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Review of The Sekimeiya: Spun Glass

SubjectThe Sekimeiya: Spun Glass
The Sekimeiya: Spun Glass
ByVote: 3questlion on 2021-05-08 last updated on 2021-05-09
ReviewOkay, this is full review on Sekimeiya. My previous review was short and kinda emotional which is bad thing for vndb, so since people from development team are ganging up on me I really need to show why my arguments stand. Be warned - this review includes Remember11 spoilers too. Why? You'll see. So let's begin.

First part is UI. No problems here, it's really good. Search option is unique and helpful, but this is not useful feature for most visual novels. Only ones with mystery in which you need to reread. And even then, these have TIPS and flowchart available on start, not after you finish story. If you were been given TIPS from start it were much easier. But no, they include spoilers, meaning author can't write foreshadowing, only naked facts.

Second part is music. Music is good, but sound design is bad. Some tracks do not feel like they are part of soundtrack. They are just good music in random place. And since tracks are taken from many composers at once, very few if none of them have similar leitmotif or elements. Most soundtracks have some similar themes, in major and minor for example for different moments to make you feel how things happening change. There you can't feel how scenes are part of same partly because music is way different.

Third part is graphics. They are good, but nothing special. Sprites are good, but emotions on faces are kinda lacking. Also, there are one or two pose for each character. Without body language you can't really feel them as good as in other visual novels. Backgrounds are good, but they are empty. Very few details, only in some places. And then third chapter mostly made from real photos which have basically no production value and look kinda weird after all these painted premises. CGs are present only for few scenes with people mostly sitting or lying. But then there is corpse or some action CGs aren't present. It breaks immersion, I want to see what's happening, but it only described and not good. Most visual novels have some anime "static action" CGs or show some corpses in shadows or such, but Sekimeiya does nothing of it. You can't feel action, you can't feel fear.

About contents of novel I should break it into three parts - mystery, narrative and story itself.

Mystery is good and well thought, but it's lacking great reveals. Basically, mystery of this game is black box with list like "who was where" and "who killed who" which is slowly opened to reader by characters. You are told Sekimeiya acts as portal, then you find it jumps in time. Then after many confusing scenes in end you are required to use many facts of teleports in space and time to learn how Sekimeiya works and how it worked during story. This is basically it. Mystery is this set of jumps, loops and murders. There is nothing breathtaking in knowing that in this moment they travelled to future and not past and vice versa. Even more, you are given test of 94 questions you need to (not) answer so author is sure you understood how loops were going. I wanted to know more about Sekimeiya through characters. However, only protag learns it basically and uses it for his final action which is basic trope in many such stories - to save life from past.

Now narrative - from start you are thrown into action with little known about characters. Then you learn about MC in two-three hours, Shiroya is depressed, Sai is smarthead, Elina obviously cares about Isla, Katei lies. It's all about characters you know, all other text is dry description of events and very, very smart descriptions made by main cast like they are not random 19-year old people, but genius detectives from Ace Attorney and they basically don't need help from other characters and even reader to understand everything. Second chapter is better, because it grants few Slice of Life scenes and you learn of Shiroya and Miiya nature. But then third chapter focuses on Shiroya with too much Slice of Life thrown in and you feel like you read completely different novel, not even mystery. Then fourth chapter starts and this is big problem - you don't have character you follow, because writer, who basically narrated bad ends before, himself asks of you to pick whose short story you want to learn first. Sorry, immersion breaks in this moment, I can't think of characters more than some furniture or toys and not like real people - I don't care about them anymore for sure. Maybe it's good for mystery, but it's bad for visual novel. Then in fifth chapter author makes questionary about all tricks he used to make loop without plot holes, ignoring some crazy things like 12-hour long blockade of building because of one thief or confusing time during few days Shiroya was at home with calendar, internet and other stuff around. It's not narrative story anymore, it's handbook on logic of timetravel which I wasn't ready to read.

Now thing about Remember11. Remember11's twist is that there are three locations which teleport in space and time on specific periods and some people switch their bodies too. In Sekimeiya twist is that there are two real and one fake Sekimeiyas and these two eggs act as Remember11 teleporters, but not static - they generate circles similar to Borromean rings which act as three zones of teleportation depending on time of charge by temperature and positions in space. So, basically, Sekimeiya takes twist of Remember11, makes it slightly better but forgets about rich characters and fourth-breaking elements in process. Author asking questions and telling you if you enjoyed story are not thing in any Nakazawa, Uchikoshi or Ryukishi works, which were referenced by author. But in their works they don't need author per se - narration is written with idea that reader could speculate and think for themselves about mysteries in story and morale of it. In Sekimeiya once test is over, writer gives you flowchart and TIPS to make sure little plot holes are not present and asks you of liking of story. Again - with mostly flat characters reader is hard to care about story, only mystery. And once mystery is over and answers are given you can't build theories anymore and you feel like you studied useless thing instead of reading engaging plot. Plot holes, foreshadowing, right break of pace and mix of calm and scary scenes is required to make mystery visual novel. Sekimeiya is not very visual and not novel - it's totally only mystery given in specific form, puzzle you not must to solve but given answers regardless. Sekimeiya shares many things with Remember11, but only in mind and not it's soul. It's hard to recommend to read to people who are not want to show how smart they are, but enjoy some reading.