By Diego Hernandez / December 31st, 2019
|Release Date||November 30th, 2019|
|Genre||Visual Novel, Romance|
In a year of unexpected surprises for visual novels, Chemically Bonded officially released. After seeing all the highs and lows throughout its development, I’m glad I can finally say that. This project started out as Kickstarter campaign back in 2017. The developer, ds-sans, only had two other titles to his name but the people rallied. As a result, 271 backers offered a grand total of £5,497 to give his ambitions life. Many hurdles and a couple hiatuses later, here we are. One of the most anticipated English visual novels is finally out in the wild. However, there is one question remaining for this eccentric romance visual novel. How does it hold up?
In this story, you play as… yourself. Furthermore, you’re just transferring in to a new school. However, it seems your academic life has left you pessimistic. Maybe you’re playing too many visual novels, but life seems to be at a standstill. Going by a day-to-day basis isn’t helping either. You’re supposed to be enjoying your youth, yet here you are. Standing in the middle of your classroom contemplating it all. You write your name on the chalkboard and essentially hope for a change of pace. But reality has other plans and you’re on cleaning duty, so get to work. Time to search for those cleaning materials. Your search leads you to a particular room with an even more particular girl inside. Could this be the start of something new? Welcome to Chemically Bonded.
This is Kiyoko Ishikawa and she isn’t just any girl. She’s the smartest girl in school and you’ll be quick to note that. However, it seems she has a dreadful history. You don’t know the full story yet, but people in your class branded her as a cheater. Furthermore, with how rumors work in schools, isolation has become her remaining friend. As it turns out, she’s the only member of the Science Club. Working experiments on her lonesome, she notices you entering the room. You’re not the only one searching for a change in lifestyle. After a brief conversation, she invites you to partake in the club. This simple gesture is where the domino effect begins. Appearances can be deceiving; this is true for Kiyoko. Normally portrayed as quiet and reserved by her peers, she’s quite vocal about her passion for science and it’s a cute sight to behold.
After your conversation with Kiyoko, you feel a menacing presence. The aura of aggression comes from none other than the star of the school herself, Naomi Sato of class 3-3. Everybody knows her as the team captain of the athletics club. As cool as she is on the track, she’s colder talking to you. However, what’s the reason for such hostility? She notices you’ve been hanging out with Kiyoko and urges you to back off. She doesn’t exactly state the reason for this, instead she questions your intellect. Nonetheless, you’re left to ponder why she’s so antagonistic towards the forging of this new friendship. Furthermore, why is she so mean to you? Through clever wording you’re able to uncover a different side of Naomi. A mixture of hot and cold that can only be defined as tsundere. Seeing her cute side is the most rewarding part of the game.
Following the introduction of the characters, an investigation begins. Between Kiyoko’s rumors and Naomi’s sudden aggression, you’re left to pick a side. Should you succeed in solving this mess, the picture becomes complete. This is the intrigue of Chemically Bonded. Diving head first into two conundrums that, quite frankly, you shouldn’t be involved in. What shines the most in all of this? The descriptive writing and brilliant usage of unconventional choices. When it comes to visual novels, with so much presented at a glance, it goes the extra mile of adding that layer of writing that allows us to further understand the main character’s perception of this reality. Not only that, but making crucial dialogue choices feel important on a personal level is huge. Accomplishing one of these in a visual novel is an oddity. The developer accomplishes both flawlessly.
For the writing to shine as vividly as it does, credit must be given to the sound aspect. The soundtrack for Chemically Bonded initially appears to be generic. However, in those moments of heavy decision making and reflection, the score by Dougherty and Red Robotix is out of this world towards the end. Likewise, the voice acting, which initially has you questioning some directive decisions, continuously grows on you as the story progresses. In particular, Amber Barile’s portrayal of Naomi is absolutely breathtaking. A professional soundtrack mixed with professional voice acting and professional writing. A complete product that the backers and any who join the party will surely love. All this without talking about the spectacular character and background art by Jun Project and mB0sco. Which is something I usually praise visual novels first and foremost for as it’s the aspect you’ll be looking at the most during the read.
Now here’s the hard part, talking about the cons. For as resounding as my praise is to all its qualities, Chemically Bonded has some small flaws. For instance, the pacing. As I read the entire thing and solved mysteries, unfortunately I felt like I got to the ending too quick. The time between solving your chosen case and finding romance felt too sudden on both occasions. While it was presented to me in the most beautiful way possible, I had a feeling they slightly missed some crucial character development as the story unfolds over just a mere couple of weeks. Another issue are the endings, with one being much more fleshed out than the other. While it doesn’t seem like a huge deal, it could be a turn off for some who decide to read that route first and deny themselves the better half. Please read all of it.
Chemically Bonded brilliantly mixes all elements of visual novel development and creates an astonishing romantic spectacle. While it does seem to have a few issues towards the end, the journey to get there is certainly amazing. It certainly took a while to get here, but it was worth the time and money. Reading Chemically Bonded to completion took 9.8 hours and at a $9.99 price, it’s hard to argue against it’s worth. In conclusion, time will tell what’s next for ds-sans, but I certainly look forward to the next announcement. If you want more Chemically Bonded, please check our interview with the man himself here. Congratulations to everyone involved in the release.
Game provided by developer for review purposes.
CBChemically BondedDEVGRU-Pds-sansEnglish Visual Novelevnvisual novelVN