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Hello there, people. It’s been a while since last blog. So, I was reading Extracurricular Activities and Burrows, but while doing that Arches full story came out and some people asked for my opinion. I read it along with a friend and… well, let’s see what happened. DISCLAIMER
Spoilers, lots of them. The story is not that long, you can probably read it in one afternoon. https://preview.redd.it/jy8etkrgjf3b1.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=8c9a1e1818c41e247d240c928eb655601854cd95 BEFORE PLAYING
So, Arches is like a “sequel” to Echo the VN and The Smoke Room. But, you can actually read on its own, nothing from Echo is properly explored here, nothing new is added to the lore of Echo. It’s not even the end of the town neither.
But, it’s written by the same one who wrote three routes in Echo, Adastra, Khemia and Interea… so you can expect low quality here right from the start. I had pretty low expectations and yet I found myself disappointed. It’s magical.
I have a blogs talking about Echo, I should probably remake them, my very first blogs are not really that good explaining my points, but for now they work, kinda. As for The Smoke Room, I think is going fine for now, I recommend it, but probably won’t make a blog about it until it is done. https://preview.redd.it/2ip2g4zkjf3b1.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=53050ca56a345336449b2dc68499d4b4fd8df8cf THE ART
So, the art was made mainly for PaintFox, a pretty good artist, the characters look fine for the most part. However, I think it was a mistake to have him as the main artist, his style just doesn’t fit the kind of story the VN is trying to deliver. This can be also the fault of the direction he was given, the character, even tho they have body language, they look rather stiff, there is not a great use of body language and CGs were wasted for the most part, illustrating parts that didn’t need it.
But, as a typical Echo related game, we have the worst offender: Empty Screens. Man, there are too many times where the screen is just empty with an overly long narration, which would be always a sin on my book, this is a visual novel. It doesn’t help that the scene with the most action are the emptiest.
So, we have a combo of the wrong art style, misuse of it to even outright now having visuals, which only concludes on the art being bad. Which is a shame because the artists who worked here clearly put effort on it and they are good artists. https://preview.redd.it/gzw9ckzdnf3b1.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=aff7447a7486de34bd04ae2f8e76ba5104a58b9f https://twitter.com/i/status/1464318180831158275 MUSIC AND SOUNDS
The music is forgettable for the most part, boring and most of the time doesn’t really fit the scene. The sound effects are just like Echo, meaning they have little to no impact. https://preview.redd.it/ijg8smbjmf3b1.png?width=2000&format=png&auto=webp&s=eec64ab714c10edf27cc7ce0b11fd62c37254d2d THE PLOT
A stupid couple does what every stupid couple in a bad horror movie does, go to a dangerous ghost town with no service and proceed to take all the decisions that would kill them. The main different is that in a horror movie, the writers would have the balls to kill them. But, we are talking about the same writer as Adastra, of course the ONLY one who dies here is the boring, generic and plain villain.
So, Devon and Cameron go to visit Echo to do some ghost hunting. Devon thinks his boyfriend is a psychic so that’s why he brought him here despite his mate having a past of plenty of mental issues. Cameron has a long scene explaining his tragic past to his boyfriend, after 5 years of relationship, and Devon still took him to Echo… because in Echo character agency doesn’t exist. And, no, it’s not my interpretations, he narration heavily implies it’s the town’s influence.
So, once there, the couple go through some typical Echo shenanigans, including corrupting characters, vision, possession and such.
Plenty of interesting concept are presented on the table… and then are immediately dropped.
Later on, Artie is added to the story… he is just a walking plot device, another idiot that won’t be killed.
And then, we have the Brian sections, a good chunk of the story is spent with Echo’s most useless serial killer, whose entire number of victims were killed of screen. And the dies… again… for the third time in this saga… and people still think he is dead for good.
At the end, everyone but the villain survives, we have and dragged out epilogue which tries to convey there were consequences for this event, but since most of this time frame is skipped, it’s pretty shallow. https://preview.redd.it/zu107qpcmf3b1.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=24289b6897e5553a66c334fa4833c62161f4f1c7 WORLDBUILDING
Now, there are psychics in the Echoverse, they are more susceptible to paranormal activity and can develop the power to read minds. This is greatly wasted in this story.
There are multiple timeless and dimensions… already confirmed in Echo, so, no new info there. Yes, your fanfic is canon.
This VN is not a follow up to any of the routes in Echo VN. Brian died in Jenna’s and Leo’s route, Duke died in Flynn’s and Leo’s, the hysteria happened in 2017 in TJ’s route and here is took place in 2015, and the whole Echo paranormal stuff was solved in Carl’s route. CHARACTERS https://preview.redd.it/1jfh6figmf3b1.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=205206a8bbf212b663c0d62d92774baf396b1205 CAMERON
The main protagonist of this story. He is so annoying with being so stubborn to stick in Echo so he can have more trips with the paranormal stuff, and he even willingly smoke weed to make it easier.
He has a sad backstory with his mother, he has plenty of mental issues and had drug issues. Yet, most of that is exposed through exposition dumbs by the narrator, we don’t really see the consequences of those behaviors during his entire life, but they treated more as an excuse to make the plot happen.
He has little to no arch in this story, unless you consider him appreciating his previous perfect life as an arch. He also tries to show he can take of himself… and fails throughout the entire VN, and even endangers everyone else in the group.
Yeah, we “see” his change in the epilogue and the “consequences” of the events in Echo. But, honestly, watching one scene, of one day of each period is barely exploring the consequences. Again, most of the consequences are explained through narrations and most development happens off screen. https://preview.redd.it/8eedxuyemf3b1.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=b92acb8d529771783b96d3521fd7465c1bc96fc6 DEVON
The boyfriend of our main protagonist. He is one at fault for bringing everyone into this mess. But, the moment he wants to leave and EVERYONE else tries their best to die, it’s hard to really keep blaming him anymore.
He is… a pretty passive character actually. Like, really, after bringing Cam to Echo, he is completely stripped of agency in the story, his voice doesn’t matter, most of his actions don’t matter, he is just there for the ride.
Yeah, the story gives him motivation to be in Echo, but nothing is done with that. He is just so useless until the very end of the story that we have entire scenes dedicated to him trying and failing to do anything.
And, again, most of his backstory is not showed through actions but by long info dumps from the narrator.
He is barely a character, he comes, give weed to Cameron and proceed to be there, and then he helps drag out the story. He is there just to fill space, he brings nothing to the table other than, you guessed, info dumps, explaining Cam, Devon and their relationship because writing actual relationships is hard.
I so much wished he died, but he survived thanks to the script. https://preview.redd.it/x6ers54mmf3b1.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=b5d0677850d3c92306f909a32366a8842a7bc360 BRIAN
Our favorite useless serial killer (numbers in the two digits, hahahahahaha), he is here to turn this boring and dragged story into a “thriller” and cause some bodily harm to the protagonists.
Really, if it wasn’t for him, Arturo, the couple could have left the story a long time ago.
He wasn’t needed in the story, his section is pretty much filler and an excuse for some harm. Stupid motivations to keep everyone alive. https://preview.redd.it/fv5npw4smf3b1.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=cc13691695cab4d077c4988fba4d06f8a143cf0c DUKE
He only has two scenes. One where he fucks up Artie’s car so they can’t leave the town, and told them to leave the town because is dangerous. And a second scene where he helps one of them leave the town with his car.
Like, he is stupid and contradictory in only two appearances, he managed to be an deux ex machine and a plot device to drag the story.
Well, the protagonist of this story is a couple, and we have plenty of scenes with them, such a shame most of their dynamics are TOLD to us instead of showed, most of their character is told rather than showed too. Their relationship is cute on the surface but lacks real depth, not because they cannot be complex, but rather because the plot demanded them to behave in a certain way so the plot can keep going.
Also, we are given plenty of reasons why Cameron loves Devon, but almost zero reason on why Devon loves Cameron. We are given a reason on why Devon had a crush on Cameron, but not how that developed into real love. Cameron’s reasons are explained around 20 times in the story, so pretty hard to miss that one. https://preview.redd.it/18e3vezxmf3b1.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=db12e4919d6e78f7c33b56ccc35d2b77ca68ca25 TOO LONG TOO MANY ENDINGS
Honestly, with how flat the characters were handled, this should have been a short VN, maybe just the first build.
About the endings, there is only one ending, but I see it as four. Let me explain. This story has four sections, each one with a clear ending that is then linked to the following sections, in a very artificial way.
· First Ending: and they never came back again
Devon and Cameron, after the first paranormal experience, decided to leave the town and drive back home. We could have had an ending about them exploring with other safer paranormal places, Devon explained Echo was especially dark.
But, this ending is ruined by Cameron seeing Sydney on the road, and making Devon crash the car. Also, Sydney is never seen or mentioned again, so I hope you enjoyed his cameo.
· Second Ending: I’m not Especial
After having a panic attack, Cameron realizes he had a perfect life already and decided to go back home with Devon, learning that he isn’t especial, that we wanted to feel useful with being a psychic. This could have been followed up with a nice ending of the couple working on making Cameron feel more useful without relying on his psychic ability.
But, this ending is ruined by Artie going into a forest and they followed him, and then Brian captured all of them.
· Third Ending: I found the Arch, mom
After defeating Brian, they are walking out of the cave and Cameron saw the real Arch to heaven, which can represent whatever you feel like, the theme with arches hasn’t been consistent nor especially focused on. So, it means Devon was the Arch, the arch means entering your new chapter in life, never coming back or whatever you feel like.
I would say it is open to interpretation, but given there are scenes to explain that Brian, the serial killer, is a bad person, I wouldn’t say this VN is really good with leaving interpretations to the reader.
· Fourth ending: Can you finish already?!
Then, we have an epilogue that is all the bad aspect in Echo and Adastra combined. Meaningless consequences that are mostly skipped and narrated instead of living with the characters, no real deathly consequences for the MC’s and yet a good ending with everyone being happy.
It’s magical. https://preview.redd.it/3ikl0g41nf3b1.png?width=1960&format=png&auto=webp&s=96f30cd7773aefcd513ac73445d8b5c27dfd157c THE REAL THEME OF THE STORY: YOU CANNOT HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO
It’s so magical how this story is full of contradictory ideas that fight to be true at the same time for the sake of the plot. Here is a little list of examples:
· Devon thinks psychology is not real, but believes in ghosts
· Devon is bad because he brought his boyfriend to Echo, also Cameron actually did want to go
· Devon no one lives in Echo, also Devon knows people live in Echo (he just conveniently fogot)
· Echo is safe, but also Brian lives there
· Artie studied psychology, also gives weed to a mentally ill guy with drug issues
· He remembers Cam was friends with his girlfriend because both had mental issues, also forgot Cam had mental issues.
· Duke wants them to leave Echo, also fucks up their car so they can’t leave
· Brian is serial killer with victims in the double digits, also can’t kill an inexperienced nerd, a drugged twink and a stupid high cat.
· Using drugs can ruin your life, also drugs lets you see ghosts and develop super powers.
And those are from the top of my head, there are more. https://preview.redd.it/slwrcxu4nf3b1.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=bdaa69dcb0495fb32b1537e0ad2e28c9283fade8 MENTAL ILLNESS AND DRUG ABUSE
So, this the thing, the story features drug abuse and multiple mentions of mental illnesses, my issue with it is that it “features” them but it is not about them.
We like it or not, mental issues and drug abuse are mostly used for shock effect and plot device, but they are not genuinely explored in this VN. They are treated as nothing more than excuses to feel pity for the character and explains their actions, yet we don’t really spend that much time in the life of this characters to have a real grasp of them
For example, and they can be added to “cannot have your cake and eat it too”:
· Cameron has trauma for his father and mother suiciding, and he abused all kind of drugs during high school, but also he was a top student and even got a scholarship in one of the most prestigious colleges of the country.
· Devon used to be a party animal who abused a lot of weed, yet he was one of the top students too.
· Cameron has mental issues, but it’s been years since that really affected his life since he has been in a relationship with Devon (of course this is retconned constantly)
we just don’t expend enough time with this people to really get through those very real issues.
And then… we have combining someone he says sees thing which aren’t real with having psychic powers, seeing things that no one else can. And then, giving said person super powers by taking strong dangerous drugs that he himself said changes your entire life and can ruin them.
This is… this is just a mess.
It’s magical. https://preview.redd.it/kx45vqk8nf3b1.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=ecb4e9c3c66f31660559f5b8047bf19698a928e2 CONCLUSION
This is one of the worst VNs that I have read, the worst from this writer, the second worst story in the Echoverse (Jenna’s route is still the worst), the worst VN in the Echoverse. The art is misguided and misused. Forgettable music. I just can’t recommend it at all.
Again, as I always say, if you like it and enjoy it, then good for you, I won’t shame you for that. But, I cannot really agree.
Well, time to go back and read some good VNs.
Also, Happy pride day/month
Every time I’m using twitter or reddit and see that someone is gay, I go check their profile to see if they’re cute (even though I’m not going to do anything). I just like seeing what’s like out there i guess.
This is one of my astrological long reads. Be warned.
In the comments to my “TIBH is a Leo book”, u/Focaccyna said
that for a Leo book, TIBH contained a lot of Virgo symbolism. (How about Gus being a virgin, for example?) So I reread TIBH through Virgo glasses and found many Virgoean themes and symbols there!
- Virginity/celibacy (a virgin maiden is the symbol of the sign) - the killer is a virgin, and all his jam is about being a virgin;
- The maiden often carries a “sheaf of wisdom” symbolising harvest - a machete is a harvesting tool and the killer’s weapon of choice;
- He is described as “cultured” and “cultivated” - a rather agricultural wording!
- Virgo’s tarot card is The Hermit - Gus lives in his room like in a hermit’s cave;
- Virgo belongs to the element of Earth - the killing happens in a cemetery; there is a cemetery in the game, too;
- Virgo is ruled by the trickster Mercury - Gus pretends to be Paperwhite and several other people, including Mercury’s Scaramouche;
- There is an Odinist cult in the book (Odin = Scandinavian Mercury);
- Its members also pretend to be someone they’re not (Lord Drek);
- Health is a central theme for Virgo. I’m looking at you, Strike, Josh, Gus, Inigo, Kea, Morehouse, and all the people in the background with their legs broken;
- Virgo's professions will be teachers, doctors, psychologists, editors, accountants, dietitians, personal assistants, and natural scientists. (Thinking about Mariam, Ashcroft, Prudence, Katya, Inigo, Morehouse, and doctors who admit Strike);
- In popular astrology, Virgos are considered nitpicky and “anal”, extra critical of themselves and everyone around them. Is Inigo a Virgo? He’s certainly anal enough to be one. (By the way, when we first meet him, Freddy Mercury plays in the background).
Also, let’s not forget about Ashcroft, who’s into young maidens, and Legs, a young maiden herself.
Don’t get me wrong; I am still certain that TIBH is at least partially
a Leo book. But what if it’s actually both a Leo and
a Virgo book? If JKR plans ten books in total, one sign per book is obviously not her plan. She’s already skipped a “Taurus” book (or combined it with primarily “Aries” CoE). No wonder TIBH, which I think is a “sister” book of CoE
, goes over more than one sign, too. Just for the fun of it, let's imagine that we've already had Virgo in TIBH, and
TRG will be a Libra book!
What would I expect from such a book? Libra is ruled by Venus; Venetia is Robin’s second name, and Libra is her Zodiac sign. The book just has
to be Robin-heavy
Libra covers such themes as partnerships, marriages, and legal contracts
So I would guess TRG will be rotating around married (divorced?) couples
or legal partnerships
the same way TB was rotating around mothers and TIBH - around fathers.
Libra is associated with justice
. We might visit a court. Would it mean seeing more of Ilsa, the lawyer
? I certainly hope so!
Lady Justice is blind - I expect someone blind
Libra's archetype is a devil’s advocate
. We might meet somebody defending atrocious crimes in court. Libra is believed to be highly intellectual and morally ambiguous!
Popular astrology believes Libras to possess unusual persuasive powers
. Combined with the highly intellectual
and morally ambiguous
aspects, they can be excellent politicians
, motivational speakers
, and lifestyle gurus
. How about cult leaders
?... Wink wink, I’m speaking about you, Norfolk community!
Because Venus is Libra's ruler, the customer in TRG will be a woman
. Or the killer will be a woman
has to be a woman for sure! :D)
Venus is responsible for all things beautiful, while Libra gives things structure, so quite apart from cult leaders, Libras are considered good designers
, art dealers
, and artists
. What if one of the customers for TRG happens to be a graphic designer?.. Or a side case will deal with an art object, a creative partnership, or a copyright issue?
Libra belongs to the element of Air
. There might be a gas
, a smell, a vapour, or a neuro-paralytic agent. Or death by the lack of air
. (“Entangle the hanging venturer” - if this anagram means anything at all, then “hanging” refers both to the body found in the air and possible death from asphyxiation).
Another “air” book of the series is LW (Gemini)
, so there might be connections between the two
If in LW we saw Sarah Shadlock winning Matthew
, in TRG, we might see how their marriage is going on
(Robin’s connection in the Ministry of Justice
of all places) might reappear.
(Izzy might be in the decoration business now, and Sarah is an art dealer - Libraean occupations!)
In LW, Linda visited Robin
in London. In TRG, Robin might visit Linda
Libra is one of the “double
” signs of the Zodiac (together with Pisces and Gemini), so we can expect some level of duplicity
. I wonder if Robin has to take out her twin Venetia
for a case again. Charlotte’s twins
are Libras born in LW. I think we’ll get a glimpse of them in TRG.
Robin suffered psychological issues
in LW - Strike will most definitely suffer from them n TRG. In LW, Robin quits psychotherapy - I wonder if Strike will do the same.
He certainly will be on a diet! The symbols of Libra are a sword and scales. To weigh what is necessary and to cut what serves no longer.
Now, having said all that, let’s imagine for a minute that Libra, too, was covered in TIBH!
- It started on October 9 - in Libra;
- It was a Robin-heavy book with a female customer (Edie);
- Who was an artist creating an animation in partnership with her boyfriend;
- The book had several important partnerships: Edie/Josh, Gus/Morehouse, Lord Drek/Vilepechora, Katya/Inigo, Yasmin/Anomie, Wally/MJ;
- On the justice side, we dealt with Pen_of_Justice;
- we met Ilsa (and briefly heard about her current court case);
- Metaphorical blindness was everywhere. “Two forms of darkness are there. One is Night… And one is Blindness.” was an epigraph to the whole book;
- Several people were artists, including the victim, the killer, and many suspects and witnesses. Edie, Josh, Gus, Kea, Zoe, Pez, Mariam, Niels…
- Robin herself got to practice her artistic abilities;
- She had to be not only Venetia but Jessica Robbins, too;
- She had somewhat of a sexual awakening - Venus influence!
- Charlotte was divorcing and fighting Jago over the custody of their twins;
- Strike suffered from psychosomatic issues and now must address his trauma;
- At the end of the book, Robin’s name appears on the frosted glass door (partnership theme again);
- In the last scenes, she’s off to give a try to a romantic partnership with Murphy.
(Sigh) I am somehow more confused now than when I started this post! How do you like the thought that TIBH was the book of Leo, Virgo, and Libra
, and we are about to have a Scorpio TRG
TRG will be a Scorpio book!
In that case, it will be a book of water ruled by Mars. It might feature a violent watery death - or accidental death by a lover's hand (Scorpio’s myth is Orion’s tale).
Poison, jealousy, sex, death, rebirth, and transformation, profound religious and mystical experiences are covered by Scorpio.
Charlotte. Shanker. (Not sure if Shanker is actually Scorpio, but he carries a Mars bar almost every time we see him; hence the association with Mars the planet).
Scorpio’s archetype is The Detective - will we meet a competing agency or other detectives?..
All sorts of medical professions ‘report’ to Scorpio, especially chemists and pharmacists.
Strike is a Scorpio rising - meaning obtained Scorpio traits due to his early experiences. We might learn something about his childhood.
There might be connections with other water books - CC, SW, and TB - but especially with SW (Venus in Scorpio
). We’ll see “the Tower” (Mars) and “the Hanged Man” (Water element) symbolism. (Something bad happens somewhere high - Someone hangs; the hero gets a new perspective).
Okay, it’s time to wrap up! All in all, I think TRG will not
be a Virgo book. (Too many themes to repeat from TIBH…). It will be either Libra, or Scorpio, or a combination of both.
If there is
a Chinese connection in the next book (I Ching, Chinese lantern, Chinatown Twitter header might point there - or nowhere at all), then there is also Azure Dragon
: a Chinese constellation that unites Libra and Scorpio.
Personally, I would like TRG to be a Libra book. Libra is the 7th sign of the Zodiac, and TRG will be the 7th book of the series. If JKR writes in symmetrical composition, it will also make TRG and LW parallel “air” books.
Anyways, thank you for reading! I hope it was entertaining. :D
About half a year ago I shared my feelings on here about how I would like to see more shots of Dyvims feet, and maybe even see him and his feet be updated with a higher quality model. I thought my words were falling on deaf ears, but low and behold, Dyvim Whitehart and his feet are coming back in the summer update! It's exciting!
Most have already seen it, I'm sure, but for those that haven't, Wizard101's twitter posted a gif/preview of what's to come, and in in the preview Dyvim jumps into the air gracefully, giving us a nice look at the bottom of his cute feet and toes. Dyvim's feet look nice even in gif form, which only gets me even more excited to see how they look in-game. I'm really, really excited to see Dyvim and his feet again.