Demo Review: City Lights [CE-5]


city lights ce-5 sci fi visual novel

You've left your home and everything you've ever known behind to start anew in the city. Will you be able to escape your past and start fresh or will your past continue to haunt you?

City Lights [CE-5] explores unexplained circumstances and events surrounding a group of people living at a communal complex in the city.

+ the sprites are quite pretty
+ fascinating, well-written story

- lack of control over the game's... er, controls
- something about the background art feels out of place

City Lights, formerly known as CE-5 (and actually, this is what's written on the short game I just played), is a game made for the TyranoJam 2015. It's pretty short, just around 30 min. long, with only three endings.

Story time: Just before playing the game (I just saw it in my Downloads folder-- I guess I had forgotten that I had downloaded it), I decided to search for the game on Google. I typed, "CE-5", the old name, and forgot to add the words "visual novel". The first thing that popped up in the search results is this definition: "CE-5 is a term describing a fifth category of close encounters with Extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETI), characterized by mutual, bilateral communication rather than unilateral contact."

I didn't even know it was a sci-fi game before reading that definition. Who'd have known? Hahaha.

Anyway, aside from the [unnamed] protagonist, there are actually quite a few characters in this game. Atti is the friendly (or maybe not?) caretaker of the building where the protagonist just moved into. Mary is a tenant, who owns a Doberman Pinscher named Alistair. Carter, Cloe, and Lache are three other tenants. The last tenant, Jakob, is the protagonist's next-door neighbor. He also reminds me of that super hot character from a famous Koreanovela, Secret Garden. Just some background info. Hahaha.

city lights ce-5 sci fi visual novel

As you can see, City Lights is a visually appealing game. The art looks polished enough, and while I do have some gripes regarding the backgrounds, the sprites themselves look clean and neat. I find the sprite art beautiful, to be honest! Just look at Mary, haha. Isn't she lovely?

The GUI is nice though I don't like how it functions. Mainly because I can't find the auto-read button, which means I had to click every time a sentence was over. Okay, I usually click, anyway, but I do like having the option to auto-read, because sometimes I read while doing something else, (eating some food, tying my hair, oh, just about anything) and that's where the auto-read function becomes helpful. I couldn't find that option in this game, PLUS right-clicking doesn't bring me to the preferences menu (is there even a preferences menu?) so... yeah.

Now that I realize it, I actually have a couple of dislikes about this game, so, I hope you guys bear with me while I rant this out.

city lights ce-5 sci fi visual novel

The lack of a name for the protagonist was so confusing! I always had to check for quotation marks whenever he spoke, because I wasn't always sure if he was speaking out loud or just to himself. It's because there's no label at all. The other characters all have names, but the protagonist doesn't. It was quite confusing, really. Or maybe that's just me, but, meh, I would've liked it if there was a name.

While I like the soundtracks, I did experience random bouts of silences throughout the game. I mean, there were some parts of the game where the music just suddenly stopped. I'm not sure if the looping simply failed, or if the game meant not to have any music. *shrugs* Anyway, it just happened twice or thrice, so it's not really a big deal. I'm just kinda curious if it was something intentional, because it didn't seem like it.

The resolution is big, and hey, I like it big, but not so big that I couldn't see the whole thing anymore. Obviously, this is more subjective than objective, haha. But I'm usually fine with much larger resolutions (1920x1080? Heck yeah!) if there was an option to resize the window. There isn't any here, so I had to maximize the window itself. That left me with an ugly black bar at the side, which wasn't so bad, to be honest, but still something I could do away with.

city lights ce-5 sci fi visual novel

Backgrounds, well, I did already say that I had some gripes about them, but that's only because they seem to have... uh... two different art styles in one image. Wait, that's a little bit hard for me to explain. Hahaha, sorry, I'm not a native English speaker. But yeah, some parts of the background look painted, with soft colors and textures and gradients (I don't know how to describe it!) but some parts look hand-drawn, with super stick straight lines and flat colors. The confusing mesh of art "styles" could be a little bit distracting at times.

Okay, right now you're probably thinking, "You don't like this game much, do you?" But actually, I do. I find the story really intriguing. As a matter of fact, I was so engrossed in the story as I played the game, which is why I have all these gripes above-- because I kept noticing every little detail. That's how immersed I was. Hahaha. The writing is really good and I just love how the events in the game unfolded. There was never a boring part in the game for me, mainly because I was so curious about everything that was happening. I just needed to get answers, demmit.

Oh! By the way, knowing that it's an alien game, expect little bits of animation, you guys. And by little, I mean literally tiny, haha, and they're kinda sparse, so don't get your hopes up too much. But it was pretty cool while it lasted, haha.

city lights ce-5 sci fi visual novel

There are three endings to this game. One with Mary, one with Carter, and one with Jakob. I told you guys, I found the game so intriguing that I actually got all of the endings, and I have to say, my time was well-spent. The story is really fascinating (at least for me, and probably sci-fi enthusiasts out there) and it's not hard to find yourself sucked into the game because of that!

To be honest, I'm still not completely sure about the real story behind all the events in the game, but... I have a couple of ideas (which I won't be sharing here, because I don't want to spoil you guys.)

Fun fact: This was supposed to be a standalone game, but the developer, Prism Productions, has decided to make it longer. From being a short game, City Lights, or CE-5, as I reviewed it, has now turned into a demo for a much longer one. I guess we have no choice but to stay tuned for the complete story, then! Can't wait!

"I'm pretty sure I popped the bad end flag," Carter said once in-game. Hahaha, talk about breaking the fourth wall with that one!

Anyway, you can go check out this game (whoops, I mean demo) here! Currently it's just a Windows download, though. Mac download to follow soon!

P.S. No strawberries for this one, as it's only just a demo. =) I'll be reserving the strawberries once its final version is released.

You Might Also Like

0 berries

Have some thoughts, opinions, or experiences to share?

(c) otometwist 2016. Powered by Blogger.