!!!WARNING SPOILERS DETECTED! DO NOT CLICK ON THE REVIEW IF YOU WANT THE STORY TO BE FRESH!!!
My Personal Review of "Waist of Space" (Significant/Heavy Spoilers Ahead)
Alright so I just finished up with the story itself, so I figured I would give my opinion on them. I’ll try keeping it short and have sections for everything. Keep in mind I have not done that many visual novels so I am not an expert and again this is my opinion.
TL;DR: Having the best section of your writing locked behind mandatory ‘bad ending’ paths it a bad idea
Undeniably the best part of this VN; the artwork and animations are surprisingly well done. The expressions, character designs, even subtle details such as the characters blinking made it a joy to look at. I also found the use of lesser used species like alpacas, kangaroos, moths, lizards, ferrets, and chickens quite a pleasant surprise along with the obligatory cat and dog being from lesser used species as well. Granted some parts lack animation such as Cnazzk being kicked by Maddy, the explosions in the cargo bay, the shock tendrils in the cockpit, and other similar things. However I guess that’s just the nature of a visual novel; not everything can be animated. Another minor complaint I have is the cargo bay, the description is that the black fungus is covering the place yet the picture shows a completely pristine cargo bay. Other than those I really enjoyed the visuals.
Overall could use quite a bit work. The plot itself is somewhat refreshing; a team of scrappers being hired by a military organization to salvage information from a derelict ship. Though there are similar stories this one didn’t feel like it was copying or stole significant sections of it. One problem I do have is the “Evil Empire of Evilness” cliché and despite me also having issue with the “Professional Empire defeated by Scrappy Band of Heroes”, it does make sense seeing as how the the empire isn’t just incompetent for plot convenience but is incompetent in-universe as well plus the fact that it was only a small part of it rather than the entire empire. I found it refreshing how the story was kept relatively small and didn’t try going for massive (hehe) scale where they suddenly have to defeat the entire empire with maybe a bit of help from some additional characters. Speaking of which, each of the characters felt very distinct behavior wise and had fairly interesting backgrounds. The foreshadowing about Maddy being fairly old/out of touch made their clone reveal feel genuine along with the dialogue during the scene being overall well written.
The two branching options were in my opinion the weakest links when it comes to the story. The “Splitting up in a completely unknown environment” + “Radios conveniently don’t work” clichés along with the fairly cookie cutter dialogue made my eyes roll back to a point where someone seeing me would probably think I had turned into an undead. These drive me crazy above all else, it baffles me why people still use these clichés. It’s effective sure but there’s so many different and less cliché methods you could use. For example, instead of them initially breaking off into groups. In fact these were so bad I actually uninstalled the game…until I realized there was a third path only unlocked by completing these two paths and reinstalled it to try it out.
The last path was by far the best written in my eyes. The character dialogue felt organic, there were quite a few trope subversions and fun jokes, along with a lovely bit of fanservice at the end. I particularly loved this branch since it felt the most well written out of all three branches. For example: The spyware-infested tablet not only added a splash of realism and a bit of hilarity to the story, but it also made for a fun subversion of the typical ways of shutting down a rogue AI. Shut down the power? Rip apart the databanks containing it? Upload a virus SPECIFICALLY made to take down the AI? Tell it a paradox and watch the fireworks display? Nope, just use a computer already overrun with viruses and overwhelm the AI’s security to the point where it garbles out cheep spamware and spyware false adverts. Along with that the characters actually felt smart (aside from the whole splitting apart in foreign environment cliché) such as Darius using the blaster cores as a makeshift grenades and Beck utilizing the afore mentioned spyware infested tablet for primitive cyberwarfare. The action sections felt tense and overall I see this route as the best written out of all three paths.
[Edit]One thing that bothers me about the endings in general was how binary they were; you either got good or bad, nothing in between. No victories that felt like defeats or defeats that felt like victories. No mixed successes or failures, no good ending with lasting impacts or scars, no bad ending with a glimmer of hope, nothing. Just bad ending ending 1, bad ending 2, and a good ending that is a secret unless you complete both the other paths. More variety in the endings would have been nice, perhaps a character makes a sacrifice and has to be left on the ship, maybe the characters are trapped but send out a distress beacon that is answered, maybe they take down the fattening AI but are rendered too fat to do anything but sit helplessly, maybe the encounter leaves the scrappers fragmented and divided amongst each other, there’s plenty of room for potential endings.
One of my other big complaints is the fact that you get to make one choice and have to watch everything unfold. Something as simple as letting the player choose different dialogue options with different reactions would add greatly to replayability, even more so if dialogue opened up different paths. You don’t have to go extremely outlandish with 20+ endings, but something as simple as 1-2 extra endings depending on player actions would add greatly to the replayability value of the visual novel. Also repeatedly clicking the mouse to get from dialogue bit to dialogue bit got really repetitive, perhaps something like “press space to go through scenes, click different options to select them, etc.” Something so that it isn’t just clicking the same button over and over again.
Personally I would give it a 5/10; it’s definitely not awful but it does have quite a few glaring issue in my eyes. Having the best part of the story locked behind two mandatory paths, said paths having no suboptions, and the stale player-to-VN interaction made for a fairly bad initial experience, but the stellar writing in the secret path along with the mostly great visuals throughout the entire novel being a joy to see. Overall a mixed experience but I would somewhat recommend. Could definitely use some improvement but it shows quite the fair share of potential.
If you have any objections, critiques, or your own opinions on my review let me know. Again this is my opinion, avoid taking it at face value and form you own opinion on this game before you read mine.
(Review was edited an hour after I posted it since I forgot something else in the review/opinion)