Kono Yo no Hate de Koi o Utau Shoujo YU-NO

Very late to the party, but played through YU-NO. Overall a pretty enjoyable ride and it managed to keep my attention throughout the entire experience, which is much more than I can say about the vast majority of games.

For me the game definitely peaked in Mio route. Ayumi acted like a complete moron throughout her route and the fact that the majority of drama could’ve been solved at any time by the protagonist doing the obvious thing left a bad aftertaste, Mitsuki simply didn’t stand out that much as a heroine even if the route itself had interesting mystery solving parts, while Kanna’s central sob story felt very cheap that didn’t have much to do with the main plot, despite my initial expectations for her route. Kaori’s route was so short it’s hard to call it a route. Mio’s route on the other hand was backed by her always entertaining chemistry with the protagonist and also the character herself feeling like an active participant in the story rather than a helpless uncooperating drama magnet, while also having interesting main plot stuff throughout. It felt the most satisfying when coming to puzzles and general gameplay as well.

Production values wise the game is pretty damn solid and there's plenty of CGs even for very short events, though there's often some jarring variation in how characters look in CGs versus how they usually look in sprites. Speaking of sprites in general, two of them stood out as outright horrible, namely Kaori simply due to how low quality she looks with those huge bug eyes and  adult-sized Yuno not fitting her voice in the slightest: she looks like a fucking amazon in the sprite while sounding like a kid just as before. Maybe if the game kept up the emotionless brainwashing thing for longer, but it’s dropped almost instantly and even the plot itself seems to completely forget about it being a supposed requirement for the miko.

True route starts out  extremely silly and while I actually liked how the game foreshadowed the 異世界 stuff and the sudden switcheroo is a great whammy, the game ups the silliness factor too far later on by raising the stakes even higher from the previous, more down-the-earth motivation of simply finding answers / Koudai’s whereabouts to yet another world saving plot along with a somewhat boring main antagonist who didn’t end up getting characterized that much more from what the previous routes had already revealed. Greatly disappointed in that regard. Suddenly getting an almost completely new main cast was also somewhat janky and I honestly couldn’t really get invested into them as much as I hoped for that reason. Perhaps the game could’ve paced it better in the main part through flashforwards, or balancing the length of main part and true route so the player could also get invested into latter or something else, I don’t know. Most of the time I felt I couldn’t really give a fuck, especially when it came to the supposedly tragic side character deaths.

Gameplay wise I really liked the main system since it gives you a clear goal to strive towards from the very start and lets you loose without handholding. Getting those fucking gems was what always kept me going further. Using the obviously important locked room at the start as a constant carrot in the stick also worked wonders. I’m not sure what to think about the limited save system, since getting some key items again from other routes in case you end up fucking up is very a painful drudge, while on the other hand it also makes finally getting your hand on those gems feel more rewarding since it helps exploration. While it’s justified in story, I sometimes wished the game would’ve just let the player scene select freely to reduce the amount of needless skipping they have to do. Luckily I ended up abusing hard saves every now and then as well for points where you may end up using a key item, since soft saves won’t help you with those. Map functionality could’ve also been improved by the game showing the name of scenes and their triggers or something since it’s easy to forget which actions lead to which paths and scenes, often resulting in more needless retreading and skipping. Overall I was expecting some really janky and obtuse shit but the game is actually pretty playable even when diving into it blind, which is helped by the map always showing unexplored branches and UI warning when a branch is near.

archive: https://warosu.org/jp/thread/S20739115#p20772801