Okay, so I've finish my first playthrough of A Foretold Affair - Kea's route. I'd like to write a little review here, first with my overall thoughts, then the thoughts on Kea specifically, and then I will talk a bit about spoilers which you should avoid if you haven't played the game yet, especially not if you haven't played Kea's route yet, of course. For those who do not want to read too much, just read the bold and italic bit towards the end~
A Foretold Affair has a wonderful cast of characters that all hold an impressive amount of depth to them despite the lack of backstory that you get to know aside from little stories that the characters tell each other about their childhood. You mostly get to know their personalities, which shine brightly and everyone acts very human, especially for a visual novel that often relies on humour. Said humour, btw, is amazing. There were a couple of times when I snickered because Buffallo Seer, our wonderful protagonist, just has such snarky charm that you have to love them for it. And they actually develope well and mature throughout the story, which I appreciate a lot. At the end of the story everyone will have changed in little ways that have influenced them for the better.
In the character apartment, this game gets a 9/10.
The story does get pretty dark at one point and while the twist came out of left turn without packing a real punch for me, since it seemed rather underwhelming, I do appreciate how it was incorporated into the plot without feeling forced though. The main villains were interesting, though the second one to be introduced looked a bit off, compared to the art style of everyone else. We don't particularly learn a lot about them though, sadly, and the story does use the trope of kidnapping rather often without a lot of changes that would make it interesting to read through a new escape attempt for more than once.
In the story department, this game gets a 7/10.
The world building was done well though and I would have loved to learn more about the Abnormal and Normal societies in general, which you don't really get since most of the game revolves around the characters being stuck in the wild, away from society. We do get very well made character portraits, slight animations and a wonderful soundtrack though, that only becomes slightly boring after a while. I would have liked one or two more tracks to give it variety, but overall that was very well done. It all works well to immerse you into the games world, so that was fine by me.
In the atmosphere apartment, this game gets an 8/10.
What I found rather sad was that while some of the backgrounds looked very well crafted and nicely detailed, some of them were little more than scribbles that vaguely resembled an environment. The art quality between those can vary drastically, as can the quality of the CG's. Some of them are very heartwarming, while others are just lacking and don't even deserve a picture, in my opinion. Other scenes would have been way more emotional had they been graced with a CG. Really, a picture of Buffalo Seer's knee and half the body of the main villain being all that you can see in a CG (and there aren't many, 6 neutral ones and 6 for each character) is a rather low blow and not something I want to look at when I visit the CG gallery. A couple of CG's suffer from this minimalistic approach of only seeing a single hand, just the head and the arms of a character or no detailed background.
In the art department, this game gets a 6/10 (Backgrounds 6/10, CG's 5/10, Art Style 8/10).
The choices were well peppered throughout the game and while you could do no wrong choosing one or the other, they certainly gave Buffalo Seer more personality and I like that. I would have liked more variety with some of the outcomes, though some choices have an impact on events that happen later on. Overall don't expect to influence the plot as much as you influence how you see Buffalo Seer yourself. It isn't for everyone and undermines replayability, but it makes it way easier to feel like you really are Buffalo Seer.
In the choice department, this game gets a 7/10.
I found the ending to be rather lackluster, as while the characters chat about their possible future, the ending itself felt unfinished since we did not get a proper goodbye with each character, even though that could have been very emotional. They talk about having to say goodbye to each other, though we never see it happen, so it felt rather disappointing, really. Also, the whole point of Buffalo Seer seeing the future and thus their future spouse is never something that we see come to fruitition. Heck, Kea's route (as that is all I have played so far) ends with only a vague comment towards what holds them back to maybe not be a problem in the near future, perhaps. And it doesn't feel like the endings for the other characters would be much different, sadly.
In the ending department, this game gets a 5/10.
First off, I LOVE Kea as a character. They start out being skeptic, rather shy, icy and weirded out by Buffalo Seer but all of their behaviour makes sense in retrospectice. How they slowly become more comfortable around Buffalo Seer was very believable and I adore their character design. Kea is much more mature than they look and how they could relate to Buffalo Seer was wonderful to watch. Overall, it felt like they got to make an incredible deep connection throughout the game. Kea admits mistakes that they make and Buffalo Seer does the same and never, ever does any one of the two want to make the other uncomfortable when it is important. Consent is so big here and it is so, so heartwarming to see two characters fully understand what it means to want to be close to someone and realising that doing so needs to be done in small steps (Buffalo Seer, mostly).
The moments that you have with Kea feel genuine and the whole relationship between them is so pure and makes me as an asexual very, very happy since it never mentions any type of physical attraction, rather it is all about the mind and personality. Needless to say, I love that.
Now, spoilers down below:
It's great to see how the relationship with Kea developes, though we never get more than them sort of holding hands towards the end of the game. It is perfectly understandable that Buffalo Seer wouldn't kiss anyone considering they are in full robes and wearing a mask all the time, but we don't even get a hug. We get them sitting 'next to each other' (Kea on an armchair, Buffalo Seer sitting before them) at the end of the story, but the CG that we get is a close-up of Kea's face. No snuggle times, ever. No hug. We don't even get to see under their scarf, even though I would have loved to see a CG where we see Buffalo Seer's back towards us with their mask on the ground and Kea without their scarf on. They both value remaining hidden behind clothes and for Buffalo Seer it is even against their belief to show others how they look, but I think this could have cemented their relationship wonderfully, especially given the fact that Kea is supposed to be their future spouse in this route and it would have meant a lot to me if they could have shared something like this to show how much they trust each other. In the end they are friends with a future together, but since we never even get a glimpse into said future it all felt very poor executed. I wanted more cute moments, especially with such a premise of a game. sigh
Overall, I give this game a rating of 7/10. It is a good game, though 15$, as that is what I had to pay due to tax, is too much for it. It is definitely worth the story that it tells and the amount of content that it provides (one playthrough took me roughly six-seven hours), but the uninspired CG's, the difference between background quality and the lackluster ending give it a sour note that would have been easier to swallow had it cost 10$ instead. Conclusion: Pick it up if it ever goes on sale once it is available on Steam.