When someone mentions Babel, I always think of a tower that looked like pancakes stacked on top of bigger pancakes (it’s actually the tower of Hanoi).
The tower of Babel, in the Biblical story, is actually a tower made by men to “make bricks and build a city and a tower with its top in the sky, to make a name for themselves, so that they not be scattered over the world”. In His infinite wisdom, God determined this “stairway to heaven” would only lead the people away from God, so he confused their language so that they could not understand each other. As a result, men scattered over the face of the earth, and stopped building the city.
Ofcourse, an individual wouldn’t be a creative VN scenario writer to not spin a twist of this wonderful premise. So today, we’ll look at two of them that had the theme of “Babel”.
Scenario = 東出 祐一郎 (Higashide Yuuichirou) (the propeller 燃えseries writer)
Artist = 石井久雄(Ishii Hisao) (
Genre = sf (science fantasy), battle, apocalyptic action all-age galge with a Biblical flavour.
What’s so special = Voiced protagonist, all star seiyuu line-up, battles all around, I am Gundam, pseudo-routes. Spoiler warning!
|Company= boost5 (5pb 18+branch)
Scenario= 谷崎央佳(Tanizaki Ouka) (Steins;gate writer)
Genre = mystery, suspense, sf (secretly fantasy) cop/detective/spy game, battle, action eroge with only a hint of biblical implications at the prologue.
What’s so special = Whodunnit, one linear route, the staff are actually from FLAT, and misuse of snipers…oh wait.
Foreword and Disclaimers
This will be my first time trying this, so please bear with me if things seem different than usual. There really is /barely/ any connection between the two games other than a) they both have “Babel”, and b) I played them in almost succession. Left hand side will be for Tokyo Babel, and right hand side for Sinclient throughout this post.
Taken and slightly edited from VNDB.
The event could only be described as such. A sudden end to the world as we knew it. It was said the Catastrophe was caused by none other than God himself. With heaven locked, hell submerged in water and the infinite parallel worlds thinning out, the surviving angels and demons gathered with one final hope: to ascend all seven levels of the floating purgatory known as Tokyo Babel.
“Son of men, pilgrimage! Through seven test, and the heaven’s door may open.”And that was all the gospel said.As such, angels and demons started summoning the keys from parallel worlds to the pilgrimage, “humans”, banding together hoping to clear the task and prevent apocalypse.
However, it’s been years after their attempts. They’ve sent in their best of the best, but none has returned. Worst off, some of them has took over the levels of Tokyo Babel as “Dominators” of the floor, killing pilgrims that try to pass by. Just what is going on?In the midst of the see-saw battle, a lone young man Setsuna was saved from a perishing world. Together with the “Witch of the Night” Lilith who had rescued him, he took aim at traversing Tokyo Babel, while searching for the reason of why he keeps on living.
|“The Seven Deadly Sin Serial Murdering Case: a strange case involving brutal, inhumane, killing in a room where one of the seven sins is written on the wall with the victim’s blood. The case has once happened in London, the case was never closed. Now killing with the same style seems to be happening in Yokohama, Japan”Amnesia.Tooru is but another man who woke up in Yokohama with such illness. However, it wasn’t being chased by men in black with firearms that made his rough awakening so much as seeing multiple fake ID’s in his wallet, having a strange address book on his cellphone, and reacting perfectly calm in the face of gunfights. The only thing he knew, was that he was anything but an ordinary man.Upon further investigation, Tooru discovered that he had a hotel room key in his pocket. He visited said hotel, and entered the room, he was appalled to find a murdered woman with the word ‘Pigrizia’ written on the wall in blood. This was part of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ murders that the public had been abuzz about. Finding a memo on his cell phone that looked like a murder plan, he began to suspect whether he was the serial killer. Then he met a man that looked like the spitting image of himself…|
I’ll do three, protagonist + my favourite 2. I’ll go insane if I had to do all of them. Disclaimer for the character section: I’m actually not a huge guru about voice actresses and names, but if I do sound like I’m talking on that level it is because a) I need substance to fill space b) they were knowledge that were passed to me by other seiyuu enthusiasts.
Oddly enough, this is where Sinclient seems to triumph over Tokyo Babel; just seems to be using a better vn engine overall.
Art and Animation
Comparing apple and oranges,
|“The problem with artists nowadays is that they can draw females fine, but not many can draw males that others think are cool.” One of the quotes that stays with me since it is a great observation but I can never remember where I read it from.Ishii Hisao, who I think is a new artist in the industry, seems to be the exact opposite of the trend though. Maybe it is just how the game lends out to masculine, alpha-male duels, but I feel that his male characters have better facial expression and body proportions than his female characters. And well…I actually find it really unique!You can check his stuff here: http://bit.ly/V3FWNBThere are also non-human art CGs designed by Yoshizawa Tomoaki, which I didn’t pay too much attention to. Cerberus is cute though.Unfortunately there weren’t much much (if any) animation in the game. Plenty of battle effects though, making the battles feel that much alive.||For better or worse, the art in Sinclient reminds me of Secret Game:Code Revise.I also seem to have this strange feeling that the heroines tend to be abit more “glossy”, in that they seem to let of a strange radiant glow sometimes…might be just me though.
The art is pretty consistent throughout, whether it is CG or sprites.
I actually enjoyed both the battle tracks in both quite abit, daily life tracks weren’t all that memorable though.
Story and Impressions (Spoilers)
Let’s start with Tokyo Babel.
As an avid Chuuouhigashiguchi fan, I was abit worried when I found that Tokyo Babel was drawn by another artist, a pretty new one at that. However, as I progressed I found to be able to come to terms with it (or rather, other aspects of the game sucked my attention away). The usual quality of the propeller brand, and moreover Higashide Yuuichirou’s fine writing still prevalent throughout the game: an intricate world setting that is only fully explored by completing all 3 routes (more on story structure later), strong but likable characters (complimented by the all star seiyuu lineup), and the locution flourished battle scenes that recounts the intensity and tempo of the battle so vividly.
The world, as mentioned in the synopses, is based loosely off the stories in both the new and old testaments. Many of the angelic characters, while already anthropomorphized, still retain their system of ranks, relation to other angels according to the scripture, and most importantly their faith (and reliance) on god, which makes for an interesting speculation when the events of “catastrophe” happens.
Characters are as likable as they are strong. This means that, yes, Setsuna does start out with 1000 in all his stats, perhaps even the ability to duel wield, which may lead to belief that there are lots of eighth grade syndrome elements in the game. The short answer would be yes, but the long answer is that under the action genre there tends to be more or less such elements (shounen genre afterall!). Rather than judging by the existence of the dreaded chuu2 virus, usually I like to see if the execution is reasonable: Nobody likes a show off, but people can relate to standing up to hardships. For Tokyo Babel, and Setsuna himself, I found that overall Setsuna does execute discretion and modesty…though I’d say Tokyo Babel relies just a little too much on power levels/new super powers trumping over old ones.
Structure of Tokyo Babel goes like: Rasiel > Sorami > Lilith routes, and is essentially linear. The unfolding of the world also accompanies with each route progression. Spoiling abit, Rasiel’s story involves finding out what exactly went on behind the “catastrophe”, Sorami’s route focuses on Setsuna’s backstory, as well as the angel’s intentions for dealing with the aftermath, and Lilith’s route serve as wrap-up, the reveal of the mastermind behind the curtains. However, looking back, I also found that the 3 routes separate nicely into Christmas Ghosts: Rasiel’s route is about discovering the lost “past”, the main theme in Sorami route is the “future”, and Lilith’s route is talking how one should live the “now”. Granted I could be reading too much into these themes, but it is some very nice layering by Yuuichirou.
It is not without flaws though. Perhaps it is just my limited understanding, but I felt there were several unanswered question/unexplained behavior that remained even after finishing the entire game. First off, I’ll just say I am biased for Sorami so that route is perfect. So I was quite happy going into Lilith’s route, but I was struck by so many added developments on that route: another Babel underneath the ocean, in hell? What and why would anyone do that? Lilith being a clone whose main is…Tiamat. Let’s put aside preconceived notion of whether god has existed before her story since the story did indicate that Tiamet was an older god, and god might be actually inserted afterwards (from future). Seems odd that an omni-potent vessel can be corrupted so easily, let alone if god was traversing all time planes, why didn’t it “rid the threat” when Tiamet was weakened after her defeat from the humans. The confusion of all these “rules” that seemingly govern the world is in fact manipulated to fit the story structure…which unfortunately doesn’t really click all together. Furthermore, Lilith’s (fused) sudden revelation that she is not Lilith nor Tiamat and thus is not mind controlled but refuses to give up on destroying the world segment contradicts the later part where she did separate from Tiamat. I understand at some point you let the power of love win, but the earlier segment is not really needed if that is the case. Perhaps this is just so everyone gets to fight one another…
Overall, Tokyo Babel is still about the fights, which it does oh so well. It is a game where even the supporting characters all took lessons in badassery, and can get you attached to everyone. I do think the final segment could use alittle more touch up though, with a “culprit” that paled in comparison to previous route’s final boss, and this “parallel world” ending seemingly diminishing the importance of saving the old Tokyo Babel world (hey, we are just going to go to another one!), there is room for improvement.
“Loved how the writer is portraying the fear and scariness of amnesia. This is about the level of paranoia that should happen (in my view).” –my naïve self, after finish playing the trial for Sinclient
Sinclient is, probably not intentionally, a sinful deceptive fraudulent game both within the game and meta-speaking. Ok, perhaps that is over-exaggerating as most trials tend to all be more juicy than the average content within the game, but Sinclient’s story actually breaks into 2 episodes with the first episode essentially made up entirely by the trial, and the two episodes are rather disjoint from each other in terms of writing style, plot direction and suspense levels. So you have the unsuspecting player (myself) going in expecting to play lonewolf criminal survival only to look like a fool as from episode two onward the suspense is all lifted up to reveal a typical cop flick.
That particular bias aside, Sinclient’s strength lies in being able to link everything together somehow, though sometimes abit forcefully. When Miina said, “This dorm can’t possibly be all occupied by special people,” the author really took the verbal irony to heart and made everyone in the dorm some undercover agent working for different agencies all coincidentally gathered in that particular dorm. Not only restricted to dorm, everyone you see in the game is essentially tied to the plot, if not now then later on. Now, I don’t mind exercising Chekov’s gun in a story, in fact it is the basis of a good detective story to foreshadow. However, the repeated “Surprise! He’s actually X, an important figure central to the plot” in Sinclient takes away the novelty of deducing the regular passerby from the killer. Perhaps the greatest offender of the act is the main villain, “mother”. Not only is she (spoilers ahead) the older sister of our main heroine, but also she’s come back from the grave to take revenge on the prime minister (who is her father) who attempted to killed her, by forming a super secret villainous organization called the “BABEL” which houses “gifted” children grown to teenagers who now rebels against the world. I just wonder how an average citizen, who can’t be aged past 20, can get through all odds of escaping national security, breaking through international top secret laboratories, steal all the knowledge she needs to know about the secret society of both the Free Masons and the mad doctor’s associates, and still at the end of it all was too naïve to shoot her own sister so she can finish off this ridiculous family feud that involved putting the world in peril. At this point you can’t help but be amazed at how small the (Sinclient) world is.
As mentioned about the discontinuity of the two episodes before, unfortunately all the crimes that had to do with the seven deadly sins had very relevance with the story, so there really was nothing else “Babel” about Sinclient. The antagonists of Sinclient all seem very fixated on killing the prime minister despite the segment of how all “sages” act independently of “mother”, when all he has done is actually what all politicians do anyways: wanting to fix up the country, so borrows abit of “power” from shady sources. But if anything, I’ll give Boost5 props for having the queen be a freemason and kidnapped by the IRAs, it was amusing.
I’m being abit jaded about Sinclient since I expected more, but to be fair Sinclient does have lots of other good points. The suspense in episode 2, while not as paranoia-inducing as episode 1, is consistently maintained throughout the story, which makes for a very interesting detective style mystery, and leads to a thrilling cop chase afterwards. Tooru is actually just like any other characters: a trained agent, nothing more special and nothing less. As shown in the fight with “21gram (coffee brown)”, he really is just alittle more gifted than the others, but nothing superhuman. His thought process (if it isn’t to just “rush in and save the princess”), is rather logical and reasonable for readers to follow. And I didn’t mention in the Tokyo Babel segment, but at least there are bit more drama and raburabu in Sinclient, even though it is for Shizuku only (hey, Kiritani Hana right?) So don’t be so quick to jump the boat without first seeing if you like the trial, it is still quite fun compared to chara-ges imo (just suspend your beliefs about the fact that top intelligence agencies seem to be weak against hacking+logic bombing).
I had fun playing through both of these games, and hopefully the review is indicative of that. You can find a more detailed account of spoilers at Asheld’s blog (in the archives now probably) and his thoughts on the two. To think these were my top two picks for the month, I must’ve been really hungry for some chuu2 (though I really shouldn’t be with SAO each week).
And what have I learned through all this? The tower of Babel is not hanoi. Whoops.