WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.01
This is easily one of the best visual novels released on Steam so far. Make no mistake though, it’s aimed at a tiny audience. The protagonist is a stock investor, and the writer went out of his way to make it authentic. It’s to the point where I imagine sections of the story will be impenetrable for those who haven’t read a course or two of economics. Terms like “short selling” are used without more than the briefest explanation.
It does a good job of portraying not just the appeal of the stock market, but also the absurdity, and the risks involved with it. Folks with modest aspirations have their dreams smashed by people in ivory towers, who view the economy as a game. The story conveys how stock trade happens, without dumbing it down in any way. Here’s where I think it’ll lose much of the audience. At the same time, the story attempts to create a human connection to the people on the street. Those who just live their lives, making a meager wage, who have to go into debt just to pay for education and healthcare. It walked a precarious balance here. The two parts worked for me, but I’ve seen reviews that don’t agree at all. It revels in trading with such detail, that I can see all attachment being lost with many in the audience.
When I saw this was “Episode 1” I expected it to be 3-4 hours long or something. But instead, it was around 8 hours long. It’s a complete story arc which stands on its own legs. I played it all in a single sitting without feeling the need to stop, which I can only take as a good sign. All the various story threads have good pay-offs in the end, and I felt the tug of wanting to see what happens next. My only problems with it were in the production values. The backgrounds were outstanding, and the music was good. But the engine was behaving strangely. The UI is way too big, and it often looped music incorrectly, and many image transitions were messed up. Apparently, this was ported from one engine to another to allow cross-platform support. Wouldn’t surprise me if this is the culprit, and that nobody has the will to patch it, as I’d guess it’s at least a hundred little polish problems littered across the game. These polishing issues didn’t ruin it for me or anything.
I’m impressed at the effort the author put into this. This was not aimed at a general audience. It’s definitely one of those stories that was written with no regard to mass market appeal at all. And that’s what makes it work! I’m kind of amazed it was made at all.