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Variable Barricade - Download Edition
ByHelpfulness: 2
Vote: 6
carito728 on 2023-03-18 last updated on 2023-03-19
ReviewHonestly speaking, during the first ~15 hours I couldn't fathom why this game had such mediocre reviews. The art is by the one and only Usuba Kagerou, my favorite artist, and the characters appeared very likable in the common route. The plot was also seemingly fun--I figured it'd be similar to Cupid Parasite.

Boy, I couldn't be more wrong. I really tried to view this game through rose-colored lenses mainly due to the art, but the actual romance routes are so bad. The routes do everyone so dirty, the protagonist included.

The common route and true ending were entertaining because they focused on just that slice-of-life comedy with slight drama. But most of the romance routes followed very predictable structures that the writers had already reused in prior games of theirs (Cafe Enchante) which is fall in love -> physical separation -> reunion and ending. It's like that's all the writers know to write, and the melodrama is very repetitive.

Now if that alone were the issue like in Cafe Enchante this game would be an 8/10. But the writing quality and characterization DECLINES SO MUCH in the romance routes. Nayuta is deceitful and so unrealistically dense that it's just wave after wave of secondhand embarrassment, Shion is toxic, Taiga is a perv that doesn't know wtf he wants, and Hibari is the most useless and toxic character in the game in Ichiya's route.

I was already not having fun in Shion's and Taiga's routes, but the way the main character behaved in Ichiya's route killed the game. It killed it. It is the worst route with the worst ending and MC is a worthless human being. The true ending going back to the funny wholesome romcom feeling stopped me from rating it lower than 6/10, but Hibari as a protagonist was ruined because of Ichiya's route, and even the true ending leaves a sour taste in your mouth knowing the ramifications it has for Ichiya.

Heavy spoilers/MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING for a route: Ichiya's route romanticizes suicide and downplays a rape attempt on a drugged male. Please avoid it if you're very sensitive to these topics.

Hibari doesn't know why she cannot fully commit to Ichiya even though he is the sweetest human being and has so much in common with her--and it turns out that it's because she NEEDS him to show her that he'd not leave her for any of the 3 billion other women in the world. Keep in mind she never does this in any other route--she's just butthurt because Ichiya has dated other women in the past. Hibari being jealous of a 26-year-old guy having had other girlfriends is already a red flag on its own but that's not the big problem.

Ichiya is a very insecure and delicate character due to his attachment and abandonment issues (he has never been anyone's first-choice and his family neglected him because he wasn't as talented as his brother), so eventually, Hibari continuously questioning if his affection for her is strong enough pushes him to the point of suicide. Oh, and leading up to this suicide attempt the rest of the character cast kept acting as if Ichiya was the one who needed to keep trying when he had made all the moves and Hibari just didn't love him back. It's only when he's about to LITERALLY jump off a cliff that Hibari can say she is in love with him because her ideal type of guy is "a guy who can't live without her" and so watching him about to kill himself gave her a big boner. This is the "happy ending". Later in the epilogues, Hibari keeps verbally referencing his suicide attempt and co-dependency over and over again as if it's some kind of honor badge she carries around everywhere.

Another thing--Ichiya's brother 100% played a part in mentally pushing Ichiya over the edge which led him to his suicide attempt, but the writers really don't want him to be a bad guy just because he's hot so they try to excuse his actions by saying that Ichiya's family actually loves him but the way they word things may make them appear cold and strict, so it's not actually their fault that Ichiya, WHO WAS A CHILD AT THE TIME, was too sensitive to their words. BULLSHIT. This whole route treated Ichiya so fucking badly and yet tried to frame him, the victim, who BY THE WAY at one point got drugged and almost R*PED, as the culprit behind his mental issues because "it's his own fault that he's too sensitive to the real world". HE HAS SO MUCH TRAUMA, PEOPLE AROUND HIM TRY TO BLAME HIM FOR HIS TRAUMA, AND THEN TO TOP IT OFF HE ENDS UP WITH A WOMAN WHO GETS OFF ON HIS MENTAL ILLNESS.

I really hope I don't have to run into the fuckery of whichever writers worked on Ichiya's route again. Literally fuck you.
2 points