Friday, October 2, 2015

Halloween Demo Impression: Kara no Shojo 2 Trial Edition

Kara no Shojo 2 Trial Edition Demo Impression

                Another year and another Halloween is upon us and so is another look at the demo for an upcoming Innocent Grey game, originally released in Japan on November 11, 2012 and made available in English by Mangagamer July 31, 2015. This year though, we’re looking at something a little special for unlike most demos which are small portions of the beginning of the game this little treat is completely original content not featured in the main game. It’s essentially a prologue set a few days before the game it precedes, meant to give players a taste of what new mysteries to expect, who’ll be returning from the first game and how the clue finding and deduction works. Though please rest assured that while this may be a short story, it’s no less interesting or bloody than its predecessors…

Pros: Story does a good job getting you interested in the main game to come, it’s good to see returning characters, Reiji now has a voice, very atmospheric music, artwork is even better than in the last game.
Cons: Like I said in my last demo impression: The demo ends, gory details (literally) are not for the faint of heart and stomach.
WTF?!: The biggest mystery of all is why Toji fears the takoyaki.

                Set two years after the events of Kara no Shojo, our initial POV focuses on one Tomoyuki Masaki, a man undergoing psychological treatment at the Kuchiki Hospital. It seems to be going well, with Tomoyuki seeming to have developed a good routine through his visits and routine taking of medicine. Until it’s all undone by a grisly murder that inevitably brings returning protagonist Reiji Tokisaka in to investigate the case…

                Yeah, I admit that’s not the best summary since I kind of neglected to mention something about curses and such, but I like to leave at least a little bit for readers to find out for themselves. In any case this demo’s story is designed to be a big teaser for the coming Kara no Shojo 2 and it succeeds at it by telling an interesting short story. For example, while there isn’t enough story material for you to become endeared to our initial POV character, there is enough to get you interested in his fate, especially considering some questions about him introduced as his life takes a turn for the worse. Of course the main hooks in this demo are the mysteries introduced from the new string of bizarre murders to the one hanging mystery from the first game.

                Moving onto the technical aspect of the game, the investigation system and notebook that updates with the clues you find and scenes you see return from the first game. It looks to work just as well as it did then and as could be seen earlier there’s even a bit of humor to some of the clues. While there isn’t any opportunity to move around, the game’s website (warning site does contain NSFW images) does indicate you’ll be able to check out different locations and from there get clues and/or updates to your notebook like in the previous game. Take a look here for a more detailed look.

                In the area of presentation KnS2’s demo shows that Innocent Grey hasn’t lost its touch on any front and has in fact gotten better. This can be seen first in the art department where the character artwork has received a noticeable upgrade but the characters are still very recognizable and any noticeable changes to the design can easily pass as the characters aging slightly since the first game. The background CGs are as well detailed as ever, and there’s one more aspect of the art done well, but we’ll be getting to that later. In the sound department this demo really shines in demonstrating how we can expect a game with the right music to create the perfect atmosphere for each scene and also a game with great acting. All the voice actors turn in good performances, but the real treat is the reveal of the voice actor for Reiji (who had no voice in the first game) being none other than Junichi Suwabe, a voice actor almost all of you will recognize as one of the chief characters of the famous visual novel adapted into so many anime Archer and for a more obscure but no less awesome example, Kuki from Ayakashibito.

                Seeing as there a no ero scenes in this demo, our final focus will instead be on the scenes that all the aspects of the demo’s presentation work in harmony to execute and what makes this game a worthy introduction to this year’s month of Halloween: the kills. What makes these so special is how well it handles the concept of “less is more” and uses it to make each of the scenes have an impact. The visuals, while indeed bloody, aren’t as graphic when compared to other games and instead chooses to show just enough of the gore so you’ll know what you’re seeing but not enough to go over the top. This limit though is hard to notice when the writing describes every grisly detail of the murder that your imagination more than fills in the visual gaps. The sound pulls double duty here, but not in the way you might expect. These kills have very little voice acting; no real screams or vocal indications of pain or fear. Instead the sound first accentuates the scenes with its sound effects: every cut, stab, slash and every mangling action is so well conveyed by their respective sounds you may very well find yourself flinching slightly at each action as the sound almost makes you feel it even when the victim has long since passed and the gruesome deed has yet to end. The sound’s second contribution comes from the suspenseful music playing which in some ways makes you feel the killer’s rush as each stage of the crime is carried out.

In Conclusion:
                Kara no Shojo 2 Trial Edition is an excellent little teaser for what looks to be an enjoyable murder mystery game on the horizon. It’s written well, looks really good, and sounds great. All of this is presented best in its murder scenes. While it introduces many new mysteries to look forward to it also pays just the right amount of service to that one hanging thread from the prequel and hopefully we’ll finally get closure in that come its release on October 30. This demo is well worth checking out on those fronts plus the fact that its story isn’t in the main game, but it’s also worth it because it has one thing in common with most of the Halloween treats we journey through that beloved holiday night for: it’s free and can be downloaded here.

Final Score: 8/10 Awesome
Author Recommendation: Buy Download it Now!! 

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