This is not a story about he.. - YES WE GET IT ALREADY
Anyhow, here it is, Muramasa. The legendary visual novel. The "masterpiece" hailed by many. The beast that boasts insurmountable challenges for any reader.
And of course, with that comes the risk of overpromising.
In truth, I actually enjoyed this game. It's undoubtedly one of the most whimsical rides that I've had for some time.
I mean, it has almost everything one can ask for in a visual novel, namely, rich world-building, prolific cast, engaging choice format, a splendid vault of sublime CG, creative route system that leverages its own plot-point (a big plus in my book), and above all else, sleek and dynamic action sequences that never failed to deliver the hype and excitement especially for thrillseekers like me.
Unexpectedly, something unforeseeable had emerged and sealed off my ability to appreciate Muramasa wholeheartedly.
Simply put, at some point around the halfway point of the story, I no longer found any interest in unraveling whatever aces the game had up its sleeve.
Funny though, it has nothing to do with how, by sheer dumb luck or coincidence, I had managed to decipher the late-game secret wayyyy early on. Regardless, the continual red herring was pretty silly and hilarious.
The long and drawn-out battles played no part in crippling my experience of Muramasa either. If anything, I've always been a fan of intricate and well-thought-out war stories featuring complex flows.
Not to mention the hype exerted from a myriad of elements as a skirmish raged on throughout the story.
Moreover, they did make good use of the visual novel format (once again proof of the master race) to enhance the climax with fancy graphical effects and nifty directing to keep the readers on edge.
So what is the culprit behind this "blockade" then?
Its characters? Not a chance.
While it is most unfortunate that I couldn't deem anyone in the cast my personal favorite, they were not all without merit.
To put it in layman's terms, each has their own drive and reasonings for what they do. Contentious as some might have been, it's undeniable that they have dedicated themselves to their paths.
This, in effect, justifies their right to carry the mantle of the themes revolving around them.
At the same time, however, there are a few odd cases that suffered over-abstraction on top of their motives, which felt unnecessary and a bit pretentious.
Yet again, if none of the key elements was mainly to blame, what exactly happened?
As I kept pressing on with the story, I finally realized something. Muramasa had bit off more than it can chew.
Yes, the game is epic. It definitely has countless topics to discuss and possesses a plethora of themes that question human natures and their conflicts, which is by no means a bad approach.
Still, did it have to go THAT far?
From how I see it, Muramasa had tried so hard to make a point that it ended up sidelining other prominent elements teased at the early phase of the story, which is quite a shame tbh.
Despite trying to portray itself as an anti-pattern to conventional storytelling, ironically, it couldn't escape resorting to some of the most widely known tricks to provoke suspense and "heartfelt" moments, which in turn felt far from convincing. It's dumb even.
Apart from that, constant throwbacks to the past just won't do any good either.
It's understandable that for a super long work like this, the readers might need to be reminded of essential plot points through flashbacks, reaffirming narratives, and such.
But as mentioned above, it's redundant, if not, excessive in my book.
On top of that, some of the dramatic scenes were over-saturated without considering the context, thus hindering its own movement in an attempt to paint an overly bleak picture.
To make matters worse, the randomly inserted jokes served nothing but interrupting the current of the story, which can get inherently very annoying and cringey.
I don't want to sound like a hardass, but the game must have seriously underestimated my memory for thinking I'd fall for cheap tricks like deceptive narrative (talking about that you-know-what at the train station incident near the endgame).
One can argue that the intention behind these directions isn't to induce tearjerking material but more about sending a message of some sort.
It's fine if you perceive them that way, but frankly, the evidence is way too obvious for me to consider the alternative.
I mean, the directing, the camera angle, and the music, they all there for a purpose, which sadly did not work on me.
All and all, there seems to be a noticeable pattern in the way the writing is done, especially with how the turning points all bank on taking things out of context as the characters blamed themselves or got close to arriving at their answers, which IMO felt pretty contrived.
To make a long story short, Muramasa knows how to raise the bar but lacks what it takes to answer that astronomical expectation.
On another note, all of the random H-scenes make no sense, and this has nothing to do with being disturbing materials.
For one thing, this is a systematic approach in trying to "spice things up", and I failed to see the point behind all the rapes (or something similar).
Since the circumstances were already dire enough, adding more oil to the fire, in this case, would not make that much of a difference, in all honesty.
Maybe they were just trying to blend in with the story's setting by depicting one of the atrocious sides of the medieval period, a time where rape and pillaging are the norms.
But again, it doesn't sweep away the fact that this motif was abused to no end, which is so irritating and absurd.
Lastly, I would normally not go out of my way to rant about the seemingly trivial matter of a game. However, exceptions tend to arise once in a while.
To be blunt, they sure as hell had no idea how to invoke ease-of-use for the gameplay in general for something backed with a hefty budget.
The controller scarcely has any feature that benefits a touch screen, which is not something I'd complain about if other visual novels coming out in the same period had not managed to achieve that result.
But that is nothing compared to the downright abhorring process of selecting a choice. I mean, I can't just fathom the idea of having to wait for 5s before it's fully ready for choosing. Therefore, when it comes to specific segments that involve A LOT of choices, I could not help but felt utterly infuriated.
Another technical flaw I've encountered is that, occasionally, the characters' sprite in the background would not match that in the dialogue box, hence an awkward atmosphere as the conversations shifted to a different tone.
All said and done; despite the various transgressions faced across the game, hardly could I resist being in awe of the devotion Muramasa has in store.
Commitment is the keyword here.
It would not be a lie to say I did not get any chills from it, and the production value alone is enough to satisfy my need for a game of this scale.
Admittedly, had I not gotten caught up in the heat of the bandwagon effect, I might have liked it more than I do now.
Oh well, at least the meme materials in the game know no boundary.
For real, go and play the damn thing already, my fellow degenerates.