I don't have the time I wish I had to write about this game. I've hardly played ANY of the NaNoRenO entries so far, and now it's YuriJam I barely have any time to write about the ones I HAVE played :\
I really, really, really enjoyed this game! Every time I start playing a game with a tough lady protagonist, especially one with romance potential, I'm pretty much assuming that it will be handled poorly. That she'll wind up being defined more by her insecurities than her abilities, and she'll constantly need to be saved so her love interest can "prove" himself, and she'll secretly just be bitter than nobody treats her like a lady because that's all she really wants. Ishara is not this. Ishara is excellent
. She certainly has vulnerable moments, but none of them felt like a betrayal of the ferocious badass we're presented with at the beginning. Wonderful, wonderful job on that note. I also really enjoyed her relationship with Tal (I would have loved seeing a romance between them, but I guess that wasn't to be :\).
You did excellent work with the atmosphere - how you used sounds and perspectives and camera bob to convey the presence of "water" in a bunch of different forms. I almost felt like water was a character, if that makes sense - as if it was as important to the story as some of the actual characters were, anyway! ^_^; I've lived around waterways and boats all my life - just moved back to the lakeside suburb where I lived during high school, and where my parents still live - and the way you handled the seas/rivers/oceans in this game was just perfect. Your scenes took me right back to a hundred grey mornings looking out over a sullen ocean, and it was really quite moving.
The game was a lot longer than I expected (oh my gosh I didn't even realise there was a Cendre route! GUAAAAARGH now I have to play it again even! ;_; ) but it never got dull. The combat was well-handled too, a really nice simple system that was relevant, without intruding too much on the narrative. I really enjoyed jumping between perspective characters too! I feel like a lot of VNs would be more interesting if they weren't so committed to having only one POV character. What you did, having Ishara as the main POV character but letting us see her from the outside occasionally, worked really well.
I was SO RELIEVED at the ending.
I really thought I was gonna be punished for trying to take on the final fight with just Ishara, but I couldn't imagine sending Felix along at that point - both for his own safety, and because after everything that had happened it just felt right for Ishara to prioritise her family's safety at that moment. But then OH MAN she totally came through like a god damned BOSS. Of all the things that seemed incidental or just for character building, I never expected Felix's knot trick would be Checkhov's Gun, so I damn near laughed out loud when she pulled it off. Ahh, that made me so happy! XD
I think it's partially because all along I enjoyed how decisive Ishara is - she doesn't always know the best thing to do, but she still makes the call, because otherwise what? Let somebody else decide how you live and die? Hell no. That made the ending I got seem very "real", to me; somebody else might have wasted time looking for a way out, but Ishara saves everybody because she makes the call.
Unfortunately I also got a crash when I tried to take the other path for the final battle. That really is too bad, I wanted to see what differences there were ^^;
Only one scene really bugged me, story-wise -
the scene where everybody is sure that Felix is drowning, and Ishara jumps in to save him, only to have him save her. The characters talk about how strange it is that he didn't die, but I don't recall it ever being answered. If he was just lying about his swimming ability earlier, that makes the scene where he says he can't swim pretty hard to stomach, since that would mean he nearly got both himself and Ishara killed in aid of the lie. The result was that this particular scene felt a little bit forced, just for the sake of Ishara needing a rescue, and that was frustrating given the otherwise very high calibre of storytelling. Was this addressed later, and I just didn't notice?
Oh, also - I spoke a little about the game on a podcast I do with some friends (http://dlc.invincible.ink
). It is a very unknown and unimportant podcast in the grand scheme of things, but I thought you might like to know anyway ^_^;