This is not so much a “Yuri Game” as a “Game with Yuri Elements” but that makes a clunky review header. Anyway, it is my very sincere pleasure to welcome back Guest Reviewer Mara, with another great game review!~
don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story is the newest game from creator Christine Love, who has also written Digital: A Love Story. The narrator is John, an arguably pathetic guy who is at least smart enough to be aware of it. John has just started teaching literature at a high school that has its own internal social network called Amie.
As a teacher, John is allowed access to his students’ profiles and messages, both public and private and is flat out told to monitor them at his discretion. This is not just a plot element but worked into how we, as readers, experience the story. As the central narrative moves forward, all of the characters are messaging and posting in time with the main story, whether they are present in the scene or not.
Every time someone in the class posts, the player is alerted to it and can read the posts in a submenu. This gives the central characters a powerful sense of constant presence. Even if the main story leaves these characters behind; we still see them talking to each other and posting their status. This device was the selling point in the story for me as it really hammers home the fact that the main narration is just John’s incomplete view. By reading the students’ posts we are privy to their opinions on how the story unfolds, and we can see the gradual bubbling of incidents yet to happen.
It is through this mechanism that we learn of the first Yuri subplot in don’t take it personally. Two of John’s students, Kendall and Charlotte, have just broken up – apparently in a major way – and we see some of the residual fallout of this in the messaging that occurs right at the beginning of the game. The online communication we see also highlights an important difference between Kendall and Charlotte. While Charlotte is pretty much the same in person as she is online (sensible, accepting and polite) Kendall is a loud witty troll online, but very subdued in person when John first meets her. It is only after the breakup story concludes that it becomes clear that Kendall’s perkiness begins to shift back into her offline persona.
One particular story route does deal with Kendall and Charlotte directly and the possibility of them getting back together. The result is something incredibly adorable in that teenage “this moment is the most important ever” sort of way. Although I did occasionally cringe at attempts to give the characters a unique voice; there was a sense of the raw emotional immediacy that seems to plague teenage life that felt truly genuine in how Kendall and Charlotte’s relationship played out.
However, Kendall and Charlotte are not the only Yuri draw in this game; there is another couple who, although they have much less exposure (John only meets one of them), were the couple that made the game for me. They are the mothers of Akira, another of John’s students, Ichigo and Hazuki.
Akira’s early story deals with him coming out to his friends and peers, having realised for himself very recently that he is gay. It is a sequence that is pretty much free of drama as everyone’s reply is ‘I already assumed so, ages ago’. This irritates Akira, as for him finding out he was gay was an important event and a powerful moment of self discovery…only to find that everyone else had already assumed it.
This is compounded for Akira, as his mother Hazuki by comparison, has a coming out story that spans a year with subplots, themes and a cast too big to fit on the stage. Although this and one other mention is all we get to know about Hazuki, we still get a solid flavour as to what her character is. That, and she induces intergenerational coming out envy in her son, which is just awesome.
We do get to meet Ichigo, in full mama-wolf mode during the end of a sequence where Akira is harassed by another character. Ichigo is straight to the point about the problem and refreshingly appropriate and direct. She also appears in the scene wearing a very dashing suit. I do have to say it is nice to see a mother turn up to protect her son and not be shown as a hysterical protective monster. Instead, Ichigo comes off as perfectly sensible especially, after she turns up again in the resolution of the main story to sort everything out and is instrumental in a very well-written big reveal.
don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story is a short visual novel. You can get through all the routes within a few hours. However, with both the offline and online world to read, it feels like a truly packed experience. The rhythm that builds up though each chapter allows the important points of each event to be easily digested, like lightly fried dumplings. The art is pleasant, although inconsistent, as two artists split the tasks, meaning that the art for the event cg and the profile pictures have a different feel than the sprites.
I am very willing to forgive this and indeed a few other flaws in don’t take it personally. Why? Well considering this was made for the most part by one person, who put it out for free, and I never felt for a moment that the effort put on this project dropped. don’t take it personally was easily more interesting and is more engaging than games I have bought for eight thousand yen (looking at you Yukkuri Panic and Koihime Musou.) To see such talent and effort available for free is truly humbling.
In conclusion, I seriously recommend this for two good reasons. It is entertaining and free. You cannot go wrong with that.
Art – 6
Story – 6
Characters – 9
Yuri – 9
Service – 6
Overall – 9 (Hey, big achievements mean a lot to me)
What are you still doing here? : : Go and read the visual novels of Christine Love!
Erica here; Mara, thank you so much for bringing this game to our attention! (That’s the “we” of the Yuri Network, not the royal “We.”) ^_^
The game sounds like it’s fun and your review might even get me to try it.
Just a quick note: There will be no YNN Report this week. I’m at New York Comic Con (Table 1158, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund!) and won’t have access to a keyboard and I’ll be damned if I try to write the YNN on a phone….