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Review of Salthe

SubjectSalthe
Salthe - Steam Edition 18+ patch
ByVote: 8.6tyr on 2020-09-15
ReviewSalthe is what the medium visual novel should be, but so rarely is; a story-driven, character-focused narrative experience exploring complex and profoundly human themes by using mature scenes to drive the plot further and deepen the characterization of its actors.

If this sounds interesting to you, there really is nothing more to say. It will be a hard task to find anything similar, let alone in English. But maybe you are still not convinced or are wondering if the heavy themes will be to your liking, so let's try to discuss this work a little bit more without giving away the answer Salthe herself is looking for.

It's obvious that the synopsis is written as cryptic as possible, so I won't go into the story or the characters too much - that's for the audience witnessing the play to experience by themselves. Instead, I'm going to address some of the themes of the novel and some issues people might point out.

Salthe is unmistakably a passion project. Both the developers of the original game and the localization studio did their utmost to make this version the best it possibly could be.
Some people question some of the translation choices, and I'm also not a fan of every choice that was made, but what I can say is that they were all made with serious deliberation and in the end, the final product is a coherent narrative work where each of these choices contributes to the final result.

Speaking of a coherent narrative; ShiraVN went the extra step and tried to turn the hentai-less Steam version into something that can actually be enjoyed on its own. This is not the norm for an eroge-release on Steam. While I, of course, recommend downloading the official patch from ShiraVN's website, if there is someone who thinks this game sounds interesting but really doesn't like to look at obscene images, the Steam version will still provide a satisfying experience of Salthe's life, death, and suffering. It's your choice, but this time both options are legitimate.

When it comes to the choices the player makes in the game, I really recommend disabling the option to show which choices lead to a bad end in the settings menu. I have no idea why the default configuration is to have these hints enabled, but if you are like me and value tension and player agency in your visual novel stories, you really do not want to see that your preferred choice will lead to a bad end before the scene comes to its conclusion. While the performance of a theatre play might be the most important aspect, Salthe's dernière certainly benefits from its unexpected final act and the surprising and twisted turns on the way.

Before this review draws its final conclusion, let's list some of the negative aspects as well.
While the voice acting, for the most part, is very good, especially from the main actress, some of the ensemble cast isn't really selling their roles. Some extreme scenes just don't sound very extreme.
Both the music and the voice acting can be somewhat lackluster. That might be the reason why the soundtrack DLC only includes the opening and ending songs - these, however, are brilliant.
Even though the gruesome scenes are very entertaining, the game surprisingly lacks in variety. Salthe has much more interest in showing the mental state and thoughts of its actors during these scenes than providing many different fetishes or scenarios for your carnal pleasures. That said, it's really a shame that many lewd events that happen during the course of the story are only narrated and not fully shown in the form of a hentai scene. Again, it feels like Salthe is too proud to lower itself to the level of a normal nukige and only shows its audience obscenity and debauchery when the story and characterization demand it.

However, that's not a surprise; Salthe is ultimately a very personal story.
Is it a story that brings you joy or sadness? A comedy or a tragedy? That depends solely on you, the audience. But whatever you will think of her, Salthe's final performance will surely stay with you, even after she has left the stage forever.

Comments

#1 by beliar
2020-09-15 at 15:05
< report >Was wondering if this is any good. Thanks for the review, this seems like something I might enjoy.
Btw, what do you mean that ShiraVN went the extra step and tried to turn the hentai-less Steam version into something that can actually be enjoyed on its own? Did they add additional content, or something... ?
#2 by tyr
2020-09-15 at 15:28
< report >They didn't really add new "content", but they did add or tweak some lines to make the transition from pre-h to post-h without the actual h flow much better.

Meaning, you might not even notice that there is a scene missing. Well, for "us" it's obvious of course, but if you recommend the game to an innocent person and don't tell them that this is a porn game, they might not even notice that it actually is one and think it always was meant to be that way.
Some people even said that by only implying what happens but not actually showing it their mind went to even darker places than the missing scene.
But hey, doesn't matter for anyone on this site, right? We will all download the patch and play the full version.

Nonetheless, I really respect ShiraVN for not just cutting content but doing the extra work to ensure that the pornless version can still be enjoyed by people who might want to read this with pants on.
#3 by vninfohata
2020-09-16 at 09:16
< report >People wear pants? :>
#4 by riguru121
2020-09-21 at 21:04
< report >Artist is crazy good.
#5 by forever-here
2020-09-23 at 19:29
< report >would you recommend this to someone who finished thug hero party / dark hero party? there will probably nothing that will top that title as a depression/hopelessness game. I'm scared of getting the VN as this may pale in comparison to that.

also that description totally sounds like the joker as its very similar. jester = joker. and that very very ripoff of "I used to think life is a tragedy now its a comedy".
#6 by tyr
2020-09-23 at 19:50
< report >I do not recommend going into this game expecting a dark nukige. You will probably end up being disappointed. As you said, you have expectations that will not be met.

This is a story game. It just happens that the story is far darker than in most "story" vns. And it includes hentai scenes someone who only knows lovey-dovey vanilla will find quite repulsive.

For any dark nukige veteran, there is nothing too disturbing here. And as I said in my review, the variety in hscenes is highly lacking compared to what a normal dark nukige has to offer.

This might sound disappointing, but that's only because of wrong expectations. Don't go into this for porn. Read this for the story, the characters, and the journey.