Curate of Curiosities

Final Words

When I first played this game's demo on years ago, I wasn't particularly impressed with it. I thought it felt a bit shallow, though that may be because I only played through one of the three story branches available at the start. Nevertheless, I was still looking forward to when the full game would be released, though not out of any disdain for the visual novel medium, but rather, because I wanted to see how this "anti-visual novel" would play out.

Of course, it managed to surprise me with not only how funny it was, but how it, unlike a number of dating sims that I've played, did not overstay its welcome. I checked my Steam account, and it apparently took me 4 hours to get all 15 endings. However, I believe that a $15 price tag is a bit steep for a game of this length. Fortunately, it seems the creators have realized this, as the mobile version costs a far more reasonable $5.

Speaking of the endings, there's something I noticed after I got enough of them.

Each time you unlock an ending, a text file appears on the desktop. While the names of most of the files are perfectly understandable, a few of them seem to be just random strings of characters.

When you open the files, you are treated to a brief passage from the point of view of some unnamed individual. One of them in particular is about how that person leaves anonymous comments on someone else's videos, in hopes that she will respond. While they hate and insult her, they also envy her, wishing they were as popular as her.

From reading this and most of the other files, it's pretty obvious, despite nobody being named, that they're being written from Jeffrey's point of view, and that he's talking about Nicole. They show a side of him that the main game merely hinted at: someone who both utterly despises Nicole, yet at the same time is obsessed with gaining her approval.

The question is, why put them in the game? This is something that would be more at home in horror games or ARGs than in visual novels.

I went into the game expecting something "subversive" in the vein of Doki Doki Literature Club or, to a lesser extent, Moe Era. But, as I mentioned earlier, it feels more like an inversion than a subversion. The three male characters whose prominence would make them love interests in any other dating sim are a jock, a nerd and a music fan, three character types that you can find in many American teen sitcoms (as opposed to most dating sims featuring characters common in Japanese high school media). Granted, it's been forever since I've actually watched either, so what do I know? The only thing that could qualify as a subversion is that every single character, including you, is a horrible person.

Even the main character herself seems to be an inversion of the typical dating sim protagonist. Aside from being the opposite gender, Nicole is almost always seen on screen, as opposed to how in most dating sims, you almost never see the main character's face. It's almost as though she's a character in her own right rather than a stand-in for the player.

Then, of course, there's her motives. Rather than trying to date any of the potential love interests, she instead seeks to manipulate those around her, either for her own personal gain or due to simple curiosity. Just as one would expect from a sociopath simulator.

Which leads me to the main thing about this game that I take minor issue with, the way it's advertised. While it promotes itself as a "rejection sim," yet rejecting everyone you come across will eventually lead to the ending where Nicole ends up killing herself. I think just calling it a "sociopathy sim" would be far more accurate.

At least the game succeeded in the main thing that it set out to do--set itself apart from other visual novels, including those it superficially resembles.

ADDENDUM 3/3/2023: I've watched a video where the game's creator is interviewed, and found out a few things:

I understand wanting the game to feel realistic, but I just have one question: was the school being burned down by the Nation of Islam also based on a real event?