By Diego Hernandez / May 15th, 2019
Over the course of the game’s prologue chapters, the player has to make several choices as to how Shuuji handles a moment with each girl. If the patterns align with a certain girl, you’ll go into a route where the stories become rich in flavor. There are several takeaways from the game’s prologue. First, it’s incredibly lengthy, which isn’t bad, and it allows the reader to get a complete scope of each girl before enacting a decision as to who to go for first. However, the problem shows its head with the placement of these vital choices. For instance, they’re scattered across the prologue and you could be sold on a girl from the beginning, however several events you might not expect could change your mind. Which is to say it’ll have you reload a save and make sure all the choices align with the new best girl.
Most people would immediately think this a negative point to the game. However, I disagree as it is very rare that a visual novel will turn the tables on me for one character alone. Sabbat of the Witch does a fantastic job of providing several instances in the prologue alone for you to consider every girl. In turn, this makes not just the choices thought provoking but the entire route selection process. As such, you will want to try and see every girl’s story and that will establish replayability within the reading. Which is extremely important when making a game with as many heroine options as this one. The visual novel does offer the, in my opinion, mandatory ‘skip to next choice’ functionality, but I’ll talk more about accessibility soon.
Sabbat of the Witch’s prologue is rich in terms of comedy and romantic intrigue between the characters, but it is by no means the entire story. As such, the result of all the choices takes form in the revelation of a tarot card with your chosen girl. This tarot card will now show up in future scene transitions, a nice touch. Regardless, let’s talk about the story within the routes. With every girl’s route, you’ll not only be finding more about them, you’re also figuring out your past. Furthermore, each route deals with a theme. Whether that’d be overcoming prejudice or the importance behind the choices we make. Each route becomes more thought provoking than the last and unravels a mystery not just within the girl but Shuuji as well. Subsequently, the minute I would wrap up one route, I couldn’t possibly believe it’d get better than that, until it did.
The amount of detail that is carefully put into each route by Yuzusoft is astonishing. Countless times in other visual novels of this style, I’d run into cases where things progressed too fast to enjoy. Make no mistake upon purchase, Sabbat of the Witch is an incredibly long read which may be off-putting to a set of people that read visual novels. However, I firmly believe in fleshing out your characters the right amount and Yuzusoft understood that concept well. Although, a lot of it must be properly credited to the team at NekoNyan, whose translation work deserves the spotlight. The reading was seamless and the lines for the characters fell in place with the personalities at play. For clarification, while there are fantasy elements within the stories, the characters are as real as they come.
When talking about the small details within this Yuzusoft release, the soundtrack must be a discussion point. For clarification, it’s a 48-song track list with a good portion of them being exclusive to the routes. Not only that, the ending credits include a song performed by the voice actor of your route choice. However, that alone isn’t worth the praise. We must examine how they did characters especially in very serious and romantic scenarios. You’ll be glad to know that voice direction was not an issue in this title. In truth, with a huge number of samples, it was very easy to appreciate all the sounds within the title. Case in point, Yuzusoft did an amazing job on this front.
Art is a vital component to a visual novel for a lot of people. Throughout the review, I’ve posted small portion of the game’s art. For clarification, Sabbat of the Witch contains over 120 unique pieces of art. All of them vibrant with personality and feeling that leave the reader with a clear understanding of how each scene should be interpreted. In short, the most artistic variety that I’ve encountered in my time reading visual novels.
There is a major con within Sabbat of the Witch. Specifically, let’s talk about a certain type of scene from this adventure: Lewd scenes. The lewd scenes come at an infrequent pace. You could be either waiting for either 10 minutes or an hour for the next one. This isn’t a negative by any means, however the trouble lies within the duration of these scenes. For clarification, from the minute the art switches to foreplay, you’re going to be watching Shuuji and your girl of choice make love for over 25 minutes, every time. Yes, I timed the scenes. Furthermore, each route has over 5 of these scenes for each character. As if Yuzusoft wanted to put you through an endurance test of sorts. I have newfound respect towards NekoNyan team members who had to sit through many hours’ worth of moans for this localization.
Despite the major con, Yuzusoft really did make something special. For instance, let’s talk about the character dialogue sequences. When a character is talking their sprite will change according to the emotion behind the text, something extremely useful towards reading comprehension. Following this are a few quality-of-life additions, first there’s a little gauge that times voices. I hope to be one of many whose immersion could possibly be slightly broken, when they move forward at the wrong time and cut off the character speaking. This simple feature helps timing for auto mode and manual readers, thus making the experience more seamless. On top of this, there’s also UI customization options for when your point-of-view switches to the girl’s perspective. Also included, the ability to have the facial expressions appear next to the text box for reading convenience, among many more.
Sabbat of the Witch is my choice for the best visual novel localization of last year. It’s without a doubt a masterpiece of a story featuring a very lovely and memorable cast. Furthermore, you’re going to get your money’s worth. For clarification, the game currently sits at $29.99, and I spent well over 40 hours reading. It’s worth every penny and second. The question remains if anything will release this year that will fill me with as much joy as this one.
Game provided by publisher for review purposes.
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