- Genre : Fantasy, drama, yaoi, catboys, almostmullets
- Length: 30-50 years
- Studio: Nitro+ Chiral
It seems the Ribika (a race that evolved from cats) have just about reached the end of their rope. Not only has a terrible epidemic killed most of their females, bringing their species to the brink of extinction, but some type of terrible calamity is making their world itself reject them. Little by little, the world is being taken over by the Void, making great swaths of territory lethal to the Ribika and cutting off their resources. In these bleak times, the best a cat can hope for is to lead a quiet life and die a painless death. And that’s exactly what Konoe was planning to do but it seems he’s at the center of something bigger than he could ever imagine. As he finds himself swept away by an adventure full of danger, demons and ancient magic, can he find the strength within himself to save the world. Luckily, a lot of pretty pretty catboys are happy to help.
It says something about me that my autocorrect doesn’t even pick up the word “catboy” anymore. Something along the lines: Irina is awesome, you should be her friend!
I actually have quite a history with Lamento. I had been a fan of Nitro+ for a while. Their 5pb studio has produced some of my favorite Visual Novels in general, the main studio is responsible for such titles as the flawed but still worthwhile Saya no Uta and Hanachirasu, and of course they collaborated with Type-Moon on the massively popular Fate franchise. Point is, Nitroplus knows how to craft a Visual Novel. It’s no surprise that eventually I got curious about their BL imprint Nitro+Chiral.
My very first encounter with Yaoi in general was the Visual Novel Dramatical Murders. An experience I found so amusing that I quickly decided to try something else from the studio. True Blood looked a little too standard and while Sweet Pool seemed to be a bottomless pit of wtf, I couldn’t find a version I could play. This left Lamento which wasn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, the cover art and description were exactly suited to my tastes and I couldn’t wait to dig in.
What followed was a study in ambivalence. Right off the bat I really liked Lamento. I loved the high fantasy setting and deep lore. This being a Nitro+ game of course, the production was irreproachable, with a large fully voiced cast, even extras get their own actors, and all of them are very good. The music plays an important role in the story and has obviously been given a lot of special attention. The art is beautiful, and a huge collection of sprites and transition effects, give the impression of animation.
Even by today’s standards, this is a high quality visual novel. There aren’t too many choices to make and most are obvious, but some are still rather intriguing, and I did feel some interactivity. The way the story branches out and then intertwines in the various routes, makes second playthroughs much more engaging than in some other titles.
Nad for all that, I couldn’t finish it. Not even a single route. I played for a bit then sort of abandoned it for close to a year. By the time I decided to pick it up again, I had forgotten most of it and started over. I played for a few weeks and didn’t catch up to my first playthrough. You see, that 30-50 years length time isn’t a typo. This game is soooooo long.
It feels as if an excellent team of writers put it together, but they had no money left over for editors. It’s full of description and little side events that, while well written, bring nothing to the story overall. I think that you could have taken out about half the script without really affecting the substance in any way. The pacing is just terrible.
And because of this, it takes a while to truly get into it. You have to read through hours of exposition and establishing text, remember dozens of characters, before you get any meaningful development that would cause you to empathize with anyone. Except Bardo – Bardo is the best from minute one but of course he only shows many hours into the game and you’ll need a few more before you can get on his route and actually get to know the character at all.
Of course, once you’ve finished one route, you can skip previously read text in subsequent playthroughs but, as this is an older game, you don’t have an autoskip button. You have to hold down the shift key (at least on my version). There are a few around this, like playing in window mode, holding down shift then bringing a different window in front (like Youtube for instance), then you can let go of shift and it will go on skipping (which is really just fastforwading) on it’s on. It’s still a bit of a hassle. Without exaggeration, I believe my second playthrough consisted of at least 30 minutes of skipping. That should give you an idea of the gargantuan size of this thing.
So time and time again, despite liking every single element of Lamento, I ended up getting discouraged and dropping it before it truly got the chance to start. For some reason, after finishing a few VNs and Otomes in a row, I decided to give it another go a few weeks ago. I figured I would control my completionist tendencies and skip over bits I remembered and concentrate only on scenes I had zero recollection of. This helped a bit. It still took a while but, possibly having gained patience with age (Ha!) I stuck it out, and boy am I glad I did.
Nitro+ knows how to put together a visual novel. A few days in, I had caught up to my first playthrough and was firmly on adorably idiot Asato’s route. It took me another week to finish the game mind you, I know, cause I didn’t sleep for 5 days… Catboys…
The story is classic fantasy stuff, a few routes seem to have some plot holes and you will need to play everything to get the whole picture but it’s decent. I would like to see an anime version of this. I enjoyed how fleshed out and interesting all the supporting characters were, even minor ones. The dramatic aspect of the story is undercut by frequent humorous interactions and the devils are always good for a laugh.
Although explicit consent is a little iffy, there no actual rape scenes (except two of the very bad endings) and at most suitors will pester Konoe into romantic situations but never force him. Probably one of the most respectful BL games I’ve played in that regard.
The power dynamics are excellent as well, and different in every route but consistent with the characters’ personalities. As for the sexy times, they are pretty sexy indeed. Just ridiculous enough.
As an aside, there’s frequent touches of cat behavior – i.e. grooming, purring, playing with grass blades or chasing mice, that are just adorkably hilarious.
I’m not going to put a full playthrough here, but if you’re interested in that I refer you to domshiki’s fantastic, marvelous, I wish they would start posting again but that’s probably not happening blog. Warning, very NSFW and spoilers (duh).
I will however give you a taste of those fine catboys that have made my local coffee shop a fortune:
That’s me! Nice huh. It could be you too! Konoe is a BL game protagonist. He’s pleasant and down to earth. Usually the straight man…um, well, you know what I mean…. He was however a bit more tsundere and prone to lashing out that the average, a trait majorly brought out in Bardo’s route. Konoe is in way over his head but he’s pretty rational and doesn’t play the damsel in distress much. In every route the characters sort of take turns helping each other out and I really like this. I enjoyed being Konoe quite a bit.
I think he’s the main route. His is the longest in any case and has the most CGs. (And they were almost all naughty, that’s why you guys get these…) I remember hating this guy the first times I played. Again, I’m not sure what happened in the last few months, but I really didn’t mind him this time around, at least at first.
He’s the stoic, super arrogant, cold type and it takes him forever to warm up but when he does, it’s pretty gaaahhhh. He’s not abusive though, just very distant. Oddly, I found him more annoying towards the end of the route when his arrogance seemed to go up yet one more level. It was already too high.
Konoe is the closest to a stereotypical MC in this route. Strong headed but still generally submissive and hopelessly devoted to his partner. This said, he does put Rai back in his place a few times and make fun of him, so not entirely hopeless. At the start of the game (for the first 2871443825t86 hours) I thought this would be the one route I have to drag myself through for the sake of completion, but I did end up enjoying quite a bit of it. Not just the CGs… I mean they didn’t hurt…
Asato is a big ol puppy dog in kitty form. He has some serious trauma in his past which I suspect involves getting dropped on his head a lot. He’s a little slow but brimming with good will and madly in love with Konoe. His voice actor does a tremendous job really bringing out both the slow and the love.
Since he’s nothing but a big ball of adorableness, Konoe can’t help but to get a bit protective of him in this route and you end up taking a more dominant, leading role. For some time, Asato is obviously much more interested but Konoe eventually starts sharing the affection and the natural development of their relationship is really very sweet.
Both characters go through a huge amount of growth and this would be my favorite route except..
I loves me a troll. Always have.
Bardo is the dirty ol man with the big mouth. He’s super easygoing and endlessly teases, well pretty much everybody, but Konoe in particular. As the older more experienced one he tends to take the lead in situations and seems to relish in embarrassing Konoe as much as possible. Which makes the younger kitten lash out every two seconds.
This is by far the funniest route for the most part but of course we eventually get a strong dose of dark and troubled past! This is sort of the opposite of Rai, as Bardo seems to have fallen deeply for Konoe while the latter tends to ignore and push him away for the most of the run. However, it’s also the only time we get any hint of jealousy out of Konoe which was fun.
Bardo mixes all the playfulness with a good amount of comforting and he is by far the most reliable partner for Konoe. In quieter scenes, when his voice actor went for a tired or worried tone, he was so delightfully attentive, it actually comforted ME.
As I said there are a ton of fantastic side characters, antagonists and demons, all of which are really just a delightful.
See even my post for this game went on FOREVER.
TL:DR Lamento is a very good game with very bad pacing. If it weren’t for the length, it would probably be one of my favorite Visual Novels. I miss my catboys already.
Favorite character: Firi (I didn’t even get to talk about Firi…) and Bardo
What this VN taught me: PATIENCE
Suggested drink: a Devil’s Cat
- Every time Konoe gets snappy – take a sip
- Every time Asato says Konoe – take a sip
- Every time a Devil makes an appearance – take a sip
- Every time kuims are mentioned – get a snack
- Every time Rai tchs – get some water
- Every time Froud or Verg laugh – take a sip
- Every time Firi makes an appearance – raise your glass
- Every time Leaks is mentioned – take a sip
- Every time we see the poet – take a sip
- Every sexy time– put the glass down, you don’t wanna spill
And here are all the screencaps I couldn’t even fit in this monster post!