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Visual Novel / Crimson Gray

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A Visual Novel by Sierra Lee, about the relationship between John, a clinically depressed boy, and Lizzie, a girl with some issues of her own.

Notable for playing most tropes dead straight. As such, the game is as much about romance and knives as it is about psychiatry, medicines, their side effects, and how our mental state shapes our vision of the world.

Despite it shortness, the game also provides a huge number of choices with actual story consequences.

Made with Ren'Py.

Available on Steam and similar platforms.


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Crimson Gray contains examples of:

  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The reason why Lizzie is so devoted to John is because he stood up for her when some of his classmates called her creepy. It's implied that he's the only person to show her some kindness.
  • Colour-Coded Emotions: The color palette of the game varies depending of the characters' emotions. Violence is crimson, gray is depression.
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  • Crazy Enough to Work: Injecting Lizzie with even more serum so she becomes strong enough to dispose of the guards.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Whenever the story is focused on John, the background is grayed out. Only Lizzie and Mrs. Smythe provide the slightest bit of color to him.
  • Developers' Foresight: A lot of text slightly changes depending on the narrator's mental state, on which medicine he is currently taking or not taking, and on his general mood.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: At the beginning, Lizzie overhears John talk disparagingly about a school myth that romantic confessions under a certain tree will always go well. So Lizzie then proceeds to burn down the tree, just because John said he thought the tree myth was stupid. This serves to introduce the player to Lizzie's mental state.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Lizzie's eyes go dull when she starts to become angry or unhappy.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Lizzie leaves notes and a piece of chocolate in John's locker, and then burns down a tree because John didn't like a romantic myth associated with it. This establishes Lizzie's character as very interested in John, and also as someone who is willing to take extreme actions due to said interest.
  • Evil, Inc.: KoiTec. Experimenting on unwilling test subjects? Check. Covering your traces through coercion and violence? Check. Doing all these things just so you can grab more money from the military? Check.
  • Foreshadowing: On certain paths, Mrs. Smythe will tell John about Lizzie's past history. However, trained therapists like Mrs. Smythe are not normally supposed to share private details about their patients. This foreshadows that Mrs. Smythe isn't exactly on the up-and-up.
  • Multiple Endings: Which one you will obtain depends of pretty much all your choices. Getting a good ending is not as difficult as one would think with such a premise. Getting the canon one is another deal.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: One route of the game is mostly about preventing Lizzie from murdering John's lab partner, who is not interested in dating him but is too nice for Lizzie's comfort.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Subverted and zig-zagged. Lizzie takes some rejections poorly, but can be surprisingly open-minded. For example, she's actually happy when John disagrees with her because it means he isn't just telling her what she wants to hear.
  • Not Me This Time: When John and Lizzie go on a date at the county fair, it ends with a male classmate of John's being killed, though Lizzie clarifies that it wasn't her. Despite Lizzie being a Yandere, she's telling the truth; she's not responsible for this particular murder. The culprit is another girl who is also a Yandere.
  • Not So Different: At the beginning of the game, John stands up for Lizzie when his classmates call her creepy because as John muses, people have called him creepy or crazy before, and he hated it.
  • One-Man Army: In the canon ending, Lizzie kills multiple armed men without even flinching.
  • Properly Paranoid: In the true ending path, Lizzie destroys John's Paxetine medicine and tells him not to trust Mrs. Smythe or KoiTec, as Lizzie thinks Mrs. Smythe is trying to steal John away. This seems like Lizzie is being paranoid since obviously Mrs. Smythe has no romantic designs on John, but it turns out that Mrs. Smythe is in fact corrupt and has ulterior motives, though not for the romantic reasons Lizzie assumed.
  • The Reveal: On the true ending path, it's revealed that Mrs. Smythe and KoiTec are corrupt.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Lizzie repeatedly makes it clear that John is the only person for her; she insists several times that he is "the only person" and "the only one". The reason for this is because John was the only person who ever stood up for her (he told off his classmates when they called her "creepy").
  • Wall of Weapons: Lizzie keeps a wide collection of knives on the basement wall.
  • Weapon of Choice: Lizzie says she is most comfortable with an axe and owns a tactical one she uses during important scenes. This is likely because her name is a reference to the real life Lizzie Borden.
  • Wham Line: A variation, in that the Wham part isn't what is said but how it's said: "Ready? I need you to remain calm and come with me." It's not the line itself that's shocking, it's that during a seemingly normal therapy session, Mrs. Smythe gives this command out of nowhere as if expecting to be obeyed without question. This reveals that Mrs. Smythe is corrupt.

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