Kusari is a 2005 suspense/rape eroge from Leaf.
Kusari begins with the protagonist and a group of his friends (most of whom are female, and naturally all of the girls are in love with him for no real reason) on the test cruise of an experimental ship that his childhood friend’s mom designed. For a brief time they enjoy their free ocean voyage, and this intro is so incredibly boring that it seems to stretch on much longer than it fortunately is. Shortly after they pick up a castaway shit starts getting serious.
Not only does shit get serious, it gets good. The story splits into two main trunks around this point (much later splitting into short routes) and both beginnings are very suspenseful. Some parts had my heart pounding surprisingly hard and fast. But apparently the scenario writer decided that it was too good (or maybe he didn’t want to be responsible for too many heart attacks) because he decides early on in both trunks to remove the immediate threat and resulting suspense. After that the game becomes about the protagonist and his friends walking around the boat for hours, perfectly safe, looking for people or things. This is even more boring than it probably sounds. I was incredibly disappointed by how quickly the excitement in this game fizzled out and died. Of course it doesn’t disappear for the entire game, it does pop up every now and then and things obviously escalate near the very end, but the majority of the game is really boring. And that’s the worst thing you can say about a suspense story. Admittedly, running around a boat trying to escape a serial rapist/murderer doesn’t make for a great story, but it can at least make for an entertaining one, unlike running around a boat looking for stuff. Kusari still has its moments, for example all of the endings I got were pretty good, but overall the story is plain boring, and without decent characters to move it along (more on that later).
One unique aspect about Kusari is that it plays more like an adventure game than most ADV eroge. While there isn’t any map movement per se (though you can call up a map of the boat) many of the choices are essentially choosing from a list of places to go. Depending on where you go and when you go there you collect items (the map screen also lists your inventory), which can help you out later. This sounds pretty cool in theory, but it is incredibly frustrating in practice. There are so many options and so many items, and there’s no logic behind where or when you get them or how you use them, so any thinking element is removed from the game. Your survival comes down to pure luck. I remember the first time I really got stuck on a bad end I spent an hour trying countless combinations of choices before giving up and looking at a walkthrough. It turned out I had made a wrong decision on like the second or third choice in the game (back before any raping or killing had occurred) and as a result had not gotten an item which much later led to a choice which much later led to a series of events that kept me from dying. Also since there are so many bad ends the vast majority of them are instant deaths (there are only a couple real, developed bad ends) which was disappointing.
Orihara Akeno: Doormat-class childhood friend. Unlike most people I actually don’t hate this archetype (Nagamori from ONE was the character that got me into osananajimis) but Akeno annoyed me to no end. I think part of it was how unbelievably stupid she was. Too stupid to even be moe. Anyways, if I dislike a childhood friend character you know something’s wrong.
Ayanobe Karen: A completely generic tsundere ojousan. Well, I like the archetype so at least I didn’t hate Karen, but there wasn’t anything that really made me like her either. I’m sure people who don’t like the archetype would absolutely hate her.
Ayanobe Tamami: Karen’s little sister. The protagonist calls her a little monkey and that describes her appearance and personality dead on. She looks like a loli and has some childish aspects to her personality as well in that she’s energetic and likes messing around. She’s also really cute and makes lots of cute sounds. Tamami is the most unique heroine in the game and the only one I really liked.
Katagiri Megumi: Cool, level-headed, class-rep-like, meganekko. Like Karen she is completely generic. Unlike with Karen, I dislike her archetype. So I didn’t like her character at all. But apparently the makers absolutely loved her, because she got the most ero scenes, three routes (the other girls only get one), and her own piece of theme music (which none of the other heroines have).
Kouzuki Chihaya: The protagonist’s blood-related imouto. It goes without saying that she’s in love with her brother. I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but once again she is generic (as an aside I hate this term but seriously these characters are cardboard cut-outs). Actually Chihaya isn’t quite as generic as most of the other girls. Her love for her brother makes her surprisingly stubborn, which results in some pretty great moments. I guess I would say I liked Chihaya too, but only at about my usual level of fondness for imoutos.
Hayama Tomonori: The protagonist’s male friend. The guy is a dick. Really, that pretty much sums up his entire character.
Kishida Youichi: The antagonist of the game. He’s a man who travels from ship to ship, killing and raping everyone on board. So obviously he’s awesome. His philosophy is also pretty cool. It’s not anything unique, sort of a primal, survival of the fittest type, but it is well presented. Unfortunately it doesn’t come up very often, and in fact Kishida doesn’t get nearly enough screen time in general. Especially since he’s at the center of the story. Kishida is pretty easy-going for a rapist, and he enjoys playing around with people before killing and raping them. His schemes aren’t exactly the work of a genius but they’re enough to trick a group of high school kids.
Kouzuki Kyousuke: The protagonist. I’m going to give you a second to guess what he’s like. Yep, he’s your typical generic, no-personality protagonist. The only decent thing I can say about him is that the way he acts in the situation is surprisingly realistic. It’s pretty much how I would imagine a normal high school boy would act. Of course that means doing a lot of stupid shit and being pretty cowardly.
The music in this game is great. Aside from a couple boring songs that only play during the equally boring intro of the story all of the tracks are good. The production is top-class and the composition is also good. A few tracks are purely meant for creating atmosphere and tension, so they aren’t exactly good as songs and can get annoying after awhile, but that’s my only other complaint about the BGM. Both vocal tracks are great as well. Unusually, both the OP and ED are slow songs. The OP never quite lives up to its awesome intro but it’s still a good song. I definitely prefer the ED for its stronger vocal melodies though (instrumentation is equally good between the two).
The game is fully voiced, even the protagonist has a voice (don’t ask me why a character with as little character as the average voiceless faceless protagonist needed to be voiced), and the voice work is great all around. In the beginning I actually found it rather poor, but when the game serioused up apparently so did the seiyuus. I’d almost go as far as to say the female voices are too well done, because during the rape scenes the screams get disturbingly realistic.
The art is also excellent. While the style is relatively generic the quality and detail are awesome. It proves that even typical anime style art can look gorgeous. Even the sprites look great, nearly as good as the CGs. Speaking of CGs, Kusari is definitely low on them. They’re concentrated almost entirely in the ero scenes and endings. In fact I think there’s only one CG that doesn’t fall into one of those two categories, and that’s the jacuzzi one at the very beginning. Oh wait, there’s also one of Kishida attacking the protagonist (only one, which is reused throughout their many encounters). I also have to mention the background art, which is also top-quality and has amazing attention to detail.
I was very disappointed in Kusari’s ero. I’ll admit that part of the reason why I decided to play the game was because I thought the ero would be good. But can you blame me? It’s about a bunch of cute girls trapped on a boat with a serial rapist. Yet somehow they managed to mess that up. I’m actually not a huge fan of rape, but this is NTR rape and I do like NTR. Anyways, the art and voice acting are great, yet the ero still sucks. Why? To begin with there isn’t much ero for a game with this sort of premise. And most of the ero scenes aren’t even what I’d call ero. They’re torture scenes. Now that’s not necessarily bad, they still have value in the sense that gore scenes do, but they don’t serve purpose as erotic material. If you’re really hard S you could probably get off to them, but unfortunately(?) I’m not and I couldn’t. Even some of the good old-fashioned(?) rape scenes fail to deliver for various reasons, like being too short or having the guy’s ass take up the entire screen (I thought only 3D Western porn did that shit). All in all there was about one fappable scene for each girl, but those ones were pretty good.
Pros: Great production values across the board; good suspense in the beginning; occasional other good parts in the story.
Cons: Boring story; dull, generic characters; disappointing ero.
The trend in this game seemed to be: mostly mediocre but occasionally great. The game’s potential shown through at times but it was ultimately disappointing.
One reason why this review took so long was because I was busy finishing up school. I was done with the majority of the game a couple months ago but didn’t have time to finish it, and I didn’t want to review a game I hadn’t fully played. Well the other night I had some time so I sat down and spent a few hours on it, and remembered how boring it was. So I decided I didn’t want to waste any more time on it (I almost always clear all routes in eroge). Maybe I’ll skip to the ends and read those (I almost never skip text in eroge), since the ones I got were all entertaining, but any effect that would have on my review would be skewed since I’d be ignoring the bad parts. So I decided to write my thoughts as of now.
My next post will probably also be awhile because while I was busy with school some English translations came out that I want to play.