I’m certainly intrigued by the premise, and the characters seem interesting; I think the game has a lot of potential. However, like others, I think a lot of my enjoyment is being hampered by how strict and/or unclear some of the stat checks are.
A (long) breakdown of the problem
In my initial playthrough, I split my focus between dueling and speech—which felt reasonable, considering I often like to play jacks of all trades—and proceeded to fail nearly every single stat check that relied on either of those skills. (The sole exception was the instance where I had to impress Charlotte in the first chapter.)
I had to look through the code to understand why I was failing so much—apparently I’d been selecting options that required skills of 35+, instead of the easier alternatives! The tiered stat checks are actually an interesting idea, and one that I like in theory, but it’s not really clear that this is the approach being taken, so I more often felt confused about what was different about the various approaches, not realizing that they were just different degrees of testing the same skill.
The other issue is that I just feel like the stat checks in general are just too prohibitive. In the first chapter, half of the stat checks—dealing with the letter—require a stat over 20, which means if you haven’t pumped multiple stat bumps into one of the three skills available to choose from, it becomes literally impossible to pass. The other half—trying to impress Charlotte—are comparatively easier because you can pass them with a stat equal to 20; as I said, this was the one and only stat check I passed in the entire game. What a difference an equals sign makes!
In the second chapter (before you have the chance to increase your stats again, mind you), even the lowest tier of checks (16+ in the given stat) require you to have pushed at least one of your two %+20s into the stat in question, which wouldn’t be unreasonable except that again, you only have three options to choose from and they may not be the stats you’ve chosen to invest in. It gets worse if you try to do anything beyond the bare minimum or (like me) didn’t understand how the tiered difficulty worked; succeeding at anything at this point requires you to aggressively minmax, pumping multiple stat boosts into a single skill and hoping that the next major choice will allow to test that particular skill, and not the other ones you’ve been neglecting.
But it gets worse—once you reach Theodore (which I think is the convergence of the previous branches regardless of what you choose, and therefore unavoidable?), the tiered skill checks disappear. You have two options, dueling and writing. If you have anything below a 30 in either of those skills, you fail—but in order to get above a 30, you need to have invested both %+20s into that skill! (A %+20 and %+10 won’t do it, because of the way fairmath works.) If you haven’t done that, there’s no way to succeed at this encounter.
The stat checks that rely on opposed pairs are sometimes even worse. Some of them require you to get as high as 80 in a given stat, which—because of fairmath’s diminishing returns—is incredibly difficult to do unless you select almost every option that increases that stat, and never let it decrease for any reason. And again, there are some instances where you have no choice but to choose between a few particular options that you may not have invested in, which means there’s nothing you can do but fail.
There’s a whole 'nother facet to this issue (regarding the fact that these also double as your personality stats, and therefore have a significant effect on roleplaying as well as mechanical benefit) that I won’t get into right now, but suffice it to say that I didn’t succeed on any of these types of stat checks either, and it often made me feel like I was playing the game “wrong”.
TLDR: stat checks are gated really punishingly and it makes it difficult to pass anything with more than the bare minimum of success—and if you haven’t been allocating your skills “correctly”, it sometimes becomes impossible to succeed at all.
Despite all the criticism, I want to reiterate that narratively speaking, I liked a lot of what I saw, and I think there’s a lot to enjoy about the story—this is definitely where this project shines. But as a game, there’s a lot that I think needs tweaking to make it feel balanced and fair. Hopefully the feedback I provided is helpful in that regard!