Exogenenis – The Perils of Rebirth is a visual novel and adventure hybrid that is currently in the middle of a Kickstarter. From the Philippines-based studio Kwan, the game is set in post-apocalyptic Japan and follows the story of Yudai Sayashi, a former treasure hunter who seeks to bring his dead sister back to life. Kwan plans to have a six chapter story filled with numerous characters and choices that will affect how the entire story plays out. The game is inspired by Ace Attorney and Zero Escape and it combines some truly gorgeous artwork with puzzles, exploration, and storytelling that has the potential to be great.
I played through the demo that Kwan released for the game and overall I enjoyed it. While post-apocalyptic settings are quite common in literature and movies these days, the stunning artwork for this game made me eager to explore the world. The story follows a young man named Yudai Sayashi on a quest to revive his sister who dies in the first moments of the game. While I personally prefer for female characters to function as more than a plot device, I still think there’s some great potential there. Since the story is the most important part of a visual novel, I’m expecting a lot from it to provide me with characters and themes that are equal to what I would read in a book.
The artwork is one of the greatest strengths of the game. Though the settings are mostly static, they are beautifully realized and drawn in a style that makes the world feel authentic. They make the post-apocalyptic Japan feel even more real by including real-life landmarks, which is an excellent touch. You won’t see a lot of animation from the backgrounds other than blinking lights or changes when you remove objects, but I had no issue with that. The character design is solid, and I appreciate the fact that the characters themselves are animated when you interact with them. If anything, I would love to see the character design become more of a focus in the game, particularly in conversations.
Currently, conversations are just a text box with the character’s name above it. Different beeps indicate which character is talking. I couldn’t stand the beeps, so I turned them off almost immediately. However, this made it more difficult to catch when the character changed. Something as simple as including a portrait thumbnail in the text box would improve on this greatly, and it would help bring the characters to life a bit more. If I hadn’t looked at some of the art outside of the game, I wouldn’t have a good idea of what the main character looks like. The developer has added voice acting as a stretch goal on Kickstarter, and if they can achieve this, I think it will be a fantastic addition to the game.
The gameplay itself shows promise. When you interact with some objects, puzzles become available to you. The puzzles both give you a break from reading text and help tell part of the story in their own way, which I thought was a nice touch. I assume the puzzles will become more difficult as the game goes on, and I think they make a great addition to the overall storytelling by making the world come alive.
There’s also an element of detective work in the game to figure out how to get certain characters to help you out. This offers backstory into the characters and gives you another sort of puzzle to solve. The demo mostly revolves around getting one of your old friends, Eiji, to help you out with bringing your sister back. The friend is resistant, and you need to collect information to figure out how to get him on board.
I like the idea of it, but at this point the execution felt off. You have to go back and forth between a bar where Eiji works and a base over the course of several nights because your friend keeps throwing you out. It was a bit more repetitive than I would have liked, but it could just be because it’s a demo and they don’t have all their assets in place that it was constructed in such a way. Also, I must not have clicked on all of the conversation options with patrons at the bar. When I went to talk to Eiji at the end of one night, my character started asking him questions about topics that felt as though they had no context. It disrupted the flow of the story, and that’s something that I think needs to be addressed as development of the game continues.
Exogenenis – The Perils of Rebirth is an ambitious project. Kwan plans to have over twenty hours of storytelling with multiple endings and story branches. I love the idea and I’m intrigued enough to want to play more. Check out their Kickstarter or Steam Greenlight page to learn more.