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A Breath of Fresh Air
Compared to most stories of this format, DTIPBIJAYS (ugh) is like a hare to everyone else's tortoise; except this hare didn't go and take a nap.

While many visual novels can take several hours just to get through the introductory chapters, DTIPBIJAYS can be completed in just one. This is not because it contains less story, but because Christine Love has taken full advantage of the VN format to compress her story into quick, easy-to-digest bites that have all the story without the boredom. While the length can be disappointing, DTIPBIJAYS nevertheless represents a giant step in the right direction for VN storytelling. Did I mention it's free?

The story is no disappointment, despite the length: the main plot is compelling, and each chapter's sub-plot has consequences in later chapters. The visual part is utilized for small details, which is a refreshing break from the tendency of most V Ns to describe a character's appearance despite the fact that you can see them. The POV character does remark on other characters' appearances at times, but only to react to something strange; description is still left to the visuals and out of the text, as it should be. The chat-room mechanic is a brilliant device that lets the characters establish themselves in seconds through interaction, as opposed to the half-hour to an hour introductions most V Ns typically have.

Like many visual novels, DTIPBIJAYS presents you with choices at times. These choices are easy to anticipate, are fairly clear-cut statements, and the effects of your choices are immediately noticeable; it's similar to a choose-your-own-adventure novel in that sense.

Easily the best part about DTIPBIJAYS is one simple mechanic: YOU CAN GO BACK! That's right, just roll the mouse wheel forward and you can go back as far as you like. Don't like a decision you picked? Just scroll back and pick the other option. Need to read a line of dialogue again? Scroll back. Easy! Why aren't more V Ns like this?

To sum things up, if you've felt like visual novels are a waste of time then this one will change your mind. Christine Love has solved the problems others seem to ignore in both this and her later works. The story is short, but the VN itself is a step in the right direction. Hopefully other authors will take note, and this format will be used for lengthier works in the future.
  # comments: 5
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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.

  # comments: 4
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