Visual Novel (P)Review: Purely x Cation

Introduction


Finally another visual novel (p)review! And I’m rather hyped to write this since I’ve been enjoying this one quite a lot. Though, let’s not jump to things, a small explanation first: I’ve scratched the distinction between eroge/nukige/whatever. In the end, they’re all visual novels and I’ll simply mention what subcategory they are in the conclusion or whatever. Anyway, let’s get started

Who Would Like this Game?


I’d say I’ve roughly played through the majority of most of the routes, and there’s zero drama in any of the routes I played. The senpai-route hints at drama, but it dissolves into thin air before long. Hence, I can also recommend this to any faint-hearted person out there. <b>Purely x Cation</b>’s mainly a dating-sim/eroge; it has very little comedy value, so you won’t be in for a laugh.

For: Everyone who wants to try a modern dating-sim with – presumably – zero drama.

Difficulty


The Japanese you’ll encounter in this visual novel is very basic and even beginners should be able to brave it easily with a dictionary at hand. Yeah, you probably won’t understand what the hell Mai is talking about when she goes on about Japanese sweets in-depth, but do you really care? If we wanna talk about difficulty regarding the game mechanics, you can only change the amount of attribute points you need for certain events to trigger (the “easy/normal” choice you make at the start of the game), but since there’s no difference in rewards no matter what you pick, I don’t see why you’d pick “normal.”

Difficulty 3/10

Translation Where?


Nothing I know of.

Translation: Nope.

Visuals


Random Background

This game’s strong suit, period. Alas, the reason why can’t be explained with motionless pictures, so I’d encourage you to try out the game and see for yourself. I, however, did put a few of the better backgrounds up as screenshots and while they’re not bad, or rather good, due to its fantastic animations you won’t care about them anyway.

Premise


It’s a dating-sim, so this’ll read rather disappointing: You moved to a new city on your own and wanna make a girlfriend. How exciting!

Characters


Minami Mai
Your classmate (all the heroines are literally introduced with their cliche roles) and daughter of the local Japanese sweets store. She’s the one with the “pure” trait among the four heroines and enjoys helping people.

Aoi Sumire
The kouhai. Kinda loli-ish, pokerface, unfazed tone of voice; you should get the image by now. She’s into movies and is easily misunderstood by people due to her always seeming to be utterly uninterested in anything and/or anyone.

Natsuki Hikari
The senpai. She’s the president of the girls’ basketball club, hence loves sports. Owns the “older sister” trait among the heroines. Furthermore, she loves to be depended on and literally is an older sister. Has the biggest boobs of all the heroines, if that helps.

Ayase Touka
Touka, not Tohka. She’s the teacher you can try to have a go at. Teaches music class and likes to be close and on good terms with her students. Alas, I can’t tell you much more about her since I haven’t touch her route at all, so all I know is what’s given along the common route.

Conclusion

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Let’s start with what’s not so great about this game. First off, the story and choices. Purely x Cation gives you pretty much what you’d expect from a dating-sim, a bunch of utterly normal encounters that simply serve to craft something like a maybe usual way to get to know someone. Namely those are encounters in the city, on the way to school, on the way back home, in the school cafeteria, and funny enough, the protagonist (you) is such a blank, that the conversation’s always completely fixated on what the heroine likes/does. So it’s all about her, not you. You have no past, no presence, no face. Sucks to be you! This is, of course, due to the game letting you create your own character, but since you can pick no backstory, you’ll have none. Thankfully, the girls are easy to talk to, so the protagonist doesn’t have to be interesting and let’s be honest, who cares about him (you) anyway? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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During the events, you’ll occasionally be confronted with choices. Do not fret, they’re so obvious that you won’t make the wrong decision unless you’re strongly autistic, just use your head. Another game mechanic is you being able to raise the protagonist’s stats which will allow you to trigger certain small events or even be necessary to get close to the heroine of your choice. For instance, your classmate might be with her head in the clouds and get called on during classes, now you could help her out by whispering the answer to her – if you aren’t a total retard and did some studying. I won’t spoil it to you, but what exactly you should level to get close to which heroine is pretty obvious. Story-wise all the routes I picked are smooth sailing for a good amount of hours, maybe there is drama in the end, but there are literally no hints so far; it’s all super happy, lovey-dovey dating and I strongly believe it’ll stay that way. To be honest, it is fun to read how you get together with the girl, but as soon as you are, it gets kinda boring since there are zero problems, the heroines have no rough edges, and you’re a faceless nobody. Purely x Cation tries to compensate that with H scenes after you’re in a relationship, but are they any good?

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The H scenes in Purely x Cation have, in my opinion, the usual problem: everyone and their mothers are virgins and shy, and so are you, so it’s boring flower sex you’ve read a thousand times over in other eroges and whatnot. I first read, then skimmed, then skipped through them. I’ve encountered more than half a dozen on three different routes so far and while the senpai route was okay/good since she is kinda naughty, the rest was plain unappealing. I guess that’s what the “purely” stands for. By the way, you’ll have to put about 10 hours into a route before you get to see some bare skin. After that, they kinda add up fast, though. Another stupid thing: Holding hands for the first time, first kiss, hug, and sex tend to happen on the same evening in this game. Really? Like, really?! I don’t see why a girl who drops her panties after her first kiss would act all shy but okay, Japan. Depending on your stats, choices, and places you visit, you’ll also unlock whole new H scenes or additional dialogue/events, by the way. It’s not really hard to get it all, but we’ve the internet so you might as well follow a guide if you wanna make sure.

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While we’re talking about the H scenes, let’s not forget the art in this game. There are very few CGs, this has a simple yet awesome reason: All of the standard sprites are fully animated and lip-sync! Hell yeah! The heroines breath, express emotions, and talk while never being static! Now this might seem like a very small thing, but it does wonders to the grade of immersion and I hope that this’ll become the standard for every visual novel out there as soon as possible, you really have to see it to know what I mean, so I’ll embed an official video:

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Isn’t that awesome?! Well, the animations could be, like, 50% slower to not let them appear as if they’re on drugs and/or are androids, but the direction’s just superb, in my opinion. Alas, the “alternative sprites” (mostly from an diagonal angle) seem really off with the heroines’ heads looking too small for their bodies, all of a sudden; don’t as me. All these animations have three downsides, though: 1) Due to the production cost (I assume), you’ll only get to see the four heroines, there are literally no sprites of anyone else. 2) Suddenly, other visual novels kinda suck ’cause they’re so static and hard to immerse in. 3) Absurdly, CGs suddenly become something bad. Since the whole experience flows, a CG – which would normally break up the static sprite text hell for you – is now the thing that freezes the fully animated, fluent experience and turns it into a still life. This also effects the H scenes – the heroine of your choice which had been alive seconds ago suddenly freezes into a CG; goodbye, immersion. Let’s hope this animation trend will soon spread across the whole experience.

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One last word about each route I played and hence the story. Mai’s route is a very solid experience from what I can tell, you really get what you see – something very pure. I didn’t expect anything complex and was well-entertained until the confession (see above why it then gets kinda boring). I highly enjoyed Sumi’s (the kouhai’s) route until the confession, as her voice actress has a very calming voice which fits just perfectly, very good acting, really, and a joy to listen to. She’s still flat (in various senses) but yet the deepest character so far since her pokerface seems to get her into, well, “trouble.” Her confession scene is absurdly bad, though, almost a deal breaker. Hikari’s route was okay-ish. Funny enough, her time to shine’s after the confession. She’s a bit naughty so the H scenes are far better than the other girls’ and her pro-active and lively personality simply make her the more fun girlfriend to have – or at least to read. Lastly, I didn’t read into the teacher route yet. Why? ‘Cause she annoyed the hell outta me during the common route already. Her lines feel so forced that it hurts. An absolutely messed up character, if you ask me.

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All in all, the production quality (technical-wise) of Purely x Cation really hooked me up and while you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, I wished that more books had covers this pretty and I wanna reward it for that. The animations really raised my immersion and experience to a whole new level and made the visual novel alive. Alas, it’s “just” a dating-sim/eroge, in the end, so we get rather flat characters, story, events, and an empty protagonist. I already checked some Japanese reviews before I even played the game and they were all bad for pretty much this reason, while I can’t argue with that, I see Purely x Cation more as a prototype and template for where I want visual novels to be or go in technical regards. Hence, this’ll get 8 points from me, it’d be 6 if it weren’t for dem shiny cover, so keep that in mind in case you don’t give half a rat’s ass about eye candy and/or don’t need much to immerse. Be that as it may, I’d highly recommend to try it out.

(P)Rating 8/10

 

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