I really expected better from the people who made DRAMAtical Murder and Chaos; Head. But then again, it's a really old game. Unlike my other reviews, I'm going to cover my feelings on the routes in the Plot section, mostly because the main character is very different in each of them and really, I should do this with VNs from now on.
Also, I had a lot of problems getting this fucking thing to run. I had to redownload something because of a Windows 7 update not being compatible with the game. And save/load freezing the game too, I found a fix for it, but it's really annoying to do when you want to use saves to go back and get bad ends and whatnot. This game does not like Windows 7 and above.
Title: Togainu no Chi
Translation done by: Kick ass people from Aarinfantasy Seriously, I just linked the forum patch. I don't know if the people went by an original team name, will update if I find the info
Genre: Dark/Post WW3 Japan/Yaoi/angst
Warnings: Gore, violence, sexual violence, sadism, rape (PLEASED take note of these warnings!)
Graphics: 7/10 - The art is pretty hit and miss in this. Sometimes the art is perfectly okay, and sometimes, in some of the CGs, it looks like Akira's hair is a different color than what it should be or sometimes, the characters look very different from the previous CG. It's an older game, so I'm giving it a pass to some degree. The artwork is definitely pretty to look at and Akira is definitely a pretty boy when you come down to it.
Plot: Unlike what I normally do, I'm going to give a basic run down of the overall plot, score that, and score the average of all the routes together. Which will work against the game.
Overall - 7/10 - The overall story is really interesting. Basically, we're thrown post WW3 Japan. During the war, children were basically taught how to fight and survive in combat instead of a proper education. When the war ended, those children, who knew nothing but fighting and surivival techniques, were thrown back into society and expected to just 'adapt'. Yeah, of course that doesn't go well...
Enter Akira, our protagonist. He is, sadly, one of those children who only skills are fighting and surviving. So no wonder why he's drawn to a fighting competition called 'Bl@ster' (Yes, that is how it is spelt) and he ends up at the top. However, it's not long lived, as he's falsely accused of murder. Enter two mysterious figures named Emma and Gwen, who basically make a deal with him: face life imprisonment, or travel to Toshima (Formally Tokyo) to take part in a 'life or death' game of survival, Igura, to defeat the strongest man, Il re.
Sadly, the backstory is probably more interesting than the actual plot, which is Akira's travels through Toshima. Which is why the overall story gets high marks. The story has a lot of potential, but it never really realizes it's potential.
It's also kind of hard to nail down Akira's personality, because it changes depending on what route you choose. He comes off cold and aloof in some routes, and in others, you see he has some really deep issues and why he's the way he is. He reminds me of Squall from Final Fantasy 8 (And what a shock, they actually look alike too!). So I'm going to cover him in the routes.
Dead end/bad routes NA - I'm only going to briefly these (I'm not going to score them, because they're not routes). Many guides compose Arbitro, Gunji, and Kiriwar as 'endings', but to me, these aren't endings or even routes. These are bad ends. While not nearly as bad as Virus and Trip's bad ends from DRAMAtical Murder, they're bad enough. Arbitro's is just basically sadistic (And you can only get this via Keisuke's route, so basically, it's a bad end to me), and just playing the common route, you get a nasty vibe from him, so it's no surprise. Gunji and Kiriwar are just there for rapey gore torture, and they can kindly fuck off.
Keisuke 6/10 - The 'childhood' friend and the one who habors a secret crush on Akira. He basically follows Akira to Toshima, though a pack of basically feral human beings who almost fucking kill Akira during his trip through. How he managed to live getting there is basically 'Oh, I hid myself really well!'. Such a garbage excuse, but we're gonna roll with it.
I'm going to admit right now, I love childhood friend routes a lot. It's just one of my likes in VNs, I like seeing the childhood friend getting together with someone they've had 'secret' feelings for. So I figured, this would be the route I'd like.
Then I discovered, he's the Yandere route too. Which is a genre of routes I hate almost more than anything. What the fuck is with childhood routes going Yandere lately!? I've been seeing this trend lately in VNs, and it's pissing me off a lot, because it takes my most favorite and least favorite genre together.
The VN tries to cover up the Yandereness with, 'it's all because of Line!' Line is apparently a drug that increases your physical attributes greatly. The problem? It's deadly and very addictive. Withdrawal Symptoms have been known to cause extreme pain and death. So after a fight where Akira gets mad at Keisuke basically lacking confidence in himself and takes it out on poor Keisuke, he runs off (and rightfully so). You're treated to a flashback where you find out that Keisuke has had a crush on Akira for a long time.
Keisuke decides to use 'Line' and goes 'cray cray' for a chunk of the story. This route also has a really violent bad end, in fact, it's so violent, the image in the route basically blinks by 1-2 seconds during the route! Geez...
There's also one scene which happens in his route famously known as the 'screwdriver scene'. Yeah, think about it for a second. A Yaoi VN + Screwdriver = WTFBBQ land. My jaw was dropping the ENTIRE time of this scene.
I'm going to try to avoid spoilers too, but basically, Akira does spoiler stuff to bring Keisuke back, they have waffy boy sex (Which is ruined by the fact that Screwdriver scene fucking happened! It also seems that Akira isn't really into it, but just rolls with it, which I hate in any VN, BL or not) and story dump happens. They manage to live happily ever after, except the fact that SCREWDRIVER HAPPENED!
I will say one positive thing about this, which saved points in it's case: You get to see how Keisuke suffered for having feelings for Akira, and Akira's inability to convey his own feelings due to his upbringing having really dire consequences in it's wake. That still does not erase the fact that SCREWDRIVER HAPPENED. Sorry, but what could've been a good route was ruined, for me, by that one fucking scene, cray cray mode or not.
Motomi 8/10 - A lot of people are going to disagree with me, but I really liked this route, mostly because the focus was on Akira's thoughts, feelings, and regrets. You don't really get any of those in the other routes, and I felt really bad for him at his inability to patch things up with Keisuke. It works in this route much better than Rin's. It also has the more uplifting end and the sex scene, Akira doesn't come off as 'just going with the flow'. Motomi and Akira work well together and have some really deep conversation with each other. Probably my favorite of the routes, though I don't usually like the 'old man' genre too much.
Rin 5/10 - Probably the most 'blah' of the routes. You also find out about Shiki, who was completely ignored in the previous 2 routes. No joke, Shiki plays NO role in Motomi and Keisuke's routes. Seriously what the fuck. I felt really emotionally distant in this route, and I felt sorry for Rin and what he has to go through. And I also liked that Akira is the opposite in this route from Motomi; it's now him playing adult. And it's the only route where he puts on the seme pants. But other than that, there's not much to say. A somewhat satisfying ending, but it was so 'middle of the road' compared to the others.
Shiki 6/10 - Ho man, and I thought Keisuke's route was bad. Shiki seems to be the 'main' path, aka the path that the creators kind of want you to do. However... this route is full of rape, torture, and sexual abuse, so beware. I mean, the story tries hard to put a story in for Shiki, there's tons of background info between him and a certain someone. And while the story itself is good, you cannot forget that this guy raped and sexually abused Akira. 'But there's reasons!' isn't a good enough excuse, and the only reason this score is saved from being lower is because the backstory is really good. I like the fact that a certain someone becomes the motivation behind Shiki's actions, and what the outcome is as well. His good ending is very bitter sweet and is the type of bitter sweet ending I could get behind.
Shiki also has 2 bad endings, one was basically he basically goes cray cray for power and becomes a dictator, which I actually liked, because it suited his character really well. Akira becomes his right hand man, and honestly, this bad end makes more sense than the good end. Da fuck, I'm picking a BAD end over a good one!? The other one is the same, only Akira becomes a slut toying with people's emotions, a real 180 of his entire personality, and he does it to make Shiki jealous. Cept Shiki is on to his plan but just doesn't give a flying fuck at this point. That's how I felt after this fucking route!
This route is an emotional wreck. The only reason it doesn't score lower is because of the story.
True Route, Nano 7/10 - This route, is very hard to pin down. Falling to destiny and accepting your fate or fighting your fate to break the chains. That's this route's overall theme and by the time you get to this route, you know pretty much the backstory of the game. I'm not going to spoil it here, but be warned for semi-rape? What the fuck is with Yaoi games fasination of rape? In fact, VNs in general all have this problem, Yaoi or Het. Maybe it's just a kink I can't get behind or understand. Either way, I'm going to end that line of thought there before this review gets preachy. Just be warned, this route skitters the route of non-con.
Overall, it fits pieces and clears some things up (Akira's dreams that get mentioned in Keisuke's route, for example), and ends somewhat happily?
Overall score: 6.5/10 - While some routes are saved by story, you can't really ignore the flaws of all of them. Out of the routes, I'd go with Motomi, only because it's one of the few routes that's non-rapey. I shouldn't be picking a favorite route because of it's non-rapey elements. ~_~;; Ignoring the rape, True End was probably the best of them all.
Music/sound: 6/10 - Most of the themes are forgetable and while I did enjoy 1-2 tracks, I didn't care much for it. It fits the theme of the story, and does it's job.
Gameplay: N/A - It's a typical VN. It does suck that of the routes, only 2 have bad ends, which means when you're on a route, you're on it till the end, and you only have control over the Common route. Yeah, age isn't kind to some VNs, and that's this one right here.
Overall: 6.5/10 - This isn't a VN I would really recommend, more so if you have issues with any warnings I said at the beginning. It's a shame that of all the Yaoi VNs to get translated, it's one of the more mediorc ones. The fact of the matter is this: the game has great potential to be something really good and dark, but it falls flat. Having your main protag being raped constantly does not make a good dark story, it just makes us feel uncomfortable and unclean, more so when it goes the 'oh, he was resisting at first, but now he likes it!' route. My suggestion? Go read DRAMAtical Murder instead of this. While there's rape in that one too, the story, characters, and theme well make up for it.
I MAY do a review of DRAMAtical Murder but I'd have to replay the game to give it a fair review (I forgot a lot of what happens), so we'll see. Up next, maybe back to fanfiction. Who knows? I make these promises and I end up getting swept up in WoW. >.>