Hey there! I'm Kayeka, currently unemployed, penniless and bored out his skull. I felt like playing/reading/watching/listening/whatever a Visual Novel for the first time in ages, so I clicked on some random links on my favourite pirate site. The result was Deardrops, a game with a relatively long thread on the Tvtropes forum and a decent download speed, which was enough to convince me that I could squeeze a few hours worth of entertainment out of it.
And since I'm all for sharing fun, I decided to liveblog the thing.
So, "what is Deardrops?" you may ask. Frankly, I have no idea. I'm going into this completely blind, apart from giving the trope page a quick look and maybe seeing an image or so. As far as I know, it involves a band of sorts. If you want a better summary than that, check elsewhere:P.
Well, preparations complete. Time to double click the executive icon and see where this is going.
After the obligatory showing off of logos and parental advisory warnings, I'm greeted by a stylish opening menu, set to a pretty decent rock tune. That's a good sign. Some might say that dressing up the opening screen is a waste of time, but I like to think that people that spend time and resources on this very first impression must care enough about generally polishing the actual product to be able to create something quite worthy of my time. After a quick look at the settings, but seeing nothing that I'd change right now (plenty of options to ensure viewer pleasure, though), I click 'Start', which promises to 'start the game from the beginning'.
First, we get a monologue by what I assume to be the main character, talking about a dream he often had. In the dream, he stands in the spotlights on a stage, along with 'trusted friends'. The MC tells that he has been playing violin since forever, and he continues to talk about how he loves to perform. The scene is accompanied by a sweet classical tune, which makes me assume that the MC is part of a classical orchestra.
We finally get to see the MC's face. A fairly distinctive face wearing glasses, which is again a good sign. Usually, VN protagonist are either completely faceless, or their face is so generic they might as well have been. While I get that authors pull this trick to make the MC easier to relate to, it makes the character that the story is supposedly about quite the bore compared to his far more interesting Bromantic Foil.
And then, the music abruptly ends. The MC had 'almost' obtained the dream, but due to undefined events, he lost the dream, and now, whenever he goes to sleep, all he sees is darkness. He feels that he longer has a place in this world. But then, he hears a voice humming a happy song through the darkness, and he feels a sliver of hope once more as he wakes up.
We are then shown a scene that happens on a beach (or at least near the ocean). we are introduced to the humming girl: Sakurai Kanade, red-headed Childhood Friend.
Part of my consciousness went "Oh boy, here we go again." as the words 'Childhood Friend' popped up. You know, I don't have anything against such characters, but the archetype has been played out so often in so many different ways, that it needs to be executed really well before I can bless the character with my approval.
Anyhow, this is the first time in years Kanade and the MC meet. The MC enjoys her singing a little longer before Kanade notices that he is awake. And then she happily greets the MC.
Aw, man. I was so hoping to get through one of these games without having to suffer through that kind of voice. You know the type: squeeky to the point that it sounds unreal. Something that would fit a hamster more than a grown girl. Disappointed, I turn down the volume and pray that I somehow manage to get used to it. Childhood friends tend to have a lot of lines over the course of the story, whether you actually bother with her route or not.
The MC, of course, does not have a voice actor. You know, call me crazy, but in this age of gender equality, it would be nice if they actually considered to make the male MC an actual character, rather than half-assing every part of his being. They got the lines, they got the backstory, they are the bloody MC. So can they please get the rest of the deal as well? Listening to conversations between the MC and literally everyone else feels like hearing someone talk on the phone without hearing the other half of the conversation talk.
Well, at least he got a design that stands out, courtesy of the glasses, and they are not desperately trying to hide his face. That's still a giant leap forward, I suppose.
After getting irritated by the voices in the very first scene that features them, I'm tempted to visit the settings menu and turn all voices off. Having no noise to distract me from the story and the (so far excellent) soundtrack would probably have a positive effect on my sense of immersion, but I figure that I should at least give the other voices a chance.
The MC is finally given a name: Shoichi. No clue whether it's his given or family name, but anyhow... We are told that Shoichi has only returned to Japan last week, having been adopted into a German orchestra five years ago. He and Kanade proceed to talk about the song she was humming, which she apparently wrote herself. She's been composing sings ever since she was a child.
Kanade fails to impress, so far. She's the shy type that can not express herself in front of others, which she demonstrates by reacting very embarrassed to the fact that Shoichi heard her humming. Characters like these can be quite interesting once they open up a little, but I'm afraid I've already decided to dislike her after the voice, Childhood Friend business, and the Idiot Hair that has accompanied so many bland characters in an attempt to make them look expressive. Yeah, sorry, I do that. She can still be redeemed, of course, but it better be dang impressive.
More description on Shoichi's current situation: after a disastrous event of sorts that made him give up on playing the violin, he returned to Japan, with no job, money or a place to stay. Kanade introduced him to a live-on job in her family's live house. After a few worried questions from Kanade regarding Shoichi's attitude towards this, in my opinion, incredibly sweet deal, the scene moves towards the live house.
We are introduced to ten-year-old Chika, Kanade's little sister. To compensate for Kanade's gentle nature, Chika is a lot more confrontational. Unfortunately, whatever disease might have struck Kanade's throat, it's hereditary. Voice aside, I already like her more than her sister. The typical tsundere act works quite well when applied to a small child.
We also see 'Master', Kanade's father and owner of the live house. Seems like a cool dude, so far. Grey hair, ponytail, Hawaiian shirt: here stands a man who is proud of his identity as an old rocker.
We are then showed Shoichi's new room: A bus (as in, a vehicle) sitting on the roof of the building, with it's insides reworked to make it a functional room, complete with couch, kitchen sink and closets, with a shower and kitchen that he won't need to share on the floor below. Having lived in multiple kinds of rooms for most of my adult life so far, I can say that this must be the most awesome living arrangements a young man could ever hope for. And he's getting it for free. The probable lack of an internet connection is only a small sacrifice.
Kanade proceeds to annoy me by worshipping Shoichi no matter what he does. The way she reacts in pure awe when Shoichi tells her that he, a grown young man that lived abroad away from his parents for five years, can cook makes me want to punch her. Yes, I know I'm being harsh, but she pushed the wrong buttons and will now have to deal with it.
Next scene: Later that evening, Shoichi relaxes on his couch. In his bus. Which is standing on a rooftop. Which is awesome.
After musing a little about how glad eh is to be back in Japan, he underlines once more that he had decided to never, ever play the violin again, even though he obviously wants to. He then drinks a beer. Because he apparently gets drunk after only one drink, he never drunk beer while he was in Germany. If you know anything about beer, you'll know that he kicked himself in the nuts right there.
And then I realize something that gives me some new hope for this VN: The character can drink beer which he bought himself at the convenience store, which means he isn't underage, which means that he isn't a high-school student. Wow. my interest level in this story just shot up. 95% of all manga/anime/VN love stories take place in high school. Knowing that I don't have to put up with that tired setting makes me a happy fellow, and I'm looking forward to whatever the writers have planned for this.
Shoichi attempts to pass out drunk, but is then lured towards the live house, where a rock band is having a show. Being a classical snob, Shoichi didn't understand what was so great about it, but he was captivated either way by this new kind of music. After getting his sensitive ears bombarded, he stumbles back to his room (which is a bus, on a rooftop!) and wonders about what music actually is.
Thus ends the first day, and I think this is a good point to end my first session.
So far, I can't say it's already the best thing I've ever seen, but I've got good hope. They made the MC a distinctive character of his own, with a character arc to resolve by the end of the game. They also moved away from the High School setting, which makes me a very happy dude. They also got some likeable characters so far. All this is presented by some nice artwork and a strong soundtrack.
Really, the only thing I explicitly didn't like was Kanade, which I suppose is a matter of taste anyway. Everything else is looking just plain good.
Kayeka signing off for now. Next update will probably appear tomorrow. Or tonight. Either way, soon enough. See you then!