Otome Review: The First Star

2/18/2017

otometwist visual novel review the first star

Name: The First Star
Developer: Sailorel
Date: August 19, 2016
Genre: Romance, Drama

Accompany Hoshiko, a 16 year old high school student as she struggles to take care of her sick mother, go to school, maintain a job and maybe even find true love, all while avoiding the shadow of her stalker.

STORY

You play as Hoshiko, a 16-year-old girl who lives with her asthmatic mother. Her dad left them many years ago, and Hoshiko is struggling with school and family problems. She works at a nearby convenience store in order to help with their expenses. She gets to befriend some guys and maybe start a relationship with one of them. And… that’s basically the gist of it.

Oh man, I suck at summaries.

otometwist visual novel review the first star
I hope you and that person share the same sentiment, bud.

I don’t particularly like or dislike the story. It wasn’t bad, though it wasn’t good either. I guess the perfect way to describe it would be… uh, that it’s a slice-of-life story where the MC has no particular goal and nothing particularly happens. There’s a bit of drama added in the end, but it felt more tacked on than anything. Like… it happened for the sake of it happening. I normally don’t like those and am awfully annoyed by them, but the story was already lackluster from the start so I didn’t mind anymore.


WRITING

I’ve got a lot of gripes with the writing too, so this section might sound more like a rant than anything.

The First Star has around 17,000 words, and knowing that fact just makes me even more disappointed because it seemed to me like the writing wasn’t proofread. AT ALL. 17,000 words… yet there were so many glaring mistakes throughout the whole game.

otometwist visual novel review the first star
How is it possible to misspell the first "really" when there's a second one?!

There were wrong capitalizations within the first few lines of the visual novel, and they should’ve been easy to see if this had been read through even just once. On top of that, one of my pet peeves could be found in this vn: the lack of space between an ellipsis and the next word. Come on, guys… don’t you know how infuriating that looks like?

Not to mention, there were a lot of typos and spelling mistakes to be found. Worse, they’re not really that hard to spot; just a read-through or two would’ve knocked out like 90% of them.

For indie devs out there who are just starting with their first visual novel project, I’d just like to say… even if you don’t have a separate proofreader on the team, at least do your best to play through your work a couple of times to check for mistakes and keep errors minimal. You can also run your work on Microsoft Word and use the “Correction” feature there, to at least check for spelling or capitalization mistakes. No matter how good your story is, if it’s riddled with mistakes, most readers will think it’s no good, and you don’t want that.

otometwist visual novel review the first star
I really enjoyed this scene, right until the characters started speaking.

Aside from that, the writing itself was… well, decent, I suppose, though it could definitely be better. I did enjoy the descriptive prose, as that seems to be the writer’s strong point. Nuggets of wisdom about life and relationships can be found throughout the whole visual novel, which I also greatly appreciated.

However, dialogues were a bit unnatural, reading more like a script than something two people would actually say to each other. Many times, they felt way too over-the-top.

The dialogues near the ends is the perfect example to this, considering the characters’ prior conversations, or lack thereof, with each other. Uh… my dear MC, you’ve spoken to this guy like… what, once, and now you’re saying he’s already dear to you and you can’t live without him? Please.

Spoiler: Okay, apparently they always see each other at the store, and maybe had some small talk here or there, but there’s really only one in-game scene where they actually talked, and it even implied that the guy wasn’t super comfortable with MC yet. MC, you make me groan. Uuuuugh.

otometwist visual novel review the first star
What is this, a worksop? I thought this was a 'date'.

I didn’t particularly like the characterization either. The protagonist, Hoshiko, is not very likable, at least to me. She has a habit of getting into other people’s jobs way too often, which a lot of other visual novel MCs suffer from. Except in this case, Hoshiko felt a little too pushy most of the time. Either that, or the other characters are simply not very receptive to her efforts, which makes the scenes either unbearable awkward or just plain cringe-y. Along with this, Hoshiko also felt a bit like a know-it-all, oftentimes pushing her thoughts onto other people.

Like for example, in the screenshot above, Hoshiko and Akio were on a 'date'. Hoshiko tells Akio to talk more, because that's apparently how it should be. He proceeds to make small talk with her (aww, you adorable dude.) But when he asks her, "Which games do you like?" she says it's the wrong question, and gives that explanation in the screenshot. Like, girl, you could've just said, "Sorry, I don't like games." instead of lecturing him like that. If you were my date, I'd have thought you were too obnoxious.

The three guys, Erai, Akio, and Hisoka are… uh, okay. I first got Akio’s ending, then Erai’s. I didn’t get come back for Hisoka’s anymore. Of the three, I enjoyed MC’s conversations with Erai the most, even though he was also the most annoying. The sweet scenes were definitely sweet, but the build-up felt lacking to me. But this is coming from someone who like taking it slow, so… yep.

If there’s one person I like in this visual novel, it’s the Mom. She’s really nice and sweet, and I really enjoyed her conversations with her daughter. Of all characters in the VN, I think she had the most well-written dialogue, too.

Spoiler: …and of course, it’s always the best character who has to have something bad happen to them. *sobs*

otometwist visual novel review the first star
Jerk.

This visual novel uses explicit swear words, so just a heads up on that. I don’t really like using swear words be it in writing or in real life, so I was kinda put off to see such strong exclamations here. Not that it’s a bad thing of course; though I would’ve preferred to see a more kid-friendly language.

ART

Looks like everything was from free resources. The sprites are from Tokudaya, but I don't know about the backgrounds. Tokudaya sprites look super pretty, but they’re sort of overused. I was already playing visual novels in 2011, and they were already being used in 2011.

otometwist visual novel review the first star
*cringe*

That said, I like how the limits of using free resources was creatively used in this visual novel. For example, Tokudaya, if I remember correctly, has no older woman sprites, so the VN just employed a young lady sprite and explained it as the mom giving birth to Hoshiko when she was a teenager, hence the younger features. It’s really cool to see that kind of creativity, so kudos to the devs for that.

GUI

Default Ren’Py GUI.

MUSIC

The tracks didn’t particularly stand out to me. Which can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. I recognized a few, so they might be from Kevin Macleod. Don’t take my word for it, though.

WRAP-UP

I feel kinda bad reviewing this so strictly because this looks like an indie dev’s first attempt (I stand corrected: it’s apparently the dev’s second game) at creating a visual novel, but… ah, well. It was a good attempt, nonetheless. All the routes worked perfectly, so no programming errors here.
otometwist visual novel review the first star
Four out of ten strawberries. If it’s not yet obvious, everything about this visual is just… ‘not particularly’ anything to me. It’s not particularly bad, but… it’s not particularly good either. Try it out if you want, but I can’t really say I recommend it.

You can download this game here for free.

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