Bios Ex - Yami no Wakusei (PC) Review

By Athanasios 21.04.2020

Review for Bios Ex - Yami no Wakusei on PC

New Visual Novels appear every second. They are darn easy to make, and even easier to sell, as they usually cater to a particular fetish (erotic or otherwise), or simply feature gorgeous anime visuals - and as such, most suck. Hard! The ones that don't are usually those which don't rely on the genre's tropes as heavily as the rest, like the king of them all, the fact that every single one must be a date sim of some sort. Take a look at the busty ladies of Bios Ex, and it's easy to assume that this is of the same variety. In reality, Gogen Soft, a tiny indie studio from Italy, has crafted a surprisingly enjoyable psychological mystery, which tries to capture the vibe of similar Japanese games of the early '90s. Don't mind its decent-to-unimpressive look, and obvious lack of budget. The thing that counts the most, the actual storytelling, is really, really good.

Eiza's vivid, repeating nightmare has him witnessing an all-enveloping fire that destroys everything around him. A woman, whose face he can't see, is always there, being tormented by the flames. Waking doesn't improve things. Imprisoned, he awaits his execution for a terrorist act he doesn't ever remember committing. Fate, however, has other plans for this young man. A lady named Nao enters the cell, and escorts him to Ori Asylum, supposedly to heal his amnesia. The behaviour of this sultry lady, who is actually the Vice Director of the establishment, plus the way his new home looks, makes Eiza feel uneasy. Something is definitely wrong here…

Soon he discovers that this isn't exactly a hospital, but a different kind of prison; one that is probably even worse than the real thing, with the personnel behaving more like indifferent torturers than healers. What's that? Oh, yeah. Vice Director Nao has an imposing bust size, and a revealing cleavage as deep as the canyons on Mars - but Bios Ex isn't one of those visual novels. This is a psychological thriller, through and through, with absolutely no romance involved. There's a sex scene in here, or, more specifically, two people talking under the sheets after doing the deed, but it's not meant to be a naughty moment - which is great. The vast majority of good visual novels are not eroge.

Screenshot for Bios Ex - Yami no Wakusei on PC

Maybe the look of Nao is supposed to be some sort of futuristic, formal-yet-sexy dress, or maybe the developer, out of love for the genre's oldies, wanted to offer a bit of fanservice. That's not a complaint. Yes, she has an enormous, overflowing bosom, and, yes, a nurse has an outfit that's quite short, and is also a well-endowed lass, yet, while at first glance this can all look kind of ridiculous and out of place in a setting as serious as this, this critic actually loves designs that stand out (sexy or not), and has a gargantuan soft spot for amateurish (in a good way) art styles, especially in the realm of visual novels, where most titles have a polished and "flawless" anime look, but tend to be very… déjà vu-ish.

Forgive all this talk about the way things look, but it's important to point out that the fanservice, or whatever this should be called, is just the tiny tip of the iceberg. The three main female characters available aren't Eiza's potential squeezes. This is all about learning about his past, and then breaking out of this prison - alone or otherwise. In other words, these women are here to let the protagonist understand what's going on, whether he chooses to cooperate with the ruthless vixen that is the Vice Director, gaining the trust of a young, fidgety patient, or discovering what's behind the ice-cold exterior of the laconic nurse, who seems to know more than she is willing to say.

Screenshot for Bios Ex - Yami no Wakusei on PC

All main characters, along with a few secondary ones, are very well written, with Eiza in particular being the best among them. First of all, he is nothing like the stereotypical weaklings and losers that plague anime-style VNs. His rebellious nature will make his stay in the Asylum a troubled one, but he relishes in being the biggest thorn on everybody's side - and yet, he also has a very human, kind and caring side, which makes it easy for players to get invested in his struggle, feel his anguish, and hope of helping him manage to endure. The writing is top-notch too, with the only issue being the occasional grammatical error here and there - luckily, nothing that'll ruin your play-through.

Now, without out saying much in fear of spoiling things, it should be made clear that the plot isn't something to write home about. The "mystery" behind Eiza is something that has been done a thousand times in the realm of sci-fi - and yet the writing, as well as the more-than-decent pace of the adventure, manages to carry the whole thing on its back. Speaking of pacing, to the enjoyment of this critic, who tends to avoid 10-hour-long visual novels, this is a short-to-medium deal that will last only four - unless a fast reader, which makes it possible to reach the finishing line in two, letting players quickly try out a different route, in the hopes of reaching a different outcome.

Screenshot for Bios Ex - Yami no Wakusei on PC

Sadly, this is the part where Bios Ex is a bit of a let-down: the story just doesn't branch out as much as it should. For such a short ride, there's actually an abundance of crossroads thrown at your feet, yet choosing path 'A' over 'B,' or 'C' over 'D,' will pretty much lead you down the same road, with the only "reward" being an alternative dialogue sequence or scene. Even the (predictable) endings, although clearly different from each other, with a bad, a good, and a perfect one, are basically the same finale all over again. Generally, this isn't a VN with a high replayability, but one that's perfect to fill an evening or two with a pleasant read… potentially never coming back to it again.

In terms of options, it's what you would expect from any other game of its ilk, although it should be noted that, for some strange reason, this lacks one of the standard features of the genre: the gallery. Then again, it's not like there are many images to unlock. Having said that, and although not the most varied or technically "advanced" VN, it looks quite good, and the music, which is powered by the Yamaha 2608 chip that graced NEC's PC-88 line of systems, will bring many a nostalgic tear to old-school gamers who grew up with its distinctive sound. Finally, those spoiled by larger productions should not expect any voice-acting. As for additional translations, Bios Ex includes Russian and Italian.

Screenshot for Bios Ex - Yami no Wakusei on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Wearing its influences on its sleeve, Gogen Soft's psychological thriller, is an ode to the visual novel scene of the '90s - and more than a fine read. Sure, it won't win any awards for its original, long, multi-branching story, or high replayability, yet Bios Ex - Yami no Wakusei's strong atmosphere, well-written characters, and great writing, manage to save the day. Oh, and there's a lady with a mighty impressive décolleté here. What's there not to like?!

Developer

Gogen Soft

Publisher

Gogen Soft

Genre

Visual Novel

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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