Okay there’s three major issues with Book 3, but let’s talk about what’s good and what’s great first.
This is easily the best written of, well, ALL of Devon’s works. There were still some small grammar muck ups that only really bothered me, but did NOT detract from the overall enjoyment of the game.
Devon, you are phenomenal with coding. The amount of work that’s gone into the detective portion was truly amazing, and I wound up replaying a lot just to see what I could type in and what reactions I would get. It was a lotta fun! Your action scenes are great, and I genuinely enjoy how much you take away from the Ronin: severely injuring last book, and their memory this book was clever and made for interesting changes.
It feels like you also really listened to people’s issues with Book 2 by having the setting change and having the characters interact more. It’s not easy having a large cast of characters, but with the return of Daisuke, Borgia, and Nishi/Yakuza girl, along with all the new faces…they really shined and stole the whole show IMO. When the ending came, I was frazzled nerves cause I wanted everyone to be happy dammit.
And because it feels like you listened to reviews last book, I hope you’ll listen to what I have to say next.
Jun/ko was sexually abused as a child and the rape scene. While I definitely appreciate that you made the latter optional and the former easily missed, I don’t think they should’ve been in the game. ESPECIALLY Jun/ko’s history since --again, because of the memory thing-- it doesn’t come up again and it puts everything from the first two books in a VERY dark light.
Which I get! I understand that was the intention! But here’s the thing: pedophilia and rape are VERY touchy subjects for a LOT of people. I know people who outright refuse to play the game now because they know those two things are in it.
I get the game is dark and gritty, you’ve proven that. But it felt like it was in there, idk, to be edgy?
I understand that Kuniko’s rape is a big moment for Kohaku and for Hatch, but I also believe you’re a good enough writer that some alternative motivation could’ve been found. I genuinely put the game down, went for a walk, and had to decide if I wanted to keep playing the game or if I should give it a chance.
I know there’s the general warning at the beginning of the game, but I think a lot of people would appreciate a "Warning: mention of pedophilia and rape" so people can be…prepared? Especially because, y’know, those are awful things that a lot of people unfortunately are too familiar with.
Also, and this has been something I’ve seen you struggle with since Fatehaven, but your romance scenes need work. Here’s what I mean: the scenes you had (the hot springs with Kohaku, the Massage with Toshie/o, Kissing them) are fine by themselves, but in context they don’t work. People were frustrated in Book 2 because they HAD to take Momoko on a date instead of someone else, and they HAD to meet her at the brothel. Several people with various ronin who either weren’t interested in Toshie/o or had specific stats felt their Ronin was acting very OOC.
There also doesn’t feel like a lot of…buildup, I suppose? Through the last 2 books and for a LOT of the trial portion, there was mutual distrust between the ronin and the ninja. Then hero worship and sexy times.
Kohaku also does a 180 very quickly for one week of knowing the Ronin.
I think it either needs work, or maybe you could collaborate with someone on those?
Please let me know if I’ve overstepped, and I hope some of what I’ve written is constructive.