Demo Review: Because We're Here


Hi everyone!

Today's the first day of school, and to "celebrate" my second year at the university, here's a new visual novel demo "review" for you guys, hahaha.

No, actually, today's Friday, and I was supposed to post this four days ago. I really thought this would be a wonderful semester. Dundundundun... I just realized that this semester's schedule actually sucks.

But anyway, I believe it's better late than never (excuses, excuses) so... here's something for this blog!

I have to give a disclaimer, though: I only found out about this game because the writer of Studio Elfriede (this game's developer) sent me a message linking to the demo for me to write a review about it. It's an otome game, and it did seem pretty interesting, so I decided to try it out. Nevertheless, all the words here are mine, and I wasn't influenced by the developers in any way whatsoever. They just asked if I would like to check out the demo, and hey, it's an otome, and I love otomes, so I checked it out. Everything that you'll read here is my completely honest assessment of the demo.

because we're here mohnblume and blauerose visual novel review

Because We’re Here ~ Mohnblume und Blauerose is an upcoming visual novel otome game for Windows, Mac and Linux, following neurotic postwoman Elfriede Rauss as she navigates the battlefields of an alternate First World War. While investigating the harsh realities of her country’s involvement in an unwinnable war, Elfriede is given the opportunity to grow close to - and even romance - a variety of eligible gentlemen; from childhood friends to aristocrats to corporals to cowards.

- it's different, not like the others, which is a nice change from the normal slice of life otome game (that I'm guilty of making too, hahaha)
- all the characters seem to have sprites. =) Yay for effort!
- yay for original soundtracks!
- blaurose-- literally blue rose. <3 Nothing, I just love blue roses, that's all.

- the filtered backgrounds don't fit the sprites, at all.
- the resolution is way too small for my tastes. (800x600?! Even my phone's resolution is bigger than that huhuhu)
- GUI looks pretty unpolished (read: outdated)
- no auto-read function. WHY? WHY?!

because we're here mohnblume and blauerose visual novel review

The demo starts with a bang, and almost literally so. We're thrust right in the middle of a war, and we see a  young woman, dressed in military uniform, hiding inside a bunk of sorts. Her name is Elfriede Rauss, a Wesslinger who lives (or at least, used to) in Borschberg. In the gameverse, it's actually World War I, and the Wesslingers are at war with the Leylandians, a neighboring (sort of) country.

because we're here mohnblume and blauerose visual novel review

After the initial war scene, we sort of flash back to the past where we get introduced to all the characters, the setting, and all the events leading to the first scene, where Elfriede is fighting in the war. Since the war is only just beginning, it's shown that people are signing up at the town square to participate. They all have different intentions. Some intentions are noble, others are pretty morbid. But all of them want to have something to do with the war. Like a cruel twist of fate, Elfriede ends up signing up as well, along with a couple other people.

And that is how we get thrust right in the middle of war, with nobody around us but soldiers, fighters, and death.


Disclaimers aside, I did check out the LSF thread linked to me in the message, before actually downloading the demo. (But that's because I was on vacation with only my mobile with me, so I had no way of playing the demo yet.) There are three questions proposed by the writer of this game, and since this is only just a demo, I'd like to answer them instead of writing an actual review of the incomplete game.

1. What are your first impressions when you hear that a game is a 'World War One otome'? What are your second impressions, when you see the slightly-more-mature style of the art and story?

I immediately think that it's an otome game set during World War I. :) Kidding aside, it really didn't matter much to me, since I personally like all sorts of otomes, whether they're set in a battlefield or in a high school campus. My personal impression of this game, though, after the first five minutes, is that it's quite different from most other games I've played before. And it is. It's not every day that you get to play as a woman who's at war. (Though there are plenty of games where you're a guy at war; yes, I'm looking at you, Counterstrike.)

And also, the art style is alright, but it is in no way mature. I actually think that there are times when the reactions on the characters' faces, especially in the CGs, are a bit too comical, considering that this is a game set in the war. And I also have a personal gripe with the CGs, because even they have filtered photos for the backgrounds.

2. Considering this will be asking for Kickstarting in a month or so: do you think the publicity materials and screenshots seem professional enough?

Hmm. I have to say honestly that as of now, no, they don't. They don't, because, well, as of now, the game itself doesn't look professional enough, at least for me. The backgrounds don't match the sprite art at all. While I can't deny that filtered backgrounds are really common nowadays (even Ex Astris uses them, and I really like that game) I personally think that they aren't a good fit for Because We're Here's art. I also think that the GUI looks quite unprofessional. It's a little bit hard to explain, but it looks outdated (like something you'd find in really, really old games) and out of place. Yes, even if this is a game set years ago, it doesn't have to keep the same style as games from the same era, right? Maybe that's just me, but the combination of the backgrounds plus the amateur-ish GUI gives the game an unpolished look.

For a free game, I could overlook that, but for a commercial release? I'll be expecting nothing less than a polished, professional look. Granted, it's only just a demo, so it's possible that it's not yet the finished look for the released game. (I'm hoping that it won't be the final look for this game.)

3. Oh, I suppose I should ask this, too - do you have a particular preference out of the gentlemen shown here? It'll be interesting to see who proves popular, ha.

There are actually a couple of obtainables here, and I sort of did an assessment on some of them while playing the demo, just to get an idea of their personality and stuff. This is an otome, after all. Hahaha. I'd like to give some thoughts regarding all the guys I've seen so far. Take note, these are all first impressions.

because we're here mohnblume and blauerose visual novel review

The first one we meet is August Weil, Elfriede's childhood friend. They've known each other since forever. He's a little bit overexcited most of the time, which kinda irks Elfriede. Personally, though, I think he's just too confident in himself. Not that it's a bad thing, but come on, it does feel a little bit off, at times. It's actually rather strange, sometimes I like him, but most of the time, I don't. And yes, most of the time, it's because he's annoying, but he does have his adorable moments. (Or at least, what I learn from Elfriede, anyway.) Or maybe it should be called "naive" moments, I dunno.

because we're here mohnblume and blauerose visual novel review

Next is Wolfgang Haussman, who used to work in Blauerose fields. Yep. Blue roses. I actually smiled when I read that. I absolutely loooove blue roses! Too bad they don't occur in nature. They don't, in this game, either. However, Elfriede's people here actually specialize in these artificial blue roses, and Wolfgang, or Wolf for short, actually used to work with those flowers. He's kinda hard to get along with, though, always getting into fights and stuff. What a troublesome guy. I guess I'll pass this one, too.

because we're here mohnblume and blauerose visual novel review

Next up is Eugen von Reinholdt. He's a rich kid from a really rich, aristocratic family, and he used to be Wolf's boss. Now, I normally don't like this type of guy. He looks really posh, sophisticated, and quite spoiled. He can be a little bit arrogant at times, too. Certainly not my type. However, Eugen has this sort of adorable quality to him, plus he's an only child, just like me, so that's something. "Takes one to know one," indeed. Plus, he seems like an all around nice guy, so as of now, he's my best bet. Of course, looks can be very deceiving, but I hope it won't come to that with Eugen.

Another one is Gerhardt Leer. He didn't make that much of an impression on me, though he seemed like a coward at first, because he didn't enlist in the war. However, I really don't like how the others viewed this decision of his, especially Wolf'. Although, yeah, he's a fairly okay guy. He seems like a sweetie, though I have yet to actually see him in a more in-depth way.

Anyway, that's about it for the questions. I think the demo is pretty decent, as of now. It gives a pretty clear background of the game's setting and characters, and also a pretty good idea of the characters' personalities. I personally find Elfriede a likeable protagonist. She's not a Mary Sue, who's utterly flawless, but she's not so unbearable that she's actually unlikeable already. I think she's right in the "realistic" realm, as far as fictional characters go.

However, I do believe that's there's still a LOT of room for improvement, especially since this is going to be a commercial game. I'm looking forward to see more progress from the developers.

What's nice to hear is that we get original soundtracks! I like them. Not too distracting, and I tried to listen for any hiccups, but nope, they loop perfectly. I honestly don't notice music THAT much, compared to art and writing, but original soundtracks are always a nice touch to any visual novel.

This is only just a demo, so I won't be using my normal rating system.

Be warned, it ends pretty abruptly, by the way. And a lot of the events took me by surprise! I wouldn't want to spoil anything for you guys, though, so you better check it out for yourself. Like I said somewhere above, it's not every day that you get to play as a female soldier during a World War, and I think that in itself is already a great reason to try this game out. Not to mention, it's an otome game, so if you're an otome lover who's kinda tired of playing the same old "typical" high school otome (but I hope not, hahaha) then this one's for you.

You can download this demo here!

Also, here's the link to the Steam Greenlight, in case you're interested. It'll be really great to help support budding VN developers on more mainstream game stores like Steam, I think. There are plenty more visual novels that are rising in there, so be sure to support one that you like! :)

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