Keeping things informal as well as infernal


Amai Works has launched a crowdfunding campaign for Complex Relations, a romance visual novel about a trio of friends spending their summer off the grid.

Amai Works is a new studio of independent developers owned by Shiro, also known by their name as an independent VTuber, Shirogane Ryouko. The team has recently begun working on their first title: the visual novel, Complex Relations.

Written as a slice-of-life-romance story, the visual novel features a trio of young adults — Jesse, Alexa, and Vani — who join their other three friends at a remote lake house to spend the summer together. The group will soon be going their separate ways, as everyone’s moving out for college after the break. Before they split apart, they each want to make the summer as memorable as possible.

Despite the simple premise, Complex Relations aims to offer narrative depth through its unique style of writing. Throughout the story, the player will frequently be able to pick which of the three characters’ perspectives they want to follow for the next story segment, letting readers see the different perspectives each character has on the ongoing events. Since the group doesn’t always stick together in the story, choosing who to focus on will also affect which events the player experiences in a single playthrough.

Currently, there are plans to include three endings in the final version of Complex Relations, with each end having additional variants unto itself. Choices made by the player along the way will affect not only which ending they end up getting, but also how exactly it plays out.

To realize their vision for Complex Relations, Amai Works would have to gather at least $9,500. It’s a very feasible goal at this stage, given that the team managed to collect almost $7,000 at the time of writing, with 21 days remaining until the end of the Kickstarter campaign. The developers have opted for an all-or-nothing approach: if the base goal isn’t met in full, all donated funds will be returned to the backers.

As explained on the crowdfunding page of the project, over half of the needed funds would be dedicated to the production of artwork needed for the game. Writing and directing would also take a quarter of the budget to complete, with the rest going towards composing and fees.

While the team expects to finish the entire project using the budget requested as their base goal, there are plans for additional content if the campaign manages to gather extra funds. These include extra CGs at $12,000, an extra day of the story at $14,500, bonus scenes for side characters at $16,500, and finally, the production of a vocal music track if the budget reaches at least $22,000.

If Complex Relations caught your interest, you can try out the game's free demo on Steam and Itch.io. You can help the project reach its fruition by joining the crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, which will run until January 16th. Those who pledge $14 or more will be given a Steam or Itch.io code for the full game once it releases. The developers plan to deliver the complete experience sometime around March 2023.

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