Just recently a brand new Nitro+ visual novel titled “Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi” (“Totono” for short) was released, along with a demo version on its official site. After playing said demo, I figured I’d share my initial impressions on the title. I’ll include some plot details as well – seeing how this is a demo, I highly doubt I can possibly spoil anything major, but I figured I’d give a warning for those that want to go into it without any prior knowledge.
I have to say, Nitro sure knows how to make a first impression. As the game is launched and the company logo pops up, Franz Liszt’s classic Liebestraum begins to play in the background, and continues to play during the opening lines.
First off, the game itself piqued the curiosity of VN fans due to its rather creepy trailer, which vaguely implied the inclusion of more bloody, yandere-esque scenes. While I didn’t encounter such scenes in the demo (or maybe I missed them?), nor do I know if the trailer was just trolling us or not, the trial version itself successfully did what a good trial version is supposed to do. That is, make the reader interested in the final product.
Aside from an enigmatic beginning, probably even more mysterious is one of two main heroines – Mukou Aoi, the pink-haired Sonico lookalike who insists on the fact that her cellphone can make contact with God, and that the entire world is merely a game. She constantly references visual novel jargon, calling the protagonist’s (Shinichi) childhood friend Sone Miyuki a main heroine, referring to herself as one of the game’s “routes”, and warning Shinichi when a “Bad End” approaches. She is also convinced that she can simply load a savegame and “reset” the world if she makes a mistake. Shinichi chalks it up to a psychological problem and thinks she needs to start making real friends in order to be able to tell the difference between game and reality. Which is fine… until a mysterious cellphone game (one labeled as a netorare game) actually depicts events that happened in real life as well, with a heroine who looks like Aoi. At this point Shinichi is still skeptical, assuming that Aoi simply copied what she saw in the game.
However, things escalate even further when “God” seems to finally answer her phone call, the sky turns crimson, and Aoi declares that she must install an “update” so as to avoid a Bad End. The “ritual” is unfortunately cut short because, as she explains, “this is just the trial version”.
I think it’s become quite apparent that the whole game so far is fairly meta. Which is, I must add, a welcome twist on the usual VN formula. Needless to say, as Aoi couldn’t finish her system update / Satanic ritual of sorts, I ended up with a Bad End – Shinichi’s love remains unfulfilled, and after a 3-year timeskip, he watches from the shadows as his high school sweetheart rises to stardom, becomes a famous actress and lands herself a cool actor boyfriend. On the verge of tears, he resigns to his fate, saying that happy endings don’t suit him. Then the demo ends.
So I guess it’s up to you to summon God via that cellphone and “fix” things? Who knows. I’m also slightly worried about how such an “update” will affect the world and its inhabitants – this being Nitro+, I can’t see it ending well. There’s actually a decent number of choices in this demo, and after trying a bunch of them, they all seemed to lead to the same end. Maybe they only have an effect in the main game. However, the two heroines seem fairly interesting so far – our pink-haired mystery girl maybe a bit more so, as she appears to be the one who will trigger all the weird stuff that I’m sure will inevitably happen. In general, the whole “reality vs. game world” plot line works well in setting up a strong basic mystery for the game.
In summary, while I am not utterly blown away by what I’ve just read, I am nonetheless intrigued, and will most definitely consider giving the full game a chance. So far it seems like it will revolve around a high school love story with a bizarre, yet really cool “breaking of the 4th wall” twist. As the opening lines suggest, the focus might possibly be on the various ways the protag can mess up his little love triangle and end up with horribly depressing outcomes. The concept has potential, hopefully Nitro manages to take it to the heights it truly deserves. We’ll see if this one lives up to expectations – for now, it’s too early to draw any conclusions based on a trial version, and the full game has only been out for two days.
One thing’s for sure: I most certainly hope a Boat will be included, preferably one of the Nice variety.