Monday, April 16, 2012

[Visual Novel Review] Remember11 -the age of infinity-

Though I wanted to do an otome game review, I did say that I'd be reviewing visual novels and not only otome games (never mind 90% of my list are otome XD ). So this time I'll be reviewing Remember11, the third game in KID's Infinity series of visual novels. I had not played Remember11's famous predecessor Ever17 (I've just started playing it yesterday), and as a result unlike many other fans of infinity series who bashed Remember11 by comparing its various features with Ever17, I played it with zero expectations and found it a very enjoyable and engaging mystery visual novel that makes your head work to get the story.

WARNING: LONG REVIEW IS LONG!

In contrast to the other two Infinity games and most visual novels, Remember11 does not have a focus on romance or plot routes that are based on specific heroes or heroines. There are 2 routes, but they basically describe the same story from the 2 protagonists' perspectives, each route answering questions that could not be answered in the other. The game makes it clear though that you are supposed to play Kokoro's route first, there is NO WAY to get Satoru's good end (all bad ends are either death or another big disaster, this is no galge)if you already haven't gotten Kokoro's good end beforehand, and Satoru's good end is the one that explains everything (Well, almost everything XD This game has a sick sense of humor).

The stage of the game is divided between 2 locations: Mountain Shelter Cabin at Mt. Akakura, and SPHIA facility at Aosagi Island. There are only 4 people at both locations, in total 7 people (nope, 4+4=7 is not a typo here :P ). Each of the characters represent some archetype, and from what I hear this is a recurring theme in the Infinity series. However, in Remember11′s case, the archetypes are Jungian. Instead of these being surface traits, they represent subconscious personalities. All throughout the game there are an assload of references to these archetypes, but don't expect their behavior to be thoroughly controlled by that alone, you'll be surprised.



For the ones who are interested in psychology (if not proceed to next paragraph, you don't NEED any of this to understand the game, this is just added fun), here is a little explanation on what "Archetypes" actually are according to Jungian Psychology. Carl Gustav Jung pioneered a number of groundbreaking ideas in psychology, chief among them the idea of the Collective Unconscious: a deeper level of unconscious wherein are found the archetypes. The archetypes, according to Jung, are common psychological forms that exist in the psyche of everyone. Jung called them "the organs of the psyche." According to Jung, while every single conscious mind is different, the archetypes at the roots of the psyche are identical. Hence the term the Collective Unconscious- the idea of a set of primordial motifs inherited in the mind by every person on the planet. This archetypes are pretty damn mindscrewy, and Remember11 is the king of mindscrew :D

Let us start by a tiny overview of the story and my thoughts/rants about the characters.I'll start with a little spoilers about the prologue and the 1st day in Kokoro's route since one can consider Kokoro's route to be the "Question" arc and Satoru's to be the "Answer" arc, so I can avoid ruining the suspense for others this way :)


The story of Remember11 takes place consecutively in 2011 and 2012 for seven days from January 11 to January 17. The main plot is centered around a "Personality exchange phenomenon" where the 2 protagonists' minds start to swap between the two of them.

The game begins starts with a rather deceptive prologue with Kokoro and Yuni happily chatting away while being on board of a plane. (I almost gave up on the game at first because Yuni was annoying me, lol) Suddenly the weather worsens and after some serious shaking, the plane crashes on Mount Akakura. Elsewhere on Aosagi Island, Satoru climbs the SPHIA facility's clock tower, only to be attacked by "someone" and falls, losing his consciousness.

When Kokoro wakes up, she realizes she is in a room in SPHIA, but when she gives her identity as Fuyuwkawa Kokoro, Utsumi Kali, the first person to meet her, suspects her of lying and says Fuyuwkawa Kokoro is the name of a dead woman. A confused Kokoro tours the facility and is later relieved to find Yuni is safe and sound, but he does not recognize her either. Suspicious, Kokoro takes a look at herself in a mirror and gets the shock of her life as she realizes she is in a man's body.


Sometime later, she wakes up in a mountain cabin where the survivors of the plane crash have taken shelter, and finds herself back in her own body. She thinks the incident at SPHIA was just a dream, but when Yomogi addresses her as "Yukidoh Satoru" and explains that a little earlier "her body" had introduced itself with this name, she comes to realize that something is really wrong.

Afterwards the personality exchange keeps occurring, and the two comes to terms with the fact that their consciousness is being transferred and decide to work together to escape this situation while trying to keep each other alive throughout the dangers they both face at their respective locations-extreme cold and starvation for Kokoro, and the presence of a killer hiding in the shadows for Satoru.


Fuyukawa Kokoro
The female protagonist, represents the archetype "Anima" (the female within the male). She is a psychiatric student traveling to the SPHIA (Specified Psychiatric Hospital for Isolation and Aegis) facility to interview a patient residing there. Following an accident in which the plane on which Kokoro was traveling crashed in the mountains, the survivors of the crash attempt to survive in the mountains with limited supplies until they can be rescued. The other survivors include Mayuzumi Lin, Yomogi Seiji, and Kusuda Yuni.

Kokoro was, in my opinion, one of the best heroines I've come across in visual novels. She is the type of person who is emotional,pure and an idealist who believes in what her heart tells her, so I was expecting her to be a more stereotypical "good" girl who'd undertake foolish acts being blinded by her emotions, but she turned out to be surprisingly mature and level-headed in the face of the dangerous situation she was trapped in. While not near Satoru's level, she also frequently analyzed the odd Personality exchange phenomenon applying a logical thought process, which I found pretty impressive considering the fact she was also fighting to survive and was under a tremendous amount of physical and emotional stress.And not to mention she's so cute without being reduced to a moeblob, I squealed along as she attacked the people she liked with her super-powered bear hugs :D :D :D


Yukidoh Satoru

The male protagonist, represents the archetype "Animus" (the male within the female). He is a resident of SPHIA, where he resides with Utsumi Kali, Inubushi Keiko, and Kusuda Yuni. Satoru's story revolves around several incidents which make it appear as though somebody is trying to kill him, as well as Satoru's detailed investigations into the mysterious personality transfer phenomenon . Unlike Kokoro he gets more time to sniff around as he's not being threatened by death by starvation or the harshness of nature, but he also has his own troubles to handle as well with his fellow residents all hiding dangerous secrets (it is, after all, a high-class insane asylum).

I proved that I'm an otome gamer by heart by falling for Satoru within 20 minutes of starting his route T_T In my defense, my main reasons for liking him are intellectual rather than the fact that he's a pretty cute bishie (;3 ). Satoru is, pretty damn smart without being a know-it-all that seems to produce information out of thin air. I don't know about other people, but when I started playing Satoru's route after finishing Kokoro's , the difference in their perspectives and ways of viewing the environment around them fascinated me.

Satoru's long inner monologues where he breaks down every situation into logical arguments were very enjoyable to read. And the last part of the game where he finally figures out most of the mysteries...it really gave me, as the player, a sense of accomplishment, no matter what others who were unsatisfied by the ending say.

While Kokoro is 40% logic+60% emotion, Satoru is all logic. But still he had his moments of silliness and was a little bit of a dork sometimes, which was adorable ^_^ And OMG his reaction at finding out that his "special" part was nonexistent while in a woman's body....PRICELESS. I died laughing. XDXDXD

Mayuzumi Lin

A young lawyer who was one of the survivors of the plane crash, she is the representation of Persona. AND A DOWNRIGHT ANNOYING BITCH. Seriously. From the moment she is introduced, she constantly keeps complaining and ordering others around without helping out with the dire situation they were in. I get that her presence was needed in the plot as the only person who knew the "original" Satoru (the reason why she is extremely hostile towards Kokoro as "her body" claims to be Satoru every time an exchange phenomenon occurs), but damn she is a whiny biatch.

I guess they needed someone to create a sense of conflict among the survivors, or else Yomogi-Yuni-Kokoro Trio would have spent the days just happily frolicking away in the snow, haha. My verdict? Not an "unnecessary" character, but definitely one that makes you want to break the screen. Maybe I wouldn't be this mad if I only played the good ends, but since I wanted maximum completion I played the bad ends before I went for the good ones. Let me tell you, with all her arrogant attitude she's just a weak-hearted girl that snaps under just a little pressure and goes psycho, so be careful to not antagonize her too much. But don't cater to her whims either, she screws the others if you do. The couple of vulnerable moments when she is nice do not even come close to redeeming her. If the creators made her character in order for the players to hate her, they succeeded tremendously :P Banzai!

Yomogi Seiji

A Professional Mountain Hiker, Yomogi Seiji was one of the survivors of the plane crash. and is the representation of the "Old Wise Man" archetype. Pretty much the polar opposite of Mayuzumi. Despite his rugged appearance, he is a truly nice guy who tries to help everyone out and work together to survive against the brutal mountains. His experience as a mountaineer is a huge help for the survivors at the mountain cabin, and he does his best to offer guidance to the rest of the team. He is very gentle and friendly, but not to the point of being a pushover (though I wish he had knocked some sense into Mayuzumi >.< ). Still he had some funny moments, he and Yuni cracked me up with their "Captain and Private" comedy routine, haha.

I liked him a lot, and the weird bad end where he loses himself felt pretty forced to me :/ I had a lot of fun watching his interactions with the 2 protagonists since his intuition is pretty good and unlike most people who take some time to realize that Kokoro/Satoru's consciousness have swapped with each other right after a transfer, Yomogi can tell who is present right away from the way they behave. That impressed me a lot, for some reason. It suited perfectly with his archetype as well, a man whose way of viewing others around him is more than just skin-deep.

Utsumi Kali

One of the residents of SPHIA, she is the representation of the "Great Mother". She claims to be a psychiatrist working in SPHIA, and has impressive knowledge of medicines and human body, providing a lot of helpful hints during Satoru's route. Other than Satoru she seems to know most about the SPHIA, and also cooks for and takes care of the younger residents in the facility.

From the very start Utsumi rubbed me the wrong way a little, since she seems to fulfill her archetype a little too perfectly, being calm, gentle and motherly to the point I suspected her attitude of being fake. Even during her first meeting with Kokoro on the first day, she goes a little weird and keeps muttering about some "plan", if you're observant enough you'll spot soon that the woman has issues. :/ I won't spoil anything, but I'll just gloat that I was right to suspect her as she does have her secrets, however her motherly demeanor is not not act, sometimes she does hide her intentions behind her kind manners though. I am somewhat neutral about her character, I neither like nor dislike her, but I guess the scale is a little heavier towards "like" as at least she tried not to hurt innocent people.

Inubushi Keiko/Suzukage Hotori

The only person in SPHIA whose reason for being there is clear from the start, she is the representation of the "Shadow". Her original name is "Inubushi Keiko", and she suffers from DID (Disassociative Identity Disorder), having an astonishing number of 11 seperate personalities. One of them is a crazed murderer who went on a killing spree all over a hospital a few years ago, killing a large number of patients, doctors and nurses before being apprehended. Both Satoru and Kokoro recognize her as the one behind the massacre, but in both routes she introduces herself (though in very different ways) as "Suzukage Hotori", and both protagonists accept her as one of the other personalities in Inubushi's body.

I had high hopes for her, being a retired psycho-killer and all. But during Kokoro's route she was so quiet and introverted that I felt cheated. :/ In Satoru's route though...*cough cough* be careful not to give her too much space if you know what's good for you. While I do not like Inubushi as much as, say, Yuni or Yomogi, she was interesting. I definitely had fun watching her bullying Satoru. XDXD

I do have some complaints about how there are some plotholes about her behavior throughout the game, but I guess that's just the game being a troll and me not being smart enough to figure out the reason.

Kusuda Yuni

The only character to be present at both locations of the plot, Kusuda Yuni is a grade school student who is the representation of the "Trickster". He is the reason for my previous 4+4=7 equation :P In Kokoro's route Kokoro is very confused when she finds that Yuni "exists" as both a survivor at the Mountain Cabin and a resident at SPHIA, and at times seems to know information that she did not say to "that" version of him. Despite his young age, he is highly intelligent and seems aware of knowledge that shouldn't be available to a 11-year old. He is equal parts adorable and mysterious, and ever since I saw his archetype in the OP I was wary of him :|

But I must admit, I am impressed by his devotion to Kokoro. Even after beating the game I'm unsure how the hell he managed to accomplish everything he did, but I am sure of one thing: his feelings towards Kokoro, and his wishes to be with her is 100% genuine. Because he tends to hide information and refuses to answer questions (specially Mountain Cabin Yuni, WTF is with all that screaming whenever I try to interrogate him >.<) , I often felt like strangling him, but at times he was so damn cute~~

Dawwww~~~~

Rating:

Story: 10/10

EPICNESS. People might not agree with me giving it such a high score, but I can't help it. I love mysteries, and Remember11 was a fabulous mystery game with a solid story. The hints were all cleverly hidden, but if one looked hard enough they weren't hard to find. There was a lot of suspense, and from the start to the end it was a gripping read. After the prologue there wasn't one moment when I had the urge to take a break or felt bored at all. The story moves in a balanced pace, not so quick that I'd have trouble remembering what happened, not so slow that I'd get bored. There was just the right amount of focus on relationships, character development, drama and humor (I can't read any VN without good humor, and Remember11 was pretty damn funny at some parts) coupled with the mystery elements.Though I cannot claim that I get all the references to psychological jargon, the ones I did get were brilliant. :)

Ending:
7/10

Remember11 has a huge number of endings, being 33 in total, among which only 2 are good ends that you need to get. Funny thing is that getting many the bad ends is harder than getting the ultimate good end itself, WTH :/ In general short sighted or illogical acts will cause you a large of bad ends, but to get some you'll have to get a bad end on one protagonists route, save the system data when returning to title screen, then use the "short cut" to jump to day you got the bad end, but on the other protagonist's route. When you get to the point you got the game over, you'll automatically get another bad end.

The constant replaying to get the bad ends gets on your nerves after a while, and if don't have a lot of patience and aren't a 100% completion nerd like me (even I didn't do 100%, but I did get all CGs and Endings), I'd suggest playing only the bad ends that give some hints about the story, like at least one Satoru bad end where system data is carried over from a Kokoro bad end where she dies for whatever reason on the 7th day, and definitely the "YUKIDOH's plan failed" bad end.
My verdict: The "meaningful" bad ends were cool, but some were just put there to piss the players off, I think. I mean, seriously, 33? Kokoro's good end left a lot of questions, but they were answered properly in Satoru's and I felt it was a satisfactory ending to the game. The epilogue ended in a cliffhanger, but I was expecting it. XDXD


Characters:

Protagonists 10/10, Side Characters 7.5/10

I'll cut this short since I ranted for so long above about the characters :D Kokoro and Satoru both are easily included in my top favorite protagonist list, and other than Utsumi (whom I found odd) and Mayuzumi (whom I hate) the side characters were pretty interesting.

Art:

CG+Backgrounds 9/10, Sprites 7.5/10, Effects 9/10

The CGs were really clean and neat looking, and I liked how they used more "life like" proportions for most characters as opposed to big eyed "anime" ones. The backgrounds were also impressively detailed.


The sprites, though nicely drawn, looked somewhat of a low resolution and felt a little mismatched compared to the sharp CGs. I liked the expressions and postures of the sprites, though. The blinking effect really looked good, and I always like when a sprite's mouth moves when the character talks. ^_^ The last time I saw the mouth movement of sprites was in Edelweiiss, and it looks more natural in Remember11. And the air coming out of people's mouth when they're speaking at cold places was really a nice touch. However, some people, like Hotori and Utsumi, looked quite different from how they appeared in CG. And I really disliked 2 sprites which appeared very often: Yomogi's standing sprite with his hand on his chin, and Satoru's head turned right (his right, left to the screen) where his face looks fat >.<

Music: 8/10

Music in the game was quite good, not on a epic level like, say, G Senjou no Maou, but pretty awesome in it's own way. I can't think of a common category to classify them in, not really a music buddha here. They fit pretty well with the situation in which they were used, especially the ones that were used in the suspense/revelation/action situations. My favorite is "Nucleus". All the musics were named pretty oddly :D


Voice:
9.5/10

The voice acting was really good. I really,REALLY love fully voiced protagonists, I added 2 more points for that alone :D And the side characters did a good job as well. Must have cost them a lot since many of the voice actors were pros. Satoru's voice actor, Koyasu Takehito, he's so damn popular O_O He's pretty much everywhere! The last time I heard him was in Tales of the Abyss as the weird, snarky Jade, and I didn't notice it was him at first at all. He's also Himuro from Tokimeki :/ And Utsumi=Skuld from Ah! Megami Sama broke my brain :D

Ero: None <3

This game did not have any ero scenes in it at all, much to my relief :D
Sorry to break people's hearts, but this does not lead to a h-scene. :P

Replayability: High

Too damn freakin' high! >.< The idea of triggering a bad end in route and accessing that point of time from another route to see another bad end from the other protag's perspective seems pretty neat until you realize that the game does not let you jump to the required point properly and you have to start from a long way behind, even from the start in a worst case scenario. As I was determined to clear all 33 endings, I had to go back and forth forever T__T Still, it was fun, in a time-consuming and patience-testing way.

How I hate this pic....

I understand why people would consider this game complicated and rage at the confusing parts, there are many mysteries in the game that would be missed by people who are either not very observant or do not have the inclination to become immersed in the story (or maybe who were just looking for porn :P), not to mention several big questions that remained unanswered even at the end. The lack of a "definitive" ending might anger many as well. But I really don't care about such points. I would have raged as well if some of the major plot points, like the true nature of the transference phenomenon were unanswered, or no hints about the identity of the killer in SPHIA was given, but they got their priorities straight and answered those. the suspense, the secrets and the surprising revelations were really exciting for me. It was a 3 day long, frustrating, engrossing, thrilling ride, and I got an awesome playing experience my time's worth.

Holdy crap this review was looooong :O As my final opinion, I'll say that Remember11 is truly a game meant to be played for the sake of the journey, and not for the sake of an answer or an end. Satoru foreshadowed this even in the opening:


"What's important isn't the result but the process. Just like it is with life."


8 comments:

  1. o.O I know Ever 17 but I never heard this game before. From your review I think this game is interesting though the story seems complicated xD And the ending is rather vague xD

    Thank you for ur review ^-^

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    1. I finished Ever 17 just last night, expect spamming about that one soon. :P But before that I should review some otome games too, I guess.

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  2. I played this one. At first it was kinda confusing, but than I got hooked. It was really interesting.

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  3. I read through most of the review- not all of it, because honestly, I've just finished a marathon of Never7, Ever17, and now Remember11, and I am eyeing people in my home suspiciously.. bad sign. Anyway, I can agree with the most of your review that I read/remember, but I don't have it in me to go through 31 bad endings, I got a few of them- but mostly in Kokoro's path- which isn't helpful. I did check out Sotoru's failure, but that just bothered me more. XD I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but damnit I want someone to bounce thoughts off of! >O I agree with the replay value and also disagree though.. I probably will NEVER go through this again, but damn do I really want to. The VN is a great story but lacks the conclusions to really make me feel satisfied. I want to play it again so bad to observe what I learned in Sotaru's playthrough, and try to figure out some of the missing details, but I can't bare another playthrough- once I started the game and realized that answering one question wrong may in turn make that playthrough unredeemable; I resolved myself to just aim for the good endings. I just can't bare to play through it again changing one answer at a time, especially without direction, to try to see if there is EVER the answers I have left. I am someone who stands still, and even I- would never make it through that. If I did, it'd take so long that I'd forget minor details, and even if I finally had my answers.. I think I'd be so bitter at that point, that the game would lose it's overall impression. That being said, great game.. but unless you're a masochist- never try to answer every question the game makes. Even having played the games as released, knowing about the company, and the Cure possiblity, as well as the 4th dimension.. maybe that's where I'm wrong.. by knowing those things, maybe I'm giving myself more questions. But, however it is, with three obviously powerful elements potentially present, I know not the answer to many questions that even the 'true ending' which is totally misleading with those familiar last words. This game is truly an infinity loop.

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  4. One last note: since it's at the beginning- I don't think it'll spoil anything, but the game would appear to begin not with the change, but before it. As the fourth dimension should only be able to be in perspective during such times, I wonder why this was the case in this instance, while others were only because of the incident that the fourth dimension plays a role. Cure perhaps? Hm.. more thought.. I don't think I'll ever completely forget this game, as much as I really kind of want to right now...

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  5. @Tiya: Yeah I know right? Sorry but deleted your comment since blogger is bogus without any proper spoiler system and it was a pretty big one T.T

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  6. I'm sorry then...it was a BIG SPOILER, wasn't it ?

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  7. I agree almost entirely with this review, except for "Satoru being 100% logic and no emotion". It's true he's usually like that, but anything concerning Kokoro after she's saved him from the killer the first time, he's shown to have really great feelings towards her to the point of being infatuated.

    This causes him to be greatly shocked when he discovers "her" evil side. (can't post any more due to spoilers)

    By the way, do you still have the game installed? I really need help getting 2 CGs, they are the ones left and right of the picture of "Hotori" holding the dead rat.

    Thanks in advance ^-^
    ~Kokoron

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