Asphyxia (PC) Review

By Athanasios 08.12.2015

Review for Asphyxia on PC

There's a great deal of people who just can't enjoy visual novels, mainly because of their severe lack of interactivity, but also due to the overuse of a certain variety of genre tropes, with every second one in the market having to do with an uninteresting nobody, with whom every single female character falls desperately in love with - just remember to swap 'character' with 'one-dimensional [enter sexual fetish].' That being said, it comes as no surprise that Asphyxia's divergence is a breath of fresh air, both in terms of visuals, theme, and, most importantly, mood, since behind the colourful and girly aesthetics, as well as the girl-pursues-girl surface of this unlikely romance, lies a story of deep sorrow… which, luckily, makes for quite a read.

There's no sexy harem of maids, panty shots of pre-teen sorceresses, or gravity-defying fun-bags here. The plot doesn't involve any generic lovey-dovey scenarios, no saving of the world, and certainly no mysteries whatsoever. This is just a slice-of-life kind of story about a young teenage girl and her relationship with some of her classmates - which, by the way, are all girls, meaning that there won't be any spitting contests, measuring of genitalia, or fights over what actress has the best, as Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers would put it, "personality."

Screenshot for Asphyxia on PC

Yup, the oestrogens are strong with Asphyxia, and yet this is not a 'for girls only' type of visual novel, even though its overall concept and look suggest otherwise. Furthermore, while this is not quite as epic as some would want it to be, it manages to be very emotive, with one of its biggest strengths being the fact that while its characters range from unlikable to downright cruel or rude, it's very easy to relate to them and their behaviour - mostly because they are pleasantly multi-layered and well-written.

The centrepiece in this game is Samantha, an intelligent, yet clumsy, absentminded, and very depressed high schooler, whose confidence has plummeted even lower than before because of something that happened some months ago between her and Lillian, the beautiful, yet somewhat glacial centre of her attention. Now, while the lads would drink a couple of beers and resolve any issues in a matter of minutes, the lasses prefer to talk their problems out, by using lots of those things called "words."

Screenshot for Asphyxia on PC

This is not a light-hearted romantic comedy with just a little bit of drama thrown in, though, but a surprisingly sad tale dealing with the serious subject of depression - how strongly it affects those suffering from it, and how it feels impossible to escape its grasp, evident by the fact that none amongst the four available endings can be considered a truly happy one, which, taking the overall quality of direction and writing into consideration, means that it will surely please drama fans.

Design-wise, those spoiled by the most popular titles of the genre might get disappointed by the fact that there's almost no animation, yet the colourful and dreamy manga-style used here looks great, and, most importantly, stands out as something that is not a clone of other games (another common sin in visual novels), and all this thanks to the talented hand of Selene N. M. or Sillyselly. Finally, putting aside the mediocre, happier tunes, the few tracks available are joy to listen to.

Screenshot for Asphyxia on PC

An interesting, plus unique thing about the cast is that their personalities were based on 18-19th Century British writers, with most being associated with the period of Romanticism. Samantha, for example, is the cute, female version of Samuel Taylor Cambridge, equally desperate for affection, and unable to control her addictions, while Ms Pope's cynicism and bitterness (as well as her elfin stature), is similar to that of Alexander Pope, and while it's easy to enjoy this gloomy, yet entertaining, ride even when ignorant of the connection between the characters and that part of history that they were inspired from, it's a good thing to know that a little more extra care was given here.

Asphyxia is a very good game, but, still, far from perfect, with one notable example being how the characters frequently talk to each other in a pompous and/or pedantic way, many times using way too many sentences to say, oh so little (again, due to the influence of Romanticism), and since this is no Madame Bovary, reading through it can become annoying, or even tiring at times. Finally, things get resolved a bit too quickly (two hours per play-through), and with not many surprises, or exciting events, it's just: talk, choice, talk, choice, talk, choice, final discussion, "grand" finale. Still, in the end, Cubed3 highly recommends it to visual novel aficionados, despite its few flaws.

Screenshot for Asphyxia on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

"I have every authority. I am the head of the head council, as you should be aware, given you are the treasurer." This was neither a phrase from an episode of ABC's Dynasty, nor a response in a ladies-only pulp fiction novel, this is just the way that Asphyxia's characters talk - maybe because every single one of them is actually a long-dead British literature writer, incarnated as a cute schoolgirl. Surely, this particular writing style can become tedious at times, yet this is one of the best drama-heavy indie visual novels in recent months, pleasantly melancholic, beautiful, and a nice change from all those "Nya! Let me wash your back Senpai"scenes common in the genre.

Developer

ebi-hime

Publisher

Sekai Project

Genre

Other

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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