So, as a gigantic fan of Sayonara o Oshiete ~comment te dire adieu~, I just had to check this out and so I naturally grabbed myself the demo off their site. At least, I would have loved to, but DMM blocks access from Germany for a while now, so we had someone upload the trial so us poor Europeans also could get our hands on the game.
Right as we launch into the demo, we’re faced with a highly probable homage to the cover of Sayonara o Oshiete, where there is Mutsuki, the Angel, lying in peace with closed eyes. This time, we see the Hirosoma twins, Kikyou and Shinku in the same position, but fully clothed. From the menu, there seems to be a Kikyou Story (Perspective?) as well as one for Shinku, but the demo just lets us access the Kikyou one.
Violence for Starters
Right as we launch into the short demo – it’s three scenes in total, offering half an hour of reading time – we’re greeted with the familiar white text on black background introduction.
Immediately, we’re thrown into a conflict situation between the Hirosoma 廣杣 twin sisters from the title screen, clearly color coded, where Shinku 深紅 (meaning: deep crimson) who features a much more aggressive personality, beats Kikyou’s 桔梗 (meaning: Chinese Bellflower, a purple hued flower) head in with a baseball bat. She pleads for forgiveness and screams in agony, but Shinku doesn’t let her off, continuing to beat her to a pulp with mechanical movements. We also get an aggressive CG where Shinku mounts Kikyou, showcasing the clear difference in the Hirosoma sister’s power.
During the battering, we actually get “choices”, if you can call them that. It’s three choices of “continue to bash her face in” and afterwards a choice where you can beg for forgiveness in three ways. None of them matter.
Two Mysterious Figures
The scene shifts and now we’re focusing on the dialogue between an ominous man wrapped in bandages with only one of his eyes being exposed. The other man is the more laid-back, cool type who nonchalantly makes rude comments and calls the mummy Nii-san. The men are revealed to be Awasumi Yamaga 淡墨山家 (meaning Thinned Ink & Mountain Villa) and Tsukishiro Tsukishiro 月城月白 (meaning: Moon Castle & Moonwhite).
They’re both scoffing over the act of violence happening on the school yard and observe the situation. They cryptically suggest to each other that it’s their fault that the situation turned out to be like this. While the game suggests through switching the location that the characters are facing each other in two different places, they do communicate with another across scenes, confirming they’re in earshot of each other.
Relationship-wise, it is suggested that they’re related and that they know each other for a while. Tsukishiro mentions how Yamaga is always a stickler about rules. His serious personality is underlined by him speaking in metaphors and using really high level language, sometimes even old Japanese and -taru forms (can be translated to “those who do xyz). Tsukishiro on the other hand speaks much more casually and isn’t afraid of being vulgar either.
Both characters are ominous and have a dangerous aura about them.
Less shocking CGs
Given that CRAFTWORK is known as a brand dealing in eroguro, I was braced to see the worst, but once Kikyou is actually done being beaten to a pulp, the CG we get to see isn’t remotely as gruesome as I expected it to be. She looks distorted and bloodied, but there’s no innards being spilled, no huge blood clots or wounds or other signs of the ugly deed. What made me cringe were the cracked fingers but I do hope that CRAFTWORK don’t dial down on that for the full game. Right now, it’s rather tame, even though still violent enough.
There’s also a small sexual element to the scene, where we see that Kikyou did pee herself in fear.
But she isn’t dead?
Right as we think that Kikyou – who we have barely seen for a scene’s length – is now dead, she suddenly starts moving again. Her body is still battered and she can’t get herself up in her state. Here’s when Yamaga gets into a fighting stance with his trusty weapon, a traditional Katana with a ghostly, invisible blade. Is he going to perform an exorcism?
Some tough Japanese sections
Afterwards, there is a section that’s quite hard in Japanese. It’s probably similar to something like Dies Irae, where the characters suddenly start speaking difficult chants and proverbs. I wonder how this will be translated properly in the English version.
What is this all building up to?
Well, you won’t get an answer in this trial. Instead, it confuses the player even more by closing off the demo with a meta-element “sports match screen” where we can observe one sister exchanging one of her highlighted body parts (here it’s her crotch) with the other sister. And at the same time, we hear a traditional Japanese drum sound, highlighting a result screen being shown. Is this all just part of another death game? I wouldn’t be surprised since these are getting increasingly popular, but the game doesn’t tell us.
The demo offered a good look into the presentation of Geminism. The UI is slick and works quickly and you can set up the animations to be 30 or 60fps, making them really smooth. Splashy colors are used to great effect as they intensify the moments as red blood splatters all over the screen increasing with every hit made, or certain characters shining in their signature colors once the scene focuses on them.
Geminism is built on Unity Engine and its performance might vary based on how strong your system is. My PC contains a Nvidia GTX 3070ti and a i7 7700k + 32GB RAM (nice flex, bro), so there were no issues for me. It’s clear that they want to make use of the slick UI design that Unity offers, and taking a look into the options menu shows they really got an idea of convenience and style with the chess-grid design.
There are six music tracks to enjoy. Two intense action tracks, a more somber character track for Yamaga and a more flippant one for Tsukishiro. There’s a good mix of violins, traditional Japanese instruments and piano to listen to. I do like the music for what it is, but are there any standout tracks like “avec un point d’interrogation” or “reve en cage” that I can adorn my playlist with? Not yet.
I wouldn’t even think that the Geminism soundtrack as it is being presented so far has ANY chance to being comparable to the iconic tracks of the past. I wonder if Sapporo Momoko got rusty here.
While, I was mostly talking positive about Geminism‘s demo, my actual verdict is more negative. I don’t think that CRAFTWORK did themselves a favor to publish a demo that confuses the player this much. From the start, it was already uncertain what genre they are going to return to glory with and I still can’t tell after playing. While doing a fine job in introducing the tone and the characters of the story, the demo does little in showcasing the story of a game coming out in only a couple of months. While they will probably be able to sell a lot of copies based on their brand recognition alone, this won’t be due to this demo creating the enticing hook it could have.
The charm of their old games, if I have to sum it together are: the isolation you feel from the start, the hints of psychological exploration in the dialogue, and the ominous music foreboding the crazy twists and turns that make you question reality and fiction. To say it simple: They were utsuge, not chuunige.
Based on this demo alone, I felt like playing a light or even a Liar-soft game, not a CRAFTWORK one. There’s too much action and too little substance to be found yet.
And who is going to be the protagonist even?