So far, I’ve been rather positive in regards to the games I reviewed. I haven’t reviewed a game that I wouldn’t personally recommend. Today we change this as I’m going to review a game that some people regard as a classic visual novel but is also a game I personally dislike.
Being negative about this medium is also something people tend to avoid as it seems counter intuitive to deter people from playing a niche genre of games. Sometimes this has to be done to guide people to the best that the medium can offer. With that sadly negative preface out of the way, today on the VN Completionist I will be reviewing Shuffle!
Shuffle is a visual novel developed and published in 2005 by Navel for PC and translated and released in English by YumeHaven and MangaGamer. The scenario was written by Agobarrier and Long Cube. The art was done by Nishimata Aoi and Suzuhira Hiro.
The story of shuffle follows Rin Tsuchimi’s high school life in a world where humans live in harmony with Gods and devils and the romantic relationships he gets into with the 5 heroines from each of these races – which sounds way cooler than it actually is.
Our protagonist, Rin Tsuchimi isn’t a particularly strong character. He can be summarised as your average, run-of-the-mill, nice guy, harem protagonist and doesn’t really develop into a more complex character.
The same can be said for the heroines, they can be summaries as conforming to some of the common tropes for harems. Kaede Fuyou can be summarise the protagonist’s kind, altruistic childhood friend, Lisianthus is optimistic and outgoing, Nerine is shy, reserved and refined, Primula is a Stoic kuudere and Asa Shigure is an energetic, tomboy type.
The common route is mostly just a school comedy setting where you interact with the girls. There are some funny scenes and interesting scenarios but there was very few that keep my interest and it felt like most of the common route was only there to choose a heroine’s route and nothing else.
The character routes are not particularly interesting as well. They do have varying conflicts but the character routes themselves felt very formulaic in nature and eventually became quite predictable. This wasn’t helped either by the fact the characters were very underdeveloped and didn’t really change much. The routes also didn’t present any interesting themes either. The conflicts themselves were quite uninspired and I didn’t really feel invested in them at all. Overall I didn’t really enjoy the story of this game as it was dull and uninspired.
The art is one of the strongest parts of the game. The Sprites and CGs use a wide variety of colour, was well-drawn and are eye-catching. The character designs themselves are also very colourful and the designs of each of the girls feels unique and interesting. My one criticism with the art is that the backgrounds are quite bland in comparison but I feel if they were just as vibrant as the CG art and sprites it would be overwhelming so this was only a minor issue.
The music for this game was okay. There were one or two songs that were good but for the most part the soundtrack wasn’t particularly interesting and was pretty forgettable.
In conclusion, I don’t think I can recommend this game. The characters were one-dimensional, followed generic tropes and remained undeveloped throughout the game. The story itself very formulaic, predictable and the conflicts were uninteresting and uninspired. The only part of this game I felt was successful was the art which was vibrant and well-drawn but apart from that the game didn’t feel fulfilling or worth my time.
If you enjoy this game, I would recommend the sequels Really? Really! and Tick! Tack! which the reason should be obvious, but if you didn’t enjoy this game (like me) then you probably shouldn’t.
This concludes my review of Shuffle. If you haven’t done so already follow me on social media and make sure to check out the other posts on the site. I also have an Ask.Fm so feel free to ask me questions, Visual novel related or not. You can find it here or in the social media tab. Anyway, thanks for reading and I will see you on the next VN Completionist.