Otome Review: Doppelganger: Dawn of the Inverted Soul

1/13/2017






After her sister Bertha's death, Lucia Nicol is struggling to follow her footsteps. She becomes a self-centered person who will do anything to replace Bertha's position in her family. Her actions made her schoolmates to loathe and bully her, thus leading to an unexpected event. One by one, the schoolmates who bullied her were attacked and suddenly she became the main suspect. After those events, she found out that she was able to see people who can’t be seen by “normal” people, and uncover the dark, insane truth of an entity called “Doppelganger”. Her life is suddenly in danger, and those people she normally trusts suddenly don’t look so kind any more…

Play as Lucia as you struggle to escape your fate; dying or living a life where you will certainly wish you are dead…

GAME INFO

Name: Doppelganger: Dawn of the Inverted Soul
Developer: azureXtwilight
Date: Jan. 13, 2013
Genre: Romance, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Supernatural

I can’t believe I’m reviewing this just now, 4 years exactly since the day it was released. I actually first started playing this around its release date but I never got around to finishing it. One of my blog-related resolutions for 2017 is that this would be the year that I’ll finish reviewing all my pre-2016 visual novels, so… yeah, I’m doing a lot of backtracking now to check which ones I haven’t played or reviewed yet.

Anyway, Doppelganger: Dawn of the Inverted Soul, which we’ll call Doppelganger from now on because the complete title is a real mouthful, was developed by azureXtwilight. Now, I’m quite a fan of this creator, because she’s been around for quite some time and her works are always really good (like a2, which is one of my favorite visual novels of all time), even though the art doesn’t really appeal much to me.

STORY

Lucia Nicol is a student at Valudeto High. She’s extremely dedicated to her studies and is a complete geek. Despite this though, she’s overshadowed by her sister Bertha, who had died 5 years ago, and who was essentially a level-up version of herself. Unlike Bertha, Lucia is always bullied by a gang of mean girls in school, who always do awful things to her like slice up her shoes in the locker or burn her with cigarettes. For a game with a high school setting, it’s definitely way more horrifying than I thought.

The problem starts with the appearance of doppelgangers in Lucia’s world. In the story, doppelgangers are usually born from a person’s wish, and usually the negative ones, too. They can actually grant a person’s wish, but eventually, the wish-maker would just disappear. That’s the price to pay from summoning a doppelganger, but unfortunately, it seems like most people who summon them, whether consciously or unconsciously, don’t know that terrifying fact.

Doppelganger was honestly very intriguing from the get-go. It’s morbid. It’s mysterious. It’s fantastic. It’s long, but time just whizzed past me when I played it because it’s honestly that good. Although I have to admit, there were a lot of points where the story becomes a little too hard to swallow as truth, even if the genre is fantasy. Even fantasy stories need to have some degree of realism, of course. And at some points, Doppelganger simply stretched the limits way too far, making it hover dangerously close to the realm of impossibility. If you can fully suspend your disbelief while playing the game though, I’m sure you can completely overlook the “what? how could that be?” parts.

WRITING

The game is around 262,000 words long, with more or less 6 routes that you can pursue. The prose is detailed and descriptive enough, perfect for my tastes. There are very minimal typos and mistakes, which is good. The only gripe I have is the lack of space between ellipses and the next word. It’s just really infuriating, though it is super minor. Aside from that, I didn’t have any other issues with the writing.

Dialogues were generally good, i.e. they felt real. There are some times when the dialogue felt a little bit over the top.


The cast is pretty interesting. Lucia seems to be your typical goody-two shoes character, but she’s got a hidden side to her that scares me sometimes. She’s the kind of character in television dramas who seem really demure at first, but has the tendency to become evil later on. Quite scary, if you ask me. Then there’s Anastasia, the ‘bully’ who turns out to be a rather kind girl, just pressured to fit in. Meh, I didn’t buy the part where they ‘revealed’ that Anastasia is actually pretty nice. Don’t worry, I’m not spoiling you by telling you this, because it happens pretty early in the story. But basically, what I’m saying is that while the characters are all nicely written, most of them have that same problem that this visual novel is suffering from: the “you’ve got to be kidding me” syndrome.

SPOILER: Probably the best example of this problem is the obtainable character God’s Hand, an infamous hacker who rose to fame after hacking top companies and turning them against each other. He apparently has a lot of experience, so judging from this description, it would be cool to think of him as a 30-year-old guy, or maybe 25 if he was a prodigy or something. But nope, nu-uh. Guess what, he’s Lucia’s kid neighbor. How old was he when he started hacking and negotiating with companies, 8? Come on, Doppelganger. You’ve got to be kidding me.



There’s a wide range of obtainable guys, so fans of the otome genre could definitely have their fill here. There’s one for everybody, as they say. Want that senior captain of the basketball team? Check! That cute but quiet neighbor? Check! That super supportive friend who’s always stuck in “the” zone? Check! It’s helpful to note that they’re pretty much stereotypes, but I nevertheless enjoyed my interactions with them because they’re all well-written. I honestly don’t mind mind stereotypes as long as they’re well-written, and Doppelganger definitely didn’t fail me in that aspect.

ART

The sprites and CGs are made by the writer herself (which makes this whole game even more admirable from a developer’s perspective). The backgrounds seem to be either stock or creative commons, since they all have different art styles and varying degrees of quality. But let’s focus on azureXtwilight’s art. Like I said, the art is not up to my taste, but it’s fine. For a free otome game, I won’t complain. Plus, azureXtwilight actually has a very distinct style that’s very noticeable, and once you see it the first time, you’ll know it’s hers the next time you see it again. It’s in anime-style but it’s also less polished and a lot more flat. Yeah, I think I can pin that down as the biggest problem to it: the flatness. Another thing is the shading. Shading could definitely be a lot better.

But hey, we’re talking about a 2013 game here, so… for all we know, her art style could be completely different now.

GUI

The GUI is customized, but it looks a lot like the stock Ren’Py GUI. Not that it’s a problem, although... did you know? This game also uses NVL mode sometimes, with a hideous red border, which did make the visual novel interface look pretty cheap, at least to me. And also a bit outdated, but again, this is a visual novel from 2013. One thing I disliked was the lack of an auto-read button, because I really like setting visual novels on auto-read.



MUSIC

Generally good. As a fan of the horror genre, I especially loved the scary scenes because the spooky music did a good job in upping the atmosphere. Some scenes had noticeable looping, but aside from that, the track selection was really good. No problems here, definitely.

WRAP-UP

Doppelgangers: Dawn of the Inverted Soul (*pant*pant*) is a free otome game which offers a solid visual novel experience with over 10 hours of gameplay. Forgive me for sounding like a press release, haha, but that’s basically the best way to wrap it up. There’s absolutely no reason why I wouldn’t recommend this, especially if you’re a fan of the otome genre. It’s long, it’s enjoyable, and it’s free. What more can be said?



Nine out of ten strawberries for Doppelganger, with whipped cream on top. One strawberry had unfortunately fallen off the plate because of the lackluster GUI and the “dude you’re kidding” moments.

You can download this visual novel here for free.

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