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So going into this, I was thinking it was likely the best VN I'd ever read. Fantastic artwork, certainly the best soundtrack I've ever heard in a visual novel, thoroughly intricate plot, etc. It far, far exceeded my expectations for a typical eroge, though to be honest, it could barely be called that. This story is almost pure detective/yakuza drama with a bishoujo game coating, and it blended all together so well, it drowned out all the little complaints I had (the near relentless fourth wall humour during the less intense scenes was not appreciated). They even managed to perspective shift to third person quite often and play it off as if it was the most natural thing in the world, somehow.
...and then chapter five happened. In what is likely the worst plot twist I've ever seen, the story pulled a Stranger Behind The Mask, removing much of the moral ambiguity of a major character, ignoring much of the implicating evidence that character had gotten without explaining why any of it was a red herring (making the story seem like a string of Contrived Coincidences as well as contradicting the evidence in other routes, making me believe the writers weren't doing a good job with comparing notes), and then proceeding to exposition dump the backstory of our stranger for an extensive period of time just to try and make us care. Granted, the stranger was namedropped before and there was some (very) minor foreshadowing that the suspected character wasn't the true villain, but that doesn't excuse all the problems that arose from it. To make matters worse, the protagonists spend the rest of chapter five running aimlessly around a city and accomplishing very little while the villain enacts his schemes without hinderance. And then the epilogue slaps on a Cruel Twist Ending, because hey, why the hell not? The writers probably thought it was "pathos" or something. If there was something good to say about the epilogue, it gave closure to the villain.
Somehow, though, it wasn't enough to dampen the experience. I still think this is a wonderful VN with 4 very long, downright excellent chapters, 2 decent side routes, and one really good side route. 7 good chapters out of 8 is an 88%, almost an A. Just pretend that last one doesn't exist and you'll have one hell of a story on your hands. If only chapter 4 didn't leave you hanging...
G-Senjou no Maou is probably the definitive series to show people that the entire Visual Novel medium isn't all about h-scenes.
Let's start with what it does right: first of all, the Serial Escalation aspect. Each arc steadily becomes more and more action-packed as Maou raises the stakes involved for the protagonists while keeping suspension of disbelief intact. What's strange about this series is that it's an action series, but it doesn't rely on awesome fights; instead it relies on the protagonists attempting to outwit the antagonist. It's like Code Geass or Death Note, but it doesn't rely on fantastical aspects to achieve the action.
Second, the characters. Haru, in particular, is one of the best heroines in a VN — her interactions with the main character are hilarious, but you never forget that she's also a scarily competent thinker capable of forcing Maou's hand. Almost all the characters, even the antagonist(ic) ones, have an interesting backstory and character development. Take for example, Tsubaki's arc, which deconstructs her messianic tendencies, as well as moving her character development. Each heroine features unique relationships, while the story as a whole mixes character archetypes in a refreshing and entertaining manner.
Third, the music. It's very important to have great music for a VN, since it's pretty much what sets it apart from a novel with pictures. That said, the music is beautiful, even taking to account that they just remixed classical pieces. The most excellent use of music for this VN has to be in the epilogue when the song "Close Your Eyes" plays.
I can find few faults with this novel, but they're still there. The branching of routes, for example, is somewhat detrimental to the flow of the plot and could've been handled more tastefully. Mizuha's route in particular is pretty jarring considering that practically nothing happens.
Overall, I consider G-Senjou no Maou one of the best examples of its medium, and is the definitive VN to show that visual novels aren't all mindless fap material; they can also churn out excellent and engaging stories.
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