A Look at: Dysfunctional Systems Episode 1


Learning to Manage Chaos

Earlier this month, Dischan Media released the first episode to their very first visual novel titled Dysfunctional Systems

The story here is Winter, 14 years old, is studying to become a mediator in an Earth that is guided by all-knowing entities and experiences no conflict whatsoever. Fresh and naive, Winter is on what is supposed to be an easy mission with her mentor, Cyrus, on a planet called Sule, to learn about a conflict between a rich super-power country and a smaller one that became independent a short while before. 

Of course, it isn't as simple as that in the end.

Developer: Dischan Media
Publisher: Dischan Media
Release Date: April 3, 2013
Platform: Windows, OSX, Linux

My understanding of visual novels is that they are usually released once the game is complete, even if they are separated into chapters, acts, or episodes. In the case of Dysfunctional Systems, it really is being released episode-by-episode, which is why this is a quicker sort of review. Dischan Media is a western developer after all, so the game does exhibit some differences from the usual Japanese visual novel, even though the style is very obviously derived from it. 

What I enjoyed about this game, more than anything else, was the artwork. Doomfest is the entity behind the game's art direction, illustrations, visual direction, and even the opening animation. I absolutely loved the style, and it made a huge difference in my overall assessment of the game, which would have been kind of poor otherwise. 

I didn't enjoy the dialogue too much for at least the first half of episode 1. The story takes a while to really get moving, mostly because the dialogue (largely comprised of Winter's inner dialogue) focuses too much on how naive, young, inexperienced, and generally clueless the heroine is. Dischan went through great pains to really illustrate to players that she comes from an Earth that has, literally, no conflicts. 

After things start to pick up, you finally get one choice that makes no difference in the physical outcome of the story, but does make a difference in Winter's disposition by the end of the episode. You can make either one sole choice the entire chapter, or a few smaller ones; in the end, the general result will be the same, but mileage will vary when it comes to Winter's opinion of Cyrus, who may or may not become some kind of love interest later. Because of this, I am actually kind of interested in seeing what happens next, but just barely.

I don't really know what to expect with this story. There was nothing romantic about the first chapter, though of course there were a few little "moments" tossed here and there. The story focused on the matter at hand: the conflict at the world they were observing. This isn't to say that the game is advertised as a romance or whatever, or that I was expecting it to be - I'm just noting this. The official genre of this visual novel is "Science Fantasy" per the developer, so please note this if you're thinking of playing.

I did however enjoy that, towards the end of the episode, the perspective shifted from Winter to another character for a little while. Getting in someone else's head, knowing what the situation was first-hand, was an interesting addition to the game play. Unfortunately, it didn't last nearly long enough.

If you want to learn more about Dysfunctional Systems or give it a download, check out Dischan's page. Episode 1 of this visual novel is currently up at their shop for just US$5. On the shop page, you could also sample the sound track, and watch the opening animation. 

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reviewed by Kristina Pino


Kristina Pino
Kristina PinoContributor   gamer profile

Kristina is a freelance photographer and writer from Miami now moved to Japan. She's a hardcore nerd culture enthusiast, Disney fan, sunflower admirer, and book slinger. Tweet her @geekerydo. F... more + disclosures


Filed under... #A Look @ #Japanator Original #reviews #top stories #visual novel



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