Thriller-romance Visual novel review: Dead Wishes

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Hello everyone! Dead Wishes is a recent game that was released on itch.io on December 2018 after an extremely successful kickstarter campaign. It’ll soon be available for Steam as well! Before I begin, I wanted to say thank you very much to Violet for giving me a key to the game to review! ❤

After the death of their parents, the protagonist has suffered from depression for over a year and hasn’t been doing anything but stay at their apartment in solitude. However, an eviction notice from the landlady will force them into action. Upon this desperate situation, what will the MC do? Will they find a job or live on the streets? Become a criminal or take care of a couple of dysfunctional sisters? Join the mafia or the church?

NOTE: Even though this game isn’t strictly otome, I will tag it as such since the protagonist is non-binary and, thus, the player can give them the gender they prefer (so, in my case, I always imagined them to be female). Also, TRIGGER WARNING; this game is marked as NSFW because it has a lot of violence, sexual themes, and psychological horror (but not graphic sexual content) and most of it is directed towards the main character (MC), so keep that in mind.

As always, if you don’t wanna be spoiled, just head to conclusive thoughts.

Dead Wishes consists of 12 routes: 6 men and 6 women. They all live in the same city and, more often than not, they will make an appearance in each others routes. Apart from the MC’s primary conflict (their eviction threat and their depression) and a sub-conflict (regarding a feud and love affair gone wrong in the mafia group), this game has another major one that has to do with a certain “monster”. This monster will appear in every single route in one way or another, mostly in the form of a voice…which is how the game actually begins.

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Personality Test

A strange voice will talk to you and ask about your personality by giving you a test to complete. Depending on your choices, you will be more inclined to reach certain routes. The MC’s personality also changes a bit depending on whose route you’re in but, in my personal opinion, not that much; it feels more like the MC adapts to their surroundings and acts in a way accordingly to the people they meet. For instance, on my first playthrough, I remember selecting that I prefer to talk rather than listen in a group setting yet, when I began my first route (Clement), the MC said they were more of a listener, so the personality test doesn’t affect them 100%. Still, this is understandable, since the MC is supposed to be you, so it’s perfectly fine for them to not have such a definable personality; plus, in a way, it seems intentional. I do admit, though, that there are routes where I liked the MC better than in others.

ABOUT THE ROUTE ORDER

Before Violet released their guide, it was a bit tricky to pinpoint the best route order. It’s true that some routes are more spoilery than others but, in the end, it really doesn’t take away the enjoyment since the most spoilery route of them all is only unlocked after you play the first 11.

The order Violet recommends is this one: Vincent – Allegra – Lucien – Sergio – Ophelia – Clement – Eira – Nanako – Festus – Kazue – Mateo – Anise.

The one I did was this one: Clement – Kazue – Nanako – Vincent – Sergio – Mateo – Lucien – Ophelia – Allegra – Eira – Festus – Anise.

And the one I personally recommend is this one: Clement – Vincent – Allegra – Sergio – Lucien – Ophelia – Eira – Nanako – Kazue – Mateo – Festus – Anise.

Ultimately, it’s up to you, but I really recommend playing Clement and Vincent on your first playthroughs and leaving Mateo and Festus for last (before Anise).

CLEMENT

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Wise words from Clement

If you tell your landlady that you’re looking for a job and have no leads, she’ll recommend you to go to either a trainer or a restaurant. Pick the restaurant, and you’ll have reached this path. Clement was my very first route and completely took me by surprise because there’s absolutely no horror in it 😆 . His route is the closest to a traditional dating sim (or otome game or gal game) and even his “bad end” has no violence whatsoever so you’ve got nothing to worry about here. His clothes pretty much give him away but, yeah, Clement is a chef, as well as the owner of the restaurant, and he hires the MC to wait tables. He has a bit of a bad temper, at times, and seems to take a liking to the MC almost immediately since he flirts with them a lot 😆 (though sometimes a bit inappropriately). Still, the man’s a good bean who appreciates honesty and people who put an effort, and is even willing to train the MC as a pastry chef. I found Clement and MC’s bantering to be really cute and it was nice to see how they would support each other when the other one wasn’t in a good mood or there were issues in the restaurant (like a chef really screwing up with one of the orders).

Apart from the problems that any restaurant can have from time to time, thescreenshot0002 main conflict in this route comes from how the MC starts feeling depressed after Clement tells them about his sister (who moved out) because the family talk reminds them of their parents. While Clement has an adorable doggie to fill his loneliness, the MC doesn’t, which is why they feel sad and lonely in the first place. The MC also feels extremely guilty since their parents died in a accident when they were driving, so they don’t feel like they deserve to be happy. Despite having a ‘tough look’, Clement is remarkably empathetic, so he does a great deal to support the MC with their depression and make them happy. The MC also complements Clement well since they are more inclined to try new things and make him more open minded about his restaurant business. While he’s not my favorite character, Clement’s route is one of my favorites due to how heartwarming and sweet it is. The reason I recommend to do his path first is because playing such a mild route in the beginning followed by others full of suffering and despair adds to the horror of the play experience (by things getting worse and worse). Though you could also just play his route later to have a break from all the violence in the other paths 😆 .

VINCENT

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This whole route in a nutshell

Ah, yes, the man who traps the MC in his uguu cage of love apartment. Vincent is an efficient bank-manager who offers the MC a job after “taking pity” of their situation. In reality, though, he only gives them this administrative job for a while until it’s the right time to take advantage of the MC’s mistakes at work to invite them to his apartment to “give them pointers”. Yeah, on how to kidnap people, maybe. It’s so bad that even the monster’s voice appears right at the beginning of the route to warn you about this sadistic man and ask you if you really want to be with him. Send the police. Unfortunately, the MC is a perfect target for Vincent’s fucked up plans since they have no family, no friends, NADA Y NADIE who would notice them being gone. So they’re fucking screwed. What does Vincent want with the MC? He wants them to be their WIFE. Yes, you read right, no matter what gender you choose your MC to be, Vincent wants them to occupy the traditional role of a housewife who cooks for her husband, selects his wardrobe for work, cleans the apartment and raises children. SEND THE FUCKING POLICE ALREADY. Should the MC refuse to do so…FUCK. Vincent is extremely demanding about the rules, HIS MOTHERFUCKING RULES, being followed to a T or there will be severe consequences (as in…punishment for the poor MC). And you can’t fool me that he doesn’t enjoy those moments because HE HAS A FUCKING SADISTIC-SMILING SPRITE AaaAaaahhhh.

Still, even though Vincent is a manipulative and abusive asshole, he actuallyscreenshot0003 cares for the MC in his own twisted way (in fact, something I found very curious was that, despite all his abuse towards the MC, he never sexually assaulted them, he wanted the sex to be consensual). When the MC actually does what he wants them to do, he is very sweet to them and, should any harm non provoked by him that is come to them, he’ll be worried sick and do everything in his power to help them. What’s also interesting about this route is how even though it’s not as noticeable as in a certain character’s path with a ponytail the MC ends up going a bit cuckoo when they begin to genuinely care for Vincent as well get jealous/resentful of the kids he brings home to be “their children”. The bad end route, though, has the MC stay sane and “feel free” when Vincent finally resolves that they are not the perfect waifu and kills them. While I don’t like him as a person, Vincent is a very interesting character and I enjoyed his route a lot. I feel like the psychological horror here was done very well and I could feel the MC’s fear and anxiety when dealing with his capricious whims.

ALLEGRA

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I love her blushing face so much!!

If you make the required personality choices and then resolve to steal some money to pay the rent, you’ll reach Allegra’s route when trying to steal from her shop and failing miserably when she wipes the floor with the MC. Allegra is a petite woman who owns a boutique and makes clothes for a living. She’s a bit similar to Clement in the sense that she also has a bad temper (though MUCH worse) and can be empathetic though, unlike Clement, she has very low self-esteem (though this is a trait she shares with the MC). When the MC starts bawling due to their situation, Allegra takes pity on them and hires them as a cashier. At first, the relationship goes in a similar manner to Clement’s route: Allegra and the MC support each other and, much like Clement, Allegra also teaches the MC about her profession (in her case, she teaches them to make clothes). Just like how the MC would help Clement be more open about trying new things work-wise, the MC also helps Allegra with her bad temper problem by being kind to her. They adapt to Allegra’s way of being and know that she doesn’t mean to lash out every time, since she actually feels bad about her anger issues and strives to improve as a person. Allegra is also a very lonely woman who was belittled by her parents and bullied at college so it’s no wonder she starts to harbour feelings for the MC when they are so supportive and sweet to her.

However, this is a horror game and of course things had to go to hell at somescreenshot0004 point 😆 . One day, the boutique is about to be robbed by a man who owes a big debt to the casino…and Allegra ends up killing him and giving the body to an acquaintance of hers so that he disposes it. Eventually, we come to know that this acquaintance is Mateo and Allegra owes him a big debt…which she has to pay by giving him bodies holy shit. Mateo is revealed to work for the mafia and, apparently, the dude Allegra had killed before owed them a lot of money through the casino so they need a scapegoat. Mateo suggests the MC since Allegra was actually supposed to ‘send them to Mateo’ eventually but, as she got to know them, she fell for them hard. In the end, the second part of the route turns out to be an intense thriller. The MC ends up being involved and having to compromise to do bad stuff for their and Allegra’s safety. It’s only thanks to Ophelia, Allegra’s best friend, that they manage to survive and the scary matter is resolved. Allegra’s love confession was adorable and very fitting giving that she’s very fond of coffee. The bad end, however, shows her darker side…and even though she isn’t really a killer, she goes kind of resentful yandere-mode when she feels the MC doesn’t love her. Allegra is probably my third favorite female character and, as a native spanish speaker myself, it was hilarious whenever she cursed in spanish 😆 .

SERGIO

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I love yoooooouuuu!!!!!!

The adorable weak to teasing blushy boy that deserves all the happiness in the world. I’m weak to guys who blush a lot and he even shares my love for hawaiian pizza. Sergio is the leader of a mafia group and, despite this normally being cause for alarm, he is one of the few characters who never hurts the MC neither physically nor mentally (at least not in his route). In fact, insulting and/or teasing him will make you raise affection with him 😆 , his banter with the MC is one of the best things in the whole game. Sergio is a character that breaks paradigms of the mafia in the sense that he doesn’t behave in the way a mafia boss traditionally would. Mafia guys are supposed to be the epitome of manliness, dominant and heterosexual, yet Sergio’s route’s main conflict is his struggle to get revenge on his backstabbing ex lover, Lucien (a man and the dominant one in their past relationship, at that), yet finding great difficulty to do so because he still loves him. Although Sergio is a very sensitive character who gets hurt easily (he drinks when he’s stressed, for one) and is impossible very difficult to dislike, it’s important to not forget that he’s still the leader of a crime organization who kills and beats people up; he’s no saint. In fact, despite being emotionally vulnerable, Sergio is one of the only two characters who manages to kill Mateo (on a different route, in his own route he just beats him up a bit lmao), a character who’s a major antagonist in many paths (including his own). However, when it comes to Lucien, Sergio can’t do anything my poor baby let me hug you forever.

Apart from being his ex-lover, Lucien was also part of the mafia and helpedscreenshot0005 Sergio build an important business. Unfortunately, Lucien betrayed him and kept the business along with some of Sergio’s men. The flashback of their breakup suggests Lucien’s cruelty very strongly, but it’s interesting to note how the game still leaves it up to interpretation since Lucien has a breakup flashback of his own, only with a different “section” of it that suggests another truth despite Lucien being less trustworthy. The endings were all very fitting, I loved the good one especially (and the normal one gave me the satisfaction of seeing Eira have a happy ending). The bad ending is absolutely horrible and, to my view, the worst out of them all, yet painfully fitting. The MC’s role in this route is that of being emotionally supportive and giving Sergio some confidence to confront his problem with Lucien. Even though I loved this as well as how tough they were and the way in which they spoke to Sergio, what I didn’t particularly like was how the MC’s depression and guilt in regards to the matter of their family went completely unseen. The MC is very supportive of Sergio: they listen to him, they comfort him, yet they never talk to him about their past nor does Sergio ask about it. The MC is always there for Sergio so that he stops living in the past and finally confronts his fears yet Sergio is never there for the MC in the same regard; something I found a tad disappointing since I was hoping to see it. With all that being said, Sergio’s route is still one of my favorites and he too is among my top favorite characters. His nickname for the MC, cupcake, is adorable and it makes me want to have a boyfriend call me that ❤ .

LUCIEN

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Did I stutter, asshole?

Oh, boy, here comes the manipulative rapist asshole. Playing Sergio’s route before Lucien made it very difficult for me to like this character and I have to say that he’s probably my least favorite one in the whole game (especially after he raped the MC in Sergio’s bad end). Still, it’s important to mention that just as it’s very easy to like Sergio, it’s also very easy to dislike Lucien because of how many characters surrounding him are easier to empathize with. Lucien is the flirtatious owner of an escort business, the same one he thought up with Sergio, and he literally picks up the MC from the street so that they can work for him. In the beginning, he actually wants the MC to work as an escort but since they don’t want to do that kind of work, the MC ends up working as the receptionist of the building.  Lucien calls the MC ‘little dove’ and, at first, he is very flirty with them and constantly interrupts their work. The MC naively thinks he might have feelings for them (and even starts to harbour feelings for him themselves) but Lucien isn’t that simple. Every single one of his actions has a purpose: to manipulate. It could still be interpreted that Lucien likes the MC, to an extent, but in my personal opinion his love doesn’t go far enough to risk his self-preservation (and just because he may have feelings for the MC doesn’t mean he’d stop manipulating them). When the MC finds out his journal, where it’s heavily implied that Lucien was abused as a child, Lucien proceeds to ignore and treat them like shit. This is probably because the MC discovered his most vulnerable side and Lucien is a man who always wants to be the one who holds power over others; since the MC found out possibly his biggest secret, it makes sense that he showed them his fangs.

Eventually, he ends up forgiving them but the manipulative shit doesn’tscreenshot0006 end there. There’s a particular scene where Lucien wants to have sex with the MC and, when they say they don’t want to move so fast, the dude acts like a fucking dick because he doesn’t get what he wanted. This YET AGAIN makes the MC blame themselves FOR HIS BULLSHIT ATTITUDE. Jesus, this is seriously the only route where I didn’t like the MC because they would behave like they were the worst human being in the world instead of standing up to this toxic asshole. Even when Lucien rescues the MC after they are kidnapped by Sergio’s group, he’d constantly be trying to be the one in power. He wouldn’t let the MC hold a gun and he’d make them lose A LOT of affection with him should the MC ask him about his past with Sergio ಠ_ಠ. Incidentally, the break up conversation in Lucien’s route suggests that Sergio wanted to keep their relationship a secret while Lucien wanted to make it known. Lucien’s words suggest that all Sergio cared about was his reputation and, while it holds a small true since Sergio certainly NEEDS to hold a good reputation in the mafia, it’s not because he wanted a relationship of convenience but because, otherwise, his mafia members would’ve put a bullet in his head. Even in Lucien’s victimized flashback, you can see the extent of his selfishness: since things weren’t going the way he wanted, he left Sergio (though not without the escort business and some of his men). This is why his love confession in the good ending felt so…fake to me, and ultimately, his normal and bad endings made more sense with his personality. I ranted a lot about this character 😆 but nonetheless, I have to say that the writer did a great job in creating him because, whether I like Lucien or not, if the intention was to make him dislikeable and twisted, then it was a big success.

OPHELIA

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I’m really gay for Ophelia

My queen, who I would gladly kiss her feet. Ophelia is Lucien’s assistant and works as a stylist for his escort business. I didn’t expect to like her as much as I did and she ended up being my favorite female character. When Lucien offers you work, you can ask to work for Ophelia and that’s how you’ll get her route. At first, Ophelia is very nasty to the MC; constantly calling them names and saying they are incompetent. While it’s true that Ophelia is unnecessarily cruel when talking to people, many of the things she says hold great truth. For instance, at the beginning, the MC wouldn’t take care of themselves and think it was whatever if they showed up to work looking like always. Yet, as Ophelia tells them, it’s very unprofessional to show to work looking like a slob and you risk the chance of the others not taking you seriously. Ophelia’s also very intolerant of mistakes so it’s always better for the MC to ask her for advice in order to learn, instead of trying to make guesses. In a way, Ophelia also ends up being a mentor to the MC as much as Allegra and Clement on their respective routes. The more Ophelia trusts the MC, the more tasks and stuff to learn she’s willing to give to them. Later in the route, we learn that Ophelia has a really sensitive side; her bravado is a sort of mask that protects her from her insecurities and fears.

Ophelia is afraid of the dark and is surprisingly innocent when it comes toscreenshot0007 sexual intimacy: she believes people should only have sex with the one they love. This is one of the many reasons why she despises Lucien, a man who couldn’t care less about the people he sleeps with, not to mention manipulate and take advantage of them as well. She even says that he once tried to rape her. Out of fear that he may do something to her, she keeps working for him (or as Ophelia would say: with him). As much as I love Ophelia and how easy it is to sympathize with her, it’s undeniable that she has a darker side which is very dangerous. When Ophelia can’t take it any longer, she murders Lucien in front of the MC and then proceeds to rip off his face with a scalpel to add to her “collection” (YES, SHE COLLECTS FACES, JESUS CHRIST). We find out that she gives these bodies to Mateo (just like Allegra, she too owes him a debt) and, while it’s probably true that Lucien deserved what happened to him, we must never forget that Ophelia is still a murderer. She doesn’t just murder Lucien, she sometimes murders escorts as well, those who she ironically defended from Lucien’s treatment. Of course, should you choose the wrong answers, the same fate awaits the MC in the bad ending. She also has a jealous side to her when it comes to the MC, she’d rather they didn’t get so close to others but, truthfully speaking, that side of her is rather innocent since all she really wants is for the MC to be by her side. Ophelia’s darkest side is the fact that she murders people and finds it cathartic due to not being appreciated in her workplace and feeling like she could be thrown away to be replaced any day. Ophelia’s route is one of my favorites but, just like Sergio’s, it also suffers from the fact that the MC’s depression and overall matter regarding their family goes unseen.

EIRA

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Protect this smile at all costs

To get Eira’s route, you need to get the same personality result as Vincent’s and, when you tell the landlady you’re looking for a job, say that you have a lead. Fail at the interview with Vincent and you’ll have reached this route. Eira is Sergio’s bodyguard and right-hand (wo)man; as well as his good friend. She seems cold and cruel, at first, but the reality is that she’s a sweet black woman trying to prosper in a world of white men, so she can’t afford to show any weakness. She can’t even dress the way she likes or noone in the mafia would take her seriously, she can’t even have a child of her own (something that she greatly wishes). Eira and the MC start on a rocky relationship mainly because the MC is rude and Eira is too secretive. Whenever the MC wants to know something, Eira speaks in a cryptic manner and adds her catchphrase ‘it’s not my place to say’. This gradually starts to change the more Eira trusts the MC and she also begins to take MC’s jokes with humor. Just like in Sergio’s route, the MC in this route is tough, but instead of teasing Eira and being sarcastic, they should be honest and try to understand her, even though this may somewhat annoy her at first. Also, Eira is someone who greatly worries for others but doesn’t worry about herself, so the MC is the one who carries to role of showing concern for her.

In this route, we also learn that Eira’s actually a friend of Nanako andscreenshot0008 Kazue. Mateo and her used to train under Nanako until, one day, Mateo did something bad to Kazue before running away. Nanako asks for Eira to follow him and this is how she ends up reaching the mafia. However, as Nanako then tells her, Eira’s now ‘in too deep’ since she forms a really special friendship bond with Sergio. Basically, Eira’s main flaw is that she tries to help everyone but, as the MC tells her in the bad ending, she can’t because she isn’t superhuman. Sadly, this costs Eira and the MC their life in the good end (at least they kissed before they died ;__;), when they try to follow Mateo to an alleyway where he feeds “his pet”. This pet is none other than the monster I mentioned at the start of the review. Mateo feeds this monster with human corpses and calls her his master. After Eira and the MC die, we see a strange scene where they seem to be living together in her apartment and Eira is asking for their help with her house project. This is probably the MC’s mind trying to protect them from the tragic reality. The normal ending is even worse because Sergio finds out about Eira actually not being 100% loyal to the mafia and, because of the rules in his group regarding betrayal, he has to kill her (or the MC if they jump in to protect her). Sadly, Eira doesn’t have a happy ending because she tries to do everything by herself instead of asking for help. The bad ending is the “happiest” one since neither she nor the MC die but it also means we don’t learn about Mateo’s “pet”. I loved Eira a lot, she’s my second favorite female character in the game and I really wish she could have had a true happy ending with the MC; but then again, none of the endings in this game are truly ‘happy’ for a certain reason. As in a few other routes, the MC’s past isn’t mentioned here and I also would have liked for it to play a part in the route.

NANAKO

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Me almost the whole route

If, instead of working at the restaurant, you choose to work for the trainer, you’ll reach the sisters’ routes. Raise enough affection with Nanako and you’ll be on her path. Nanako is Kazue’s younger sister and a personal trainer. Because Kazue is a widow and is very ill, Nanako lives together with her in order to take care of her; also because she feels guilty for not having being close to her in the past. At first, Nanako’s relationship with the MC is not so good since she isn’t very sympathetic of their situation and doesn’t trust them very much. Still, eventually, she finds it in herself to trust the MC with taking care of Kazue, yet the complex thing about Nanako is that she’ll demand attention from them as well. To be honest, I didn’t like Nanako all that much. Despite being very intelligent, she is also really immature and constantly makes a scene when Kazue is given a lot of attention, particularly from Vincent, who makes an appearance in this route. I bet he wanted to make Kazue his waifu. The silver lining in Nanako’s behavior is that, at least, the MC puts her in place when she goes overboard with her rudeness and, thus, Nanako starts to grow as a person. I also like the fact that she takes care of flowers (every flower mentioned is associated with the main characters in Dead Wishes).

Still, after having played Eira’s route, I liked Nanako even less because I justscreenshot0009 couldn’t understand why she would order her friend to risk her life by following a dude who’s so fucking dangerous. I personally feel Sergio’s a better friend to Eira even though he’s the leader of a criminal group. Anyway, despite her complicated feelings for her sister, Nanako still cares about her a lot and wants to figure out what the hell Mateo did to her. In Eira’s route we know that he has a sort of “army” of children who kill people that he then feeds to his master (Mateo hunts people too, of course). Because Kazue’s reminded of her deceased husband after meeting Vincent, she starts getting worse so Nanako resolves to kill Mateo in revenge. When they confront him, we finally learn that what Mateo did to Kazue was show her the monster because she wanted to help him and the children. Apparently,  Kazue also wanted to take care of kids as a mother, and since the monster didn’t like this one bit (since she considers herself to be the children’s mother), she “broke” Kazue. In the good ending, Nanako manages to kill Mateo but it still isn’t a happy ending since…it’s implied that Kazue will probably take over Mateo’s job of feeding the monster. The bad ending made me super mad at Nanako because she abandons the MC and runs away like the selfish brat she is. Her route is also the only one without any romance, but I didn’t really care since I didn’t like her in the first place 😆 .

KAZUE

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This whole route in a nutshell

Oh, jesus, here comes the yandere (꒪∆꒪;). Kazue’s actually the second route I played and…well, she actually should be left for much later if you want to avoid spoilers but, nonetheless, it didn’t prevent me from enjoying the full game experience so I guess, ultimately, it’s up to the player. She’s a widow who suffers from a physical illness that prevents her from doing stuff that are too hard on her body (according to the guide, she suffers from lupus) so she lives with her younger sister. Her physical health is not the only one that suffers, though, as she is also prone to mental breakdowns (and Nanako’s route already suggests that the monster broke her down mentally). In this route, the MC helps Kazue around the house but she’s also supposed to take care of her together with Nanako. When the MC starts to be kind to Kazue…well, let’s say that she gets a bit too excited with that. Kazue’s mental stability gets worse and worse to the point where she starts doing really unsettling things, like smelling the MC’s dirty clothes when they are having a bath ( ゚д゚), and manipulating them into doing everything she wants (like moving into her house), often guilt-tripping them and being a major crybaby if the MC happens to say no ಠ_ಠ.

Her manipulation is so awful that she even forces the MC to have sex with herscreenshot0010 (and a bunch of times at that) without any care to how uncomfortable the MC is. What’s more, Kazue is very similar to Lucien in the sense that, once she doesn’t need someone or if this someone gets in the way of what she wants, she will dispose of them. Even if it’s her own sister. Yikes. Yanderes are a common trope in otome games so, giving that I play a whole lot of them, I wasn’t that surprised with Kazue’s obsessive personality BUT I WAS STILL VERY UNEASY. What DID surprise me though, was that, even though Kazue’s “yandereness” is directed towards the MC, she doesn’t really like the MC for themselves but because they remind her of her late husband Daichi. What’s truly horrifying is that Kazue wants to turn the MC into someone they’re not, all for the sake of her happy ending. This route is also one of the few ones where, once the MC’s in too deep, their choices don’t matter shit. The game would show you “choices” with only one option and the MC would have no alternative than to obey. Another interesting detail is how Kazue’s not only similar to Lucien but also to Vincent. While Vincent wishes for the perfect wife, Kazue wishes for the perfect replacement of her husband. Also, just like in Vincent’s route, for the MC to have a happy ending, they have to give up part of their sanity as well as their full freedom to be with Kazue and comply with every single one of her whims. I wonder why she felt it was necessary to ask for the monster’s blessing to “marry” the MC, though. Oh well, only Kazue will know and maybe that’s for the best. Kazue’s character was very well explored and, while I really hated her as a human being, it was interesting to see a new aspect to the yandere trope.

MATEO

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Think this is bad? Believe me, you’ve seen nothing yet…

Congratulations, you’ve just arrived at literal hell. You thought many of the others were bad? Ha! Let me introduce you to Mateo: a sadistic, cruel and murderous son of a bitch that deserves to die in the most slow, painful and horrible way possible. He’s also a major antagonist in the game since he serves “the monster”. When you’re in the mafia route, there will be a point in time in which Mateo will ask the MC if they want to escape with him and, if they agree, you will regret it for the rest of your life you’ll enter his route. Despite his sweet appearance, Mateo is an inhuman beast who makes the MC’s life a living hell from the moment he takes them into his “home” (an alleyway full of cardboard boxes and children). While, as a person, Mateo is extremely hateful, as a character he has interesting characteristics that define him and give him a “voice”. Speaking of voices, there are many instances in the game where Mateo talks about a voice in his head, his master’s voice, who tells him what to do. This is not his imagination, the voice is very much real as the MC themselves and/or the player hear it in every single route. However, even though he isn’t crazy in this aspect, he is still very much a dangerous psycho (probably because the monster broke him in the same way she broke Kazue). What’s more, Mateo is the only character who knows the real truth of what’s happening in the game before the MC, who finds out in the final route. Another characteristic he has that further proves his insanity, is that he believes people to be vermin who don’t deserve to be in the presence of the “innocents” (plants and animals), which is why he kills them. This also means that he will never eat the innocents, thus, he engages in cannibalism. Another thing that’s very interesting about his character is how Mateo always looks resentful and angry whenever the MC is in a romantic relationship with another character, often spouting harsh comments about it. This is probably because Mateo strives for love himself and, as twisted as it may sound, he does love the MC; only his way of showing affection is extreme and violent.

While Mateo is certainly a very interesting villain, I wasn’t that fond of hisscreenshot0011 route. The reason why I feel this way mainly has to do with the excessive amount of torture present in it. While I understood the intentions of the writer to make Mateo as horrible as possible, I was more repulsed by his actions rather than scared. To my view, the most interesting part about Mateo’s route starts when the MC has a major mental breakdown and they lose their sanity. They can finally love Mateo back and understand his extreme ways. The MC becomes a criminal as well, engages in cannibalism and is ready to do anything Mateo may wish (such as when they kill Kazue). Yet this section of the route is quite short compared to the rest, which is filled with an excessive amount of abuse and torture. There is a wide variety of ways in which Mateo tortures the MC (choking them, beating them up, cutting off their legs, etc) but the act of torture in itself feels repetitive and is always too explicit. Besides, no matter what the MC says or does, Mateo will STILL torture them so the choices feel a bit pointless unlike in Vincent’s route, where the MC could actually avoid the abuse if they followed the rules. In my opinion, horror doesn’t always need to be so overly explicit to make you scared and uneasy; sometimes a small sign can do much more. Also, the overuse of a resource (in this case, explicit torture) runs the risk of becoming tedious. The endings, however, were very well done and interesting. As crazy as it may sound, Mateo’s true despair doesn’t come from death but from losing the MC to their master. The monster is always hungry and her hunger reaches the point of her demanding to eat the MC, which greatly upsets Mateo. In the bad ending, he ends up complying to his master, though, but it’s implied that, since he’s in such a state of despair, the monster will eat him soon after and he’ll be able to be “together with the MC”.

FESTUS

screenshot0038
Truer words have never been spoken

Festus is my sweet adorable baby who deserves nothing but happiness an ex-priest who serves the community and spends most of his time with his “friend” Anise. He also kids around constantly, often making inappropriate jokes that piss the MC off 😆 . Despite his tomfoolery, Festus is very intelligent, kind and great at giving advice, which makes the MC reconsider their initial bad opinion of him. The MC ends up living in the church together with Festus and Anise in order to repent for their sins by helping the community and, as Festus tells them, to have a little introspection in how can they change so as not to repeat the same mistakes. The reason why Festus is no longer a priest, though, has to do with the fact that he doesn’t practice celibacy. He and Anise have what others would call “a friendship with benefits” since they don’t love each other but nonetheless have sex. The problem is that there is something very wrong with their relationship, as the MC soon discovers. One morning, Festus wakes them up with a kiss and they get furious because of him overstepping the boundaries. Festus is a bit perplexed at this but jokes around saying the MC will ‘grow to enjoy trying new things’ in the same way he did. This, of course, suggests that Festus wasn’t always so inclined to do stuff with Anise and she took advantage of him. The MC, of course, is very worried about him throughout the whole route and tries to make him realize the toxicity of his relationship with Anise. At first, Festus is always inclined to avoid those talks by joking around or avoiding the MC altogether; but this slowly changes when he starts developing romantic feelings for them.

Something I loved a lot about this route is how Festus and the MC help each

screenshot0012
I love yooooouuuu!!!!!

other with their problems: Festus helps the MC to reflect on their actions and try to connect with people who are also going through hardships while the MC helps Festus learn to take care of himself and to not be used as a toy by others (namely, Anise). I also found it extremely endearing to see Festus being confused over his romantic feelings for the MC and trying to make sense of them. Regarding Anise, it’s apparent by this point in the game that she is the monster; plus this is the only route where we see her eyes changing color, leaving no room for doubt that she isn’t human. In this route, she often tries to weaken the MC’s efforts to help Festus and is very possessive of his attention to the point where she threatens him (and what she tells him is left up to interpretation) when he doesn’t listen to her. It’s also very frustrating that the MC still has to treat Anise politely whenever Festus is around but, thankfully, they stop doing that when they have enough of Anise’s bullshit and finally confront her. In the good ending, Anise ‘gives up’ and stops interfering between the MC and Festus. In her mindset, their romance won’t last long, which is why she lets these two have their happy ending. Nonetheless, this ending is probably my favorite: Festus’ love confession is the sweetest I’ve read in a long time. And, even though the MC is a bit stubborn to admit it, they too reciprocate his feelings. It’s true that they haven’t known each other for a long time, but the adorable message that this route leaves me about love is that no matter how long you’ve known a person, if you connect with them, it’s not a hasty feeling and it’s not wrong to love them. As for the other endings…they’re sadly fitting and broke my heart in a million pieces. Festus is probably my favorite character (along with Sergio) as well as my favorite route in the whole game.

ANISE

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Her true colors revealed!

We’re finally down to the last route and the one that reveals the whole truth. Like I mentioned in Festus’ section, Anise is the monster who eats the people Mateo and the children bring for her. She’s also the main antagonist of the game. Her route is unlocked after you’ve played all the others and, what’s interesting, is that it goes in a completely different way to the other paths. The MC suddenly “wakes up” at the church with no memory and has no idea what the fuck is going on. Anise shows up to “help them” but, soon enough, she reveals herself as a demon with an interesting spidery design in her clothing. Apart from Anise’s true identity, the biggest reveal in Dead Wishes is that everyone in the game (sans Anise, of course) is already dead. If we think back to Nanako’s route, this is the biggest lead we have in regards to everyone’s demise since Mateo tells Nanako she can’t kill something that’s already dead nor kill god in her own world. Well, demon’s world. The city everyone lives in is actually Anise’s haven (or even her ‘spiderweb’, since all her victims are trapped there, waiting to be devoured both physically and mentally) and she’s very interested in the MC because she can’t understand how they think. Even though Anise never actually speaks to the player, the reason behind her fascination with the MC has to do with the player. The player isn’t satisfied with getting one ending, so they keep playing and playing.

It’s as if Anise was asking us directly: ‘why are you still interested in gettingscreenshot0013 other endings? aren’t you satisfied with the happy ending you got for this certain character?’ That notion truly breaks the 4th wall and it’s ravishing (Anise even mentions multiple times that you’re playing her game). The wonders of Anise’s route don’t end there. Another thing I found very amusing and original was something that I’ve never seen before in a visual novel with routes (and would very much like to see more often): the MC being confronted by their love interests over everything that transpired in the game. A tremendously creative idea worthy of applause. There’s just something really captivating (as well as terrifying) about characters who demand an explanation for the protagonist’s actions in routes that aren’t their own (Sergio’s tears and Festus sad expression broke my fucking heart though). After that, there isn’t much of a “route” perse, but rather a very long conversation between the MC and Anise, where she asks them lots of questions about morality. It may not be a traditional route but the questions really make you think and they’re not easy to answer at all. Still, you don’t have to worry about raising or lowering Anise’s affection here, since the ending you get with her is determined by two choices alone: to be with her forever or to leave in order to try to be happy with your favorite character. The other reason why Anise is interested in the MC is because she believes they are like her: selfish and self-preserving. But the unexpected truth that’s shown to us by no other than the MC is that they aren’t similar to Anise, it’s Anise who is similar to humans because she too has a wish. Despite her patronizing attitude, Anise is lonely and wants someone similar to her to remain by her side. Yet she dismisses humans’ attempts to find happiness, finding it ridiculous and disgusting. However, like the MC tells her, suffering may be awful but humans still accept it as a part of life since, because there is suffering, they understand the concept of happiness: “struggling is not a pointless existence – it is our existence”. Anise isn’t my favorite character but I liked the way she interacted with the player in every route, apart from her own, making comments on the player’s decisions, taunting them and cruelly telling them that they have a ‘choice’ in the decisions they make.

 

CONCLUSIVE THOUGHTS

deadwishes

I mentioned it at the start of the review but will mention it again just in case: this game has a lot of violence, abuse, sexual themes (there is rape) and psychological horror, so be sure to keep that in mind if you want to play it.

Now, back to the point, whew that took longer than I thought 😆 . If you like games with a lot of content and suffering, this one will be right up your alley. I don’t think I’ve ever played a horror visual novel like this one and I have to say I enjoyed it a whole lot. The game was planned well, there are no plot holes that I could find and it’s super cool to see the way in which the characters are connected and interact with each other throughout the different routes. You have to be prepared to dislike many characters, though, cause’ a long part of the cast isn’t very nice (oh god, I’ve just repeated one of Mateo’s catchphrases, shoot me). Hateful even. Still, the characteristics that defined them were outstanding, the writer did a great job with each of their “voices” (in a writing sense, I mean). Nonetheless, the writing in some routes was better than in others; but that’s a given cause’ it happens in every single visual novel. Personally, I found the most issues in Mateo’s route because there was an overuse of a certain resource. Then, in Lucien’s case, his character was written very well but there were times when he could be a little too confusing, even to the player (it’s really hard to get his good ending without using a guide). With the remaining characters and their routes, I didn’t have much issue, I either liked them or not, so my ‘route enjoyment rank’ is closely linked to that 😆 . My favorite characters were Festus, Sergio, and Ophelia, followed closely by Eira and Allegra. Clement was very sweet although, personally, not someone I’d like to have as a boss lmao. Vincent and Anise were cool characters too, but if they were real I’d run the hell away. Kazue was…something bad, alright, but in the end, the only characters I truly disliked were Nanako and Lucien. Mateo…I don’t know how to feel about him. On the one hand I despise him, but on the other hand I found him to be really interesting and a great villain what have you done to me Violet. The MC was cool and I liked them in every route except for Lucien’s. Still, my main critique regarding the MC in this game is that I wish their past could have been mentioned in all routes, cause’ there were some paths where their depression/guilt went completely unseen.

As for other aspects of the game, I have to say that I greatly enjoyed the soundtrack; so much so that I ended up buying it. Really, the music is awesome and very fitting to the game. The art was very nice as well. There were some very minor things in regards to the anatomy for certain sprites (like Festus’ belly button being way too low lol) but, still, I loved the art a lot. The character designs are amazing, the CGs are lovely and I like that the backgrounds don’t have black line art. My only real critique is that the angry anime symbol is so small that, at first, I thought it was a tatoo 😆 lmao. The characters’ voices were something I enjoyed a lot as well. The problem is that, despite fumbling with the options, there were times when the voices would sound either too low or too loud. There also seemed to be a problem with the full-voiced lines: whenever a character said one of those, the voice would keep running all the way to the end; meaning that it wouldn’t wait for the player to go to the next written line, so you’d end up having the voiced line not matching with the text at the bottom (hope this made sense). The history was the only other issue I had with the system. I have a laptop so I can’t scroll up to see it as I’d do with a mouse; and, although the game still has the history available in the menu, it would only let you see the most recent lines and the text would sometimes be in a jumble.

As for the route order, I mentioned it in a different section of the review so be sure to use Ctrl+F/⌘+F to find it.

Overall, the game was great. I enjoyed it a whole lot and am really looking forward to Violet’s update on the characters’ backstory and after story chapters as well as other future projects they may have in mind. Again, thank you very much, Violet, for providing me with a key to review your fantastic game and for letting me use icons for Sergio and Festus!! ❤

That’s the end of this review. Thanks a lot for reading until the end, feel free to comment and see you next post!! (≧∇≦*)/

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2 comentarios sobre “Thriller-romance Visual novel review: Dead Wishes

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