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Dont Take It Personally Babe It Just Aint Your Story back to reviews
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Now that's more like it
After my less than favourable review of ''Katawa Shoujo'', it was suggested to me that my problems were aimed more at the overall genre than the game itself. To see if this is true, I went looking around to see if there were any visual novels out there that I might like. I found Dont Take It Personally Babe It Just Aint Your Story.

(NB, from here on, the title will be abbreviated to DTIPBIJAYS.)

DTIPBIJAYS is an exceptionally post-modern game about an English literature teacher, starting up at a new high school. The twist is that the teacher has the opportunity to spy on his pupil's personal lives by accessing their messages on social networking sites. He can use this insight to overcome difficult choices brought before him by the pupils.

This "gimmick" is clever; the story eschews lengthy introductions for each character by simply letting characterisation seep through the online conversations. You can skim through these in seconds, without interrupting the flow of the story. This allows for far greater brevity without skipping on crucial information. It also provides plenty of interactivity, letting the player make far more educated decisions as they occur. Unlike Katawa Shoujo and its peers, the decisions feel far less arbitrary, and the consequences more appropriate. In DTIPBIJAYS, the effects of your choices become apparent almost immediately, as the inbox count climbs and the class conversation buzzes. That allows the player to feel far more involved in the situation.

DTIPBIJAYS has many interesting themes in play. One could try to play the game purely as a romance (though as the game hints early on, you aren't going to "fuck 15 year olds"), but the heart of the game lies in intrigue, class politics, voyeurism and secrecy. The thread that keeps the story going isn't "which girl do I get to screw" but "will I be caught" and "What are the long term consequences of my actions?"

DTIPBIJAYS is a breath of fresh air. It is a concise and witty novel that can be finished within an hour, yet it is also highly efficient at delivering plenty of colourful characters, an interesting plot and a smart commentary on internet relationships. Give it a try.

I read this as well as your Katawa Shoujo review and honestly, you don't seem familiar enough with the visual novel medium to write reviews of it. The fact that you stress how "effects of your choices become apparent almost immediately" suggests that you are overemphasizing the "game" aspect and underemphasising the "novel" aspect of a visual novel. Even if visual novels are a form of interactive fiction, you got to have the mindset of that when reading a book, rather than that of playing a game. The interactivity isn't supposed to be the defining aspect of the work.

I would recommend you to check out "Saya no Uta" as it has barely any interactivity at all (what little interactivity it has can almost be considered as bonus "what if" scenarios to the canon storyline) to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. It is a horror story with no dating-sim aspects of any kind, so it should also give you a taste of how diverse visual novels can be. The whole thing is up at youtube if you're interested.
comment #14885 Bambooisgreat 16th Jun 12
You know, I'm starting to wonder why people keep expecting a game out of the "visual novel" medium. As a bookworm, mechanics like the one in this Vn just seem gimmicky. I like videogames as much as the next guy, but Vns are Vns and Videogames are videogames. Hence why they're in different namespaces.

And yeah, Saya No Uta is recommendable. If you don't like horror, there's Planetarian as another short Kinetic Novel.
comment #14886 encrypted12345 16th Jun 12
Bamboo, thanks for your comment, however I disagree with what you say. There is nothing wrong with me expecting more gameplay out of a game - even one from a genre that has a tradition of restricting player input. If I were to review visual novels with an emphasis on the novel aspect, I'd probably spend the whole time complaining about the lousy story telling, or the annoyance of having only one sentence of dialogue on the screen at one time (which seems to be the standard). I can't speak with much authority on the subject of V Ns, but the titles which do provide interactivity (e.g. Anologue: A love Story, or perhaps even 999 counts) give some credence to my reviews; they can be more "game-ish", and I think they are better when they are.

I make it clear what I like to see in V Ns - that'll help the reader to decide on whether to take my opinions to heart, or ignore them. I don't mind either way, as long as it helps them form their own opinion on the title.
comment #15160 maninahat 3rd Jul 12
I have to say, it seems like you've matured in your opinions a bit. I still don't necessarily agree with you on the game-vs-storytelling scale, but you definitely do a better job communicating your point now. Nice review here. I will also add in a recommendation that you at least look at Saya No Uta, which has exactly two choices total, or, to go to an even more extreme position on the "Novel" side of things and avoid some of the really disturbing parts of Saya, Higurashi, which has no choices at all. Fate Stay Night and Tsukihime are also well worth your time - they have a fair amount of choice, but very few that won't get you killed.
comment #15823 KyleJacobs 15th Aug 12
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