtle animations.

The menus look fine, they use custom scripts if I’m correct. Though they can be glitchy and lag at times. I like how Akana is in the main menu.
The text font and dialogue boxes are nice and simple, easy to read. The inventory and pop up info boxes are a bit unfinished. Though I like the attention to detail in the diary pages, it’s very nice.

I really like the music in this game. I love the relaxed theme of Iblis’ home, and the ambience in creepier parts of the game. Some of it can be loud and intrusive at times. The menu sounds were very satisfying, but things like screams and Akana’s dog barking can be a tad grating.

Though I laughed a little at the stock rpg maker vx ace music for the mine cart chase scene.

Overall the graphics and sound design are effective and cohesive enough to achieve what the devs are going for with a lot of detail. Though there are some tile set and sprite clashes as well as some visual glitches.

In terms of ease of play and variety, Voices of Friendship is a mixed bag. Like most RPG maker horror games you’ll be exploring and interacting with the environment while solving puzzles and engaging in various mini games. The former half of the game involves completing various trials, in a section based on the 7 Deadly Sins. You will be exploring mazes, collecting objects and avoiding traps and enemies. There are riddles you must answer by entering the correct word.
it’s very...interesting humour
There is even an RPG battle section where you must fight with another NPC in their video game, which is pretty cool. And a section with a skeleton prom, and a dance mini game.

Much of this stuff is present in the latter half as well. You’ll spend most of your time exploring Iblis’ house and then various corrupted areas. Including fetch quests, many chase sequences/mazes and boss fights with the antagonists.

Unfortunately, some of these sections suffer from trial and error and clunkiness, as well as replaying parts. Akana’s death scream is incredibly irritating when you hear it too many times. Luckily, you have the option to skip text with shift but they’re still frustrating. I got stuck in the first trial word puzzle, forgetting its Deadly Sin themed.
The mine cart chase sequence with the black fur ball of death
took quite a few tries, as well as the lake swimming section.
The final maze section with the arrows was a bit annoying.
The game can lag at times, which affects some of the playability of these maps, though it has been worked on. Finding certain objects can be hard if you don’t check everything, and there are some glitchy event triggers which were fixed but softlocked the game.

The game has various deaths that the player can discover, which are then recorded in the death log. Think of the bad ends from Corpse Party. They can be found by failing in various ways, such as running out of time, taking the wrong turn on a path, failing a chase sequence and so on.

There are many of them to find which encourages the player to explore thoroughly. They all have unique descriptions and names. You even get a special reward at the end of the game if you get them all and the developers were kind enough to provide a walkthrough in case you need helping finding a particular death. Some in particular are a little obtuse and frustrating to find. But they are carried over in different saves, thank goodness.

You can also find Iblis’ diary pages scattered throughout the game, which are important for certain endings. This game has a few different endings, the better ones harder to get than the others. The guide also covers these. I was able to get all the endings. They can be quite difficult to figure out and can take some replaying at times.
The true ending is pretty good, also ending on a cliffhanger and a sequel hook. The bad endings aren’t very conclusive at all, but still full of despair. I like how Akana is seen trudging through hell in some of the credits sequences, which themselves are great.

Overall, I appreciate how varied the gameplay was and enjoyed it, despite how frustrating it could be at times. I think it could have been tweaked some more, with maybe some sections reduced or more save points/hints. Finding the different deaths was a lot of fun, I’m glad the devs added that, as well as a walkthrough. The endings were a lot of effort, but the best ending was ultimately satisfying enough for me.

Random thoughts
I decided to include a list of random thoughts I had during my playthrough of the game. This game contains a lot of humour and references, which are nice to see, but can be immersion breaking at times. It includes spoilers, so don’t read if you haven’t played the game!

Cool title screen and music, I’m ready to play!
Akana is certainly a character!
Awww cute doggy! Oh, you bark loud!
Akana has Beat It as her ringtone, ok. And a Gamecube? Wow.
This is a really nice apartment.
Oh no, weird voices. And the dog is possessed, uh oh.
I can’t believe I’m stuck on the first riddle.
This lust section’s word riddles are something I heard in primary school once.
Wow, that dream sequence was long!
Bonne seems kinda suspicious...
Wow, a TMNT reference!
That Death Note death was...something.
References to Corpse Party and Mogeko Castle, aww I like that.
Aww, what a nice ending...wait...to be continued?!

Final thoughts
I really enjoyed playing Voices of Friendship when I did, if I could play it again from fresh I would. It was a decent length,(maybe a little long at times) if several hours, so it will keep the player occupied for a bit. I played it over a few weeks, but played a lot at once because I was enjoying it so much! The developers clearly put a lot of passion into it, and their personalities seep through into the writing, referential humour as well as the graphics. The game admittedly does suffer from some story and gameplay issues, and is overall mixed in terms of quality. It does contain a lot of humour, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I think for a first game, it’s pretty good and it’s worth a play or watching a let’s play of. Also, the bonus room is a really nice reward, with lots of cool information on the game and interactions with the devs. The true ending leaves a hook for a sequel, that the developers’ held a poll for to see if people were interested. Though I’m not sure of the potential, due to the story being mostly finished, I’m definitely interested in their future works, and will finish playing Hobbledehoy soon!


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OH MY RA! This is the BEST review we have EVER received! Like wow, the dedication of writing such a detailed review is beyond us! We truly appreciate your insight and all of it is definitely valid! (due to the fact you played the beta version of VoF, and yes, that version was a trip!)

First off, we really appreciate that you gave sort of a background of the game, letting people know when it first released and telling them that it was constantly updated. If we were told about a problem, we would try to update the game ASAP! (Because we're gamers by trade, and understand the frustrations of when a game doesn't work properly). Also, as stated, yes, this game was our FIRST game, so we knew it wasn't going to be great, and the origins of the VoF game was that it was just going to be a trial game for us to teach ourselves how to use RPGMaker Vx Ace 4 years ago, but since we worked tirelessly on it for that long, we just decided to release it. At that time, RPGMaker games were at a all time high and from what we were watching on YouTube, we were interested to join the bandwagon as fast as we could. But we feel like for 2 people who didn't know SQUAT DIDDLY about RPGMaker, we say we didn't do half bad.

Secondly, we love how you stated this game isn't for everyone and that is 1000% true!

What people need to understand about the genre "RPGMaker Horror" is that it doesn't have to be 100% scary and let's be honest, nowadays, the cheap jumpscares are more annoying than scary, and we didn't want to use that in our game. We wanted to mix suspense/mystery elements, and elements of humor (because our main goal as Jen&Sis is to put a smile on people's faces when they play our games.) Now we know that VoF isn't going to scare your pants off or anything, and that's okay. That wasn't our intention. We just wanted to tell a story about how friends can come and go...
...even if that friend gets possessed by a demon!

We had to put this as a "RPG Horror" game because that's what was the genre it was close to...we mean..if someone wants to make a "RPG Mystery" genre, by all means, we would move it over there. lol

And yes, we are sorry about Lust...she was definitely a character, but it had to be done...I mean...she's the embodiment of lust...so...yea.

Thirdly, the puzzles. Yes, when the game first came out, the puzzles were a bit troublesome...cough...Nightmare Maze...cough.

Due to how much we saw people struggling or abandoning the game early, we completely updated the 2 most annoying maps. The other puzzle that was a doozy was yes...the minecart maze. We're sorry, we were trying to make something different and it became a pain later on, so now we know that we won't be using that method anymore in our games. LMAO

We are always open to what people thought about the puzzles (just please be respectful about it), because then we know what works and what just pisses people off.

Lastly, the VoF sequel...yes, we were a bit hesitant about the subject, but if the people wanted it, we were going to give it to them. VoF has a lot of story, but we couldn't just put it in one game, but we also wasn't going to work hard on a sequel that no one wanted. We will say, the VoF sequel is going to be a bit different, but it will still have those elements that people grew to love from the first game. But just know, any gripe someone had with VoF, we are taking note so we don't make the same mistakes again!

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR FEEDBACK, and for you to be reviewing the FIRST version of Voices of Friendship, we will proudly take that 3 star~ Thank you again for your time, and we hope you enjoy Hobbledehoy and our future games to come. We truly appreciate you rpghorrorfan! You have definitely earned a spot of the Jen&Sis VIP list!

P.S. we're sorry for busting your ears with the dog bark...it didn't matter how low we made that SE...it was just LOUD! I guess Kanji has lungs of steel. lol

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