Amaterasu Blog

18May/1043

Forest Review

A masterpiece of post-modernism, intertextuality and metaphysics.

At first, the game appears to be complete nonsense, and you spend most of your time laughing in awe of how the writers never seem to run out of bizarre things to add to the scene, up to and including bickering narrators, countless voice-only lines and perplexing choices. But the moment you start to see the method behind the madness, your brain will be constantly racing to try and keep up with the barrage of sophisms and symbols that make up both the underlying nature and literal appearance(s) of the forest. Later on, when you finally start to learn the truth, the revelations range from exciting to positively overwhelming.

The numbers of characters, sprites, backgrounds, sound effects and visual effects for a game this size are incredible, and every single one adds to the immersion. Although most of the side characters are lifted from the beloved public domain of children's literature, the core cast is original, expressive, intelligent, sometimes even hilarious, and deep enough to undergo character development right before they risk feeling cliche or repetitive. The art and writing styles also manage to ricochet between mystical and playful on a regular basis. The large number of sex scenes is a bit odd for a game this short, but each one is brief and justified by either plot or character, even if it doesn't seem like it at first.

Unfortunately, the plot is so intricate and compact that I doubt it's humanly possible to catch every single important detail on a single playthrough without outside help. Despite that, if you pay close attention and think very, very hard, it's possible to understand the vast majority of what happened not long after finishing the game. In addition, the ending makes some very deep statements about the nature of fiction, which should leave any reader who can understand them quite satisfied. Thus, the game ekes out this score by the skin of its teeth.

Score: 10/10

Polarization: High (-3)

It's confusing as all hell. Some of you simply will not get it, and others simply will not appreciate the convoluted way information tends to be presented. Or you may simply disagree with me when I say every scene is justified or explicable. Still, this site might help a little.

Routes/Endings Played: Mostly linear, but I tried all of the little branches too.

P.S. No, this 10 will not affect the MuvLuv project in the slightest.

Comments (43) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Fuck yes!

  2. I absolutely must translate this at some point (and yes I’m familiar with the vast majority of the literary references) but in order to do so, it would take a hacker who can not only do script insertion and wordwrapping for the Liarsoft engine, but also somehow add an optional text box to the engine for us to place translations of voice-only lines in. Nagato is not willing to do this, so I’m mentioning it publicly. Once MuvLuv is done, this game gets tled the moment such a willing and able hacker appears.

  3. Forest does have a text overlay command which 5000.gsc uses to display the credits. The opcode for it is 0x20 and it takes 6 DWORD arguments. The instruction format is something like the following: draw_text_overlay(layer_id, xpos, ypos, unknown, is_vertical, text_id). The command to clear the overlay is opcode 0x24 and takes 2 DWORD arguments: clear_text_overlay(layer_id, unknown).

    Here’s an image showing this capability: http://i.imgur.com/S380H.jpg

    As the image implies, making the text easily readable and standing out from the background may pose some difficulty. Anyway, just FYI.

  4. O_o

    Well, nothing to lose.
    Can we get a semi-transparent black box under it?

  5. It would be great to see a translation of this in the future, considering it would be a short project (.75 mb according to TLWiki) for a VN that is supposed to be excellent.

    I’m not really able to tell what makes this game much better than MLA from this review though. You seemed to praise MLA more in its review. (“I really don’t think it’s possible to dislike this VN.”)

  6. That line refers to polarization. MLA, however, has objective faults. In Forest all problems are entirely subjective, although I’m sure most people would take issue with at least one. Also, Forest is more original than MLA, which means that MLA is guaranteed to be more popular despite being slightly inferior.

  7. As someone who can barely speak English much less Japanese, the only Liarsoft game I’ve ever played was Inganock, which I absolutely loved. Still, just going through vndb their stuff seems, on the whole, pretty damn interesting. You ever played any Rail Soft games? I’d be curious as to what sort of games a company like Liarsoft considers too serious to publish under their main name (though it’s only this coming July that they will personally develop a game for that subsidiary).

  8. Everything I have played is on this blog already, so no I haven’t touched Railsoft yet, though I certainly intend to at some point. For now, WAB and Kusarihime are higher priorities.

    And yay, another Liarsoft fan~
    One of these days I hope to have all of their best games translated, and since I don’t think any other fan translators are interested in working on this company’s stuff it’ll likely all be done by me personally. In fact, they’ll probably become my top priority once MuvLuv is done.

  9. ”In fact, they’ll probably become my top priority once MuvLuv is done.”

    :3 Awesome, promise me that you’ll always continue to be this cool Ixrec.

    I’ve to say that I really enjoyed Inganock, even though I personally thought the end was a bit odd, but I kinda raced through it so that might ahve something to do with it. Anyhow, more translated games is always good.

  10. The ending is most certainly odd. Most of the game is. It tends to bug people because all of the answers haven’t been spelled out for them, although the game gives you enough to work it out on your own. A second playthrough helps immensely.

    Forest is much the same, except it is far, far harder to work it out on your own.

  11. Forest is a work of art. ART.

    Also, this review needed more TVTropes links

  12. This and the KGNE review lack the trope links because I spent a lot longer than usual thinking about exactly what score I wanted to give. I might fix that someday.

  13. @Pen
    raiL-soft’s upcoming game will actually be their third title – they’ve already released two other games in the past (Kagerou Touryuuki and Bengarachou Hakubutsushi). I’ve played both of them and they’re very awesome. I guess the most obvious thing that sets them apart from Liar-soft’s games is that raiL-soft’s games are considerably more “novel-like” than most other eroge.

    That said, I’m not really sure about raiL-soft’s games being “more serious” than Liar-soft’s. I guess raiL-soft is more like a “Liar-soft lite” or “Liar-soft for kids” at least in terms of accessibility and reading difficulty. They do have by far the most difficult text I’ve ever encountered in eroge, but it’s still probably relatively simple and elementary compared to the major Liar-soft titles.

  14. What ever happened to the idea of translating short games in between the ML games? This one seems to be a good candidate due to the length and your enjoyment of it.

  15. Forest is not a good side project because it deserves more than being a side project. I’m not tling it until I can give it my full attention.

  16. @tomas

    Railsoft was just the publisher for those two, Albatross will be the first they publish AND develop. Or something! I’m just relaying on vndb here.

  17. @Pen
    All three raiL-soft games are planned and written by the same person (希); the only difference in main staff between the three games is that they have different artists.

  18. Hm, another Liarsoft title you’re gonna work on? This is one of the many times I am glad I follow your blog, because Inganock was, and still is, my favorite VN. I am definitely looking forward to this, especially since it seems interesting.

    ~DarkestPhoenix

  19. “intertextuality”
    Typo?

  20. Wait, nvm, apparently that IS an actual word.
    Wow, my grammar sucks.

  21. And one wonders why /jp/ took one look at that opening and said I was being pretentious.

  22. I don’t get the reference.

  23. Good, that means you’re enlightened enough not to read /jp/.

  24. /jp/ were just being /jp/, Ixrec. I wouldn’t take any notice. You know they were just saying that for the sake of it.

    While I haven’t played Forest myself, I’m eagerly awaiting your translation of that, along with other LS VNs (*if* you end up translating them, of course). I’ve only played the ‘what a beautiful’ series myself, with my overall favourite being Shikkoku no Sharnoth, despite the awkward battle system. So, it’s nice to see another LS comrade around.

  25. lol, of course I do, it’s just fun to pretend to care.

    And yay, I’ve been wondering if there was still someone who preferred Sharnoth.

  26. @ tomas
    Late on the reply here, but thanks! I’m shit at finding info like that out but at the same time it’s something I’m extremely curious about, so it’s always awesome to learn more.

  27. I had been considering trying this ever since I noticed L0ss had gave this a 10, but now I’m definitely going to try it. I was just looking for VN’s to stock up on before I take off again too, so this is awesome timing.

    I’m very much looking forward to this. Mainly because you make it sound quite difficult to understand, which intrigues me greatly.

  28. Oh god please translate this LOL.

  29. Will do. Just gimme a year to finish MLA and Sharnoth.

  30. Oh my god are you god?!

    Now I’m really pumped

    2 new games I’m looking forward to!

  31. This has been the plan for a whiiiiiiile by the way. =)

  32. Mine as well as ask this, where can I buy Forest and other Liar soft games?

  33. My contacts have dug up: http://www.liar.co.jp/directdl.html

    I am now ashamed I did not know about this place myself.

  34. Thanks!

    So no hard copy for forest eh..
    or I could go on amazon and buy one for 31,000 yen >_>

    If you could tell me :o..

    In your opinion what are the “Good” Liar soft games?

  35. I’ve only read two Liarsoft games so I can’t answer that.

  36. Ahh I see…*ahem* Kusarihime ~Euthanasia~ looks very interesting *ahem*

    Looking forward to the next “What a~”

  37. I’ll probably read that as part of my WAB marathon.

  38. Looking forward to the review of it ^_^

    Ahem
    Wab?

  39. WAB = what a beautiful series, so Souten, Inganock, Sharnoth and Valucia.

  40. Congratulations on finishing the translation! Looking forward to reading it when the patch is ready!

  41. And Happy New Year!

  42. Just finished reading this over the last few days. It was a masterpiece of metafiction, surrealism and awesomeness–it isn’t just innovative for a visual novel, but does a lot of things that would be impossible in avant-garde literature as well. I can’t thank you enough for translating it; I love the Beautiful World series as well, but this one is a new favorite, and it’s amazing how bold you’ve been with picking stuff to translate, especially something that seems so obscure/difficult.

  43. how this game can be better than Muv-luv series?


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