Posted by: The_Patient 7 March 2017 Disclaimer: This title was provided to us for review by the game's developer, MyDearest.
With all the tools available to the public to make your own game, indie developer MyDearest has taken their first shot with School of Talent: SUZU-ROUTE, developed in Unity. This title is for people who enjoy a typical romance story with some extra lore to spice it up and I, for one, do like a nice romantic story. Maybe I am just a big sap, but nevertheless, I enjoy experiencing a good story and caring for the characters very much; however, this title had a few issues preventing me from maintaining my suspension of disbelief.
School of Talent: SUZU-ROUTE is a Unity game and therefore supports all the common resolutions. The game does suffer from a few minor bugs that were not ironed out, though. Near the beginning, I came across a scene that I had no control over whatsoever; the textbox just went to the next message automatically without me clicking either the auto or next buttons, and every button was unresponsive. This was a bit of a bummer, as I am a slow reader. Furthermore, this title is completely kinetic (save one choice you can make that is completely without consequence), so there is no need for many save slots. I would have liked to have more than the six save slots the game offers (one of which being an autosave), but it is not much of a problem.
School of Talent: SUZU-ROUTE is set in present day Japan, but in a universe where one in ten thousand children gain a “Talent,” a magical ability making them capable of supernatural feats, ranging from super strength to conjuring a type of ramen of your choice. Most of these children got their Talent from a traumatic experience or other type of strong, emotional feeling. These children often leave their parents to learn to use their Talent at the academy for students with Talents: Mikage Academy. This academy is only 50 years old and exists to train the children with their Talent to help society as a whole. This might seem familiar for those acquainted with Boku no Hero Academia, but in this universe, a Talent is rare instead of the norm.
In the story of School of Talent: SUZU-ROUTE, you are Kotaro Sakurai, a fancy, average lad without a Talent who was just bumbling about at the Mikage Academy Culture festival, the only day the academy is open to the public. Someone pulls you in a room for a raffle, and what are the chances (1 in 100 million, as told by the students who cheer you on)? You win the raffle and get to join the Mikage Academy with a full scholarship despite having no Talent. On the way home, as you contemplate joining the academy you hear singing. You follow the singing and meet the girl this story is all about: Suzu Yuki, a silver-haired girl with a golden voice and a smile Kotaro can’t stop thinking about. And what are the chances again? She’s also at the Mikage Academy, cementing your decision to join the academy.
Cut to a year and a half later (nothing of importance happened in that time apparently), and Kotaro has still not talked to Suzu. He learns all about the academy and its two dorms: the Black Roses and the White Lilies. The Black Rose dorm is the lower class, performing rather poorly and are a lazy, rowdy, unorganized bunch. The White Lily dorm, meanwhile, is home to the upper class, well-performing, serious, snobby students. As you may expect, the two dorms haven’t been able to stand each other since the start of the academy. This is mostly because the White Lilies can’t stand the Black Roses’ inability to take school seriously. This is a big problem for Kotaro, because Suzu, the girl he fell for, is a White Lily while he is a Black Rose. Suzu seems to be an uptight ice queen who does everything for her dorm as the dorm leader and does not waste time socializing. It is up to Kotaro to melt her cold, icy heart and win her trust, so he can hear her sing again just for him, like the first time they met.
Some of the story elements and plot devices in School of Talent: SUZU-ROUTE feel a bit too forced and reek of deus ex machina. Too many instances of “What are the chances?” took me a bit out of the story. A certain plot device found later in the story exists for the sake of Kotaro learning more about Suzu and vice versa, seems incredibly out of place and is brushed away a few moments later like it was nothing, never to really be mentioned again. At one point, Kotaro monologues, “Who would have guessed that Suzu also couldn’t sleep?” to which I could answer, “I could have guessed that.” It was very predictable. The story seems a bit too convenient, with everything so perfectly in place with very little natural hardship. Most of the troubles Kotaro faces are either caused by a silly misunderstanding beyond his control or because he is a wussy who doesn’t dare express his feelings or explain himself to Suzu.
For the sake of a fictional story, it is pretty good and original. The Talent universe and the trials of the characters all make it a unique story that I could care for, but I feel there could have been better ways to enroll Kotaro into the academy and other such plot events. The coincidental timing of certain events for the sake of exposition did take me out of the story at times. The transitions between scenes are also sometimes done a bit too abruptly, further aiding in killing my suspension of disbelief.
What are the chances!
Besides the writing itself, there are other problems when it comes to reading School of Talent: SUZU-ROUTE: the translation errors. There are many occasions where Japanese writing is mistakenly left in the text. These were usually names, so I had no idea who was saying what at these points, frustrating me and further taking me out of the suspension of disbelief. Other translation errors were some stray tags, a leftover translator note, and at some points I couldn’t tell if it was a translation error or a continuity error. These instances included gems like “Suzu is the former dorm leader,” while she is actually the current dorm leader. The further I went in the story, the further more spelling errors came to my attention, as well some grammatically unsound sentences. Needless to say, this does not help the narrative School of Talent: SUZU-ROUTE was going for.
Yes, leave it, but not in the final version next time.
Over at the visual side of School of Talent: SUZU-ROUTE, things aren’t too bad. The CGs are probably the best part of it, but they’re nothing too special. They convey the right emotion at the right time and do their jobs pretty well. The backdrops are okay, but some are purchased copyrighted assets and not original to this game. One backdrop was completely out of place, as it had a different style to it and other people were visible within it, unlike the standard backdrop of an empty space with no people.
As for the character sprites, they are pretty well done; still nothing amazing, but the quality is good enough for the reader to care for the characters they represent. The girls look sexy and just unique enough in various outfits to have some sex appeal. Sometimes, the sprites are animated a little by moving them from side-to-side or up and down, usually to express emotion for the character in a more extreme manner or just to show the girls in their swimsuits. Other than that, they have a small range of sprites for each character to suit different emotions. Most notably is Otake, the comic relief character, who has many sprites to emote his lust for women, including a nosebleed and bleeding eyes. In short, the art is fine, but nothing mesmerizing.
When starting the game, you are immediately greeted with a music box song to set the mood for some romance. If School of Talent: SUZU-ROUTE shone in any one area, it would be setting the tone with the right music. The music is not dull elevator music, as it is with some other titles, but it’s varied and fits the right scenes. The voice acting is also well done. Suzu is voiced by Rie Yamaguchi and even does a good job singing, but the other minor characters could have been performed a little better. Some sound effects in the game are also a bit strangely implemented, beginning and ending so abruptly that you can get caught off guard. They can sound quite unnatural, like a soundboard from a radio show.
Who’s saying nothing? I am so confused.
All in all, I did enjoy the story in School of Talent: SUZU-ROUTE, because I am a sap for romance. All the major characters and even some minor ones are quite properly fleshed out and unique. Everyone has their own backstory and characteristics, and while some characters are riddled with tropes, it’s nothing too grating. School of Talent: SUZU-ROUTE does, however, have some glaring issues that did lessen my experience, the translation errors and the deus ex machina plot devices being the main culprits that pulled me out of the story. The minor bugs can be forgiven, but the translator note and bits of Japanese left over in the English version are quite bad and frustrating to stumble across. The game is about 10 hours long and I did feel something for all the characters, but I don’t think the experience will be lodged in my memory as a must-read unique story. I can only recommend it if you are even more into romance stories than I am, because there isn’t much else to it. Just win her heart and live happily ever after.
- Good voice acting
- Unique story
- Well-written characters
- Translation errors
- Prominent uses of deus ex machina plot devices
- Minor bugs and spelling errors
|Art And Graphics|