Visual Novel Review: Ex Astris 02 and 03

7/17/2015

It's another Ex Astris post!

Just a disclaimer: I absolutely loved the first one, so I may be a little biased with these two sequels. I'll still do my best to be as objective as possible, though, because this is basically a documentation of my own experiences with these games, then I guess you can expect more "feels" than objectivity. =)

Anyway, since these games are just sequels of the first Ex Astris game, I decided to just do one whole blog post for them.


Likes:
+ so many interesting characters!
+ the art is lovely. each character has multitude of outfits, as well! really awesome if you ask me, especially since this is a free VN
+ the story is simply so intriguing!
+ the soundtracks set the mood of the scenes really well

Dislikes:
- the filtered photographs as backgrounds don't suit the art
- art between the characters don't differ that much, though. except for the colors, almost everyone could pass off as siblings
- although this game has choices, I'm not really sure how it affects the game's story, so as of this point in time, it seems more like a kinetic novel than a visual novel for me. Not that it's a bad thing, of course, although... why still add choices if the story will basically end up in just one way?

Thoughts:

So, yeah, I really liked Ex Astris 1, so I was really excited to play this. Actually, I already got a copy the moment it was updated (a few months ago), but I couldn't get around to playing it because I didn't have enough time. When I play visual novels, I like playing them all the way to the end. Hahaha. If I know I won't have enough time to at least finish one route, then I'll just choose a shorter VN to play in the meantime. (Sort of the reason why I tend to play smaller VNs these days, huhu, sorry.)

Anyway, I started with Ex Astris 2 (obviously), and we're basically picking up where we left off the last time. The first game ended with a bang (at least for me) though it totally left me hanging. Huhu. This game, the first sequel, starts with a flashback of sorts, which, if you've played the first game, you should know that Lanis always gets.

As a character, I really like Lanis. She's a good person, and she's really smart too! If you assess her overall personality, I'd say she seems like a pretty awesome person overall, but not so amazing that she's already your stock Mary Sue character. What I like most about her is that even though she's really strong and smart and everything, she has her own flaws that make her more like a real person. To have the protagonist as fleshed out as her is already a great thing for me.


If you guys still remember the events of the first game, then... good for you, I guess? Hahaha. But if not, here's a quick refresher. In the first game, Lanis, a recently graduated Loennian doctor who works in the military, got invited to the nearby Xian nation, for work-related reasons of course. Xian is a really secretive country, though, and they don't often accept foreign people in their country, nor do their people travel outside much, except for work-related reasons, too. (Sounds familiar?) However, they are also quite advanced, especially with their scientific knowledge, and Lanis, a prodigy, is invited there for her own skills and knowledge. Since she's kinda lost in life and stuff, she sort of agrees to this invitation, and meets with some Xian people, mostly doctors/scientists/military. She gets assigned to a bodyguard of sorts, a guy named Ash... who turns out to be, well, basically a robot, called A-28. They're introduced to one another, and as they shake hands, Lanis suddenly gets a very (cool and mindblowing) powerful vision.

I won't spoil you regarding Lanis' vision. But all I can say is... well, Ash is a hot guy, so I don't blame Lanis for getting that vision. =) That's just one part of her vision, though. And probably the most troubling, but really, her whole vision is nuts.


Here in the second game, we see Lanis debating whether or not to go to Xian. She talks it over with her best friend, Manna, who has this awesome ability to use telekinesis, and they basically agree that it might be best for Lanis to go and decide her future. Manna is a little bit apprehensive because, hey, Lanis is her best friend, and Xian is a really shady country, but for Lanis' own sake (and peace of mind) she flies over to Xian with Ash and another doctor who's there to guide her and stuff.

Ash escorts Lanis to her new place, and it's revealed that he actually knows what Lanis saw in her vision from the previous game. *whoops* He asks her more about her visions, and she admits that she doesn't know much about them. Ash later takes her around the city. We see a lot more of Xian, and its actually quite an interesting place! I find it cool that most things are free to the public in Xian, haha, including transportation! My, if transpo was free here in my country, just imagine the chaos of every day travelling. Hahaha. =) Anyway, at this point, I also started noticing how the filtered backgrounds don't really match with the art of the sprites. It's actually pretty distracting. However, the sprites are really quite nice, if you ask me! In one part of the game, it started raining, so Lanis and Ash had their hoods up. So cute.

Back at Lanis' new place, Lanis finds out that her bathroom is connected to her neighbors' a woman named Dianna, who's also assigned to Lanis as her guide, since she speaks Loennian fluently. The game ends with Lanis drinking with Dianna. She falls asleep, and we "see" Doctor Harem and Ash putting something inside Lanis' shoulder.


In Ex Astris 03, we learn more about Lanis and her ability to see visions and have astral powers or something like that, which apparently started when she was a kid. It starts with another flashback to the past, though after that scene, we're basically picking up where we left off, which is in Lanis' new place. Ash goes to her place to accompany her to their research facilities, where Lanis learns more about the scientific breakthroughs in Xian, specifically the "robots", or Shadows, like Ash. She's given a device that allows her to understand Xian without learning the language, which is quite cool if you ask me. =)


Basically, in the research facility, we just learn more about Ash's kind. I would spare you all the details, but it's pretty interesting. Ash and his kind are pretty similar to humans, but they're more of... superhumans, than anything. They're like humans on a whole ton of steroids, and on a level that's biologically impossible, too. What's cool is that all these facts about Ash makes Lanis' vision even more troublesome, and very dangerous. 

Also, this is the first time that we see Lanis' power in full view. While in the research facility, Lanis gets a shock of electricity in her, and it's revealed that she has this sort of power that seems to have something to do with electricity. Strangely, it seems to be coming from her shoulder, and she faintly remembers what happened last night. It turns out that Doctor Harem and Ash had actually implanted a chip in Lanis' shoulder that shields her thoughts from everyone else.


And, that's kinda where the story ends. Frankly, it's really quite frustrating, but I like where this series ends its episode. Hahaha. Such frustrating cliffhangers.

There's this strange chemistry between Lanis and Ash that I just can't comprehend, although I'm loving it so far. To be honest, even though it's a GxB game, it's not like any other otome game I've played out there, which focuses more on the romance. With this one, it really doesn't seem like romance is the main point, since... haha, Ash actually want to kill Lanis. And he doesn't want to kill her just to give a sense of conflict and turning point in the story, no. He seems to genuinely want to kill her, because that's what he's made for anyway: killing. I like how this game handles its story really well, and I do hope that it won't take a cheesy or corny turn somewhere along the way just for the sake of romance. =) (I tend to do that when I make stories, hahaha, oh how I suck.)

I like the humor. Most of the time, the game is really, really serious, but there are little bits of humor every now and then that I simply love! They always make me laugh out loud, hahaha. I guess it's because I think the timing is right for the humorous parts despite the VN's overall aura as serious.

And Ash is hot. Seriously. Hahaha. The guy's too hot for me, but... aww, man, he is, he is. Lanis is quite a likable protagonist as well, so I'm rooting for the two of them, hehe.


This game may be episodic, and it may be quite frustrating at times, but it's worth a try! =) Personally, I'm looking forward to more episodes in the future!

Here's a link to the games~

[This is a scheduled post.]

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