OK, to preface: my Itch comment-style is a live reaction where I take notes as I play, in hopes of giving the developers accurate and genuine feedback. This comment will run from the opening to the ending of the game in chronological order.
The demo opening enviably professional, and worth emulating. I spent some time examining the title screen UI and admiring the buttons, then I pressed "X" to see what it did.... and inadvertently quit the game lmfao. It might be nice to have a tooltip to inform the player that it's a "Quit" button, much like the little tooltip ribbons on the righthand side during the game, but honestly I just did a dumb thing and it's not the game's/design's fault.
I enjoyed the nice, slow realization that the MC is running away from home, and how the narration never had to say it outright. It's a fantastic way of getting us quickly on board with the protagonist, and it's an experience I can empathize with if I've been lucky enough to not have lived it myself.
The "morning," "afternoon," and "evening" transition graphics are fantastic and I love them.
The "Ameripan" moment MC starts getting headaches, the effect wavy effect runs a bit too strong I think. Considering nothing really happens afterwards, I think the scene could be more subtle, but I do appreciate the indication that there's more going on here than meets the eye, and Ava might know more than she lets on. I think I'm going to actually boot up the game again and pursue her next, after I finish proofreading this comment, to see if there's any particularly weird moments with her.
That's a really nice educational joke with Mad Cow disease lol, I didn't know that.
The blue-haired weaboo manic pixie dream boy did creep me out when I first met him, admittedly. Kuudere glasses boy didn't appeal to me either, because he wouldn't be honest about wanting the cat... But then, maybe his living situation doesn't allow him to have a cat, and I did appreciate him chasing off Gary. ;;; He made me laugh though when he sent NOTHING BUT "?" when I accidentally made him wait later in the game.
Minimum wage worker Cain immediately got my heart with minimal effort. I think it's the disadvantaged position he starts off in, it makes him more immediately relatable -- though he turned me off a bit when he promised the glamor of college will fade and "you'll get there." I get that he's cynical, but it's a little rude.
It's okay that he's not perfect though, I don't expect him to be. His flowery CG is a bit much, but after that I found him to be the most down to earth character of the bunch. I felt like he was the most normal, real human among a cast of quirky characters.
Robin: "Statistics can go jump off a cliff and die." sdkjfbdskfbk. Good line.
John's VA lines go kinda fast despite a relatively static CG, which was kinda weird for me, especially contrasted with Robin's more relaxed speech pattern.
The yawn when Robin says "I don't have any energy." is a fantastic touch though.
There doesn't seem to be a history/logbook option? Is that an intentional design choice? Sometimes I click a bit too fast, and while I can press the button to "skip back," my personal preference is generally to look for the logbook instead. Again, not the game's/design's fault.
The weird library tie guy reminds me of Seth from High School Dreams lmao. He also has a moment with a ton of library books.
"I hope you find someone /exactly like you/ then." That's a really good line.
BRUH THESE GUYS ARE SO WEIRD THOUGH. Practically all of them have an "off" moment where they act like total weirdos, and I can't help wondering if this is because the game is made by a group called "NOTOME" LOL. Is this an anti-otome??
(This being said, Cain never has a weird moment in my entire playthrough, excluding the occasional cynical comment. Even then, it's not that weird. My dude's probably depressed from overwork.)
AW but I love that John's a reading jock. It's sweet, and he seems a little insecure about it. I'd love to reassure him and be his friend. :)
I'm surprised though that I got to choose whether or not I'd put up flyers with John, but then just got railroaded into selling plasma?? That felt like that escalated quickly. If I didn't put up flyers, would I not need to sell plasma? Lolol. I'll have to keep this in mind to test during the next playthrough.
The weeby manic pixie dream boy wants to be a forensic scientist... That's really nice actually, cool darker contrast for his bright personality. I'm still gratified every time Elliot calls him a creep or psychopath though. It's a little mean, sure, but the put downs makes me feel safe -- like I'm not crazy for thinking Gary is acting weird.
When Elliot sprints shirtless out of the plasma center, I feel like it would have been a good option to go after Elliot, then return to the plasma center to get his shirt for him and try to check on Gary/Gary's friend to see if they're okay...
(Just because I think someone is weird, doesn't mean I don't care about their well-being lol).
Akio... manspreading across three tables in a crowded coffee shop.... He's literally insane...... Game, where's my sweet underpaid boyfriend? My customer service prince? You keep giving me weird guys and all I wanna do is text my boy on the preferences menu. :'( He even gave me his number, and I haven't gotten to talk to him even once after that!!
I love the solution of telling John to get me something from outside as an alternative to snapping at him. That's a great tactic, and one that I might have to use in my real life.
... John did kinda sell me a little on the idea of dating him when we start talking about books in the infirmary... but my heart still longs for my food service slave of capitalism. I'm finding myself clicking through the narration to get it over with because I want to see Cain again.
Robin: "I wouldn't say they're my guy friends, exactly." Yeah, me either. <:|
Coming up with names for the cat with Elliot is fun though, it's a cute conversation. I like that he asks Robin questions to narrow down her preference, rather than just rattling off a list of names right away. Very thoughtful.
Then we go get food and there he is!!!! Cain, my boy!!!! Manic pixie had just asked if Elliot was my boyfriend and I said we were just friends. There should be a follow-up choice to immediately be like "See, THIS is my boyfriend" and freaking point at Cain. (I kid, I kid).
The octo-dog though.... Honestly I gaped at the sight of it. I like octopus and I like bread, but wh--what... What on earth.
I would have loved to donate to the Save Cain from Manual Labor Fund. :( We can go on low budget dates, Cain!!
He left me with Elliot and Gary to go back to work... ;_; My kokoro brokoro. ----OH NO MY BOY'S IN TROUBLE
I HELP HIM. Fastest, easiest choice I ever made.
I squeal a little bit in real life when he rewards me with a hug over the counter. <3 Honestly I wanna make Elliot and Gary come help too lol, but I guess there's not enough room behind the stall.
Cain: "I bet you're the only one who volunteered here who has nothing at stake."
...................... I mean. I wanna date him real bad, so I don't think that's quite accurate lololol.
Omg I have a full ride in college. If I get a part-time job I could support Cain and he could work less, and we could go on dates. I can see this relationship working out.
Robin: "I don't know, your passive-aggressive gibes were pretty great too." Shouldn't it be "jibes"? ((I looked it up later, apparently they're both valid!))
He gave me a keychain!!! I'll treasure it forever!!! ;_; Did he make it himself?? Is he a furry? Lol. I'm not judging, I've already decided he's my boyfriend and I'm ready to accept all his quirks and flaws.
... And so ends my first playthrough.
I'm reading the other comments here and I'm a little confused about the mention of a changing theater scene. Looks like I missed it? :\ Once I got my keychain, the credits scrolled and ended with a kickstarter link. Maybe this is a new game plus feature; I guess I'll find out.
Overall I had fun, and I'd recommend this game to my friends! Even though a lot of the guys weirded me out, I do consider them friends and care for them. I'm curious about how Gary's friend appeared on-screen just once, and then just started silently skulking around in the background in the narration. I noticed the conversation about "nonlinear storytelling" and figure that's what you guys are gonna be playing with as you continue working on the game.
This is one of the more polished demos I've played, and I'm glad I gave it a chance after randomly hearing John's voice reel on twitter. Thank you for the love and hard work you guys have put into it so far, I'm excited to support the game and see where it goes. :)