I think soothing the savage beast in an early interaction foreshadows the revelation that they were human very effectively, and works well. A nice way to integrate it might be to have it unlock the option to do that with monsters in the future (though there aren’t very many of those afterward and I don’t think it would always be effective, especially with the later versions that appeared in the takeover). Mainly the immediate reaction is what threw me off, though acknowledging it later would be great.
As for Kay getting shot, the biggest payoff I could think of with that is showcasing that as a power the MC has (since it hasn’t appeared again, this isn’t strictly necessary), and the dream, demonstrating what the world might have been like if the MC never awakened their powers. This could be swapped for something like MC being quick enough to take a bullet for her with their armor instead of her getting shot, and in the dream,
they can’t manage that and she dies as a result. Either way, I do think it would be easier for you to write it and maintain an escalation in drama and severity without something as extreme as a near-death so early on. It feels out of place in the narrative right now, so I would be in favor of cutting or altering it to fit the tone better.
I feel that the story would benefit from being mapped out. It sounds like you’re doing that now, but it might be good to go back through the early episodes, map those out, and really carefully examine how they compare to later ones and how they work structurally. Figure out what scenes have payoff and what don’t, and where you could add more intrigue to lead up to revelations later.
I think Chi and Anara being separate options is interesting; I do feel that you would be able to write less and write the characters more effectively if you took away that option, but it seems a lot of people really enjoy that option, and I kinda think more control over the character’s personality and life is better. Though I do think it’d be best if they weren’t strictly interchangeable because they do feel kind of like they can be swapped out and it doesn’t really matter ultimately, which makes them less engaging than Ryu, Akira, etc., in my opinion.
Cheater! I like putting in the work and actually experiencing the game (e.g. I went through and played up to episode 3 several times to beat Ryu because I wanted to figure out how to do it myself). Also I didn’t know how to do it… But shhh.