Otome Demo Review: Beauty & The War: X Playing Pieces

2/10/2017

otometwist review beauty and the way x playing pieces

GAME INFO
Name: Beauty & the War: X Playing Pieces [demo]
Developer: Poison Apple Tales
Release Date: Nov. 12, 2016
Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Adventure

I’ve had this demo in my “to play” queue for quite some time now, but I never got around to playing it until this now. Man, I should’ve played it sooner!

Fun fact: Beauty & The War: X Playing Pieces, which we’ll call War X for the purposes of this review, is created by the same developer who made Death Room and Don’t Take This Risk. In fact, the main character here is also a character in Death Room! Isn’t that cool?

STORY

The game starts out with a short cutscene of sorts explaining the history and setting of the story.

It’s hard to take the ‘enemies’ seriously when they’re called the “Trold Clan”, as in the ‘trolled’ clan. I keep imagining a bunch of people who got trolled so bad that they wanted to take revenge.

otometwist review beauty and the way x playing pieces

You get the choice to choose which clan you want to conquer first, but in the case of this demo, there’s only one choice. I’m quite excited to see the remaining two, though. We get a glimpse of the all the clans in the intro, and they all seem quite interesting. I’d love to see how all the clans will weave the story into one epic adventure.

WRITING

The writing is very good. I found just a handful noticeable mistakes or typos throughout the whole game, and for a 50,000-word-script, that’s quite admirable.

There isn’t much descriptive prose, only dialogues, but it’s okay because the art does a good job of speaking for itself. Plus, the dialogues were fantastic, so there’s that.

The only gripe I have with the writing… wait for it… the lack of space between an ellipsis and the next word. Seriously people, why do you do this?!

otometwist review beauty and the way x playing pieces

Characterization was really good in this visual novel. Ambrosia’s character is super amusing to me. She feels like the sort of character who’s incredibly, INCREDIBLY flirty yet is not aware of it. At the same time, she does a good job of turning down a guy so nicely that I don’t think he even realizes he was just turned down. Whatever is it, man, I love her. Hahaha. She’s totally adorable. And quite annoying at times with her, “Oh I’m so kind and innocent” vibe, but whatever. I still love her, nonetheless.

Viktor, the wounded patient that Ambrosia tends to (and also Arsenik’s nephew btw), is one of the obtainable guys. He’s pretty naughty (and yes, I mean in {i}that{/i} way), but he does try his best to be a gentleman, which makes him kinda endearing to me. He was actually my second choice after Arsenik, but then I found out that he wasn’t an obtainable. *sobs* What a cruel world.

Chase is one of the Trold. He gives me “hey, I just graduated from high school” vibes, but surprisingly, he’s the most forward of all the guys, often expressing his wish to help Ambrosia with practically anything and everything. Seriously Ambrosia, this guy is begging for your attention and you just keep turning him down with that sweet smile of yours.

otometwist review beauty and the way x playing pieces

Arsenik, a Hulder guy who saved Ambrosia from the wolves when she was younger, was my first choice. Mostly because he’s Ambrosia’s savior, and partly because he’s so hot. Y-yeah, I can be shallow like that sometimes. Anyway, I love his interactions with Ambrosia, because they’re just… so perfect for each other. Like seriously. He’s the one guy that she seemingly should not pine for (because he’s hiding something… and it might not be anything good) and that… that my friends is what makes an awfully good war story. Hey guys, the contest’s over, you better go home now. Arsenik totally wins this. I’ll cry if they don’t end up together.

There are plenty of other guys, it seems, and I’m totally excited to go guy-hunting in this game. *squeals in delight* Ehehe… only in games, of course. Only in games.

ART

I already discussed this in my review of Death Room, and I can say that my thoughts are still the same. While the art is objectively beautiful, it’s not particularly to my taste. It does grow on you though, and by the end of this demo, I was already digging it. I do like how there’s an old-fashioned feel to it though, like it had just come straight out of a late 1990’s or early 2000’s Japanese manga.

The good news here is that a lot of improvement can be seen from the developer’s previous visual novels. For one, the art looks a lot more polished than the older games. Ambrosia’s sprite is absolutely pretty, and her eyes are just super gorgeous. It’s definitely a step-up from what she looked like in her little stint in DR. Also, unlike in DR where the sprites looked pretty flat, here the shading had improved a whole bunch, leading to more lively looking characters.

otometwist review beauty and the way x playing pieces

This is only further enhanced by another little extra that can be found in this VN. Much focus seemed to have been given to the art here in War X in the form of animations. I’m talking about lip flaps, blinks, hair waves, and even breathing animations! Ambrosia, in particular, can even bow her head, clap her hands, look up to the side, and give a little curtsy. Talk about awesome. Pose changes also come in the form of animations, like when Barium moved his hand to his chin and we could actually see the hand moving to the chin instead of just plain transitioning from his side to his chin. While it’s quite a neat little feature, there’s still a lot of room for improvement, especially since the animation still looks unnatural. In the case of Barium’s pose change, for example, it looks more like a disembodied hand is making its way to his chin… which I bet is not the effect that the developer wants the players to see.

The rest of the game didn’t miss out on the animations, thankfully. Flying leaves, shooting arrows, falling snow… all sorts of things in the backgrounds are animated. Definitely a plus.

otometwist review beauty and the way x playing pieces

As for backgrounds, they were soft and lovely, though I prefer the more solid style better. Then again, they did fit with the sprites, so I’ve got no complaints here.

The CGs are hands-down the best thing art-wise about War X. They’re loads better than the sprite art, and that’s saying a lot.

GUI

It’s a custom GUI, and while I like the prefs, save, and load screens, I really disliked the initial in-game screen. It looks the same as the one in Don’t Take That Risk, minus the admittedly annoying blink effect, and I don’t like it here either. I like seeing the characters and the backgrounds, and having something like this onscreen just lessens the amount that I can see.

otometwist review beauty and the way x playing pieces

I’m happy to say that it’s not the case with the rest of the game though, whew. There also isn’t a fixed textbox, which is a cool thing to see.

MUSIC

The music is really good. Short story: I was actually playing this while I was on Christmas vacation at my family home, and my grandmother had come inside my room to tell me something. Before she left, she asked me what I was watching, because the music sounded nice. Ha! If the gran approves of it, then I guess it’s nice. Personally though, I did find the tracks here pleasing to the ears. They also fit the scenes rather well, highlighting the appropriate atmosphere, which is a plus.

WRAP-UP

I loved everything about this visual novel... demo. Ugh, yeah, it's a demo. But I loved everything about it! The story, the characters, the art… everything! I’m so sad that it’s only just a demo. To say I’m excited about the full version is definitely an understatement. I can’t wait!

You can download this demo here. Also, you can join me in waiting for updates by following their Tumblr blog here.

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