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Visual Novel / Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair

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Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair is a murder mystery visual novel by Gosatsu Visual Novels. It was released on August 26, 2016.

Raiko Shinpaku and her nine friends get together to hold a Halloween party in a mountain resort. All seems well, apart from the usual teenage drama, until one of the group is found dead. With a murderer in their midst, and all contact with the outside world cut off, the group must find the killer.

A sequel, titled Shinrai: Withering Without Hope, has been announced and is in early development. A visual novel titled Genba No Kizuna is set in the same universe and takes place a few weeks prior to the Halloween party.

A list of tropes is below. Naturally, beware of spoilers.

The work contains examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Past: The game was released in 2016, but takes place on the night before Halloween in 2010.
  • All Love Is Unrequited:
    • Rie is in love with Taiko, who seems somewhat more interested in Raiko. While Raiko seems to feel something for Taiko, she doesn't appear to have any romantic feelings for him.
    • Kotoba has a crush on Momoko, who's in a relationship with Hiro. While he's a pervert who lusts after boys and girls, he apparently has a particular fixation on Momoko. It's apparently strong enough that he started stalking her, and she could manipulate his feelings for her to use him in her plan.
    • Runa was in love with Hiro, who forgot about her as soon as Momoko made her debut at the concert. Of course, Hiro doesn't actually love Momoko either. He claims to be in love with Kamen, who definitely doesn't return the feelings, but despite him being a womanizing jerk, she doesn't entirely dismiss the possibility that his feelings were genuine.
    • Kamen was in love with her best friend, Momoko, but never told her how she felt. At the end, she seems to be developing feelings for Raiko.
  • All There in the Manual: Various details about characters, such as their hobbies, club affiliations and even bits of their backstories, are only contained in their profiles or in unlockable scenes.
  • An Aesop: Don't jump to conclusions. Be honest with others and be willing to listen to what they have to say to you.
  • Artistic License – Space: There's a full moon out on the night before Halloween 2010. In reality, October 30 2010 had a waning half moon.
  • Author Catch Phrase:
    • A lot of characters say "Curses" when they're upset, including the ones who use actual profanity.
    • When narrating, Raiko often notes how many pairs of eyes are looking at someone or something that has captured everyone's attention.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Momo and Hiro argue all the time. Because of that, the others don't realize that their argument about Hiro's ghost story was staged.
  • Big Bad: Momoko Mori is the mastermind behind the murder of Hiro Shiratake and potentially Kotoba Gaikoku, motivated by a desire for revenge on Hiro for cheating on her. She then kills herself in order to frame her best friend Kamen Eiga, who supposedly betrayed her by going out with Hiro behind her back.
  • Bisexual Love Triangle: Two of them. Kamen loved Momoko, who loved Hiro. Meanwhile, Taiko and Kamen may have feelings for Raiko.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The best ending. At least two people are dead, with a third either dead or permanently scarred. That said, the mystery is solved, thus preventing Kamen from wrongfully being arrested, and she and Raiko become friends.
  • Blunt "Yes":
    • Raiko does this when telling Rie that her choice of a zombie costume isn't the best idea for winning Taiko's heart.
      Rie:: Is it really that bad?
      Raiko: Yes.
      Rie Well, that was kinda blunt. But at least you're being honest.
    • Taiko gets this when he asks Rie about her plan to have Runa pretend to be murdered during the first blackout.
      Taiko: So, you expected us to calm down and then listen to you explain your plan in the short time Raiko-chan and Nobara-chan would've needed to get back here? And you expected all of us to be fine with it and play along? You actually expected it to work?
      Rie: Kinda.
    • At the very end, a flashback between Kamen and Hiro, when the latter asks the former out, despite going out with said individual's best friend.
      Kamen: So you're going to throw her away? Like a piece of garbage...?
      Hiro: If you want to put it like that...
  • Boring, but Practical: The method Raiko uses to prove a young Kamen didn't shoplift from the store. She doesn't include any fancy tricks of deduction or clever ways to find evidence, but simply asks the store owner to review the security footage, which shows that the stolen item was placed in Kamen's bag without her knowledge.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: This trope applies in the conflict between Taiko and Rie about whether one of their friends is a murderer. On the one hand, Taiko is right that they have to consider this disturbing possibility in order to find the truth. On the other hand, Rie's right that Taiko's prime suspect- Rie's best friend Runa is innocent. Ultimately, Momoko is the culprit, a fact that proves Taiko right, but Taiko also rather irrationally becomes convinced that Kamen is guilty after Kotoba dies or is badly burned, so he can't exactly judge Rie for letting her feelings cloud her judgment when it comes to her friends.
  • Brick Joke: At the start of the game, Nobara's father nearly runs into a truck while on the way to the Miyamoto mountain resort, and wishes said truck gets into an accident. At the climax, the police are delayed in getting to the Miyamoto resort because of an accident with a truck on the mountain road. The truck was apparently heading back from the city, so it may have been the same truck.
  • The Bro Code: Momoko accuses Kamen of violating this when Kamen tries to warn her about Hiro cheating on her. Momoko assumes Kamen wants Hiro for herself (not knowing that Kamen's a lesbian who actually loves Momoko), and threatens to end their friendship if she keeps it up.
  • Closed Circle: The party takes place in a mountain resort that's far away from civilization and has no cell phone reception. As a result, it takes the authorities some time to arrive once the power gets back on.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: If Momoko had trusted Kamen enough to believe her when she warned her about Hiro cheating on her, or to at least talk with her about the texts from Hiro on Kamen's phone, no one would have had to die.
  • The Dead Guy Did It: One theory proposed is that Hiro Shiratake killed Momoko Mori before Kamen Eiga killed him and his accomplice Kotoba. While this isn't true, the truth still falls into this trope, with Momoko having killed Hiro and killed/tried to kill Kotoba before hanging herself.
  • Dies Wide Open: Raiko shuts Hiro, the second victim's eyes.
  • Downer Ending: Four out of the five Multiple Endings are this. In three out of four of them, Kamen gets wrongly accused of the murders, although she may not actually be convicted. In the remaining one, Runa is arrested, and while she is cleared of suspicion, Raiko's friendship with her and Rie is ruined.
  • Dwindling Party: By the end of the night, seven students (or eight, if you managed to save Kotoba) out of the original ten are still alive.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: As you can see in many spoilered entries, what you learn in the ending causes a lot of the story to come across differently. Not only does the truth behind the murder plot cast certain events, such as Momoko's fake suicide, in a new light, but there's also the fact that Momoko and Hiro's relationship was troubled, that Kamen was in love with Momoko, and that Kamen's feelings for Raiko are much more complicated than a simple dislike of her.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: What Raiko's theories boil down to in the bad endings in which you wrongly accuse a suspect. If you accuse Runa, then Raiko will conclude that Runa killed Momoko and Hiro out of jealousy. If you accuse Hiro, Raiko will conclude that Hiro killed Momoko, but then Kamen killed Hiro for revenge. Unfortunately, since neither theory accounts for Kotoba, you fail to solve the mystery.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Most of the game takes place on a single night, at a Halloween party that goes into the wee hours of the morning and turns deadly.
  • Females Are More Innocent: While Momoko was the mastermind behind the murder plot, two out of the three boys are the least sympathetic members of the cast. Even Taiko, who's generally a Nice Guy, becomes irrational and overly quick to point fingers at Kamen after what happens to Kotoba.
  • First-Name Basis: With the exception of the exceptionally polite Runa, and Kamen toward Raiko until the good ending, most of the friends call each other by their first names or nicknames.
  • Foil
    • Rie and Runa. Apart from being the Tomboy and Girly Girl duo, Rie is casual, playful and from a wealthy family, while Runa is polite, mature and poor. Rie tries to win over Taiko, while Runa had once been in love with Hiro but had gotten over it (although she doesn't realize what kind of person he is).
    • Rie and Taiko. The former is the kind of person who would believe in her friends even if the facts are against her, while the latter has a strong sense of justice, and is willing to suspect his friends to find the truth. Ironically, Rie's belief in Runa's innocence is entirely justified, while Taiko's anger over what happened to Kotoba causes him to become irrational.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The idea of a game in which two sisters kill each other strikes a nerve with Raiko, who lost her older sister.
    • Kamen compliments Momoko's appearance as being "sexy," much like Momo's boyfriend Hiro does. Kamen is in love with Momo.
    • If Raiko tells Kamen that she came to the party because of her, the following exchange, especially Kamen's reactions, hints at Raiko having helped Kamen in the past. Judging from Kamen's reactions, she thinks for a moment that Raiko remembers the incident.
      Raiko: There's actually something I've been meaning to talk with you about for some time now. I actually realized it quite a while ago, but I honestly had no idea how to approach you about it.
      Kamen: [blushing] … … …!!
      Raiko: It seems I've forgotten about it, so I'm truly sorry for that, but...
      Kamen: S-Shinpuku?
      Raiko: What exactly did I do to you?
      Kamen: [disappointed] … … …
    • Momoko gets upset when Raiko jokes that she'd rather kill herself than wear her mother's costume. Momoko is planning to commit suicide.
    • Shortly afterward, Kamen warns Hiro not to make Momo cry, and, when asked for an example of how he might do so, says, "Cheating on her or something." In fact, she already knows that he's the type who wouldn't hesitate to do that, seeing as he tried to hit on Kamen.
    • Momo lifts her kimono and runs off as quickly as possible after teasing Kamen, foreshadowing that she cut slits in the side for greater mobility when carrying out her crime.
    • Momoko is the only person besides Nobara who finds Hiro's ghost story scary, at which point Hiro replies by passive-aggressively accusing her of being like the girl in the story. The fact that Momoko claims to be scared by a story that didn't scare people with any tolerance to scary stuff is a hint Momoko's reaction and her resulting argument with Hiro are staged.
    • If you look carefully, the first victim, Momoko, looks significantly different when the crime scene is investigated, since the second time you see the body, her tongue is sticking out. This, along with Kamen reacting again to Momoko's body as if she was seeing it for the first time, helps foreshadow that she wasn't dead the first time her body was found.
    • When Hiro Shiratake is found just after being killed, Rie mentions that the victim didn't even scream. This detail, which the others find odd, foreshadows that he was already dead at the time of the stabbing.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Raiko actually helped clear Kamen's name when the latter was accused of shoplifting back when they were in fifth grade. Raiko offered to meet with Kamen a week later, but never made it, presumably due to her sister's death.
  • The Ghost: Kenji is a friend of the main cast, but doesn't attend the party, and has an offscreen conversation with Nobara about Hiro's backstory. Misaki is also occasionally mentioned, since she held a party that some of the group's friends attended.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Saving Kotoba. There are three prompts in which you have to pick the correct one out of four choices to reach him in time, so there's technically 64 possible combinations and only one that works. In practice, some of the less than ideal choices have Raiko admit that it's the wrong answer, but others are less obvious about it. The right answer for the first choice is to yell at the others to stop, so that Raiko can guide them to a shortcut.
    • Unlocking Kamen's Diary Entry B. Not only do you need to get the good ending, but you have to choose the nicest possible things to say to Kamen, two of which are at an optional dialogue point in the first investigation, and one of which is at the end of the game. In hindsight, the link between the two isn't too hard to guess, but it isn't immediately obvious that any of your non-case-related dialogue options have any impact on the game.
  • Hate Sink: Hiro Shiratake may not be the killer, but he is much more of a scumbag than Momoko Mori. After Momoko became popular, Hiro set out to make her his trophy girlfriend, ditching Runa Hikari when he realized she wasn't rich. He later tried to charm Momoko's best friend, Kamen Eiga, while he was dating Momoko, and caused Momoko to think her best friend was sleeping with her boyfriend, setting off Momoko's murderous revenge plot. Hiro is ultimately killed by Momoko, with nobody mourning his death, and Raiko Shinpuku agrees that even his bad childhood does nothing to excuse his actions.
  • Hope Spot: If you have Raiko tell Kamen that she came to the party because of Kamen, Raiko's words give Kamen the impression that she remembers her previous meeting with Kamen, only to ultimately disappoint Kamen in the end.
  • Interface Spoiler: In the CG collection, there are two "Conflagration" images listed, A and B, respectively if Kotoba lives or dies, spoiling the fact that it's possible to save him (something that players are unlikely to stumble upon if they're playing through blind).
  • Last Episode, New Character: Raiko's father only appears in the good ending, as do Kagayaku and Kaleido.
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • Runa addresses the others, even her best friend, by their last names and "-san" out of politeness.
    • Kamen rudely calls Raiko by her last name without honorifics when she isn't using insulting nicknames, but switches to "Raiko-chan" after her name is cleared.
  • Last-Second Ending Choice: With the exception of saving Kotoba, all the choices that determine which ending you get happen during the climax.
  • Lights Off, Somebody Dies: Rie planned to invoke this as part of her prank by pretending to kill Runa after the power outage she manufactured. Then, after the first power outage is resolved, it happens for real as the cast finds the body of the first victim. Subverted in that Momoko was only Faking the Dead.
  • Linear Visual Novel: While there are Multiple Endings, all of the bad endings except the one in which Raiko falsely accuses Runa end almost immediately and are clearly non-canon. While it is possible to save Kotoba's life, doing so doesn't noticeably affect the story until the good ending.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Two out of three of the males are killed (although one can be saved), while only one out of the seven females dies.
  • Multiple Endings: The game has five endings, one in which you find the culprit and four in which you do not.
    • If you agree that Kamen Eiga, the current prime suspect is the culprit, she'll be taken into questioning for the murders, and will never forgive the other survivors for abandoning her.
    • If you accuse Runa Hikari of being the culprit, she'll be cleared after a blood test fails to find blood on her kimono. This results in Runa, Rie and Kamen refusing to speak to Raiko.
    • If you accuse Hiro Shiratake of being the murderer, Raiko will also accuse Kamen of killing him in revenge for what he did to Momoko. As a result, Kamen gets arrested for something she did not do.
    • If you choose the correct culprit, then choose a wrong answer when asked who the mastermind is, Taiko will stop listening to Raiko.
    • If you prove that Momoko Mori masterminded the crime, you get the best ending where Kamen is proven innocent. You can make the ending slightly better by saving Kotoba.
  • Murder-Suicide: The horror story Hiro tells ends with the girl murdering her boyfriend after he breaks up with her, then hanging herself. Hiro and Momoko die the same way.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Raiko has this reaction in the ending if she accuses the wrong person, regretting what she's done but being too late to fix it.
    • Taiko reacts this way after realizing that he irrationally accused Kamen of murder, going so far as to say that what he did is unforgivable.
  • Never One Murder: There are multiple deaths among the partygoers. While Momoko's death ends up being a suicide, she kills Hiro and tries to kill Kotoba.
  • Never Suicide: The first victim appears to die by suicide, but more and more signs point to murder. Subverted as Momoko did, in fact, hang herself- though the first time was fake, she did so for real after killing Hiro and leaving Kotoba to die.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted, since several characters have to take bathroom breaks. Hiro's might have been a ruse to get the keys, but the others are apparently genuine.
  • Not Me This Time: Rie insists that while she was responsible for the first blackout, she had nothing to do with the second or the murders. She's telling the truth, as Momoko was the culprit.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • Raiko, who's stoic and aloof, is friends with the friendly and outgoing Nobara, although it's later revealed that Raiko wasn't always as serious and emotionally detached as she is at the start of the game.
    • Rie, an outspoken and Secretly Wealthy tomboy is best friends with Runa, a polite girl who's the only party attendee whose family lives in poverty.
    • Taiko, a well-mannered boy with a strong sense of justice, is friends with notorious pervert Kotoba.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Hiro uses the ghost story of the girl who killed her boyfriend and herself as a way of passively calling out Momo for being so clingy. It was actually staged, but apparently based on a real argument the two had.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: In the story Hiro tells the others, the girl wears a pink blazer while the boy wears a blue one.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Many characters in the game end up running into problems by jumping to conclusions rather than listening to others. It's why Momoko believed that Kamen wanted to steal Hiro away from her (Kamen didn't tell her that she was a lesbian, and Momoko never asked Kamen why Hiro's messages were on her phone), and apparently why Raiko's sister died. Rather than being a mere way to move the plot forward, it actually ends up being a major theme of the game.
  • Running Gag: Characters commenting on Raiko's cat ears, and her being embarrassed that she forgot to take them off. She even wears them in the good ending, which takes place two weeks after the story.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: In the story Hiro tells the others, the girlfriend's fear of losing her boyfriend causes her to act like a Clingy Jealous Girl, which results in him deciding to break up with her.
  • Sequel Hook: Kagayaku and Kaleido only appear in the good ending, and are hinted to appear in one of the creators' future works.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Significant Name Shift: Kamen Eiga calls the protagonist, Raiko Shinpuku, "Shinpuku" for most of the game when she isn't using insulting nicknames on her (e.g. "Miss Gloomy"). Kamen is the only character besides the ultra-polite Runa (who calls everyone by their last names with the "-san" honorific) to call a character by their surname, and the lack of honorifics is rather rude by Japanese standards. However, in the good ending, after Raiko clears Kamen's name and prevents her from being falsely accused of murder, Kamen starts calling Raiko "Raiko-chan," a change Raiko immediately notices.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • While Raiko can uncover the truth behind the murders, solving the crime is a job for the professionals. In fact, in some of the endings, the suspect behind the killings is released after the police investigation proves that they didn't do it.
    • Kimonos are not designed to allow much freedom of movement, and Runa, who wears one to the party, has trouble keeping up with the others at two separate points. Momoko managed to come up with a workaround by cutting slits in the side of hers.
    • Even if you save Kotoba in the nick of time, the person in question is still badly burned, and is in no condition to answer anyone's questions, or he might have corroborated Kamen's story about Momoko using her prank as a way to carry out a murder, an attempted murder and her own suicide. Likewise, when Momoko is thought to have hanged herself, the others realize that even if she survives, she's likely to have brain damage.
    • How does Raiko, a ten-year-old girl, manage to save Kamen from falsely being accused of shoplifting? It's not through any impressive detective skills, but simply asking the store owner to review the security camera footage to prove that the actual shoplifters had used the accused as a guinea pig to test the shoplifting detectors.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Momoko's ultimate plan involved committing suicide after killing Hiro and Kotoba so that she could frame Kamen for murder.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: In-Universe, this is Raiko's reaction to the horror film she watches. All the characters introduced are so unlikable that she can't stand them.
  • Video Game Caring Potential:
    • If you make the right choices, you can save Kotoba's life.
    • When you're talking to Kamen, you can choose to have Raiko be dismissive of her, or try to be friendly. If you choose all of the friendly optionsnote , you unlock a diary entry.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Later on in the game, when the group is rushing to the breaker room to try to save Kotoba, you're given three choices that require you to choose the quickest and most efficient options. The right answer for the first one is to have her try "stopping the others." The reasoning for this is sound- Raiko tells everyone to take the shortcut in the kitchen- but it's something players will likely miss the first time they make this decision.
  • Wham Line: A few come up in the denouement.
    • Kamen reveals that Momo and Hiro's relationship was far from happy, but adds that there were other problems that led to her killing him.
      Kamen: A couple of things, actually. First and foremost the fact that he didn't even love her.
    • Shortly after the above, Kamen adds a disturbing revelation about Hiro cheating on Momoko.
      Kamen: That fucking asshole. The same things he told Momo... He said the very same crap to me.
    • Kamen then mentions a very personal detail about herself.
      Kamen: You see, I... I'm not even interested in guys...
      Rie: Wait, what are you saying...??
      Kamen: I... I actually loved her... I loved Momo.
  • You Are Too Late: Can potentially be subverted. The group rushes to save Kotoba, only to find that he's dead from the fire. If you make the right choices, though, he survives but is in critical condition.