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Tales of the Black Forest - Review

Tales of the Black Forest by 拾英工作室 (Shiying Studio) and SakuraGame is a top-down RPG Maker-based adventure game with anime, mystery, thriller, and supernatural elements in a modern Japanese setting. The game features a high school girl Kashin Kihara, who has no recollection of her childhood and has the unusual ability to see yōkai which include monsters, demons, and spirits. One day, Kashin dozed off while taking a train home, and woke up to find herself trapped in a dark rural village.

Shortly afterwards, Kashin encountered a full-time novelist Yuki Kiritani, taking the form of a tiny round pigeon that will accompany Kashin in her adventure. Yuki revealed to Kashin that both of them are trapped in this dark place in the mountains, and they would need to go to the theater in town to undo the curse on them to leave this place. Both Kashin and Yuki would embark on an adventure filled with a large cast of yōkai, talking animals, and some time-travelling mixed in.

Tales of the Black Forest may not seem much as it is an RPG Maker-based adventure game with 8-bit graphics, yet the choice of mood music, great artwork sprites, cute and comical facial expressions, emoji speech balloons, and storytelling create an interesting world worth exploring. It features a large and varied cast of characters with various creepy, happy, and sad moments, and a few references to actual historical events that become the highlights in this adventure game.

There are a few flaws though, mainly in the tight narrow spaces in the stealth and chase segments in the game. One particular chase segment has invisible walls and spiderwebs that basically results in a game over when stepped on. Although the game is forgiving and has an autosave before every chase segment, this part requires blind experimentation and memorization at least a few times to complete successfully and is the most annoying part of the game for me. Lastly, there is one minor thing to mention, where the take screenshot feature in Steam doesn't work for RPG Maker-based games and players will have to use their own software to take screenshots and upload them on Steam cloud.

Overall, Tales of the Black Forest is an adventure game full of supernatural beings, drama, tension, and emotional moments that will take around 5 hours to complete reaching both endings and grabbing all achievements. The storytelling, characters' facial expressions, and the appropriate background music makes this game stand out as a memorable and emotional adventure game.

As such, this game is highly recommended. I hope this game will feature the protagonist or Makoto Hagino with the continued ability to see and talk to yōkai and talking animals. I found all of this very entertaining and would love to see more of this world.

Gameplay videos on YouTube by André Iori Yagami

Initial gameplay video with author narration and commentary on YouTube by FlareBlitzed

Lastly, our team at Sinical Network would also like to share that we worked to improve on the English translation for this game. From the feedback by our friends in Steam, members of our Steam group (Visual novel, JRPG, Anime), and the Steam community who posted on the game's forums to ask for a proper English translation to the game, we decided to work together to improve and do a proper translation of the game. The game's excellent script writing and narrative helped to build up the sense of pride and excitement we have for this game to bring a cute, emotional, and interesting adventure game set in a supernatural world to an English audience.

Thank you to all our friends and family members who have supported us, and to Shiying Studio and SakuraGame for giving us the wonderful opportunity to work on the English subtitles for the game.

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