littleshogun

GundamAce's Code18 Review

Feb 23rd, 2021
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  1. Okay, guess I can say a few things about Code_18.
  2.  
  3. The plot is about Hayato Hino, a member of Ryusei Academy's 2nd Science Club. He has been working on building a flight pack of sorts called the "Dragon Unit" (as of now, he's on his "Mark 8"). However, he receives a chip for an smartphone from a Science professor, Genkuro Kanbara (voiced by Unsho Ishizuka), which is made out of a special stone known as the "Agastia Stone", and through the stone (and perhaps some other things), the phone should be able to receive messages from the future. After replacing all the parts of his smartphone and adding the chip, Hayato finds that he is indeed receiving voice messages from the future, and has received two as of this point. However, both of them are way too garbled for Hayato to understand, and he can only make out the number of syllables in each message.
  4.  
  5. Surprisingly, the game hasn't really focused too much on the girls as of now, and is instead focusing on the phone, and even more shocking is how few choices there are. I'm on the 5th-6th day or so, and there's only been about 4 choices. So yeah, I don't really know where the game's going to go from here, but aside from the lack of typical Infinity elements, there's nothing bad about the game... yet.
  6.  
  7. All right, finished Hikari's Route.
  8.  
  9. Hmm... well, I think it was decent, but nothing special. That's how I'd describe it. It mainly deals with Hikari, her issues, and how Hayato tries to help her. So yeah, sounds like any other VN in that aspect. Hikari herself is kinda neutral for me. While she's by no means a bad character, and I can't find anything bad about her (with the exception of this one time I felt she overreacted in the route, though it's justified due to her issues), there's nothing that really sticks out about her either. She just seems like a character that's been done before. One thing I did like was that Hayato and Hikari's relationship felt a bit more realistic than some other relationships in games (looking at you, Makoto x Izumi), probably because they had a little longer to develop. Also, one thing I was glad about was that there was this one last problem at the end of the route that felt like it was going to resolve itself really unrealistically and be very corny, but fortunately, it avoided that.
  10.  
  11. A plus is that the main characters feel like real people, that is, their reactions and personalities can feel realistic. For instance, there was barely an aspect of Hayato's character that I felt was too anime-esque or something, and that made him just seem more like a real person. Hikari's reactions were also understandable, if a bit more anime-esque than Hayato's at times.
  12.  
  13. Fortunately, there's several unanswered mysteries left at the end of this route that I'm hoping will be resolved in later routes. As of now, I have about 3-4 lingering questions, most of them revolving around Arika, as she's clearly the most mysterious character of the bunch. I already have a theory about her, but it does seem to contain several inconsistencies (either that, or Arika just isn't thinking logically if my theory is correct). The biggest mystery I have that I guess I can tell you all is "Who sent the mysterious messages from the future?"
  14.  
  15. One thing I dislike about the game is that it's REALLY bad with transitions. There's no calender of any sorts in-game, so it might suddenly jump to the middle of next day instantly while Hayato is monologuing at night. Hell, I don't even know what was the final day of the route. However, something very interesting happened after the credits, which I am not fully sure about.
  16.  
  17. Also, I felt that Ai Nonaka did a better job with Hikari than she did with Myuu. Maybe Hikari is just more like her type or something? Whatever it is, she sounded better with the emotional moments this time around.
  18.  
  19. Overall, the route gets a 7-7.5. Nothing bad, but nothing good either, though it did leave me with questions (which is always a plus in an Infinity game).
  20.  
  21. I will refrain judgment on whether or not to call this an Infinity game or not until the end. In structure, this game feels like it'll be close to Never7, as it while each individual route focuses on each girl and their issues, there's a mystery in the background that'll probably be solved in the final route.
  22.  
  23. I got the CG gallery open, and judging from the order of the album folders, I'm guessing that the route will follow those girls in order. If my theory is correct, then the order will be:
  24.  
  25. Hikari-Tamaki-Yuzu-Nanari-Arika.
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  27.  
  28. Just finished Tamaki's Route. I'll first sum up my feelings in one sentence.
  29.  
  30. God, this was boring.
  31.  
  32. I mean it, this has got to probably one of the most boring routes I've ever played in a VN. Tamaki was an incredibly bland character. While I said there was "nothing special" about Hikari, at least I found her rather likeable. Here, I literally felt nothing from Tamaki. There was nothing good or bad about her, but I didn't get any feel off of her. Hell, even my least favorite route in Never7 (Saki's Route), I at least felt a certain way about Saki, but I could care less about Tamaki. And it's not like she's hateable or anything, I just feel that if she wasn't in this story, nothing about the game would change.
  33.  
  34. She didn't even really have much of an issue: the main issue was with something else that wasn't directly Tamaki. With Hikari, her issue made her actions make total sense and understandable, while Tamaki's "issue" is kinda weak, as it barely affects her. As for the rest of the route, there was a slightly interesting aspect of it, but emphasis on "slightly". Also, the game's attempts at humor here are rather weak and cliched in this route, I didn't laugh even once. I also didn't care at all for the relationship between Hayato x Tamaki: it wasn't like my issue with Makoto x Izumi (which I felt was incredibly unrealistic), but I didn't get the same feeling of progression I did with Hayato x Hikari, where it was clear that Hayato was developing feelings for Hikari before he even realized it. Not the case here. I'd also like to point out that I think that Hayato will end up with Hikari in the end, as she still had a lot of prescence in this route despite not being the main heroine. I feel like she's the "Sumika" of this game (I'm referring to Muv-Luv).
  35.  
  36. As for mysteries, it barely followed up on anything in the last route or include anything new. My Arika theory, however, now has several holes in it, unless I'm logically thinking about this the wrong way. However, the last 20 lines of the route were by far the most interesting, as it dropped something rather mysterious and cryptic and sudden at the end, along with giving a small bit of insight into Arika. Interestingly enough, this route did not have any credits, while Hikari's did. Could there be a reason for this?
  37.  
  38. So in the end, I give this route a 3/10. Easily one of the most boring routes I've ever played in a VN, and I couldn't wait for it to be over (however, I didn't skip any segments, just in case something in this route turns out to be important later). Next is most likely Yuzu's Route, which I am not looking forward to, as she doesn't seem that interesting to me. I'm most looking forward to Nanari and Arika's routes, since they seem more like interesting characters.
  39.  
  40.  
  41. Finished Yuzu's Route. Again, my feelings in one sentence.
  42.  
  43. Meh.
  44.  
  45. While it was definitely an improvement over Tamaki's Route, it still wasn't as good as Hikari's Route. I will admit, however, that it was better than what I thought it'd be. But when your expectations are rock bottom after Tamaki's Route, I suppose that's not really something to brag about.
  46.  
  47. First of all, I admit that Yuzu was a better character than I thought she'd be. With Tamaki, I barely got any personality out of her whatsoever, and she felt so bland. Yuzu felt so much more... alive, I guess, as a character. She just felt more like a character, and the fact that there was a more prominent supporting character in this route that was easier to relate to also helped. I also enjoyed the fact that Arika got more screen time in this route than the other two, as it seemed to flesh her out more as a character. Currently, Hikari and her are my top two favorite characters. Again, though, I have no idea what she's up to, though I have my theories. Also, while nothing much really happened in this route, for some reason, it was a lot more interesting than Tamaki's route. Especially towards the end, where there were some good scenes that improved my rating of the route.
  48.  
  49. As for my main Arika theory, I'm still almost certain that my theory is correct. This route again made it seem like her actions weren't making sense, but I came up with a second theory to support the first one, and if it's correct, then it explains those actions very well. However, I'm no closer to guessing whose been sending the messages.
  50.  
  51. Now then, some bad points. First of all, I didn't really buy the whole Hayato x Yuzu relationship. At least Hayato x Tamaki felt like it had some development, but here, I didn't really sense either of them really falling for each other. They felt more like good friends rather than lovers. Which is perfectly fine, and in fact would have been a nice change of pace, but they didn't need to make them love each other. It feels like just because it's a VN, they're forced to love each other. Also, for most of this route, I couldn't help but just feel bad for Hikari half the time. In Tamaki's Route, she at least tries to support Hayato with his relationship with Tamaki, the whole "I Want My Beloved To Be Happy" shctick. Here, she appeared much less than she did in her route and Tamaki's route, and when she did show up, she always seemed more depressed each time, that I felt like doing a "Screw Yuzu, I'm going to go with Hikari instead!" move. Props go to Ai Nonaka for making me feel even sorrier for Hikari with her voice.
  52.  
  53. Also, the ending felt rather rushed and abrupt, like the writers wanted to get it over with as soon as possible, and so they wrote it in 5 minutes. When the ending happened, I was like "whoa, that's it?" With Hikari and Tamaki's routes, they built up to a climax that resolved the main issue, and while they did the same here, it felt a bit TOO convenient to solve her problem, I'd say. Speaking of issues, that's another bad point: Yuzu's issue affected her more than Tamaki's, but nowhere near as much as Hikari's, so I felt less invested in her problem. Hikari's problem was something that was very serious and realistic that defined her, while Tamaki and Yuzu's just seemed silly in comparison.
  54.  
  55. So I give this route a 6/10. I guess I can really sum up my feelings about this as "better than Tamaki's Route, but not as good as Hikari's Route." It certainly did exceed my expectiations, but that's not saying much when your expectations are so low to begin with. Next is Nanari's Route, which I actually am interested in, since not much has been done with her in the rest of the game. However, I'm still looking forward to Arika's Route the most, since that's when the mysteries will be unveiled.
  56.  
  57.  
  58. Finished Nanari's Route.
  59.  
  60. ... Was this route seriously written by the people who did the last two routes?
  61.  
  62. And by that, I mean that this route was, by far, the best one in the game so far. The main reason is because unlike the other three routes, this route actually adressed the main plot that was set up way back in the Prologue. Hikari's Route did a little bit of it, but this went all the way: it dealt with the phone and messages, the potential time machine, and actually had the most screentime Arika's had so far. It felt exciting to watch because it was actually dealing with characters I cared about, didn't just focus on Nanari (it gave Arika a lot of screentime as well, as well as some other characters) and went more into the motives behind the plot. Most importantly, the issues in this route actually tied back to the main plot. Also, I must praise the climax, which was by far the best climax in this game so far. The issues were thankfully a bit more realistic here than in the last two routes. Also, the last few seconds of the route had me going "holy s***".
  63.  
  64. A few negative points, though. Ironically, the main problem with Nanari's Route was none other than Nanari. First of all, once again, the relationship betweeen Hayato and Nanari wasn't handled very well, as I didn't get any feeling of love developing between them once again. Ironic, since they had some of the most romantic dialogue in the game at the end. Nanari herself also fell a bit flat, since she felt like a Haruka ripoff: she had similar issues (sort of), but lacked the extra appeal that Haruka had. It's like they read off Haruka's personality without the proper context and tried to create a character like her as a result, but totally failed. With Haruka, I bought that Makoto and her fell in love in five days, because it felt real. Here... not so much. I also didn't really like Yuko Goto's performance as Nanari, which felt a bit TOO flat. Strange, because Code Geass shows she can pull off emotionless characters well. (Speaking of voices, this game is the first time I've heard Madoka Yonezawa's voice, who plays Arika, and I'm liking her a lot so far).
  65.  
  66. As for my Arika theory? This route dropped a LOT of clues/hints/whatever that support my theory greatly. To use a statistic, last route, I was about 65-70% sure my theory was correct. Now, I'm 99% sure it's correct. However, what struck me as bizzare was that Arika's actions here were a complete 180 from last route. But thanks to some of the comments she dropped, I've contructed a third theory that supports the last two.
  67.  
  68. I give this a 9/10. A vast improvement over all the other routes due to it relating to the actual plot and focusing around more than just the main heroine, but ironically, the main heroine herself turned out to be the worst part of the route. I must say, I was surprised. Well, time to tackle Arika's Route, the final route in the game! Can it top this?
  69.  
  70.  
  71. All right, so Arika's Route Review!
  72.  
  73. Well, in typical Infinity fashion, this route solved most of the remaining mysteries and brought the story to its conclusion. As I mentioned earlier, my Arika theory was proven correct, the nature of the voice mail was revealed, and in a surprising reveal, it turned out that there actually was a reason for everything, and the game did have me fooled at several parts. The final twist in the game was on Ever17 level, I have to admit. Furthermore, one thing I loved about this route was that there were a lot of emotional moments at the end. I was getting really involved with what was going on, It did irk me a bit that the ending was basically a copy of the climax of Back to the Future, but the route had enough emotional moments to make up for it. Furthermore, the characters were very good in this route. Arika is probably my favorite character in the game now, with Hikari being second. Hayato was also very good in this route. As for Arika's issues, let's just say I can't discuss them. The climax was also very intense, although it's not as intense as other Infinity games. There are some mysteries left unsolved, but there's enough stuff to figure it out.
  74.  
  75. Bad points? Well, the pacing was pretty off. It started off strong, then it got really slow for a bit, then had the big reveal, then it got slow again, and then there was the thrilling climax. Another problem I had was that Hayato solved all the other girls problems. What's the problem with that, you ask? He solved each girl's problem in one day each. I mean, I know that we learned how to deal with each girl's problem in their route, but ut feels like all those routes were for nothing if they could be solved in a single day. Also, this route had perhaps one of THE worst plot twists I've ever seen in my life: not only did it completely come out of nowhere, it did nothing to advance the story. When I first heard it, I thought they were joking at first! It basically comes down to the fact that there was a bit too much filler in the middle (I actually liked the filler in the second half of the route, though, so I don't mind).
  76.  
  77. So overall, 9.5/10. Good twists and emotional moments, but the pacing and some of the filler hurt it. But is this route enough to save the game in total? Find out in my Code_18 review, which will be up in a few hours, once I'm out of class.
  78.  
  79. Overall Review
  80.  
  81. Story: 7/10
  82. The story is fairly simplistic at first. The main theme of this game is "family", and it really shows, as each girl's issues are related to their families. However, the game stresses the importance of family and how one should always put their family over work first. Indeed, the game features different types of family bonds, particularly those revolving around children and their parents. In this theme, while it's generally done good in some routes, there are other routes where it just feels silly. However, when it does it right, it really makes you feel for the characters.
  83.  
  84. As you probably guessed from my reviews, the story is not a twisty one. Indeed, there are only 5-6 major mysteries behind everything, and considering I predicted half of them before their reveal, they weren't very subtle about them. However, I was surprised by the final twist, and as I mentioned earlier, I did get emotional at times in this VN, particularly in the final route, and especially towards the end.
  85.  
  86. As for the routes, I'm mixed. Arika and Nanari had great routes, Hikari had a fairly decent route, Yuzu was meh, and Tamaki's was one of the worst routes I've ever played in a VN. Hell, I felt like you could have written out Yuzu and Tamaki's routes, because they just don't fit in with the main story. It's like they hired a writer for a generic eroge, then when they realized what they did, they kicked them out, but it was too late since they had already written two routes. So only Hikari, Nanari, and Arika's routes were actually related to the main plotline.
  87.  
  88. The writers do attempt to integrate science into the game, but most of it is either only briefly mentioned or just technobabble. This is nothing like the main games, where you have science based around actual theories and is functional, which only uses fake science if there's something that hasn't been explained in modern times. Here, it was more like "Science A does this." Hell, some of the "science" at one point felt more like the rules of the Nasuverse rather than science.
  89.  
  90. Music: 5/10:
  91. Pretty bland and forgettable. The music was done by ms-jacky, a member of milktub, the group that did the BGM for Kira*Kira, hence the heavy rock themes in this game. Problem is, while it worked really well in Kira*Kira since it was a game about a rock band, here it just feels out of place. Wish they had used Takeshi Abo or someone else for the score. The only really good songs in this game were the vocal ones, and a few exceptions, but nothing all that memorable.
  92.  
  93. Graphics: 7.5/10
  94. Eh, nothing bad, nothing good. The backgrounds were done really well, and the CGs were nice, though most of the character designs were rather bland. The amount of CGs were just about right for each route, though I wish there had been more for Arika's Route: there were some parts I was hoping would get a CG, but no dice. Oddly enough, there was a bunch of brand new CGs that played in the credits that didn't appear in the album. Weird.
  95.  
  96. Gameplay: 5/10
  97. I was surprised that this game was linear. The way it looked beforehand, I assumed that it would be non-linear. As a result, I was able to read through most of the routes fairly easily. However, most of the choices were very easy to pick, and there was only one route where I required a guide (Nanari's). So yeah, they barely did anything with the choices, as the branches that result from them are fairly small. Again, I also complain about the lack of an in-game calendar, as it was very hard to tell what day I was in-game, especially since transitions were done so awfully in this game. It also lacks the interface of most of the other Infinity games, making it harder to play. Not to mention there's a load of bugs in this game that clearly should have been caught in the debug sessions. So yeah, it loses points here.
  98.  
  99. Characters: 7/10
  100. While the game has only a small cast, I will give it credit over 12Riven in one aspect: I actually liked multiple characters. In 12Riven, there was only one character I liked, whereas I was indifferent about the others, so I didn't really get into the story. My favorite characters were Arika, followed by Hikari, and then Hayato. However, besides them, I didn't really like anyone else, as they were rather bland and generic by comparison, either being made of stereotypes or barely having any personality. So while I really got into the plights of the three characters I mentioned earlier, I didn't really feel anything for the others. Still giving it a point more than 12Riven for having more characters that I actually liked.
  101.  
  102. Voice Acting: 7/10
  103. The best voices were Madoka Yonezawa (who did an outstanding job as Arika: she really brought life into her character), Ai Nonaka as Hikari (ironic, considering I criticized her voice in my 12Riven review, but I think it worked better here), and Unsho Ishizuka as Kanbara. However, the rest of the voice acting is generally bland. I mean, they play their emotional moments right and do all the emotions right, but otherwise, they just sound rather bland and uninspired, or just have generic voices.
  104.  
  105. Overall Score: 5.5/10
  106. So does it live up to the Infinity name? Is it worthy as a game in the Infinity series? No. But as it's own VN, it's decent enough. If it hadn't been advertized as an Infinity game, it would have worked better. However, I beg Cyberfront, please never try to make another "Infinity" title ever again if you don't have the original crew. Seriously, leave the writing to Nakazawa and Uchikoshi: they know what they're doing. We're fine with the Infinity series as it is: we don't need any more games. Just go back to making other slice-of-life VNs or something.
  107.  
  108. PS - Oh, do you remember how I told you guys I gave Code_18 a 5.5/10? Yeah... now that's dropped to a 3.5/10. What's that? You're wondering how it lost two points? Well, I'll tell you why. You see, I just finished Steins;Gate recently, and was shocked and disappointed to find out that Code_18 ripped a LOT off of Steins;Gate. That includes twists, general setup, flow, and too many other things to list.
  109.  
  110. And you see, part of the problem with that is that Steins;Gate operates under different rules than the Infinity series. While I accepted them in Steins;Gate since it's not an Infinity game, when you play Code_18, an "Infinity" title, you expect it to follow the rules of the series. And while Steins;Gate was highly entertaining due to its wonderful cast and great plot, Code_18... lacked that.
  111.  
  112. Indeed, I found another reason I dislike Code_18: nearly all of the characters are meaningless in the end. In Ever17, it felt like every single character had a purpose to be there, something to contribute or some other role in the main plot. In Code_18's main plot, only three characters actually mattered at all in the end. I'm serious when I say that if you wrote out every other character except for those three, the main plot would not have changed at all (well, there is one side character who probably still needed to be there, but just in the beginning). And that's a pretty bad sign. Not to mention that when thinking about Code_18's plot in detail, there were too many plotholes that added up that were never resolved. So yeah, that's why I'm deducting two points from it.
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