Hi, congratulations on posting a demo that has both sizable content and explorative choices. I am very intrigued by the premise and would love to explore more of this blending, ever-shifting world across both time and dimension. I applaud the effort you put in both in writing a story and crew giving an immersive game. Brahma knows I can’t do that. . . Anyhow, here’s a couple thoughts I had during my read. Feel free to take them with you if they’re helpful.
This is a long response I brewed up at 2am in the morning. So I’ll put it under tab cut.
PLOT - There is a lot, a lot, a lot going on. We’ve got space time travel, crossworld cultures with nonhuman characters, a sport (I’m not familiar with personally), a real place that is markedly destroyed in different times, and references between sport and religion paired with a complex relationship with a disappeared parent figure.
Wooo, it’s hard to digest that in 4 chapters, and I understand this is a dream-reality shift, but it does make me feel dreadful to turn the page after a while because there is very little dependable foundation for MC to stand on. I’m not sure if there’s a better way to ease into the different worlds, but maybe the main character might benefit using science to make sense of this. That way, we would have a better transition from the “real” world to “magic” world, and the experience would feel that much more shocking should the laws of physic be violated repeatedly in even the smallest ways possible. The issue with the parents seem really complicated and it would be an instantly-relatable element in the real world before we head to the magic world. Maybe begin with an emotion memory or interaction between MC and Shiva. Because I know she’s a big deal in both worlds, but at least the MC should have a personalized memory of the mother before she disappeared at age 10. They must have some interactions for the MC to have such strong emotional responses. You’re drawing the point that Shiva is a star champion, an important woman in Shangri-La, paladin to Lord Gonzo. She’s a big deal. But to young, young MC, she’s just mom before she disappeared. It was clear to me she was lost during some special training, but I don’t understand why the MC would hate her so much for disappearing — the only plausible reason would be MC really loved her and then thought she abandoned them. But in the interaction with the father, that was not the case. The MC must love her or hate her for some reason we can see — with the woman being as a simple mom to a child. That’s one of her most important facets to our character. Then the different emotional responses would make sense in the choice box. I also feel like we’re forced to like the theurge. The adjectives are pretty pushy on making us stutter and “feel the love or attention” for her. That’s not a very pleasant way to like that character.
CHARACTER - The main character definitely has a backstory and has a recognizable “coming-of-age” and “make-a-name-for-myself” vibe that’s popular in manga and anime. I’m thinking an enthusiastic “!!!” main character paired with unwitting, cynical horror show survivor. Like Naruto meeting Ichigo on the same first episode. That’s an aspiring hero who wish to work for a goal versus a lone wolf high schooler who just saw a monster nearly kill his sister. The reactions and motives toward the ends were markedly different. Frankly, that’s a very big gap in personality to shift between, and I find my main character inconsistent as a result. You can’t be both chirpy and cold within seconds. Unless he’s having mania episodes or suffering other traumatic influences or spells. And the main character seems to make the same mistakes repeatedly, to the point I’m wondering if the past scenes taught them anything at all. The Shangri-La was clearly warned as a forbidden topic when we met Koji(?) but my main character keeps bringing it up and repeatedly apologizing to everyone. A more natural reaction would be to speak less and observe more. But that doesn’t seem possible, even when I repeatedly check the stats to see how I can make my main character respond differently. The forced - “I’m new here so I ask questions that might make me sound crazy” gets very tiring, and I’m pretty much at my breaking point when my MC starts apologizing AGAIN for the rash comments. (I can’t keep showing people who’s boss when it’s life and death situations. The stakes should be higher than the MC’s own pride). I would assume the MC is designed to be impulsive or egocentric, but by the 4-5th time, there’s gotta be a point to change tactics and stop drawing unwanted attention. This is why I feel the age might be too young, and that the MC might only be 15 - 17 years old. Star athlete aside, this MC feels like a teenager and I’ve no idea what level of education and prior world foundations they got. How many years have they practiced? What was their dad and upbringing like? Did they attend public / private school or just focused on competitive sports? Are there other emotional connections in the world they came from aside from un-reachable parents? They need to be more rooted in the real world for us to step into their shoes. (The bastard child from “I, the forgotten one” + Sidestep from “The fallen hero” really made me feel as a reader between the past / present. They were smoothened with enough backstory details to be MCs I can and want ! to follow into dangerous, bizarre territories). I got established foundations to depend before we time skip or world jump. That would improve immersion.
WRITING AND WORD CHOICE - You use very strong weather and description to help mold the mood, which works great in helping readers distinguish different scenes and world-shifts. But some words also nags at me in the corner of my mind long after that scene ends. Others have mentioned the “hot-blooded hairstyle” which I’m not sure if it’s anime style, spiky hairs, or. . . a hair that literally makes you feel hot and frustrated. I appreciate the choices for colorful hair because I figured dying hairs to fit team colors were fine and explainable. But, then we have no descriptions for the character’s height, build, body markings, and that does weigh down on me because I wonder if what the MC is doing would fit their image. Words like “chuckle” or “giggle” really bothered me in the context because I can’t imagine my MC doing that in their supposed personality. (Why would they chuckle when a collar was squeezing their throat?)
The elements, rituals, and mythical creatures were really cool, and add lot of thrill elements to the story. But the backside is — maybe too much, and I must wonder if every detail is necessary. There must be gain in some way to justify certain otherworldly elements popping up. (Why does Sun Wu Kong have reserved hands? What do those hands do? Why does our theurge summon a dragon beast?)
I have a lot of other ideas but because I played at 1:15am and it’s now 2:30am, I would have to cut my response short. I hope this would help in some small ways as you navigate and bring us along on this complex world. These are just inconsistencies I felt that held me back, and I wish to share them in case you are looking for feedback. Some of these issues might be addressed as we learn more about the plot and MC, but others are just. . . hmm, really out of context and I don’t know if it’s intentional.
Keep up the creativity - and please please please don’t put exclamation marks after every sentence my MC says!!! !!! !! !
PS - by Wu Xing, I assume you mean the Five Phases. But you mention there are 6 elements. Not sure if that’s intentional or otherwise. If you wish to keep 6 elements, I recommend changing the name to fit the numerical phases. (六行） Liu Xing. Liu would be 6, and Xing would translate to Phases, which means everchanging stages. In this case, light and dark, air and earth are ever-changing into each other and phasing together. They go clockwise like water vapor —> water —> ice. They are mutually dependent and cannot be marked as exclusive, eternal elements. So maybe more on that…. We can brainstorm.
Till then, good night!