X-note – review

XNote000I got this game ages ago as part of an IndieGala bundle and had not felt like playing, and decided recently, eh, why not.

X-Note is a mystery English PC otome game and can be bought from the maker’s website or from Steam. It’s a VN with elements of stat-rasing (using minigames).

 

…also I’d just like to say that whenever I read the heroine’s name I thought of nail polish

Essi on stats screen

Essi on stats screen

First, summary from the official website:

Ten years ago, Essi’s mother died in a strange accident. She left a USB flash drive with a locked folder called “X-note”. Unable to understand the purpose of it, Essi continued living her life as a normal junior high school student. However, Essi is hardly normal, for she possesses power beyond normal human.

Essi’s quiet life was interrupted by a sudden visit of a young man named Yuon. He asked her to investigate a murder case and a mysterious disappearance in the Xen Institute, a school deeply connected to Essi’s mother. Tempted by the possibility of unlocking “X-note” and solving her mother’s mysterious death, Essi decided to take his request. However, what awaited her there was a lot more than what she could possibly imagine…

Yuon

Yuon

There are 3 routes/characters in total:

  • Yuon: Probably the main guy given that he was the one who invited Essi to the Xen Institute. Serious, but that’s simply a cover to hide the fact that he doesn’t know how to communicate with people.
  • Oure: Friendly and child-like, Essi noted she felt comfortable talking to him. Essi always meets him at the same place; he gives Essi a chance to relax and calm herself in the midst of her investigations.
  • Anon: A self-stylised provider of information, Anon is playful and flirtatious, using any available chance to hit on Essi. He helps Essi with her investigations if asked, by giving her information.
Oure

Oure

Due to the way the plot is revealed, this would be my recommended play order: Oure -> Yuon -> Anon. As for my preferences… there’s no one guy whom I liked best – they all rated about the same for me. I liked how each character had a colour theme as well – for example you can’t find any other colour but white on Oure, and Anon’s colour is olive green… Essi is probably the only exception with black and orange.

Romance in this game was… minimal, I guess? I didn’t feel much chemistry between the characters until near the end. But having said that, it didn’t come out of nowhere either… maybe it’s more apt to say that it’s a quiet romance, not the type with sparks flying etc.

Can’t remember much about the music – I suspect this is a trend with me not paying attention to the music (¬_¬;)

Anon

Anon

The system was OK – it’s not a straight VN since it has stat-raising elements to it. The stat-raising bit itself are mini-games, and they’re pretty lenient in that the game lets you retry the mini-game until you succeed, and the mini-games themselves are pretty easy. What’s not easy is the part where you need to have your stats at a certain value to pass a chapter… and the game will helpfully tell you what the criteria are to pass a certain chapter _after_ you reach a Game Over. And at that point it’s very likely you’ll have to start again from the beginning of the chapter, as opposed to reloading from your nearest save point. Thankfully, there’s an official guide. The 3 stats you need to increase are:

Psychokinesis mini-game

Psychokinesis mini-game

  • Psychokinesis: A bar will fill up and down – you need to press when the bar is at max.
  • Clairvoyance: Memorise a set of patterns and repeat it.
  • Telepathy: A set of cards will cycle through different patterns – you need to press to stop the cards such that all of the card have the same pattern.

As you get more points in your stats the mini-game “levels up” – for example, for the Clairvoyance mini-game at level 1 you need to memorise 3 patterns, at level 2 you need to memorise 4 patterns etc. The mini-game only goes up to lv. 3, and given that you can continuously repeat the mini-game until you succeed… I don’t see a problem there.

Password system

Password system

The save system is pretty novel – apart from your normal save-load function, the game gives you a password whenever you reach a new chapter. Each password corresponds to a stats value – for example, the password CAMMUELL will get you to Chapter 2 with 1 point in Clairvoyance. Pretty much every password you get is a shortcut to: which chapter, which path you’re on and how many points you have in each stat. It’s very useful for when you need to start again from the beginning of a chapter because you screwed up your stats at the end of a chapter…

Each character has 2 endings – getting each ending (as well as a few bad endings) will unlock a letter after the ending. Getting all the letter will give you the password to enter the extra section. The game doesn’t have a Gallery section on its own, so to speak… but the extra section contained things like gallery, character profiles, soundtrack etc. I think one of the ending was faulty though – despite getting all of the ending I’m still missing a letter, so I ended up googling for the password (ノω・、)

The skip system I wasn’t very fond of – you have to hold the down arrow key to skip.. but I’m guessing it’s limitation of the chosen platform (Flash).

The story was quite well-done, I think… but the ending left questions unanswered. I understand it’s because there are 2 other games in the series and there needed to be some hook/bait for the sequels, but… it meant that on its own, the ending felt rather weak, almost like it’s incomplete. For example, in all of the endings (except for 1), the villain got away scot-free, despite all the atrocities committed…

In short, this game is worth playing if you either: don’t mind the ‘incomplete’ ending, or you’re planning to play the next game in the series. I know the next game (Area-X) is already out and the 3rd (and last?) game is in development… I’ll probably give it a long time before picking up the sequel(s) just so I can play it all in one go.

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About…

Just an otome game fan. ...who spends a lot of weekends playing otome games on PC with a Japanese dictionary propped open on her lap.
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