Still Joking Review by Amjara


Still Joking is a high quality visual novel mixed with interactive gameplay and a well-written narrative that is worth reflecting on.

The Story
In Still Joking you play as the main character Iris, who's prototype, the famous actress Selena, has been murdered right in front of her dressing room mirror, in front of you (her reflection). You still exist on your side of the mirror but what happens to you now? This is where your journey begins. You've seen who murdered Selena but you don't know why. Meet many characters along the way as you try to figure out the murderer's motives, complete tasks for different factions, make friendships or enemies and engage in your new world on the other side of the mirror.

Some of the very interesting other prototypes you will meet in your journey include Roy, who is serious, reliable and invested in helping Iris find out the truth. Tien, the soft spoken and responsible one, and the expedition leader for the Seekers. Johnny, the risk-taking, energetic and flirty Effector expedition leader. Dora, who is the expedition matron and is bossy but there when you need help. And Tony, who is a mystery to say the least. 

Three love interests are available to pursue; Roy, Johnny or Tony. Characters develop different relations between themselves depending on how their relationship with Iris develops over the course of time. You can have sex and kissing in this game, and there are some sex scenes that are more suggestive. No outright nudity or anything graphic but definitely hints of spice!

Due to the reflected world not being stable (outside of the capital Crystal city), the prototypes' world is in constant need of fixing and maintenance. From items to buildings and streets. Anything that is not in the direct site of a mirror. The Community is divided up into two main factions, the "seekers" and the "effectors". The seekers are scientists, they accumulate knowledge, study unusual phenomena and are intrigued by everything around them. The effectors are practitioners, and love bringing into effect the ideas the seekers come up with. 

Reality outside of the mirrors is flexible, which means it can be influenced and manipulated. A place where you can create images with your mind by using up your energy (which you restore during rest). 

Game-play & Features
This game has very basic features including audio control, language and font size. There are no display settings and the game forces you to play full screen.

The save system is something I actually talked about with the developer before release and am happy to say that now you can make notes on your saves so if you wish to go back to an earlier save to make different choices you know what save file to load. A huge thank you to the developer for putting this into the game before release!

The gameplay itself is absolutely fun! It is a mix of visual novel with interactive scenes with elements to investigate, interactive points of interest and characters to talk too.

The Visuals & Audio
The art in this game is the highlight, really gorgeous and well done. The visuals are beautiful, not just for the key special moments but throughout. The scenes are animated like a flip book and immerses the player into the game.

The ambient sounds in the game are so well done, they make the animated scenes more alive. Crowds clapping, a clock ticking, and various other sounds. However there is no voice work. Which for me really worked in this game. There is a wide range of characters and being able to decide as a player what the characters would sound like to me made the game more immersive. 

The soundtrack is nice. I say this not to sound negative. It is just there and not intrusive. Honestly that is high praise. You get so immersed in the story and the interactive elements that the soundtrack just blends into the experience. In some parts (where the music does play a role), like in a more tense or dramatic scene you notice it but it does not overshadow the story at any point.

There is one song which starts playing during a very important part in the story. It took me by surprise when it started. You will know what part I mean when you reach it. The song is called Cut me Loose by Maxim Adzhigitov & Elizaveta Kazakova. That song made such an important part of the story so much more impactful.

Overall Experience
I can not say enough great things about my time with this game. It is now solidly placed in my top 10 of visual novels for all time. Great writing, great artwork and music. It has all the ingredients for a wonderful experience.
The developers really care about this game and their dedication to making changes and their feedback to the reviewers and community is top notch. 

One of my personal top recommendations of 2024. 💖

Otome Lovers wishes to thank Purple Brick Games for providing a free review copy for this game.

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