Ourai no Gahktun review

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#1 by krafty
2013-01-17 at 06:05
This title took me a total of about 40 hours to complete, but I think readers fluent in Japanese would be able to finish it in half the time.

Despite the time invested, I am still not quite sure what to make of this game. The story is quite immersive in the opening chapters, but it quickly peters out and just manages to stay decent all the way till the end. The 8 or 9 chapters in the middle are a rinse-and-repeat formula of Nikola Tesla solving other people's problems (in pretty much the same way each time), with the people who have their problems solved coming to some sort of realization about how they were living life the wrong way each time. The two final chapters reveal most of the important things that had been kept hidden until then (some of the plot twists were extremely far-fetched), but much too quickly and superficially. There is almost no time at all allotted to building dramatic tension, and when the conclusion arrived my only reaction was "Oh, was that it?"

The good:

Nikola Tesla makes for quite an interesting protagonist. He delivers most of his lines with a deadpan expression and calls things exactly as he sees them, which results in very interesting interactions with the other characters (especially Neon). He is arrogant, but also selfless when it comes to saving other people. He displays great insight when he is needed to solve people's problems, but he also lacks common sense in everyday situations.

Neon Scala, the other protagonist, is also quite likeable. Her character design is one of my favorites in this visual novel. Her personality doesn't really stick out compared to the other characters, but I think the whole point was to contrast her with Tesla. She is a hard worker, takes on a reserved and polite attitude with strangers, and seems to lack a bit of self-confidence. Tesla is the only person she will speak her mind strongly to; this makes her a pretty good and believable tsundere.

The other thing I will praise is the art. I loved the designs for many of the characters; some of the CGs are absolutely gorgeous and none of the backgrounds felt out of place given the setting.

The not so good:

I honestly didn't care much for most of the characters aside from the main pair. It felt like they were added in just to make a full cast. The members of the Student Council (or City Council) were only mildly interesting.

The main threat is nowhere to be seen for the longest time and is dealt with quite rapidly, leaving a bunch of question marks behind.

The setting felt lazy. The whole "Steampunk" thing did not seem to limit the character's every day lives compared to our own. They have access to cellphones, radio broadcasts, cars, motorcycles...and a machine (i think it was a headgear) that allows you to learn while unconscious. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the point of this type of setting was to make us imagine a world with different and more limited technology? Then again, this is my first time reading something supposedly steampunk so I may be wrong.

The origins of the superpowers (called "Art") were very vaguely explained. As such, all the battles felt underwhelming and uninteresting because, not knowing the rules through which these powers operate, the author could make any character shoot fireballs, teleport, mind control, supersize, morph and you would never be able to hold it against him/her. It's never clear when someone is approaching their limit-- or what the limits even are-- so there is no tension whatsoever when two "Art" users face off. The origin of Tesla's powers are also shrugged off in one sentence ( he made a contract with the Thunderbird ) and you can never tell when or if he's having a hard time.

Tesla's past was not sufficiently elaborated upon. The author seemed intent on hiding his identity for the first 6 or so chapters, and then he/she just decides to reveal bits and pieces of it as random comments in the narrative, not even making an effort to integrate the revelations into the plot until the last two chapters. We are barely given enough information on him to make the plot a cohesive whole. Also, we never learn why Tesla wanted to "protect the world" in the first place. It's just stated as an obvious truth.

So the verdict: a decent game with exactly 2 interesting characters; needs a lot of polishing in the storytelling / world building departments.
#2 by overmage
2013-01-17 at 07:25
moogy gave this a 9 so i'm interested in what he has to say about it
#3 by moogy
2013-01-17 at 10:56
I'm a super huge fanboy of Sakurai Hikaru and love everything she writes and everything in the Steampunk series, anything in the series will get a high score from me by default. I own hardcopies of every game in the series if that tells you anything.

I'm actually writing a review of this myself though so I guess I should just finish that up.

I will say that the OP here is pretty obviously not familiar with her style and approach to storytelling, there are a lot of things you just have to kind of accept in order to properly appreciate what she writes and her style really isn't for everyone because of this. It doesn't really help that her text is written almost more like poetry than prose; the writing in the Steampunk series games is really unique and many people are pretty turned off by it. I personally love it, though, of course - I think it lends a stupendous sense of humanity to the characters that you don't really find in most fiction.Last modified on 2013-01-17 at 10:59
#4 by undying12
2013-01-17 at 20:54
basically, what you would expect from the steampunk series is in it.
#5 by stormwolf
2015-12-11 at 09:23
The rape crap, is it unavoidable? Seriously hate vn's that play on rape/attempted rape (especially for main heroines) for tension.Last modified on 2015-12-11 at 09:29
#6 by whitetragedy
2016-01-01 at 08:10
Great Music
Great Characters

I love how we get to see the mind of Neon and the funny/cute reactions she has in response to our mature Tesla.

The fight scenes are a bit repetitive, but the interaction between characters in this visual novel blew me away. It reminded me why I started reading visual novels.

The vn also doesn't spam you with tons of random H-scenes, and I found all of them tasteful with none of the repetitive moaning you may find in other vns.

Lots of imagery and references to real life people and fiction. Found lots of Lovecraft references to which I enjoyed.

If you enjoyed Sharnoth like I did, you will also enjoy this.
#7 by gabezhul
2016-01-01 at 13:16
Decided to finally read a VN for a change (lately I have been too busy with RL stuff, writing and other things), and I decided on this title. I'm a few hours in, and to put it bluntly, it is typical Liar-soft fare down to a T. It's not necessarily a bad thing, as it is a stylish, interesting story set in an usual setting with fun and weird characters, but it also carries the nits of the other games, such as the purple-prose-y writing (though it is somewhat charming after a while) and the bloated script (though not as bad as some other LS titles, there is a lot of repetition and and unnecessary descriptions). Overall it still looks head and shoulders better than anything released in the past few months (with the exception of euphoria, if you are into that kind of thing).

P.S.: Also, gotta love how some of the very first lines of proper narration make a big deal about how all the students are wearing a "similar kind of uniform", and yet aside of the color-scheme of the pants/skirts being golden/orange, none of the characters' clothes look even remotely similar.

[edit]: Further in. The slice-of-life scenes are a lot of fun. The interactions between Neon and Tesla are both hilarious and adorable. The battles on the other hand are seriously meh. Too much overwrought prose and epic posturing, not enough actual concise descriptions of what is happening. Also, it's hard to take a fight seriously where Nikola Tesla destroys a super-car with "THOR'S HAMMER!!!", but never bothers explaining what said THOR'S HAMMER actually is or does or eve how that looks like...

In some ways the VN, at least in the battles, tries to ride two horses at the same time and falls down in-between. The artwork is great, but there is just not enough of it to properly get across the action, while the descriptions are so over-the-top and overwrought that they make said artwork look mundane in comparison. For example, the aforementioned car. It was described as some sort of monstrous metal creature of applied magi-tech that "devoured" the lover body of the user and was ridiculously fast, painting the image of this crazy steampunk monstrosity on wheels... and all we see of it are still images from the front where it doesn't even look particularly intimidating. In this case I would have personally preferred the outlines- or sketch-style of previous LS VNs, as those actually added to the narration instead of subtracting from it...
But again, the weirdest thing is that these flaws only apply to the actual battles, everything else looks gorgeous and evocative... It's weird...
#8 by lighteller
2016-01-02 at 15:47
It should be noted that steampunk series of Liar-soft games really need you to play the whole lot to appreciate the subtleties. Some entries on the Wikipedia are blatant references to the previous games; in fact, some facts you are just expected to understand with knowledge from them such as Izumi's identity and Art's origin. Tesla himself is actually introduced first in After Story of Shiel no Sona-nyl published online. Regardless the game could indeed have been more self-sufficient in explanation, to help newcomers be better engaged with the overall setting.

I read somewhere that some content was cut due to production reasons, and the lack really shows on the end. I'd say this game actually has best fight "repetition" amongst all the translated Liar-soft steampunk games, but latter-half of the plot personally felt forced and weak due to this lack.Last modified on 2016-01-02 at 15:50
#9 by gabezhul
2016-01-02 at 16:03
Yeah, the repeated battle parts are not *that* long in this VN compared to other LS titles, but there are still plenty of other repetitions. It goes like this:

"Yes VN, I understand that Neon's eyes turned gold at some point, you already told me. Yes, I also know that the city streets are wide and there are no gurneys on the road, you told me that too. ... For Christ's sake, yes, I know the plants in the garden are very green, you explained it every single chapter! I'm not a goldfish, stop treating me like one! ... Argh! Yes, I know Nightingale is pretty! Stop it!"

As for the references and such, yeah, just a glance at the game's internal glossary made it obvious that this takes place in the same, Lovecraft-inspired setting (the Dream Cycle, to be specific) as a bunch of other LS games. It also has a ridiculous amount of research put into it (who the hell would have thought I would run into the word "főzelék" in a VN, and in (mostly) the right context too...?), but sometimes it feels like the writers kinda disappear in their own bunghole with it, substituting storytelling with references and shout-outs. It's still a good story, but damn, after the second chapter it really starts to feel like a giant exercise in script-size bloating...
#10 by krafty
2016-01-02 at 17:25
@9 Thanks so much for giving me the correct spelling for főzelék; that was the one thing I kept trying to google but couldn't because I was typing stupid things like ''fuzelac'', which is how it's pronounced in-game.

Beyond that, I don't have much to add to the discussion except that it's been 3 years since I've read this VN, and I've forgotten the names of all the characters except for Neon and Tesla.
#11 by gabezhul
2016-01-02 at 18:24
^ Yeah, the pronunciation was really bad. In fact that applies to every hungarian word in the VN, with goulash being a prime offender, as it suffers from the one-two-punch of a Japanese VA trying to pronounce an english word that itself doesn't sound anything like the actual hungarian term.

Also note that, funnily enough, Tesla makes főzelék out to be something of a delicacy while in reality it is one of those "poor man's meal" budget dishes mothers make when they have to put something cheap but filling onto the table.
#12 by dk382
2016-01-02 at 22:42
May as well post this here, I wrote a review for this: link

I liked it quite a bit. As for the repetition, I guess I don't mind it so much. It lets up on it once the VN gets into its groove, with only one or two scenes with repeated text per chapter.
#13 by molok
2016-01-03 at 00:04

There is nothing worse for me than reading a VN that ends up in a total letdown, I always get the most bitter aftertaste ever and I hate it (I'm looking at you, Kara No Shoujo), should I consider dropping it? I'm at chapter 4 and I pretty damn like Gakhthun but not enough to go through a big disappointment if the last part of the story isn't good. (I loved Inganock's last chapter when nearly everyone despise it, I dunno if it helps)
#14 by dk382
2016-01-03 at 01:44
Just keep playing. If you're liking it already, I doubt you'll come off of it heavily disappointed. The ending is nothing like Kara no Shoujo's.Last modified on 2016-01-03 at 01:46
#15 by gabezhul
2016-01-03 at 14:06
Don't spoil me if I'm right, but I just started Ch5, and I made a peculiar observation: In the council, all the men have a golden left eye while all the women have a golden right eye... except for the samurai "guy". My guess is that this is significant and that he is actually a she cross-dressing as a guy.
Okay, I put it out there for now, let's see if I will be right or not...

Edit: Yup, called it. :)
#16 by dk382
2016-01-03 at 21:17
Easiest call in VN history. :P
#17 by encrypted12345
2016-01-07 at 00:38
I like this a little bit better than Ignanock and Sharnoth. While the setting is somewhat less interesting and the atmosphere less good (due to much less repetition. Can't please everyone), Gahkthun makes up for it with the strength of Neon and Tesla as characters, and battles that actually vary before the final boss. While it does seem kind of rushed in the last two chapters Mac in particular needed more build-up, and Walther (speed demon guy) never got his rematch, it wasn't the confusing mind screw that was Ignanock's final chapter or the non-ending that Sharnoth got. It wrapped up the important plot lines and was emotionally and narratively satisfying, despite not being perfect.

If you like Ignanock and Sharnoth, there's no reason to avoid this. If you don't like those two though, I can't recommend this as it's not very different from those two other than what I mentioned before.Last modified on 2016-01-07 at 00:47
#18 by whitetragedy
2016-01-07 at 01:13
Is Jane Doe from Sharnoth the same character as Keziah Mason?
#19 by encrypted12345
2016-01-07 at 02:29
I don't think so, but my memory is bad. Was Jane Doe related to Salem?
#20 by whitetragedy
2016-01-08 at 01:37
Nvm just reread sharnoth

Jane died in Sharnoth. What threw me off was that they talked about how Jane was a witch who stayed with M (Nyarlathotep), and the fact that Keziah Mason is a witch who also worships Nyarlathotep

It also didn't help that they were voiced by the same person.Last modified on 2016-01-08 at 01:38
#21 by thajunk
2017-01-11 at 05:54
Just finished this. Fantastic VN. Like others have said, you can definitely feel the cut content at the end, MacGregor could have definitely used more fleshing out but the experience as a whole isn't tarnished because of it.

Very enjoyable. I hope Shiel eventually gets translated...


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