Review of Slow Damage
Vote: 5.5carito728 on 2023-02-06
|Review||The writing of most of this game has the same vibes as the black and white pictures people would post on Facebook in the late 2000s trying to be "deep" and "edgy". It's on the nose, corny, and so dettached from reality it's pathetic.|
The plot progression is so slow-paced that Slow Damage is essentially a Slice-of-Life without actually using the strengths of the SoF genre (well-developed or charming characters, good cast dynamics, entertaining relationship between the protagonist and one or more characters, etc). I was bored throughout most of this game. A lot of time was spent following Towa's usual routine of walking around not-talking to people. He's an emotionless protagonist so all his conversations with other characters were shallow and boring--hence why I say not-talking to people. You'd "talk" to people but not really because they'd basically be talking to themselves.
And when the plot did get interesting when it stopped following Towa's monotone everyday routine (around 30% of the time) the pathetic excuse of "romance" would bring the writing back to cringy and remind you it was trying its hardest to be "deep" when it's so far from it that its attempt is pathetic. The characters and their motivations aren't written in a realistic way, they're clearly cartoonish, so trying to be "deep" about caricaturesque attempts at portraying realistic characters is just sad.
On top of the usual mediocre writing of Fuchii Kabura, she made a mistake by not playing up to her strengths and instead making Slow Damage a Pil/Slash wannabe. The guro and dark atmosphere of this game is so reminiscent of Pil/Slash it hurts--not in a good way, because most of Pil/Slash's games are dogshit.
A few of Fuchii Kabura's previous games would be entertaining not because they're masterpieces of writing, but because at least the setting and character relationships could be well-developed or funny (example: Lamento and half of the routes in Dramatical Murder). But since her colorful and fun characters are nowhere to be seen in this game it's just boring because her writing isn't up to the challenge of writing dark and gritty realism. She failed in Togainu no Chi, and she failed again here. Paradise, one of the latest Pil/Slash games, did a better job of writing realistic dialogue and damaged humans even though that game was terrible. That's how bad Slow Damage's writing is.
Actual dialogue lines from the game's prologue:
"But right now, I wasn't looking for the rote pleasure of boring old regular sex. I wanted us to penetrate each other with the knife instead."
"Ikuina spread my chest wound and let out a gasp that was both sensual and wistful."
"We were now connected by our chest cuts."
"The intermittent pain was proof that we were still alive. Every time he moved, our cuts caught on each other, spreading each other open."
This is what I mean when I say the dialogue just wants to be deep and edgy. And these scenes plague the game left and right. They think they accomplished their purpose of being oh, so profound and emotional, when in reality they're just cringy and cartoonish.
Madarame's route is the worst offender. The plot tried to make it seem like Towa and Madarame had an intrincate bond which caused Towa to want to stay with him because only Madarame could understand him, but the execution was terrible. If you liked Mink from Dramatical Murder maybe Madarame will be your next "sexy" rapist abusive daddy. I assure you, if Fuchii Kabura works on a game without including an unapologetic rapist love interest she'll spontaneously implode. Her biggest fetish needs to be added in even if it's at the cost of the narrative.
Even the True Route would pull sudden noncon content out of its ass that would sidetrack you from the mystery you were investigating because the writer considers a world can't be dark, broody, depressing, and deep without non-sensical rape. You need to play it to know what I'm referring to--one second they're making progress in building an overarching plot (after 40+ hours of mediocre to bad routes and gratuitious torture porn), then the next the main character is getting raped by his partner-in-crime OUT OF NOWHERE because... the writer was getting bored of logical writing and wanted to write in an out-of-context sex scene in or whatever.
The True Route was genuinely interesting most of the time but it's just a shame that the good was overshadowed by the sudden juvenile scenes (as mentioned above) + the 40 hours it took for the player to get there. Mostly the second aspect rather than the first. The journey of slowly uncovering Towa's past is engaging, but did the other 3 routes really have to be such a drag in exchange? Can't you just make a consistently interesting game?
Another last thing about the True Route... It feels hypocritical, in a way? Which ruined the powerful message it wanted to deliver. The author goes full "abuse is not okay, you are more than what your abuser did to you, you will get better, don't torture yourself, etc." when the rest of the fucking game was her writing oddly specific torture porn about Towa, especially in Madarame's route. So having her tell you that abuse isn't ok after she glamorized it for sexual gratification in other routes (hence the guro tag the game has--yes, the torture is meant to get you off, if anyone doesn't know what guro means it's specifically used to describe gore erotica) is some bullshit. If it weren't for the contrast between the True End and the rest of the game, that final ending could've elevated the experience to at least a 7/10 maybe. But as it is, the contrast between the two sides of Slow Damage caused its conclusion to feel disingenuous.