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4 people found the following review helpful:
Lovely magical girl RPG, May 28, 2016
Bubblegum Slaughter uses Twine to create a solid RPG about exploring and fighting enemies to build up your strength for the game's climax. Plot-wise, it's a magical girl story, but towards the darker end of the genre. While most magical girl animé and manga tend to focus on a team, the start of this game sees you all alone: your friends and beloved mentor have vanished, as night falls and demons are breaking into the material world. You are not defenceless, you still have your superhuman powers, but you have no idea where to find your friends, or whether they are still alive. And you are on a time limit.
I had a blast. The writing is very good, especially when describing the crystal items you can craft to enhance your abilities. The attack descriptions do a good job transmitting the feel of action animé into prose: you feel like you are effortlessly unleashing hell upon your foes.
There is a strong ambience of darkness and menace. Heading into a new area tends to keep you on your toes; there is an element of trial and error (though not to the extent of learning-by-death) when facing a new phenomenon for the first time. The fighting is rather simply implemented, but not simply enough to feel perfunctory, and a more complex system might have slowed the gameplay. The game element lies rather in the tactics of choosing your battles and deciding whether to use your resources or save them for greater effects later.
(Spoiler - click to show)While the plot may be darker than that of the average magical girl story, it steers clear of the more unremitting tragedy of, for example, Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Your mentor turns against you, but the evil is vanquished and your team is saved.
There are a few flaws, though not enough for it to lose a star in my book. Firstly, your friends (your mentor excepted) have very little characterisation. I'm fine with a blank-slate PC for the player to project themselves upon, but NPCs, if they are important, require at least a little more personality.
As for the ending:
(Spoiler - click to show)I enjoyed that the game lets you choose whether to defeat your mentor-turned-enemy or accept her Faustian offer: if a game has the antagonist tempt you, you should be able to accept their temptation. However, I would have liked it even more if the "bad" ending had been as developed as the "good" one: after all, at the point where the PC accepts the offer, it's no longer a bad ending for her. Instead, we get little more than a "you have died" message, if an emotive one.
While not a negative, I have a few words about the time limit:
(Spoiler - click to show)It builds tension effectively, but in my two playthroughs, I never got close to running out of time: I always got to the endgame with around twenty in-game minutes to spare. I suspect a practical reason for the limit was to ensure that the player couldn't loaf around beating up demons indefinitely. Whatever the reason, it kept me on my toes, which is what matters.
In short, a good example of how to use Twine to create an RPG mechanic, while not skimping on the art or emotional impact. The mentor is a well-written NPC. Strongly recommended to fans of combat-oriented games or magical girls.
Note: the link to play online appears to be faulty. If the author reads this, could you please fix it? This game deserves more exposure.