Katahane review

I feel kinda bad for skipping over Quartett’s review, even though I liked that game much more… Oh well. Story summary shamelessly stolen from VNDB:

“The story takes place in a world with 3 kingdoms, the Red, White, and Blue Kingdom. In this world, they have highly-advanced dolls with some closely resembling humans. These dolls occasionally need maintenance which is done by a “tuner”.

A young playwright named Wakaba writes a controversial play about a traitor named Ein who killed a ruler of the White Kingdom, Christina. In Wakaba’s play, she presumes that Ein did not betray Christina, but was actually her loyal supporter.

When Wakaba’s friend Cero needs to make a trip to get Coco, a doll that lives with him, maintenance, Wakaba and her brother Light travel with him. Wakaba travels in the hopes of finding some actors for her play. Along the way, they meet a beautiful doll with one wing named Belle and an aspiring actress named Angelina.”Characters:

For spoiler reasons I will only introduce the main characters from the first part of the story.

Angelina is an aspiring actress, and a pretty down to earth girl.

Belle is a doll from a peaceful village. She is soft spoken and polite, but also very insecure about herself.

Cero is an aspiring historian. He’s nice and polite, which is in stark contrast to his romantic interest, Wakaba.

Wakaba is a pushy and pretentious girl. She’s also clumsy and makes a lot of mistakes, on top of being a hopeless romantic. She wants to be a writer, and the play she writes is what kick starts the story.

…Really, she’s my least favorite character in the game. She makes decisions without thinking them through, then begs and pleads others to help her.

Coco is a doll. A very innocent and child-like doll. With a very, VERY grating voice. And despite being very popular in the story, I just can’t bring myself to like her.

Light is Wakaba’s younger brother. He fell in love at first sight with Angelina, which I think is just something they threw in so that he would have SOME importance to the story. Really, it felt like the writer just threw in another character so there would be enough people for the play.

Silvia is a doll tuner that the gang met during their travels. She’s a bit brash, and has borderline criminal tendencies, but she’s a good person inside. She is also my favorite character.

Tonino is Silvia’s partner. He’s an altogether wacky/criminal character with a good heart.

There are several other minor characters, including Belle’s “Father”/Cero’s guardian, Angelina’s actress friend Marianne, and Marianne’s husband, another famous actor.

Story:

There are two parts to the story. The game begins with “Shirohane”, which details the first part of the gang’s travels and how everyone came to meet everyone else. It is then switched over to “Kurohane”, which is the tale of the past, and the events leading to the death of Princess Christina. The game ends with the antics of the gang, and a short epilogue after the performance of the play.

There is a mandatory system place. You have to see Wakaba/Cero’s story, then Belle/Angelina’s story (which isn’t that different), and only then is Coco’s story unlocked. While I could see why the writers chose this system, I didn’t really care about most of the antics of the gang. Oh, another member got lost again? Great. Wake me up when they get back together again. Coco’s end WAS good, but all the foreshadowing was placed beforehand. Most of the foreshadowing did not really make sense until the end, and while that did mean that some twists came as more of a shock, it meant that the first two paths had a lot of confusing babble. I think it would have been much better if they just stuck with the true end to begin with and gave Katahane a linear storyline.

As I have mentioned, I didn’t care much for the comedy/antics in Shirohane. I also didn’t really care about the politics in Kurohane, much of which just went in one ear and out the other. The overall atmosphere wasn’t really pronounced, and the constant shifting of perspectives can be quite confusing. This is made worse by the fact that I didn’t really like any of the main characters. Another thing that I don’t like is the fact that this game is so heavily promoted as a Yuri series, when it’s not the focus of things at all. In fact, it is not a plot point, and there wouldn’t be much of a difference if, say, Belle was a boy instead. The writer tried to bring a sense of tension into Kurohane, but it ended up being more confusing than anything else.

There were also some plot threads where weren’t tied up all that nicely. What was the story behind the wings that made the old man panic so much? What the heck was the point of this green haired girl?

That said, some parts of Katahane were great. It was great to see all the pieces come together in Coco’s path, and the way that history affects the present is very well written. There were many twists and turns, including a few scenes with Coco where I cried a little. It is with these twists that I can forgive the writers for the format. The twist involving Wakaba’s family wouldn’t have been as surprising if I hadn’t seen Angelina’s costume so many times before.
I also really like the side characters. Silvia’s emotions were only really described in 1 scene, but it was a great scene. Marianne (I think that’s her name) is similiar in that she had a very short moment to shine, but shine she did. Her interactions with her doting husband are very entertaining to watch.

Art:Most of the game is in this format. There is a bit of background, then a black box with the character on top. All the event CGs might SEEM like widescreen, but that’s because it is only shown in the top half of the window, above the speech bubble.

Sometimes, other character’s sprites also pop up in boxes.

There is quite a number of event CGs, but not much in terms of character sprites. Every character has all of one pose, and as you can see, the poses of come characters (like Wakaba) isn’t that flattering. The event CGs vary in quality, but many of them are squished in the same little box in the window that a lot of the backgrounds appear in. Fue’s style is pretty simple, but it stands out from other games. Belle also looks significantly better than Angelina and Wakaba, which has to do with the fact that they only have one pose each. The backgrounds were done by Minori, so they were of good quality. Most things aren’t quite breathtaking though.

If only everything looked as good as the promotional art…

Music:

Not to my tastes. Definitely not. I was in agony throughout Kurohane. I might have had some opinions about the voice acting, but Coco’s voice is so unbearably screechy that everything else was just kind of thrown out of my head.

Programming:

Very minimal. There’s a map function that lets you see where the gang is, kind of. But that’s about the only thing worth mentioning. I mean, the textbox is a pure black box. There are a lot of perspective changes, some of which are choices that must be made. This means that you can’t just click the skip button, as the skip will just stop at the next perspective change in, like, 3 seconds. There was very little attempt at effects, which led to some rather lackluster action scenes.

Story:8×5=40/50

Art: 7×3=21/30

Music: 4/10

Programming: 6/10

Total: 71/100 C+

Overall, a nice game of a decent length. There are definitely strengths and weaknesses, but if you make it to end end you’ll probably enjoy it.

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