The game is a narrative-driven, exploration-based puzzle platformer that presents the player with one of two possible paths. The path you choose will affect how people react to you in the future. Ultimately, your choices shape who and what becomes of this world’s society
The “dead letter dept” is a game that has been developed by the indie studio, Venus Game Studios. The game is a puzzle platformer with a story that focuses on love and loss.
When it comes to creating a video game, it’s critical to understand your target demographic. For example, if I created a brand-new, ultra-realistic baseball simulator with poor swing mechanics but tons of narrative on why each player entered the league, it would almost certainly be well-received by the appropriate reviewers. The great majority of players, on the other hand, would mock me because they came to a sporting event to play sports, not to learn who was inspired by Mike Piazza in 1997.
Similarly, if I made a dating sim about cat girls at a cafe (such a crazy idea, right?) but gave you more information on the day-to-day of the economics instead of the ladies’ specifics, I’m quite sure it would only be ironically accepted as my real sales dropped. It’s all about finding a balance and figuring out where things belong, and Venus: Improbable Dream teeters a little too close to the edge.
This would be the start of something horrifying in any other game.
Venus: Unthinkable Kakeru, a would-be shut-in who is a loner at school due to a growth on his face, starring in Dream. Okay, considering the photos we’ve seen of Kakeru, it’s probably more because he’s obsessed with the growth on his face and blames everyone else for his bad mood, but that’s not the point. His parents and the principal are both concerned about his social development, so they propose that he join a music club to meet new people while simultaneously honing his piano talents. Kakeru chases the lovely sound of flute music to meet Haruka, a blind musician who feels equally detached, after a solid but faltering audition. Both lovebirds then begin on parallel adventures, uncovering their own sentiments and ambitions for the future, and gradually realizing that their destinies may be entwined, depending on your involvement.
Venus: Improbable Dream is a branching visual novel, but players should be warned from away that there are startlingly little options in the game at first, nearly to the point where I thought it was a kinetic book. You’ll spend a long time reading Kakeru’s opinions and responses to what’s going on before you eventually get to participate with the game. The game’s play duration is rather short for a visual novel: a devoted player could possibly figure out all four endings in a day or two, and without too much stress. This may be a half-day trip if you set the text speed to maximum and skip everything you’ve already read.
Oh, guy, whining about chicks when it’s raining? Is this a song by Morrissey?
Presentation-wise, Venus: Improbable Dream is a conventional affair that is enjoyable but not exceptional. When anime characters engage in speech, the images are a mix of filtered real-life scenes with anime characters overlay. It resembled the original Higurashi in appearance, albeit the cast is lot less rounded and infantile. The makers definitely tried to capture a wide variety of environments for Kakeru to wander through in his life, and the outcome is genuine and, at times, hilarious.
Naturally, you’ll spend a significant amount of time in the classroom, the music room, your own house, and the hallways of your school. However, Kakeru often makes the same trip home, forcing him to stand at the same corner with the sun just peaking over the corner to wax lyrical about his own views and beliefs about the world. Furthermore, I get that Kakeru has to use the restroom (and that it’s a nice spot for “guy conversation”), but we spent far too many frames relaxing in front of a wall of urinals, and it all began to seem like a parody of itself.
The soundtrack for Venus: Improbable Dream is a nice, straightforward collection of instrumentals that ranges from basic piano solos to dissonant synths and nearly nostalgic backbeats. The end product is something that has an intentional but successful 90s anime flavor to it, as if I’m watching a G-rated Golden Boy or a less weird Ranma 12 version. It’s fairly fun as long as you keep going ahead with the material at a reasonable pace, although it may get tedious after a while. Certain songs, particularly those with a more classical feel, aren’t looped correctly, resulting in a jarring finale in which they abruptly halt, give you quiet, and then restart from the beginning in a manner that reflects the game’s anger.
This is either a graphic novel or the Instagram account of a 15-year-old from Connecticut.
We all know that if the bones aren’t excellent in a visual novel, none of the pyrotechnics are worth seeing, and Venus: Improbable Dream is in a precarious position. On the one hand, it’s encouraging to see a game with such a high title remain grounded in reality, both in terms of potential and execution. I was worried that we’d discover Haruka was some kind of heavenly entity like Yu-No, but she was anchored in reality, both in terms of her desires and in terms of her impairment. Haruka isn’t bound by things, but she also doesn’t hide her blindness.
For the most part, the supporting cast is diverse, ranging from loving but tough-love parents to the head of the music club who only cares about Kakeru in terms of his musical abilities. The quest for self-discovery and understanding one’s place in the world is a vital one, and I believe Kakeru’s path is mainly relevant, leading to diverse but still quite comprehensible outcomes. Nothing is too dark or too light, and when it all comes to a head, no one will need trigger warnings.
On the other side, there have been times when the air has been so dry that I’ve wished for something chaotic to happen. I expected there would be a dramatic twist or turn when Kakeru began having panic attacks, but nothing happened. He went home, broke his vow, and went to school the following day, when he was met with nothing but understanding and good humor. It was either go to the library or enjoy lunch with Haruka when I finally had a chance to make a decision in the game. I made my decision, read through the emerging relationship, and then had to make another decision.
My sole branching worry in the game was where I would next hang out with Haruka, and I only received those two options many times in a row. There had been so many times in the past when I thought I’d have a chance to say anything, but no: Kakeru bumbled about without my input, and I was limited to where my school date was going to be. Thankfully, the game’s “Back” option enables you to backtrack through selections, so I had many save slots to ensure that nothing had changed except for the final decisions, which were made much later on.
If there had been an option to “go to Applebee’s,” I would have sealed the deal.
Venus: Unthinkable Dream has an unusual place in the realm of visual novels, and I’m not sure whether that’s for the better or for the worse. It doesn’t have the bite of Steins;Gate or The Way We All Go, but it’s also not as sweet as Strawberry Vinegar, instead settling somewhere in the middle. Kakeru and Haruka make a lovely couple without being too suggestive, and Kakeru is a decent protagonist, but just OK. He doesn’t have enough wit in his self-loathing, and he’s too aware of his abilities to make his humility appear sincere. He isn’t unlikable, but he isn’t the most pleasant person to be around.
Yes, this is the ideal time to check your phone: when you have all of your belongings out.
To be honest, I would have rather to view the game from the opposite perspective: it would have been fascinating to see Haruka’s life unfold from her vantage point in the darkness. It may not be as aesthetically appealing, but it may be an intriguing approach. Venus: Improbable Dream is a nice little commitment in terms of both time and knowing the mechanics, and it’s entertaining both in terms of how the plot plays out and the music itself, even if you’re not a huge fan of visual novels. It is, however, a pretty short excursion, and I doubt I’ll return to play this one again when I’m stumped for anything to do. It’s decent, yet it falls flat.
The entire result was gratifying and caught the essence of the game, despite the roughness of the characters.
There are too few options to make an impression, yet they are in line with how the protagonist spent his life.
Excellent instrumental/electronic balance; just wish there was more diversity.
While we did discover Kakeru’s true identity, there wasn’t enough that piqued my interest to keep the celebration going.
Final Score: 7.0
On PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, Venus: Improbable Dream is now available.
On the Nintendo Switch, a review was conducted.
The publisher donated a copy of Venus: Improbable Dream.
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