Each edition of So I Tried… I will try a game that I have never played before, the idea being to spend 30 minutes with any chosen title. Over the course of half an hour, I’ll develop a feel for what the game is and how it plays; I may find something I love, or something that I absolutely can’t stand. This time I decided to have a go at the visual novel If My Heart Had Wings.
What I thought it was
Visual novels are, as I previously stated, an entirely foreign experience to me (though I’ve always enjoyed the idea of them). As I finally sat down with one, ready to experience it for the first time, it felt like a move I should have made ages ago. After all, I love anime, video games and the occasional novel, so it seemed only natural to jump into a genre that combines the three. This specific title caught my eye during a Steam sale as one of the higher-rated in its genre, a romantic tale of fresh relationships and experiences as its cast of characters work to revive a glider club on the verge of being disbanded.
What it actually is
I truly wanted to enjoy this title, and the opening had me convinced I would; the player is immediately greeted by an aesthetically pleasing title screen accompanied by a light, enjoyable soundtrack. It was after I had passed this screen and jumped into the game itself that I began to realize that this particular title contained some specific tropes associated with anime that I’m less than fond of, as well as a few regrettable choices as far as presentation is concerned. Upon meeting the very first female character of the story, I was bombarded by an array of moans and squeals, forcing me to turn down the volume of my computer or risk alienating everyone within earshot. This isn’t anything new to me: it’s common practice not to watch anime around those who don’t understand its quirks, but it was unfortunate that the game was beginning with such an obnoxious trope, dating sim or not. It’s important to note that tiny-girls-squealing and harem-having aside, plenty of Japanese animations have managed to tell increasingly complex and moving stories, and I don’t doubt this title’s potential to do the same. My other gripe however, disregarding a few somewhat-expected squeals, is presentation. The game has a nasty habit of switching from beautifully-drawn still backdrops that serve as stages for any text exchanges that take place, to generally ugly, 3D animated cutscenes in which any necessary moving imagery is displayed. The transitions were jarring to me, and rarely assisted in my immersion. These negatives seemed to hamstring what appeared to be a story with a setting that was capable of providing real potential.
Will I keep playing?
Those experienced with this specific genre are most likely bashing their heads against their desks, watching a foreigner bumble through their home, misunderstanding their culture and quirks. I really wanted to enjoy my time with this game but the cons happened to outweigh the pros during the short time I spent with it. It’s entirely possible that eventually, the potential displayed by the story’s premise will convince me to return for another shot, but for now this one is going back on the shelf in exchange for a few titles of a more standard fare.