I made an account just to reply to this thread because this game got me real bad.
I played through twice and, like the savescum I am, went through most of the choices to see the immediate results (e.g. all the different date options, seeing what raised and lowered affinity with different characters, seeing the resulting dialogue, etc. etc.). I really enjoyed it. All of it. The level of detail, when it’s there, is already really impressive from a storytelling perspective. I do have some criticism, naturally, and I think I’m going to just streamline it for now because I don’t have the time to be as detailed as I want to be.
First of all, as some folks have already said, some of the reactions after really dramatic moments or scenes are very lackluster. Kay getting shot is the most obvious example (I didn’t read the whole thread so if there’s a fix coming for this, I apologize for beating a dead horse), but there’s others, too: when the bird monster flies into the city and you stop it with Kay, I chose to talk it down and on that page, it’s something like “the bird nods and flies away” and then it just moves on? Like, are we not going to talk about this unprecedented ability to calm and communicate with these monsters? That’s a pretty big gamechanger, but it’s not even acknowledged. If you choose to kill it instead, it’s a bit less jarring because the whole routine has become rather…well, routine, but I was disappointed by the lack of reaction. I do think that most instances of this could be fixed with just a few lines that amount to “we acknowledge this upsetting thing happened but there’s nothing we can do except go on with our lives right now” (adjusted to the circumstances and better-phrased, of course), so things like that shouldn’t be all that demanding to fix, once you’re aware of where they are. I will gladly go through in a few days when I have time and find every instance that I can of this for you. I’ve got no qualms with an excuse to replay.
I do think that the characters could benefit from a few added interactions. I had Chi as crush/love interest for my first playthrough, and while it was cute (and I might’ve missed something because I didn’t really savescum the first time), it ultimately felt a bit flat. I assume that the characters will get more attention further into the story, too, but adding some acknowledgment for the fact that you are dating Chi/Anara early on would really make it feel like an actual choice. (Also, personally, I feel that Chi could do with a little more work to make him engaging; I like him, but comparing the sum of all the interactions I could get with them, Anara is significantly more endearing in my opinion. Clive definitely helped, lol. I have a few tentative ideas on how you might do that for Chi, but that would probably be better saved for a PM.)
That being said, for most of the characters, I think it’s really cool that there is a lot of interesting content available for each of them; it’s just a matter of whether or not you make the decisions to access that content. And I think that almost all of it is really good and satisfying, apart from the aforementioned issues. Ryu and Akira’s stuff in the most recent episode may seem abrupt if you don’t choose to bond with them in any way… I can offer some subtle ways that you might be able to make things like Ryu saving you (I don’t know if he always does this, I think I had my bond with him pretty high in both playthroughs at that point) seem less abrupt. From a storytelling standpoint, acknowledging that it is abrupt (if you didn’t get most of Ryu and Akira’s scenes) would help at least make it clear that it’s not just an oversight on the writer’s part.
Basically, overall, I think the story is great as it currently stands, but would benefit from refinement in a few areas that seemed a little overlooked. Personally, I think that adding a few interactions with family members, or acknowledgment of family, would be great, but making it optional content that you can get or not get based on your choices would be best. It would make sense for MC to know Sammy and Kay’s family life roughly (since they live in the same area and have been friends for so long). But with Chi and Anara, you might have an option of them wanting you to meet their parents, or bumping into or avoiding them (e.g. an option of “Anara, is that your dad, oh no we’re handcuffed together, this looks really weird, let’s sneak away instead”). Or you might not even run into them at all if you choose to go a different direction in an earlier choice (literally turn left instead of right or something like that).
Very good work on this. You’ve done a really nice job of making it engaging to play and giving a lot of control of the character to the player and including interesting consequences for choices. And it’s really, really nice to see that you’re so willing to listen to feedback and redraft this pretty monstrous amount of writing. I will try to compile some more specific criticisms/bits of writing that could be improved when I’ve got time to help you do that, if you choose to make these changes. Also, I really love editing, so if you ever want help with that, I’d be glad to do it. That’s entirely up to you, though.
On a note unrelated to critique… I’m a huge tokusatsu fan (more Kamen Rider and GARO than Sentai/PR, but still), and I feel like I’ve got to commend you for making a loving homage to the genre while still having your own very fresh and interesting spin on it. This is a really good deconstruction of the genre and of its tropes, and you’ve managed to do it without making it feel overly forced, or edgy for the sake of edginess (which is the problem I find with most deconstructions). It also doesn’t feel like it’s criticizing the genre for being what it is, which I really appreciate; the last thing anyone wants to see in a story is indirectly putting down another story just for the sake of being subversive. I’ve really enjoyed seeing a more serious and nuanced take on the genre that still clearly respects the material that inspired it. So thank you for all of that. Tokusatsu is really, really important to me as a genre and the fashion in which you wrote this story means a lot to me.