Okay, wow. So a little while ago my profile stated I would review games for people if they asked me, under the condition that the game was in my library. This review is the reason I had that removed."Here's Science Girls, have fun reviewing it ♥♥♥♥♥♥"
happened and now I'm not that willing to spend so much time on reviews anymore unless something can be bargained.
Regardless, I'm a man of my word and I do have principles so, just this once, here's a dead honest and genuine review of Science Girls.
Science Girls, a visual novel RPG combination by Hanako Games, did a large appeal on my scepticism when I first started it. I couldn't help but notice it was programmed in Python, which explains its filesize and gameplay mechanics. I'm not going to let that be a negative point in my review though, a title deserves an honest review based on the proposed concept and how it's converged to a playable environment. In that regard they have succeeded in what I presume to be an attempt to recreate an atmosphere that belongs in a crossover between a Japanese visual novel and an oldschool RPG from an indie developer. It's not all good though, and I will elaborate this later on.
The mechanics of the game are solid: it offers free roaming on a 2D map, a turn based battle system, interactive dialogues, save slots and it does this all without bugs as far as I could see. In fact, I don't have anything to complain from a technological point of view. On every screen everything is very responsive and the game can be saved at any
moment, which is pretty neat! Parts where you explore maps work as you expect them to, dialogues being printed can be fastforwarded by clicking your mouse, all pretty intuitive. The fighting is not complex but still offers the freedom to use tactics, which is in fact required as you progress through the game and don't want to get slaughtered by aliens that look like plants.
And that's where I'll break out the criticism: the premise is really
silly though it doesn't seem intended as such. For all intents and purposes and regardless of the engine, this is a game about girls doing science majors in highschool having to fight off an alien invasion. As one of these girls, a masked psychology student, you first gather other girls in the school while fighting aliens. This setting is empowered by the dialogues that sometimes feel forced so much that the game gets an educative feel, and by this I of course refer to the girls explaining you how rockets work, why plants can't 'move and attack people', or that a ceiling fan does not provide enough mechanical modules to build a mecha. Of course, having a mecha around to fight the aliens would make the game much easier (in this setting
, before any MuvLuv fans send me death threats), but mentioning these things feels out of place and pointless.
The artwork expresses the game's indie origin, being reminiscent of a release from college game design club. I'm not arguing that this is a bad thing however, in my opinion it actually gives life to the Japanese indie atmosphere (Oreimo S1, anyone?). The same can be said about the music and sounds. While it might not be your preference (and it certainly wasn't mine), this is exactly what the game is meant to be like. Dialogue screens present you hand drawn characters, the battles are done in 2,5D perspective, and though I must admit that the free roaming map feels a little cheap, it gets the job done.
With that I can summarize my review, Science Girls met my expectations as far as the atmosphere was concerned. I could appreciate the authentic Japanese indie feel and the fact the engine was as solid as it gets, what I wasn't so fond of was the educative dialogues that seemed forced and out of place as well as the premise altogether. If Hanako Games has more games based on this engine, though with a less silly and more genuine setting, I am pretty sure they have one or more gems with their name on it. While it might not suit your tastes, it will definitely hook those that look for a Japanese indie visual novel RPG without translation hassle. Hell, when you look at the website of Hanako Games you will see that they actually sell these games on CD's at anime conventions, it doesn't get more authentic than that.