(A quick note from the Geek. This is a review from the Girl. Posted on a Friday. Guess how we decided to title it.) So. On to some Animal Loving.
Hold it, come back. This is simply a visual novel style game where by the end of it you’re shacked up with a guy who used to be an animal.
Wait. That still sounds bad.
So how about this, this is a surprisingly interesting game where you’re trying to break the curse placed on several guys from different time periods after they were attacked by a witch. Better? Oh but you can’t say witch because that’s super offensive and derogatory to women.
I honestly couldn’t tell if the feminism angle of this game was being played straight, or they were taking the piss. Given that the villain of the story is said feminist Wiccan, I also couldn’t tell if this was supposed to be a cautionary tale against ultra-feminist immortal hipsters, or if you were supposed to sympathise with her anti-man back story, given the sad music and sorrowful repentance of the leading cause of her anti-men sentimentalities.
The girl really doesn’t like it when you hold a door open for her.
Now for something marketed as “Animal Lover”, the romance doesn’t actually kick in until exceptionally late in the game and to be honest I was thankful for this. I’m currently playing a mobile visual novel which is constantly filled with blushing and impromptu staring and, whilst fulfilling that weird girly thrill that comes with the visual romance novel, it doesn’t make for compelling story telling. This is what Animal Lover did really rather well. I wanted to keep following the story, and watching the ‘man out of time’ interactions between the characters, as well as spend time talking with them all.
There was a seriousness that I truly hadn’t expected from a game called Animal Lover. It covered some deep topics at times, and handled them in an adult fashion. This isn’t a quick click through game, and this plays well into the compelling nature of the story. You care about the boys as you see more about them, and they resemble genuine personalities instead of the princely stereotypes that are rife in visual novels. You’ve still got your prince, your rebel, your silent type etc, but they’re more fleshed out and grounded.
The artwork was a nice surprise. Yes it’s your fairly simple visual novel graphic structure, but the designs were lively and the backgrounds well thought out. There was a pleasant “toon” element to it, which still gave that handsome feel but didn’t take away from the serious nature of the game.
My hang-up though? The music. Oh god the music. It wasn’t necessarily that the music was bad, just that it varied in volume and there are reasons why harsh electric guitars are not used in your normal visual novel format. If I’m reading through text, and I read at a swift rate, I do not want to be distracted by a loud screaming guitar clicking faster and faster to try to get back to silence or the easy listening sections. I get it, each boy had their own theme and a punk rebel from the 80’s should totally have guitars in theory. Not in practice. Stick with the easy listening, it just makes for a more pleasant reading experience. They were clever with the sound, having it cut out at particular wham moments suddenly gave added atmosphere, but the varying volumes between themes was jarring.
All in all, it was an interesting take on the visual novel format, but would I play it over again to romance a different guy? (I chose the prince, because goddamnit I will be a princess) Frankly, I’m going to have to say no. It was a long game in reality, and for the romance section not to kick in until late into the second half doesn’t make it worth it. It’s in-depth, and well thought out, with a cute art style, but not really repeatable. You get the initial oh god this guy is hot with each new fella, and yes they are all hot it’s a visual novel what do you expect? However you’re mostly focused on the story of these guys who were animals that you saved by kissing them, when they were animals.
Wait...no, that one is still weird.