Alright, this is an interesting case for me. I actually don't play that many visual novel games, with probably having the most hours within Long Live The Queen more than anything else, which has an actual game mechanic in it. But as a reviewer, I want to attempt to test my objectivity and take a look at games that are out of my comfort zone at times, because that's the great thing about gaming. A game that you might have overlooked or a genre you may not have considered might bring you a whole new experience that you never would have considered before. And so, when I saw the visuals and design regarding The Reject Demon Toko - Chapter 0 - Prelude, I became intrigued. Now note, I did play other visual novels for the sake of doing this review, because of the fact that I had to have something to gauge the game on. But even then, this game is a little different because of its episodic nature.
I love stories that may be a little bit out there, a little bit different then everything else, and this seemed like a game that would give me that. Now, I will admit, it was far more out there than I expected, and it's put me in somewhat of a dilemma regarding this review, as I will allude to in a little bit. It frankly shows the problems with a traditional scoring system at its core, which I will also get more into later. I will note that one of the difficulties that the game gave me in this review is attempting not to spoil anything about it, and with it being a story based game, that's entirely hard to do. So, keep in mind that while I'll do my best, I can't promise I won't spoil anything in this review.
Toko is a demon from the underworld who doesn't exactly fit in like her demon counterparts. Souls are needed for the demons to sustain themselves, but unlike your typical representation of demons, they don't necessarily steal them. They basically are the transporters of souls—they help guide the souls to the great beyond and what's to come next, as opposed to stealing them. But for Toko, no matter what, she can't end up taking her first soul in the little girl Nadia, who has a touching moment with Toko early on. We fast forward years later, and due to her lack of being able to bring in a soul, Toko is banished to become a human. And, of course, she runs into Nadia, where shenanigans happen that make up the rest of the plot in Chapter 0. And that's where things get ... well interesting.
I was not expecting a love story to work its way into the fold here, but that's exactly what The Reject Demon Toko: Chapter 0 — Prelude strongly starts out with. And to be frank, it's hard to really take in. Now look, the pairing of Toko-Nadia seems fitting in the big arc of the story, and they do have a slight chemistry together with Toko's brash and straight forward nature compared to Nadia's bubbly and perky personality, but it feels way, way too rushed—a common theme that develops regarding the story of the game.
The natural progression, or back story, that you would want with a story like this isn't there, and it feels like they go from meeting each other again to flirting with each other in the matter of moments—frankly it lost me along the way. Great character connections can take time and a good crafting of history and backstory between characters to really get going and make you want to care about things, and it just didn't do it here. It feels rushed, which is not what was expected because of the whole Prelude title.
I was expecting a setup of characters mostly, and while some characters are introduced, and we learn some traits about them, the plot may have introduced too much early on in the story. Just when you think that you've gotten the last component of this world introduced, here come witches and angels in the mix to provide another plot point, and friendships, and rivalry, and rock bands ... wait rock bands?
Yeah, that's seemingly the big plot point here to be setup for the upcoming chapters. There's a rock competition that's taking place in hell, and the biggest chance of the outer circle,which Toko is from, to take the competition is well ... Toko. Each demon gets their own instrument, and in this case, Toko gets the bass guitar named Epiphany. Oh, she can fight with it as well. This actually intrigued me and I liked the way it was introduced. The guitar has a mind of her own.
One thing to note is the cast here is entirely female. No seriously, it's entirely female. Including what I thought to be two male characters, but no, they are definitely female and referred to as such. I mean, that's cool and all, I like the different angle on things, but I guess I was surprised with certain characters being female in the end. I do like the designs to a certain point, as the artist did a reasonable job of giving the characters personality though the use of colors and vivid imagery on their person. The use of colors and the way they went about it was interesting; in fact, there's a lot of colors I wouldn't expect to work well together and a lot of colors that feel sorta washed out, but it works for this aesthetic that they are seemingly going for.
But again, almost every element of the story feels rushed. The introduction of the angels, the introduction of Toko's sister, heck, even the rock plot seems to come out of right field with its first introduction being done within a wall of text. There's a lot introduced here, and I wonder why some elements were introduced in this early episode. It's a lot of information for the player to take in during this first process, and I felt that more detail should have been paid attention to smaller elements here than attempting to bring out the bigger plot points. The best way I could describe this game is simple—it feels like you had the story on with a fast forward button.
But OK, so a bunch of problems about the writing and while there are some positives here, you may be wondering why this doesn't do well in the traditional review aspect. Well here's the thing, despite all that was said here about the problem with the writing and the rushed aspect of it, the game has my interest for the next chapter. I want to know what happens next, and I do care about the characters that have been introduced. I want to see where they go with it—to understand exactly what they can do to move the story along.
On the surface, I've liked some of the elements of the world they've created, and while this chapter didn't deliver in the overall execution ... I want to see more. And that's the problem with reviewing a game that has the episodic format—in particular with the first episode. I have to give the score based on this episode and this episode alone, and people will see that and be turned off to the game. But the game's potential for where it can go with the story ... that's a whole other level of interesting elements that will get me to take a look at the next chapter to see if they can move this story to the next level and overcome some of the problems that the original episode had.
The Reject Demon Toko - Chapter 0 - Prelude sets up a world that has a reasonable potential and could really drive an interesting storyline for future episodes of the series. But as of now, based on this chapter alone, I can't give it a good score due to its faults. I will be covering the next episode, that's for sure, because it's got its hooks in me. Now we'll see if it can reel it in.
It has potential, but Chapter 0 definitely rushes things which causes a problem storyline wise.