Monday, May 22, 2017

REVIEW: Hitogotchi (game)

Hitogotchi is a short horror/romance visual novel created by OnionBlaze and ApplePaddle. It can be downloaded for free here.

This review includes a spoiler.

Review:
 
In this visual novel, you play as a monster who’s just gotten a new caretaker, a human named Nadine. You can ask Nadine to talk to you, play with you, feed you, or help you get to sleep - similar to the things required to take care of a Tamagotchi, which, according to the description, was part of the basis of this game. However, unlike a Tamagotchi pet, you have a real-world physical form, and there are serious consequences if Nadine doesn’t take good care of you.

Warning: everything on the screen moves a bit, even the choice buttons. I eventually decided that I liked the way this contributed to the game’s overall unsteady mood/atmosphere, but I wish there had been an option to turn this movement off. I was a little worried that focusing on constantly moving text might activate my motion sickness.

This was another one of my freebie visual novel downloads. It’s very, very short. The download page doesn’t say how many endings there are, but it looks like there are probably three, and I managed to play the game through enough times to reach them all in less than half an hour. Gameplay is simple. Each day you can do 1-2 activities with Nadine, and you get to choose which ones: eat, sleep, play, or talk. During each activity, you must choose between 2 responses, although sometimes there’s a bit of internal struggle or an extra conversation with Nadine that requires you to choose between 4 options (sort of). There are no “save” or “back” buttons.

I didn’t realize this going in, but this is more of a horror game than a romance, even if you do your best to choose the nicest sounding responses in every instance. (Note: Sometimes seemingly “bad” responses have better results than you'd expect, I suppose because Nadine didn't know exactly what was going on in her monster's head.)

You can opt to have the monster behave rudely and/or frighteningly towards Nadine, or you can try to make friends with her. All the while, you’ll struggle against carnivorous urges - so definitely make sure Nadine keeps you well fed, ha. At any rate, two of the three endings are bad ones. The third ending is technically good and even includes a cute final image, but when you take into account the urges the monster was struggling with throughout the entire game, it’s still kind of disturbing.

All in all, this was so-so. Nadine’s reactions to some of the monster’s responses were a little weird, and the game was too short for the “good” ending to truly feel natural. Still, the premise was interesting and I enjoyed most of the artwork. Nadine, in particular, looked cute.

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