Sepia Memories -- Let's Talk about Sepia Tears, and some Free Games
Back to 2016
I was an undergraduate then, and I had an Honor 7. One of the memories I had with that phone is searching everyday for a Marshmallow update. Don’t get me wrong, I still think it good to have an Android phone for the freedom it provides, although I make do with Apple for now.
And at that time I was hunting for some free games in the play store. Android phones usually don’t have access to Google services in Mainland China, so most cases I would check out some third-party app markets for applications or games. Except when I expected something different.
For example, some games that do not have a Chinese language support. More so if it is as minor as something like visual novels. And that was what I decided to go treasure hunting for. Of course I did play those Temple Runs and Flappy Birds, but I may not digress here.
A note is that there are always better games out there, perhaps with a high price tag. So while you feel free to enjoy these games(partly cause they are free), it is also perfectly fine to pass and play those paid and better games. But sometimes it is real fun to find out whether a game is good or bad for you.
Lily’s Day Off
It is one of the first games I ran into, according to my Play Store records. The game is developed by Kyuppin, and freely available on Appstore or Play Store, with some ads(you can pay $4.99 to get rid of them for good, but the game does not force you to pay to unlock anything), and on Steam for a plain $4.99.
Something different with Lily is that the game begins with no information about either the protagonist, or the heroine Lilypad Lily. Who they are and what they do depend completely on player’s choice.
There’s a phrase in Japanese called “atodashi settei”(lit. afterhand settings), which describes the phenomenon where the author introduces new settings mid story to push the plot, instead of making them clear at the beginning. For instance, the protagonist is revealed to have some hidden ability in an emergency. Or some new characters to save their ass(Deux ex machina might be a better word for this). Since it destroys predictability of the story, guys reading detective fiction hate it so much that one of them called Ronald Knox stood out to recommend against it and some other things that ruins the fun.
So it is interesting to see someone make it to an extreme. The protagonist might be a serial killer, a stalker, or Lily’s best friend in different routes, and Lily can be a yandere, a sadistic torturer or even someone who wants to nuke the human. The game’s short, but full of absurdity of this kind.
When I was writing this article, I found out it has a sequel, similarly named Lily’s Night Off, featuring the same inanity but with much better quality, and a somewhat anticlimactic ending.
There are a lot of beatiful graphics which we can’t see in the previous work, and I found my self quite into the soundtrack. Some cons are that it is so short that it only takes half a hour to finish, and the writing a bit childish.
I named this post after the game’s name. Made by Team NEET(now Scarlet String Studio), it is a short VN(a few hours) with no ads. Yes, one thing I love about it is that it is completely free.
The protagonist, Mark, runs into a mysterious girl in an afternoon on top of the school building. The girl names herself Myra, and wants to remind him of something that happened 3 years ago. As the story progresses, he finds out about the worries of people around him — his classmate and his little sister, and helps them get over the obstacles. And finally, he faces his own feelings, and the mystery of Myra reveals.
The game takes much longer than Lily’s Day Off, I’d say a couple of hours. The writing is giving me a strange feel, the characters feel a bit cold and distant, just like a usual winter morning. And Myra is the candlelight giving out some warmth in this sensational journey of loss and found.
Except a bit cynicism, and some big talk that may put one off it a little, here are some dialogs that may give out that kind of atmosphere a little.
Myra: This is who I really am, anyway. Just an ecentric kid who enjoys a quiet night of reading. Mark: If that’s how you put it, then I’m justa a weak-willed slacker who would skip school before exams to talk to a girl he barely knows.
Despite all of that, I’d say it is a nice game for its free price tag, compared to another free VN with a pink hair girl, which is too short to have any kind of plot development. I think that game somehow shows how hard it is to make a good VN.
If you play the game, remember: do not genuflect.
After that I played some Unity-chan shooting. It’s some pixel danmaku shooting game made with Unity. The group later made another game named SOUND SHOOTING!!! which combines the shooting part with a little rhythm game elements. You can see the similarity in their UI or fights at a glance.
There is one nice free VN called Stellaren. Space opera might be the word to describe it. No. Space visual novel it is.
I can’t recall almost everything about every game I played more than three years ago. For games I played even back, even for games like Irodoritori no Sekai, one of the first visual novels I played and loved, in like 2012 or 2013.
So there’s M, the protagonist, with N, his childhood friend, runs away from a colony and into a ship, or army? led by C, and then served there as a fixer, or say mechanic. Later M gets caught by the opposing clan, but eventually gets in good terms with the commander V, who is a little yandere. After that a lot happened and all of them have to get together to fend off some alien with advanced technology, and finally boom, the end. That’s what I can recall from the whole game, although the game itself is really long — prolly tens of hours.
This one is really lengthy, and in my opinions, more like a typical visual novel. By typical I mean more things you would expect from a lightnovel or anime in 2000s, harem, tsundere, that kind of things. What I enjoyed most was probably the fight where you control a shuttle to shoot enemies down in space. I never skipped a single fight because I want to see a 9/9 or 10/10 at the end of a chapter. However, the difficulty cranked up near the end-game and I was a bit bored dying at the same stage. I remember myself, lying in bed, phone in hand, steering my fighter through the barrage of asteroids.
I played the original version, but it seems the author just put everything together and put some ads in it. It is find for me to replay Lily’s and Sepia Tears, but for a game as long as Stellaren, I fear I do not have the time to enjoy the space odessey. But that being said, Stellaren is a nice game, and it feels good to finish a long one like this. You know, that feel when you come home after a long journey, just like that.
The Dandelion Girl: Don’t You Remember Me?
It is a visual novel adapted from the sci-fi novel of the same name(just The Dandelion Girl, without the subtitle). Not one you could find in the play store since it’s a PC game, but it’s available for free on Steam. If you know Clannad the game, not the band, and have a little curiosity to do some research, you might know this. That is how I ran into it, and that was a day in December, 2017.
I found the game from a well-dated post in a little forum which I can’t name right now(if I knew that game was already on Steam since 2016, I could have had much less trouble; probably Valve wasn’t paying much to make its games to the top of the searches those days). The author decided to give it a remake, but since they cannot get the guy who draw the things to do it, they were a bit limited to what they can do. Despite that the remake was done, and it adds some more texts to the original version, including the subtitle. Yes the original game does not ask whether you remember me.
I remembered that I opened the game(after dealing with Wine stuff as most Linux users do), saw the girl’s appearance, with the weird feel of her eyes when she turned back, then immediately decided to read the novel instead. I’m truly sorry.
Going through the game again I would say it is a nice plot — anyway, how bad can it be when the plot is good? And the game differs from the novel a bit: there are some minor differences in languages and plots that makes the VN more like a VN, and the novel more like a novel. So nothing feels so out of place for me.
It’s quite short — takes half a hour. And hope you enjoy the time in a summer’s afternoon, on a hill, with dandelions, that passed down from 1961 to 2016.
There are other free games I already made a post for, like DDLC and Tetra, they are great games but which I played much more recently, so I left them out. A search will lead you to the posts.
Sometimes I stop and look back into my past. What I did, the friends I had, all sorts of thing. And when I do this, I feel being myself. 'Sides, it makes me really happy to see I still like the things I liked.
And please allow me to end this little memoria with some words in The Dandelion Girl: Don’t You Remember Me?, that has a little change to the repped line in the novel.
“Oh, oh! You know, the day before yesterday I saw a rabbit, and yesterday a deer, and today, you.”
“And here I was taking it all for granted, I’ll have to stop by more often.”