Saving Project Blind

Part One

What drew me to Saving Project Blind was its premise. I’m a sucker for tragic love stories, where the protagonist has to go through heartbreak the size of an earthquake. To say that manga_otaku’s first visual novel makes you feel for the characters on that level would be a gross exaggeration; regardless, the plot interested me all the same.

You play from the point of view of Jamie Hallie, a girl that has lived her whole life in her twin sister’s shadow. Her parents gave her sister Grace all the cool clothes, a pink Lamborghini on their sixteenth birthday, and a pony, while Jamie got stuck with some tattered rags, a push wagon, and a stuffed rat. Actually, none of that happened, but that’s how she felt growing up when their childhood friend Liam Parker (the third to their trio) decided to go for her sister, instead of her.

Part One

Jamie grew up loving him from afar, playing the role of his supportive best friend. Ignoring her feelings, she agreed to help Liam pick out an engagement ring for her sister, the precious item that would seal her fate forever. She could deal with that, she finally decided, as long as they were both happy. Lost in her thoughts, she didn’t see the car before Liam shoved her out of the way, taking the full brunt of the hit.

He survives, although not without losing his sight, and his dream of being a doctor along with it. Grace can’t deal with the prospects of supporting him for the rest of their lives, and runs out on him. Not knowing what to do, Jamie visits Liam in his hospital room to apologize to him while he’s sleeping. Actually awake, the now blind Liam mistakes Jamie for her sister, causing her to decide to be his Gracie so that he wouldn’t be abandoned.
As selfish as her decision might be seen, it was also a very human one.

Part One

I understood why she decided to become her sister for him. This is a girl who spent her whole life having to watch her love interest with someone else – and not just anyone else, but her sister. How could she tell anyone that she loved her sister’s boyfriend? She could never uproot their whole relationship. And, with Grace on the outs, this was her chance to live out the fantasy life that she always imagined.

I won’t spoil the ending, but, after the scene in the water, it became unbelievable. Like, seriously? She (I won’t say which she) was okay with all of that happening? No protest, just a fast “okay, cool, moving on.” What was even more weird was how everyone else in the scene was so fast to accept the situation. I don’t know if her characterization supported that she would walk away like that. Then again, she wasn’t the only one that had characterization issues. Everyone, Jamie included, had believability problems throughout the visual novel that could have been fixed.

Part Two

What I wanted to know was – where the hell was Grace when Jamie and Liam were together? Grace had been with the man since they were in ninth grade. You don’t stay with someone for eight years, and then not feel anything when he moves onto your sister. She just lets everything happen, and the writing wasn’t strong enough for me to be able to say that she didn’t care because of her guilt. Grace is entirely absent from the second part of the visual novel, when Jamie and Liam are together. It’s not until the middle of the third part that we see her again, and we learn that she didn’t even know that her sister was pretending to be her in order to be with Liam.

There’s not even much of a reaction when she learns that. Sure, she drops her tea cup, but it felt like she was more shocked that Jamie wanted Grace to be Liam’s Grace again (that would’ve been a cool title, by the way – Liam’s Grace). I wish that there had been more character support for her ambivalance. Like, maybe Grace had moved on from him in the months that she had left him. Or, maybe, in the opening scene when Liam and Jamie were looking for engagement rings, Jamie could have bitterly thought to herself that Grace was considering leaving Liam. Their relationship could have been a little rocky. It would have explained how Grace was able to ditch him so easily.

Part Two

There was some minor customization. The text boxes were black and standard. In the third part, the box has the quick menu that now comes packaged with every new Ren’Py release. Personal nitpick here, but I would have preferred if the dialogue box for Jamie had been called Jamie, rather than “Me.” There was also a cute click-to-continue indicator.

The usage of all of the {w=number} text effects was awkward. For those of you not familiar with Ren’Py, {w=number} causes new dialogue to appear after waiting however many seconds you want. To me, it made their speech needlessly jumpy. It was a little jarring, even. Effects like that are better off used sparingly, to enhance the flavor of the scene. For example, when Jamie is lamenting over Liam’s lost vision and says “he…can’t…see?!” (every word appeared after a bit of a delay), it fit the mood and her shock wonderfully. Elsewhere? Not so much.

Part Three

For some reason, the second part had no sounds apart from the main menu. The first and third parts had music that matched all of the scenes, and a fitting use of sound effects. It helped me feel more involved in the scene. I especially liked the snowflake effect during the first part, before the car accident. There were a few typos and grammatical errors (“lick,” instead of “luck”) that didn’t distract from the story. There were no credits included in the actual game itself, so you’ll have to check the third part’s post on the LemmaSoft Forums.

The biggest let-down when it came to Saving Project Blind was that it wasn’t as original as I thought it was. It wasn’t until I was finished reading all three parts that I found out that the story was inspired by Mitsuya Omi’s manga one-shot “The Flower that Blooms in You.” Inspired meaning that it’s basically a faithful visual novel port. There were a few changes, like the Western names, the accident, and Liam and Jamie’s connection over flowers instead of origami. I wish that manga_otaku had put effort into improving Mitsuya Omi’s one-shot, rather than making a straight up visual novel adaptation.

Part Three

Even though I felt like there could have been more done to make me care for the characters in general, I still enjoyed reading this kinetic novel. It’ll probably take longer for its readers to wait for all three parts to download and load up than it’ll take them to finish reading it. Overall, it’s going to cost you around 240MB to have all three games on your harddrive. Once the parts are all repackaged as one file, the game will most likely be about 80MB, which could still be pared down. The SFX file for the wind is 20MB! Since it’s such a long SFX, manga_otaku should consider converting it to an ogg file. In fact, all of the mp3s could be converted to ogg files to help that.

I look forward to more of manga_otaku’s work, hopefully work that’s more original than this one. She (or he, I have no idea) can take everything that s/he’s learned from making this, and put those new skills towards another story purely her/his own.

Check out part one here, part two here, and part three here.

First part originally posted Aug 18, 2011. Second part posted Aug 20, 2011. Final part posted Dec 27, 2011.

About vnr4

Visual novel reviews and reporting with a main focus on independent visual novels. Enjoy.
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