Disclaimer: I was contacted by JKU Studio to do a review of their demo. As always, I will be 100% honest about how I feel. — Marvelle
GRAND!! is a boys-love 18+ visual novel by JKU Studios. Yaassss, a steamy game to review! Well, there’s no steam in the demo, but, well, you know! In the future, a steamy game to review!
Elijah “Lili” Grand or simply “Lili” as his two best friends call him just started his first year of college and he’s about to experience “real” life for the very first time.
But there’s one BIG problem, he can’t stop seeing himself as his AVATAR!!
I’m not really sure what that meant when I clicked on the link. I guess it means he sees himself like a game sprite? It’s not really explained in the demo either.
The plot revolves around our lead, Elijah, learning to love himself and in the process, fall in love.
The game script needs a lot of work. It’s riddled with grammatical errors and the dialogue is stilted and unnatural. For instance, in the first monologue:
Elijah: Today is the DAY!
Elijah: That I change my life!
Elijah: …for the better!
I am slightly more tolerable of bad grammar in Japanese releases. Don’t get me wrong, I still get annoyed, but at the heart of it I know there’s a budget consisting of three pennies and a piece of gum. But if you’re an English company, making games in English, could you at least spring for a proofreader? Editor?
This is a huge pet peeve of mine, especially in Kickstarter visual novels. What about the, you know, n o v e l part? I know art and all that is also important, but the genre is visual novel and when kickstarters only focus on the “visual” part and leave the “novel” as an afterthought I get extremely peeved.
Gamers are more savvy than that. In such a niche genre, simply existing is not enough. You have to have something good in there!
In portions of the script, thoughts are in quotations “Like so” and actual dialogue is not. Every time Elijah thought something I kept thinking he said it aloud. And then other times, there’s no quotations around any dialogue!
I know this is literally an adult game, and most adult-targeted media doesn’t exactly have to be well, good, but as a writer of adult novels I expect the plot and characters to be just as good as a non-adult novel. There’s no excuse for this. If I want titillation I would just type some descriptor into google and pull up plenty of media that can get the job done faster without sitting through bad dialogue and cringing through poor grammar.
This super short demo only introduces one love interest, Kai. The bulk of the demo showcases Elijah’s two friends,
Asshole and Stereotype, Sebastian and Lucien.
What? That’s unhealthy! Like seriously, what the fuck? Fuck you, Lucien!
Every time Lucien opened his mouth I ended up cringing or getting pissed. He’s not a very likeable character. I can see what they were going for with him, but all of his dialogue is either try-hard or rude to the point I wonder why Elijah even likes him?
Sebastian is your standard cold-hearted businessman stereotype. We all know this stereotype because it’s a common one in romance.
I’m not sure exactly how to word this without being rude, but I’m going to try. From the little snippets I’ve seen of these characters, they don’t feel like real characters. They are cutouts of archetypes and stereotypes without the wit to make it satire or the heart to make them genuine.
The characters feel like they’re written by women who get off on gay sex without actually bothering to make them seem like real men. It’s like the same problem you see in male-oriented media where women are reduced to their sexiest assets.
The thing is, I can see potential in this game and its concept. A nerdy, shy, boy who is possibly depressed, learning to care for himself and others is ripe for both internal and external conflict. But it’s put to waste with what’s been shown so far.
I don’t have an opinion on one of the romanceable characters, Kai, because the only conversation with him is more of an awkward bumbling cringe session with Elijah. And speaking of that conversation, Sebastian describes Kai as a “whore on campus” and apparently Kai is close enough to hear them and he says nothing? Who insults someone like that in front of them? And Lucien, well, his “delicious POPcicle” comment is also something that is very rude to say about someone when they’re nearby.
Why didn’t Kai say anything? And if he’s this super playboy, supposedly, going by his profile on the Kickstarter page, why is he acting so shy? He’s described as charismatic but I got none of that the first time I meet him.
I basically made this face the entire time I played the demo.
The artwork is lovey. I adore the way lines look sketchy. All of the character designs are unique and communicate the personalities of the characters well.
The backgrounds are nice as well. Functional and easy on the eyes.
It’s clear the artwork for this game has a lot of love put into it!
This story has a lot of potential.
It needs a lot of work.
It still needs more time in the cocoon before it becomes a butterfly.