Finally got WordPress working again so here’s Siskon, a 2010 doujin eroge by Artemis.
Siskon’s premise is similar to the last game I posted about, Koibito Doushi, except that in the very beginning of the game the heroine and protagonist get engaged instead of just starting to date. Also, she’s his blood related older sister. Like with Koibito Doushi, the title of the game (姉婚 in kanji) tells you exactly what you’re in for. Siskon follows the engagement of the heroine, Akira (Acchan) and the protagonist, Masahiro (Hiro).
The story is largely slice of life without much of a plot. The highlight of the game is the relationship between Acchan and Hiro, which is wonderfully depicted. They’re both working adults (unusual for eroge) and their parents died when they were young so they live alone together. The story details their everyday lives and a few small events that occur during their engagement. The relationship between the characters is great so it’s enjoyable even watching them do nothing in particular. The dialogue between Acchan and Hiro is also extremely entertaining, some of the best I’ve seen in eroge. It’s both sweet and hilarious. The chemistry between the two is godly.
Although in the majority of cases slice of life means comedy, comedy isn’t the main focus of Siskon. There’s still a lot of comedy, and as I mentioned very good comedy, but there’s a lot more to it than just humor. Siskon has a really great and complex atmosphere. The story switches between joyful, playful, heartwarming, nostalgic, melancholic, and more, often multiple times during a single scene. The overall tone is actually rather somber, much more so than I expected from a story like this. The main theme of the story is finding happiness, which is presented as something that’s a great challenge. For the vast majority of the story no real threats to the couple’s happiness are presented (even the fact that they’re siblings who want to get married and have kids is never treated as a problem) but they still act as though it may break at any moment, which results in a subtle dramatic tension that underlies the everyday scenes. But I guess even in real life obtaining just a normal happiness is difficult even without single major obstacles, and that’s probably one of the messages the story tries to convey. It works, too, because I never felt like the more brooding parts of the story were out of place. They felt natural. There’s only one case of serious, direct drama, and that was also very well written and served as the perfect capstone to the tone and themes of the story.
The writing in Siskon is surprisingly amazing. The style is great and the word usage is extremely clever. There are puns and wordplay all over the place. For some reason I found myself really getting into the wordplay, and I got more excited than I probably should have over how the writer consistently twists words. It might have been because I’m studying Japanese so I really liked seeing the language played around with. I was also proud of myself for being able to understand almost all of the jokes, though some still went over my head. But the wordplay isn’t only used for comedy. For example one of the best scenes in the game uses some mindblowing wordplay and kanji usage to brilliantly elucidate the main theme of the story. The writer also uses extended metaphors and imagery very skillfully. Basically the writing alone made Siskon worth reading.
The only complaints I have about the story are minor ones. The first is the length. It’s very short. The story itself wasn’t unsatisfying but it was so good that I still wanted more of it. The other complaint is that Siskon doesn’t feel like an incest game. Like I mentioned earlier, not once is the fact that the protagonist and heroine are related by blood shown to be an obstacle to their happiness. It’s never treated as a taboo or a problem in the eyes of society either. Naturally, their childhood as siblings is an important part of their relationship, and the story does a good job portraying that. But basically the story only shows the positive side of incest and not the side that is considered negative. Depending on why you like incest, or if you even like it at all, this could be a good or bad thing, but personally I wanted at least some conflict related to the incest because it feels a little fake otherwise.
Date Akira: Acchan is the only heroine of the game, not surprisingly. She’s really awesome and unique. Her personality is too multifaceted to concisely explain, and it definitely can’t be pigeonholed into any single archetype. It’s realistic, other than not many real people being as great as she is. Her overall personality is bright and cheerful, but depending on the situation she can vary between mature and playful, dependable and spoiled, capable and lonely, etc.
Date Masahiro: Hiro is the protagonist of the game. He’s recently entered the adult world as a salaryman and is dealing with the transition from idealistic youth to pragmatic adulthood. His personality reflects this. He shifts between the joking and childish personality he shows to Acchan and the moody side that worries about everything. His moodiness spills over into abundant introspection. Luckily this introspection is really interesting to read and never comes across as whining or hetare, at least not to me.
There are no real side characters, just bit parts. But the story doesn’t need anyone other than the Date siblings. Because there are only two characters even the short story has time to give them great development. Acchan is a mostly static character, but her relationship with Hiro changes throughout the story and Hiro himself also has good character development.
The music in Siskon is really good, especially for a doujin eroge. I don’t think a single track was even mediocre. There are a couple tracks for emotional scenes, a lot of really good mood-setting tracks, and a couple daily life tracks that are good for that type of song. Oddly, there is no music mode despite how good the BGM is. Not surprisingly for a doujin eroge, there is no OP and the ED is an instrumental.
Acchan is the only voiced character and her seiyuu does a great job. She’s the kind of character that would be hard to voice well, given how animated and multifaceted she is, so it’s even more impressive. Her ero voice could have been better, but it was still pretty good.
The art is also really good for a doujin eroge. Scratch that, it’s really good for any eroge. It’s got a nice style and is absolutely gorgeous. There are also plenty of CGs for such a short game, but unfortunately only one base CG for most of the ero scenes. Acchan’s breasts were a little too large for my liking, but only in her sprites. In the CGs they look fine.
The ero is good, but could have been better. There are 10 scenes and the game is short, so it’s reasonable to say that ero is a large focus (though it never gets in the way of the story). For the most part it succeeds. The ero scenes are both erotic and romantic, but I would say they’re more romantic than they are erotic. The art is very fappable but the text could use some work. The problems with the ero scene writing comes in two forms. First, the descriptions just aren’t as arousing as better ero scenes. Second, most, but not all, of the scenes take too long to get to the main part and once they do they’re over too quick. Overall the ero was still good and fappable, but if the writing in the scenes had lived up to the art it could have been really great. The writing is actually good even in the ero scenes, just not that good in an erotic way.
Pros: Great atmosphere and themes; unique characters with a well-developed relationship and extremely entertaining dialogue; art and music way beyond doujin level; awesome writing
Cons: Too short; doesn’t really feel like an incest eroge
I’m not sure who I would recommend this game to. Although Siskon is good in nearly every aspect it’s such a unique game that I don’t know who would like it. Incest lovers probably won’t like that the game doesn’t deal with incest despite the premise. Drama lovers probably won’t like the subtle style of drama. Slice of life lovers would probably find the atmosphere too heavy. Personally I really loved this unconventional eroge, and the impression it left on me will last for quite awhile.