DRAMAtical Murder Review (non-spoiler)
June 13, 2012 29 Comments
DRAMAtical Murder by Nitro+CHiRAL rewrites your expectations of R-18 BL games. Don’t all their games do? I thoroughly enjoyed playing this game, but do note that this is R-18 BL so there is mature content. I don’t just refer to the BL sexual content, so if you’re interested do play with an open mind. This will be a non-spoiler review, and only CG I show is featured on the official website already. The rest are random screenshots of the OP, background etc.
The plot flows something along the lines of: our protagonist, Aoba, enjoys leading his usual and peaceful lifestyle till one day it’s disrupted by a certain conflict. ……Typical much? Fortunately, not in this case. We’re presented with a beautifully crafted world: from the luxurious Oval Tower to the common residences of kyuujuuminku, the tension between the Rhymers and リブ teams, the futuristic tools in what is supposed to be past Japan. In addition, we’ve the other seemingly unconnected characters all with stakes in the game: Koujaku, Noiz, Mink and Clear. In fact, some of the side-characters even have their own crucial stakes too – but of course the one with the heaviest stake is Aoba himself.
The game is tightly linked right from the first line. The narration is beautiful and captivating, with the occasional humour. The game starts off with the same common route, before breaking off into individual routes. The common route is important in getting you familiarised with the world, characters, and a fraction of the bigger plot. And the individual routes aren’t just routes to have Aoba romanticise with the chosen guy, no. The game is heavily driven by plot and characterisation – and has themes for crying out loud. It’s a game that allows you to interpret. While the secret route holds many answers, the previous routes aren’t just dummy routes. Each character’s personal background, interests, relationship with Aoba is given their time to shine – while dropping hints about the bigger plot which you may not necessarily find in the secret route. And the writers really took their time with each character, even these kids have their own profiles.
I recommend playing in the order of: Koujaku, Noiz, Mink, Clear, Secret character – for numerous reasons which I can’t give away. I just recommend so, lol. I would say that each route is almost equal in terms of their length, with the Secret route being longer, naturally. You may not like all the characters, you may not understand them all – but I must give it to the writers for not short-changing any of the main guys in terms of details and writing. Special mention to Aoba for being a protagonist you can relate to and feel for, and to Clear for making me cry lol.
But it’s not just the details in writing, they did the same in terms of the implementation of the interface, effects, art. They use the CGs to tell the story, not just to “reward” you. The details in the background is crazy, I was just staring at that overview of the island. They implement effects to spice up the playing experience, such as the light effects. Or simply do day vs. night backgrounds. The interface is smooth and personalised according to the game. I personally liked the keyboard shortcuts, that it quick saves automatically at each game choice, and that when I load a save slot it doesn’t erase the backlog. I was impressed with how when you finish the secret character’s route, they then cleverly separated the gallery section for that character. Right, minor things that can make your experience more enjoyable.
My only nit-pick would be that the backlog does not list the names of whose line is whose, and that you can’t jump back to that particular scene from the backlog. It does not hinder my gameplay too much, but if you want to replay a favourite scene of yours not found in the recollections (only sex scenes), be sure to make a save slot.
I loved the cast, especially Aoba’s voice actor. Having someone who can really deliver the lines does make a difference, I was just so captured by his performance in certain emotional scenes.
Be sure to not skip the credits roll, as that may affect whether the unique ending theme turns up in the media section or not. This would also affect whether you can get the bonus CG for completing and unlocking everything. And it’s really not that hard to not skip the credits roll. The staff took the time to have unique ending themes for all the bad ends and each one of them matches the bad ends really well. They even customised the credits roll so that you won’t be spoiled by the character names that appears in other routes not that in the one you finished. Many of the themes and soundtracks have an electronic feel to them and to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of such music. Yet, none of them grated on my nerves. In fact, I love the OP.
What is this, did the staff perform ****p on me.
Usually when I get a bad end, I’m like “good riddance, now I can move on to get the good end” since I’m a completionist. And let’s face it, the bad ends you get in some of these R-18 games are…expected kinks? But the bad ends in DMMd are just so intriguing, I was gaping at some of them due to the narration and how they slowly unravel the, sometimes shocking, CG. Sometimes, the bad ends may also spoil a character for you even if you get to the good end. I just found the characters more fascinating. The game is full of juxtapositions and such, I had a delightful time thinking over what happens in each route and going back and forth in the game sometimes since I’m obsessed with details. It’s not the longest game out there, but it is indeed a quality game with a good volume.
After you finish the game, you get to access the Linear Notes by the staff and it’s very interesting to read what they have to say about the game. You can feel their quirky love for the game.
I wasn’t 100% sure of what to expect from this game, since people seemed to have raised likes and dislikes for certain elements. But you know what, it’s best to play for the game yourself and make your own judgement. Personally, I ended up enjoying the game a lot, for certain mind-blowing plot details, interesting characters and themes worth pondering over. Hopefully everyone can find the “something” they love in this game too. I know some people may be hesitating over the “R-18 BL” tag. I won’t force anyone, just highly recommend the game. Like one of the staff linear notes suggest, this game is like an above 18km walk lol – awesome ups and downs included. And now I’ll be thinking of how to carry on from this journey.