By Eric 19.03.2017 1
Antagonist is an anime-style visual novel that is a representative of the rise of RPG-Maker style games, as it has won the 2014 indie game contest on the RPG-Maker website. The variety of titles this platform allows has been surprisingly varied, as it has lowered the bar for entry, but likewise allowed creativity to be much less bridled. This is set in the vein of a "chose you own adventure," guided by menus with branching plot points - a far departure from the typical dungeon crawler the platform typically produces. In a world where heroes and villains are only actors, it raises the question of what exactly does 'hero' and 'villain' mean?
There is more than meets the eye in Antagonist, where both the plot and visuals will look deceptively simple. The storyline itself is a simple inversion of the good-versus-evil trope where everybody is an actors, and "no one gets hurt." Meanwhile the battles are simple, turn-based, first-person view ones, similar to many RPG-Maker clones. The adventure as a whole is short, typically an hour or two depending on the paths.
Just looking at these things some may pass, but this actually has a surprisingly gripping narrative, as well as many legitimate laugh-out-loud moments that are rare in gaming anymore. A large portion of the humour comes from various options you can pick to advance the story, whether to monologue or taunt the hero, something that changes the flow, with some of these changes outright altering the path of the plot in terms of who lives and dies.
A major draw of the story early on is its humour, which pulls players in before they slowly realize there is much more going on here - greeted with many funny stereotypes of famous video game characters slightly changed such as Master Chef, or a now hipster Cloud. As the game goes on, though, the plot starts to darken fairly quickly, as there starts to be a lot of questions as to whether everyone is truly "just acting."
The battles are scripted, meaning there is no way to grind, and some come down to luck. Even though they are turn-based and mostly simple, there are some interesting strategies due to the fact your partners are AI controlled. Depending on the moves, some skills pair up with the partner and apply bonuses, such as increase speed or attack. It is fun hoping they'll do the right thing, and having the battle outcome hinge on this.
The major drawback of Antagonist is that it is based on the RPG-Maker platform, something that will instantly turn off some people. It is unfortunate because the plot is actually pretty enjoyable in a way that is rare these days. The branching plot points offer replay value and the novel story helps win over some points.
Despite a simple UI and ultimately basic battle system, Antagonist comes through largely on its storytelling. There's not a long epic taking place here so much as an enjoyable distraction that is fun while it lasts. The confusion the main character feels matches the player's experience, and as the story alternates between legitimate funny moments and darker disturbing ones, it becomes easy to look past the issues that hold it back. Those looking for a short romp that is both funny and entertaining are encouraged to check this one out.