Developer: Innocent Grey
Platform: PC – MangaGamer*
Oftentimes, it is hard to get people to take visual novels seriously. The supposedly average gamer would much rather “play” games than read them. Of course, if they could just sit down with a few then they might realize how silly they were acting. However, even many visual novel fans are bothered or even angered by the presence of eroge. For the most part, I don’t mind. It’s when there is something that appears to have a compelling storyline that my interest is piqued. Kara no Shojo is one such game which is why I chose to give it a shot.
Be warned, it’s definitely an adult game (in multiple uses of the term). The game focuses around detective Tokisaka Reiji who has just stumbled onto his latest big case. A few murders have occurred with the targets being teenage girls. No one understands why they are happening, or if they’re even connected, but are rightly frightened. The murders themselves are disturbing and not something any player wants to see. In response, even bloody CGs still avoid showing the worst aspects. All the same, what can be conjured up in one’s head is far worse than a drawing.
Reiji works amicably to piece together the various aspects of each crime. He knows they must be connected but just needs to ascertain how. That’s where the player comes in. The story doesn’t simply unfold on its own, instead you must help solve the crime. There are investigation scenes similar to Phoenix Wright which is how most evidence is discovered. With evidence on file, players can then select which evidence to use during which juncture to put things together. If you’re bad at this the game often gives ample tries, although no hints pop up to make the situation any easier.
Clues are also pulled from discussions Reiji has with other characters. There are many points at which evidence is missed by simply not visiting certain locations or responding a different way to a character. Upon my first playthrough, I discovered the reasons as well as who was behind it – but it was too late. Kara no Shojo is definitely meant to be played more than once as you would have to either be the luckiest visual novel player ever or be following a guide to get the true ending right out of the gate.
This is not a happy game. Everything you’ll face working up to the true ending is sad, disturbing, and overall dark. In a sense, the eroge aspect of this game almost feels out of place. During one scene, I was busy focusing on an autopsy report when sex spontaneously broke out. Other times, it was obvious what was being ramped up, and it was even possible to turn down encounters. Not all scenes are this way though so definitely steer clear entirely if that’s not something you care for.
Visually, it stands out as having fairly nice art. Of course, after having something like Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni on my plate, almost anything is more polished. Regardless, the character portraits and CGs were of high quality (if you ignore the sometimes odd/stretched contortions). The main downside was the creepy feature of multiple male characters having no eyes depicted due to long hair.
Playing through Kara no Shojo once took about 7 hours using the relatively speedy auto progression feature. However, there are so many endings to uncover that I imagine 20 to 30 hours could easily be spent with it. I found the experience intriguing, although there were elements that could be removed. Kara no Shojo is a dark story that adult fans of murder mysteries and eroge can easily become engrossed in.
4 out of 5 alpacas