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(Ah... You've seen this before.)

START AGAIN START AGAIN START AGAIN: a prologue (alternately stylized as START AGAIN: a prologue) is an RPG Maker game by insert disc 5. As the name implies, your hero, The Traveler Siffrin, has found themselves trapped in a time loop, relieving the same events over and over again as he and their intrepid companions face The King. Alongside The Fighter, The Housemaiden, The Researcher and The Kid, you must...

...You... must...

You must ensure that they don't find out. Because it's not like it's a problem, right? Facing the same enemies, traversing the same spaces, staring down the same Final Boss... You've got this down pat! There's nothing to it but to do it, right? As many times as it takes.

You've got this. You do. It's fine. It will all be fine.

This game can be found here and here. The game it's a prologue/prototype to, In Stars And Time, was announced on March 22, 2022, with a release of November 20, 2023.

START AGAIN START AGAIN START AGAIN: a prologue contains examples of:

  • All for Nothing: Siffrin fears that their quest is effectively this, fueling his desperation to keep the others Locked Out of the Loop.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Played With; despite having five members, only four enter battle... because they're worried about letting The Kid face monsters. Thus they're on snack duty instead.
  • The Chosen One: Thanks to the Change God's blessing, the Housemaiden cannot be Frozen, and has the ability to unfreeze her companions. Should she fall, however...
  • Cruel Twist Ending: The True Ending. Even when you defeat the King and remember everyone's names, cue the game looping once more to the beginning.
  • Culture Clash:
    • The Researcher is the only party member who's not from Vaugarde; as a result, some of the local customs go over her head. Like the whole crab thing.
    • The Kid hails from a coastal region, leading to a bit of Foreign Queasine when they pull out a grilled fish head.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Researcher is by far the snarkiest of the lot... or at least, the most open with her dry commentary, whereas Siffrin tends to keep his thoughts to himself.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The graphics are black, white and grayscale.
  • Eye Scream: Implied; Siffrin has an Eyepatch of Power, and is still having some trouble getting used to the change in depth perception. Play your cards right and you'll learn they lost it while protecting one of the others.
  • Five-Man Band:
    • The Hero/The Heart: The Housemaiden, returning to what remains of her home with everyone's hopes riding on her shoulders.
    • The Lancer: Siffrin/The Traveler, a Lovable Rogue who seems to approach their mission with an irreverent attitude, concealing how much they care about the others with their quips, one-liners and puns.
    • The Big Guy: The Fighter, loyal, steadfast and true, encouraging everyone to stand strong.
    • The Smart Guy: The Researcher from another land, able to analyze their opponents and determine their weaknesses, then strike accordingly with their Craft.
    • Tagalong Kid: The Kid, managing snack duty and moral support with a side of childish snarkery.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: The central conceit; only Siffrin is aware of this.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: The Housemaiden, The Hero of the tale, is the only party member to use a sword.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Played for Drama. In Siffrin's experience, the King has effectively proven to be one, preventing the heroes from seeing their journey through to the end.
  • In Medias Res: We join the heroes at the start of the Final Dungeon, after Siffrin has already spent a significant amount of time looping on his own.
  • Justified Tutorial: Prompting The Housemaiden to talk about battle strategies can help her feel better before tackling your first Sadness inside the Castle. Not that you need to, mind you...
  • Limited Wardrobe: Justified due to the short time span. Notably, Housemaidens of Change are typically expected to switch up their style from time to time as part of their worship.
  • Multiple Endings: Four variations: 'In Blood and Stars', 'In Tears and Time', the True Ending, and the Perfect Ending.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Siffrin nearly breaks down from the guilt of realizing that he's forgotten the names of all of his companions.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Played With; the Housemaiden enjoys reading horror for the catharsis factor, rooting for the protagonists to survive. Though she also admits that she likes the ones where they marry the monsters, as well...
  • Nobody Poops: Averted; upon finding a bathroom, the party speculates about whether or not The King needs to use it, and consider taking a bathroom break.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Played With; each of the heroes has their own names, but are referred to in the game's menus by their respective one-word descriptors. Siffrin eventually realizes that he's forgotten all of their names, berating themself for it.
  • Personality Powers:
    • Siffrin/The Traveler is a Scissors-type Fragile Speedster with punny techniques like 'Knife To Meet You' and 'Too Cleaver By Half', reflecting his once-playful nature.
    • The Fighter is a heavy-hitting Rock-type whose techniques are all straightforward and SHOUTED!!!
    • The Housemaiden is a split Scissors/Paper-type with considerable anxiety who serves as the party's healer. Many of her techniques sound like Magical Girl moves.
    • The Researcher is naturally a Paper-type, but her Craft skills let her effectively strike the weaknesses she pinpoints in her adversaries.
  • Player Nudge: Played With; Should the player lose the final battle while on the path to the True Ending, Siffrin has decidedly mixed feelings about recreating his actions, questioning and second-guessing his own actions.
  • Sad Clown: Before the loops started, Siffrin was a Lovable Rogue with a knack for quips, puns and one-liners. Now he's trying to keep up the act for everyone else's sake.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: The Fighter is prone to this, along with calling his attacks.
  • Secretly Selfish: Played With; Siffrin questions his own motivations, particularly after his friends confront him on one route. He can't help wondering whether he's manipulating the others, and whether or not it's okay to seek comfort from them.
  • Sequel Hook: As befitting a Prologue. The True Ending sees the heroes vanquish the King and seemingly break the loop, only for Siffrin to be shunted back even further, to before they entered the Final Dungeon.
  • Stepford Smiler: Siffrin is trying to be; after all, The Fighter's sure that he's never seen you worried before, so why would that change now? How well he succeeds is up to the player...
  • Supporting Protagonist: Siffrin is the Player Character, but they're not The Hero; that would be the Housemaiden. Their role in the group is closer to The Lancer.
  • Survival Mantra: The Housemaiden frequently reminds herself to "Stay positive..."
  • Switch-Out Move: The Traveler and The Fighter can both pass their turn to somebody else.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Played literally; you have Rock-types, Paper-types and Scissors-types. Rock beats Scissors, Scissors beats Paper, Paper beats Rock. The Researcher can Examine enemies to help ferret out their weaknesses, or you could look at their hands.
  • Tears of Blood: Combined with Blood from the Mouth. Happens to Siffrin at the beginning of the prologue, where his blood falls in drops to signify him dying at the hands of the King.
  • Time Loop Fatigue: Siffrin is naturally suffering from this, though he'd prefer to avoid letting on.
  • Time Stands Still: Many of the world's inhabitants have been frozen in time, aside from our heroes and those who oppose them. Touching the tears scattered throughout the castle will inflict the same fate upon anyone or anything, causing an instant Game Over if the party does so.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Crab is a remarkably flexible one. 'Oh my crab', 'Holy crab', 'mothercrab'...
  • Was Once a Man: The Sadness are all that remain of those defeated by The King; remnants of their emotions clinging to existence.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The King is a case of where the problem is the 'problem' — he's convinced that it would be better for the world to remain frozen in a state of suspended, eternal beauty. How everybody else feels about the matter is completely irrelevant to him, though he still pleads for understanding from the Housemaiden and her companions.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: The House of Change that the Housemaiden used to live in was corrupted and twisted into the King's Castle. As a result, she recognizes many of the rooms, but they've all been rearranged and altered from their original state in ways she finds unnerving, and the familiarity that remains offers little comfort.

(Get back on the stage.)