Samantha and Lillian are best friends. At least, they were, until everything fell apart. Now, Samantha has a day to repair their relationship – but is it already too late?
User reviews:
Overall:
Mostly Positive (68 reviews) - 75% of the 68 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Aug 4, 2015

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July 19

Empty Horizons released

Hi guys,

My newest VN, Empty Horizons, has just been released on Steam! It has the same writer/artist combination as Asphyxia does, so if you like the writing and artwork of Asphyxia, you might fancy taking a look. The writing style of EH is very different to Asphyxia's, though - it's not nearly as flowery, and everybody speaks in a much more naturalistic way.

The VN also has Steam achievements and trading cards~

http://store.steampowered.com/app/496630/

- Ebi x

1 comments Read more

June 8

Empty Horizons - New VN on Greenlight

Hi, everyone!

I recently finished working on another relatively short VN called Empty Horizons. It's not super similar to Asphyxia, being GxB instead of GxG, and the writing style is very different (the dialogue is a lot more naturalistic) - but the art was done by the same artist (SillySelly) and the writing was done by the same writer (me, Ebi-hime).

Also, the relationship between the two leads in EH was somewhat inspired by the constant bickering between Roberta and Georgia. I liked writing Roberta and Georgia a lot, so EH was something of an excuse to play around with similar character archetypes.

If you liked the art in Asphyxia, or the back-and-forth banter, please consider voting for it!

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=695675322

And more information can be found out about it here, if you are so inclined.

Thank you!
<3

3 comments Read more

About This Game

Samantha is depressed. She’s been depressed for a long time, almost as long as she can remember, but it’s slowly been getting worse.
She thought Lillian was her friend, her best friend. Perhaps she even thought of her as more than that.
Why, then, did their relationship have to fall apart? Was it really her fault? She didn’t do anything wrong. At least, she didn’t intend to.
Now, three months later, Samantha finally has her chance. Forced together on their geography field trip to the Lake District, will she finally be able to repair her relationship with Lillian – or will it collapse all over again?

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Win XP+
    • Processor: 1Ghz
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: DirectX or OpenGL compatible card
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 400 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: MacOS
    • Processor: 1 Gz
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL compatible card
    • Storage: 400 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • Processor: 1 Gz
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL compatible card
    • Storage: 400 MB available space
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated Sept. 2016! Learn more
Overall:
Mostly Positive (68 reviews)
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59 reviews match the filters above ( Mostly Positive)
Recently Posted
Shaluku
9.8 hrs
Posted: September 23
Short VN about teenage depression. If you are all about rainbows and unicorns - it may be best just to move along. Game offers 4 endings which complement each other nicely (and although I could not relate to the main character, her interaction with other characters makes the story believable).
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Gamer Auto
5.8 hrs
Posted: August 25
Product received for free
I have some VERY choice words for this game. But the strongest I can go without being censored is: this game is far too mean-spirited. None of the characters try to feel sympathetic to the protagonist. None attempt to understand her point of view. In the first ten minutes, I had absolutely no connection to any of the characters, and there was too much off-screen backstory that wasn't explained up front. I hate this game, and I highly advise anyone that gets easily depressed or angered to stay as far away as possible. I got this in a Humble Bundle pack, essentially for free, and I still feel ripped off.

The only reason my playtime is so huge is because I was helping my mom play Stardew Valley while this was running. I would have NEVER sunk almost six hours into this under any other circumstances.
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kobe bryant of ghostfucking 🐑
17.2 hrs
Posted: August 24
I enjoyed this game. I wouldn't pay a lot for it, though. The story was interesting and I enjoyed the different paths (and writing style). The music as well as the art styling was very captivating and soft. My only complaint is how often things feel repeated and discussed. I felt like wanting to tell Samantha to shut up at times - think they went a bit overboard trying to express her thoughts and state of mind/emotions.
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All Might
4.0 hrs
Posted: August 13
This game isn't your typical VN. THe art is completely different, but it's fresh and new (which I like). The story is not your typical VN type romance or comedy. I would go as far as to say in the VN world, it's a masterpiece that will be appreciated by a few fans (just like any good art).
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Cube of Bees
6.5 hrs
Posted: August 11
WTF it ended there?! WTF IT ENDED THERE?! WHAT THE ♥♥♥♥-TTTHAT WAS THE ♥♥♥♥ING ENDING?!!!!!

The story was getting so damn interesting!

Two polar opposites were talking and learning from eachother and then without any warning "POOF" right to the title screen. I would have been more than happy with a depressing outcome, in fact I was kind of hoping to get teary eyed at the end. I would have been satisfied with a cheerful ending too, BUT it just cuts off abruptly!

DAMN IT!!!

The character art is a beautiful, unique, western style that drew me into the game. The music is actually very good at playing with the individual characters and their personalities.

The story was VERY accurate to the content of depression, seemingly halfway through the story (I assumed wrong), building to a poetic climax, and then it ends without tying up any loose ends or giving a climax at all. It simply cuts off!

I'll pay the same price again to get a complete game. This is not a complete game as it is. I will get the rest of the achiements but I doubt it'll resolve anything in the story or give me any sort of climax a VN or any novel should have.

It upsets me that I have to rate this down. But it's the right thing to do seeing as others may buy this and be super dissatisfied like I was.
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Aerius
7.7 hrs
Posted: August 5
Asphyxia is a realistic portrayal of mental illness - most convincingly, depression. A bit different from typical VNs that are more light hearted, it deals with heavy subject matter and doesn't have scantily clad women like many of the anime style VNs do. The art style is also quite different, opting for a more detailed painted look versus the traditional anime look.

Overall I found the game "ok." I thought the writer did a good job of showing the telltale signs of depression - suicidal, lethargic, impulsive, irrational, etc, but it is really over the top at some points. I know that in real life, depression can feel like that, but as a casual reader, it felt like many parts were repeats, over and over. Some people may like the more proper English and drawn up descriptions, but I felt many parts could be a lot more concise.

I thought the characters were very interesting, much more so than the typical anime sterotypical tropes. It kind of makes you think of whether you can identify with the personality of one of the characters. The game does a decent job of showing how each main character is multi-dimensional, and how there are positives and negatives to each person. I think it does a good job of explaining the inner motivations of people that may not be apparent.

I know not everyone is going to agree with me on this, but what I did not like is how the mixed up this very serious topic with a lesbian love triangle (granted with plenty of unrequited love). There are many facets of depression, and the massive focus on one particular part of it detracts from the rest. Because they set it up in such a way, I did not find the endings very satisfying, and even the 'happy endings' are not very convincing especially given the challenges of the protagonist. I guess maybe the endings are realistic!

7/10
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A Pocketful of Stars
5.1 hrs
Posted: July 28
+ Beautiful sprites and artwork, but with slightly wonky anatomy (those hands!)
+ Gives you an interesting biography for the poet each character is based on
+ Painfully realistic exploration of mental illness
+ Believable, flawed characters
+ Good soundtrack

- Writing style takes some adjustment
- Sometimes dips into purple prose
- Characters may be completely unlikeable to some players
- The pacing drags at times
- Endings feel abrupt

First of all, you'll need to accept that everyone in this game speaks in flowery, poetic language, even though they're chugging energy drinks and checking their text messages. It's an odd artistic choice. I liked it, but the contrast pulled me out of the story at times, especially toward the beginning.

The focus of the plot is the muddled web of relationships that the girls have formed at their boarding school. The protagonist, Samantha, is clinically depressed and horribly clingy, yet she can't seem to force herself to change. She's pining over a girl who will barely look her way, and her only friend is beginning to lose patience with her. The rejection and misery Samantha faces hits hard because it feels so realistic, right down to the perfectly understandable reasons other people want nothing to do with her.

There are more enemies than friends at this school. Each character has their own fascinating brand of philosophy, which almost all end up clashing. Sometimes the endless bickering and outright awful behaviour of people (particularly Byron and the misanthropic teacher) bog the story down. I'm sure some people won't be able to make it all the way through. One thing that bothered me is that nobody has suggested Samantha should visit a therapist yet, and when it does get brought up it's not treated like a real option. This might have worked in a historical setting, but this is set in the modern day. It would have made sense if she had tried therapy and it hadn't helped, but as things stand it just seems like everyone is ignoring an obvious solution to her problem.

The art is gorgeous, and the girls are exceptionally cute even when they're talking about the artistry of murder. My only real complaint is that what's shown in the art doesn't always match what's happening in the story. The teacher, who hates her childish appearance, is dressed in bright, frilly clothes with bows. There's also a girl who runs around in lingerie instead of pyjamas. Nobody comments on it, not even when she's outside in the freezing cold weather.

I'm not sure this is a game for everyone, but I personally enjoyed it a lot. At this price it's definitely worth trying if you like reading about realistically flawed characters and relationships. Just don't expect any perfect happy endings.
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Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
6.0 hrs on record
Posted: September 1
A good story with beautiful artwork. While I am not a person with anxiety, I strongly suspect that the main character Samantha is an accurate portrayal of an anxious and emotionally needy person, and that the story accurately reflects those characteristics that others might relate to.
While it might seem like a "girls love" game, there's only four or five endings, only one of which counts as that-- the others are either "bad" endings for Sam, and one "good" ending.
It's definitely worth reading through all the routes, and if you follow the achievement guides, you should be able to see most, if not all, of the text and interactions, and be able to best understand the story and history between all of the girls.

also it totally includes bonus background information on the authors that the girls are named after, so you should totally check that out once you're done~


tl;dr well-written anxious, depressed, emotionally-dependent main character, worth reading alone for that.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
16.6 hrs on record
Posted: August 28
Thoughtful, literary, and lovely VN. I loved the art.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
132 of 136 people (97%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
4.7 hrs on record
Posted: August 5, 2015
What you should know first:
This is a visual novel with several endings. There is quite heavy subject matter, if you prefer to avoid that, this VN may not be for you. I've divided this review into two parts - gameplay and story/emotional impact of the game.

Thoughts, game-wise:
I feel the execution of this game was done quite well. I've tried 3 or 4 different routes so far (there seem to be more to discover) and the way new content is presented as you make different choices flows quite smoothly, in contrast to some games where extra/different routes may seem a bit clunky. I really enjoyed the writing, clearly a lot of knowledge and research went into this, and it's nice to see an 18th, 19th century British literature influenced writing style. That said, it may be a bit stuffy to read at first and the characters seem very pompous, but that is due to the influences and style the game has. The art is quite gorgeous, and while eerie I think it is perfect for this VN. I felt that my choices do matter, and in trying to please everyone, ended up turning everyone away (one or more of the routes).

Thoughts, story-wise:
You will be put into the head of someone who is depressed, quite literally. You'll follow her thoughts and inner dialogue. For me, I got irritated, but then reconciled in cycles, even if I knew that these thoughts cannot be controlled by the mind you are in. The dialogue hit me hard, because a lot of it was the eerily similar with conversations I would have with a friend, who would in real life, explain her mind like how Samantha does. The dynamics are captured very well, and hit me in a very personal, emotional spot. I've had ups and downs with said person, and the dialogue for both the good parts and bad parts are relatable and it hurt.

Conclusion:
This game is amazing, to me. It made me feel emotions like The Cat Lady has been able to produce in me. It hits home and I relate to it from past experiences. I would try to find all the endings right this instance, if I didn't have exams. And I will - this game, after reading only a couple endings, has constantly been on my mind. [Edit: shortly before exams I found all the endings...] I know this game is not for everyone - if you don't like VNs, if you don't like depression and other heavy themes, please stay away. Subjectively, I highly recommend this game.
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32 of 35 people (91%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: August 5, 2015
Let’s get one thing 100% cleared out of the way:

As the title may suggest, this is a pretty grim game.

Despite the fairly colourful visuals, there are some pretty heavy themes (one of which may or may not be clinical depression) going on, not to mention everyone seems pretty short with each other and prone to casually bringing up suicide and death.

That established, let’s look at this:

This game has a very interesting art style; like a water colour painting with some Lolita influences. Characters are sufficiently expressive, and there are some really beautiful shots and backgrounds to be seen. I don’t think this is going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I can’t think of many other titles that had as distinctive art work.

The game also has quite a unique writing style, though not without faults. Clearly based on the writing that came out of the Romantic Era (or there about), the very formal and ‘proper’ pool of words used is entreatingly varied and vivid. It’s refreshing to read, and has some very effective descriptions. The game sometimes has an issue on delivering exposition, and can sometimes come on a little strong when hammering in a point, but overall, I would rate the writing fairly well.

As for the characters, there’s also some interesting things going on, but there are weaknesses. I thought the fact that every character was named after and KIND OF loosely based on old writers and poets was a nice touch, and fit the style of writing. There is certainly a varied cast, each carrying their own themes and touches, with a solid four romantic interests.* However, there’s a weird issue going on: everyone’s kind of short with each other. This makes sense for a lot of the pairings (Roberta and Georgina, for example, who are polar opposites), however everyone feels pretty quick to say aloud the faults they find in the others. Even when it’s meant in good grace and good fun, this comes up oddly often, and makes one or two characters straddle the line to being unlikeable (even if only unlikable for a single scene). Not sure if that’s got something to do with the writing style or anything, but it’s hardly a deal breaker, just an odd quirk.

Overall, I’d say the game was perfectly fine. It has its faults to be sure, and it was never going to be everyone’s kind of thing, but there’s a lot to like in there.

*Edit: I've been told it may not be straight up romance in all of the routes, or that it might be "heavy subtext" etc. Be warned.
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28 of 33 people (85%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
5.8 hrs on record
Posted: August 15, 2015
Both Asphyxia and its predecessor, Dejection: An Ode, are about gender-swapped versions of Romantic poets, and inspired by their real relationships with each other. I absolutely love visual novels with references to classic literature, and while reading Dejection, I was impressed with the writer's ability to imitate the style of that period without making it too dense for modern readers. I felt very empathetic towards both Samantha and Lillian, its only two characters, especially during one well-placed run-on sentence about Samantha's feelings. I couldn't wait to read more, and the next game managed to somehow exceed my already-high expectations.

Asphyxia makes the heroines of Dejection teenagers and sends them on a school trip in a semi-modern setting – there's modern technology, but still a very old-fashioned feel to everything – with several of their colleagues. This expansion of the world of the story doesn't seem to stretch the creator too thinly at all, however, as it is still beautifully written. And while the art in Dejection is very cute, the art in Asphyxia is downright gorgeous. It really fits the setting well, as does the lovely music.

Perhaps most importantly, Asphyxia really made me develop strong feelings for the characters – even more so than I had expected. I loved Samantha, and wished that I could help her overcome her problems, despite the fact that their similarities to my own would probably make that impossible. (mild spoilers:)I couldn't help but love and empathize with Lillian as well, because of how much I related to Samantha, whose feelings for Lillian are so real and believable. And while some of the other characters seemed irritating at first, they all grew on me as more dimensions of their personalities became evident. There were things I liked about them all, and the only thing I didn't like about their story was that it eventually had to end.

I recommend that anyone who's at all remotely interested download and read Dejection, which is both free and quite short, and then buy Asphyxia if they like it. Also, definitely read the notes in the “extras” section once you've played it. Even if you're an English major like me, there are bound to be some interesting details you didn't know that were referenced in the game! It's really a very well-researched project on top of its other great qualities. It's definitely on my list of favourite visual novels I've ever read.
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23 of 26 people (88%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
4.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 20, 2015
Asphyxia is a difficult visual short story. It's odd to hear games of this genre described as "difficult," since they're barely games at all, but Asphyxia packs an awful lot of terribly trying reading into so small a package. The story is driven almost entirely by its cast, and if the author weren't so adept at creating excellent, if not particularly likable characters, the whole effort would have fallen flat on its face. And that's really the trouble with Asphyxia: You don't like the characters, but that's what makes them good characters. The protagonist is morose, obsessive, and horribly depressing, and the rest of the cast spends much of the story being cruel to one another. The whole thing would have ended up very Dickensian if not for all of the moments where the facades get dropped and it becomes evident that the characters are actually three-dimensional...Well, that and the lack of mutilations through horrible industrial accidents.

I suppose I say all of that in order to say this: Asphyxia is worth your time, even though it's short, and even though it's utterly depressing. I was left with the impression that there was a ton of work packed into so short a story. Ebi-hime's knack for diction and characterization is difficult to come by in any medium, making it evident that they're a strong writer, if one that could benefit from an editor. I spotted quite a few grammatical errors in my playthroughs, and some of the petty squabbles between characters really just went on and on far longer than they needed to, belaboring the point that X and Y don't care for one another. Beautiful music and artwork contribute much to the story, making the characters and setting all the more engrossing. All things considered, Asphyxia isn't just worthwhile, it's really pretty good. It takes the reader through a wide range of emotions in a short period of time, leaving its audience exhausted and frustrated, but still wanting more.
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21 of 27 people (78%) found this review helpful
5 people found this review funny
Recommended
11.4 hrs on record
Posted: August 4, 2015
The women in this game are brutal.

Merciless. Verbal. Assaults.

Pretty funny though (at least until the halfway mark), even if the main character has mental issues.

Further thoughts after reading some more:
This VN has a good sense of humor and knows how to balance out the heavier undertones, I won't spoil but there is some pretty dark stuff here (the title). The art style is unique and pretty, and all the girls have reasonable proportions. If you like VNs you'll probably like this!
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15 of 17 people (88%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
10.5 hrs on record
Posted: August 18, 2015
For a visual novel about gender-swapped English poets as schoolgirls, the game felt surprisingly personal in the way that it discussed the heavy themes it brought up (suicide, substance abuse, depression, homelessnes, sexual assault, and many others). The characters felt very real in how they interacted with each other, and I often found myself thinking, "I've had these thoughts before," in response to the main character's bleak musings. Even in its gloominess, the writing still had many clever little lines that made me laugh. The few times modern world contraptions like phones and the internet are brought up in the narrative, it felt weird and out of place, but not enough to take you out of the game.

The art fits the implied aesthetics of the writing and is generally polished with the exception of some of the characters' awkward poses. The one thing that could use definitely some work is the UI; it got a bit hard to read the text when the backgrounds turned light.

Took about 5 hours to get all four routes, and funny enough, it made me want to sit down afterwards and learn about the Lake Poets. So, there's that video game edutainment angle for you, I guess.

Overall it's a great experience that's well worth the low price.
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12 of 12 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
14.6 hrs on record
Posted: August 8
As someone who suffers from depression (and anxiety), I absolutely adored this visual novel. It conveys the struggle of keeping friends while having a mental illness very, very well. I could relate to the protagonist more than I have with any other in a VN. People tend to be unkind to those with a mental illness, especially chronic depression (not to be confused with situational depression). The characters that interact with the protagonist do an excellent job of showing how friends and people in general react to someone with depression. "If you don't like things, change it" is so much easier said than done. People don't believe you when you tell them that you're trying to get better. People call you needy, clingy, and desperate, when you just want reassurance from them in order to ease your suffering a bit. People act like being friends with you is a chore in the same moment they claim you're not a burden. People do/say all sorts of cruel things rather than try to actually understand someone's pain.

I do have a complaint though. I considered what I feel was supposed to be the "bad ending" as the best one. I don't think any of the endings that involved being friends with any of those cruel, patronizing characters were good, especially not the one that involved the protagonist's romantic interest. I felt all the things that were said during "Georgia's ending" (I'll call it that so there aren't too many spoilers) should have inspired the opposite of what happens in the end.

The characters had no racial diversity, but I'm not surprised. Some of the characters, including the protagonist, were insinuated to be queer, so there's that at least.

Nonetheless, I do recommend this visual novel. Beautiful artwork. Excellent portrayal of depression and dealing with other people while having said mental illness. Lovely, poetic writing.
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11 of 12 people (92%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
10.5 hrs on record
Posted: January 11
This is a very melancholic, yet beautiful visual novel. Are you looking for something happy and lightedhearted? This might not be your cup of tea then. Contrary to it's cute graphics, this novel adresses some depressing themes. It has interesting, well fleshed out characters with diverse personalities. Every character has something most of us can relate to one way or the other.
It's loosely based around various Britisch romantic poets such as Coleridge and Wordsworth, worth looking into once you have finished the paths.
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