I am currently on spring break and thus apologize for lack of song lyrics etc. I have been catching up on some gaems! Like, for example, Maria: Kimitachi ga Umareta Wake aka Maria: The Reason for Your Birth. An old PS1 game that took the plunge into 3D as a sign that games needed to be ~CINEMATIC~. Lots of games did this, most of which are now classified as kusoge. Yet when Heavy Rain does it suddenly everyone’s a fan! Tch.
Anyway, this game is indeed pretty derpy on the outside, but fully playable. Because there ain’t much “playing” in the first place! Dayum.
The game stars Takano Jun, a rookie doctor in a super esteemed hospital. One day a patient comes in after a suspected suicide attempt via wrist-cutting. It’s a 16 year old high school girl named Maria, who is half Japanese/French. She is described as ridiculously beautiful and kind, but with weird episodes where she seems like a totally different person. She also seems to have lost much of her memory of the whole thing. As her doctor you aim to find out why she tried to kill herself and junk while she recovers before she is sent to a proper institution for the whole suicidal feelings thing. Because Jun is such a swell guy! Soon you’re wrapped up in a mystery as you learn she has multiple personalities all based off Egyptian gods! Each personality is quite different and serves a different purpose in her body; for example the one trying to “kill her” caused the suicide attempt and the one who “protects her” called the ambulance. There is also one who bears her sadness and so forth. The creation, or birth, of these personalities is tied to the horrific trauma she suffered as a child when her parents were murdered in front of her. This sends the doctor on a chase to find out the truth behind her multiple personalities and thus, the incident from many years ago. By solving it he hopes to save Maria.
The story is actually fairly engaging and interesting and is the best part of the game. Which is good, cuz, well…its about all there is to the game.
It’s a visual novel.
And Maria is not beautiful, she looks like a crosseyed mess.
In fact, everyone looks like this, or worse. Almost everyone looks like a gremlin of some sort besides the main character, who still looks like a total tool. Everyone’s bodies are mishaped, their faces are ugly, and their hands are randomly super tiny and weird looking. The CG design in this game is pretty frickin’ bad which is hilarious because it’s ALL this game tried to be: a cinematic CG experience. The tagline on the back of the box says “more interesting than reading, more interesting than watching. First ever encountered Interactive Drama!” and “Surpassing the genres of TV Dramas, movies, books, and games, a new type of entertainment has appeared!” Obviously they were going for something revolutionary. Did Maria start off the Visual Novel?! I doubt it. But whatever.
So therefore, the gameplay is mostly limited to choices that affect the ending you get in the end. There are a lot of choices, some don’t mean jack, some mean lots. Usual stuff. 2/5ths through there is some actual gameplay where you search a house for clues and this plays in the first-person-slowass-straightlines-and-turns style. You step in blocks and turn and just examine clues. Basically Dracula Detective. Luckily this doesn’t last long (or it might, because it can be confusing to find all the best stuff) so it’s not a big deal.
There are a few actual cinematic cutscenes rather than text, but they are the same quality as the in-game models and thus look stupid. For those not privy on Japanese, this game has a high barrier to play. Beating it might be very easy because you can just skip text and pick answers, but of course for a game that is 99% story, you want to at least kinda know what’s going on, so brush up on Japanese first. That said, like mentioned before, this game’s story was actual surprisingly decent and was the thing keeping me going. I didn’t skip by any text and actually paid attention. The mysteries were pretty intriguing and even though the ending stuff was predictable, it was overall enjoyable. There is no doubt it’s quite ridiculous (Egyptian gods personalities, really?) but hey, I was engaged.
The soundtrack was limited, but some of the tracks complimented things a bit. It was the kinda music you would only hear in a PS1 game like this. Hard to explain.
As a visual novel, at its core, it’s pretty good, but the horrendous 3D models and production values probably land it in derpland and is the reason it’s dirt cheap. I would not pay the original retail price for this (2800yen, still kinda cheap), but it was a 100 yen well spent!