500 Word Game Reviews: We Know the Devil

No post next week, as I’m away visiting relatives. Expect my mid-season anime thoughts in early September… where is this year disappearing to?

Anyway, this is the only visual novel I’ve ever played… read? Experienced. And it isn’t even related to an anime series, though there are obvious influences from and references to Sailor Moon, among other things. 😀

I can’t do much about the whole image resizing thing, so if you want a closer look at the screenshots, open the image in a new tab and delete the ‘?w=450’ part.

We Know the Devil (2015) – Visual novel, PC.

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Story: Neptune, Jupiter and Venus are three teenagers, sent by their parents to a Christian camp for misbehaving children. There, they must do battle with the Devil. And they don’t even get transformation sequences. 😦

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The camp’s lead instructor tells stories about how he once had two good friends who he wanted to do everything with… though apparently one of those friends was really annoying. This friend ended up getting into trouble later in life, causing the instructor to conclude that humans can only do so much for each other. This theme is central to the gameplay.

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The trio are sent to a barely-habitable shack, where they must spend the night, hoping that the Devil doesn’t visit… it would be quite a boring game if he didn’t, though, wouldn’t it?

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Gameplay: This is a visual novel, so ‘gameplay’ is mostly clicking the mouse and reading the story. Every hour, the three characters will face a task or play a game that only requires two people. Each time, you must choose which two will pair up… and which one will be left out. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ combination, the story progresses whoever you pick, but your choices will impact on the ending.

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Characters: Not a section I usually have in my reviews, but the individual characters and their interactions with each other are the whole point of the game.

Neptune is mean, bossy, sarcastic, aggressive, a trouble maker. Venus is timid and shy, but also hard-working and trusting to a fault, presumably sent to the camp to learn how to ‘man up’ a bit. Jupiter is the group’s natural leader, a laid-back tomboy whose grades and athletic ability are top-tier, and who always strives to be good… why is she even at the camp?

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As the game progresses, you learn a lot more about each character, and their own personal weaknesses and fears – fears the Devil may end up exploiting. If you really want to experience the story and their character development in full, you’re going to have to replay it a few times (fear not, it’s not long, an hour or two at most), excluding a different character in every playthrough.

There is a ‘True Ending’, if you balance the pairings out so that nobody is excluded more than anyone else – I’d recommend leaving this until last, both from a story point of view (you’ll appreciate it more having seen the other routes first), but also from a gameplay point of view. While some tasks let you pick any of the three character combinations, other parts force you to take one specific character, only letting you choose their partner, so planning in advance for those will help!

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Controls: Click when you’re done reading the text on the screen, then more text will show up. Read and repeat until you need to make a decision, then click the boxes that correspond with your chosen characters’ symbols. And if you’ve played it a few times already, you can fast-forward the dialogue. That’s about it really.

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Graphics and sound: The VN has an interesting look, 2D monochrome anime-style characters on photographic backgrounds. I like it.

The soundtrack is terrifying. Definitely makes it feel like the Devil is closing in.

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Overall: Quick and simple, but well written. Worth playing/reading. 8/10

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