• Welcome to Thousand Roads! You're welcome to view discussions or read our stories without registering, but you'll need an account to join in our events, interact with other members, or post one of your own fics. Why not become a member of our community? We'd love to have you!

    Join now!

Pokémon Sutoraiku High

Sutoraiku High

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
Sutoraiku High is a visual novel about drama, friendships, prejudice, bullying, total societal upheaval, and high school romance - by which I mean it is a Scyther dating sim. Have you always wanted to date a Scyther? Stand against abusive authorities alongside a revolutionary-minded Scizor? You have come to the right video game.

Content warnings: this game features some violence, dark themes, and sensual descriptions of scythes.

This started as an April Fools' Day joke last year, and accordingly, the setting and premise are pretty silly and absurd, there's a bit of fourth-wall-breaking and intentional tropeyness, etc. Within that setting and premise, I'm trying to tell a semi-legitimate story about some Scyther, a Scizor, their interpersonal troubles, and their horrific abusive teacher.

In particular, this is a branching narrative; a large part of the intended point here is learning about what's going on with all the characters, rather than just picking the one you want to date and 'maxing them out'. There are no relationship stats, just a lot of branches and conditionals based on what you've found out and how your actions have influenced the characters, and getting the 'best' ending for a character isn't necessarily achieved by fixating on them and ignoring everyone else. So if you do just a single playthrough, I'd be thrilled to hear your thoughts, but that's essentially just one chapter of a multi-chapter story, so review accordingly.

I'm still hoping to add to and polish up the game from here, so feedback would be appreciated! Not everything I'd theoretically like to do with a game like this writing-wise would be quite feasible without turning this into a project on a much larger scale than it is, so there are definitely bits I already consider kind of hamfisted or lacking but hard to manageably fix, but I'd love to hear any thoughts and impressions regardless.
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
I enjoyed this a lot. <3
 

Negrek

Whole of the Moon
Staff
Since I don't think I've talked about this game much before, let's talk about it now! Full disclosure, dating games/VN's aren't really my thing because I find it super tedious to go through sections of story I've already seen, even though I can fast forward. So I'm not inclined towards finding all the endings, which means I won't have a "complete" vision of the game and all its permutations.

Which I think is fine, since the game works well enough when played through only one or two routes, and I didn't get the impression that you were intending this to be a game that could only be properly appreciated/understood if someone did *all* the different routes. I played the Nightmare route, the Sickle route, the Stormblade route, and what I think was the good Shadowdart route? I'm amused that the Nightmare route is the one it seems people tend to go through first (I certainly did)/the easiest ending to get. The girl is just READY for revolution. Are you able to look at stats about how many people have gotten different endings and such? Seems like that would be a lot of fun to look at.

Funnily enough, Razors was actually the character who stood out the least to me here. And he's even introduced as "the cool one" that the narrator wants to get to know! It might just be me and that I'm more interested in learning more about some of the other characters who I don't know as well, but I did think that at least his deal was perhaps less obvious than some of the other characters, and he kind of faded into the background a little for me. Overall I found the girls more interesting than the guys, but I think that may have been a greater interest in the revolution plot rather than because their routes were lacking at all.

My favorite part is definitely the confrontation with the leader, simply for all the sometimes-subtle different ways it can play out. It's the scene where I felt the most impact from the choices made along different routes, and I liked that you can kind of cross over different routes by having interacted with two or more groups of characters, and everything kind of centers on this confrontation. In particular I liked that you could get Stormblade to attack the Leader under certain circumstances. Definitely a fun callback to his story in the canon material, as it were, and very fitting forhim as a character. All in all a satisfying scene and one I thought worked really well with the branching-paths format. I also personally appreciated the option to go romantic vs not at various points in the story, and that not having a large impact on the final outcome of the story. The emphasis on dating/romance is one of the reasons I'm not usually interested in these styles of visual novels (I mean, when it's called a dating sim...), so it was nice that there was a lot of focus on the relationships between characters here without them necessarily getting romantic. Though, of course, the story itself is concerned with fairly non-romantic things, so it makes sense. :P

I don't know that I necessarily had a favorite route out of the ones that I played. I think I enjoyed Stormblade's simply for the fact that it was so different from the others... Overall rather chill. On the other hand, Stormblade's the character I end up feeling the worst for. iirc he doesn't reeeeally have anything that could really be construed as a "happy" ending? Like, just various "less bad" options? I didn't encounter anything that seemed particularly happy, at least. Poor guy.

I appreciated Sickle and Nightmare's different takes on the whole revolution thing... what it means to stand up to oppression even if it's futile, vs when it's best to cut your losses and get out. I think you did a good job of capturing the nuance around a rather trick situation, and a kind of nuance that's all too apropos today, unfortunately. I also kind of like that there isn't (I think?) an overall "best" or "golden" ending... There is a LOT of messed up stuff going on at Scyther High, and while there are some outcomes that are better than others, there isn't really any one where everyone can get where they want, where everyone definitely ends up in a better place than they were in the beginning. Everybody has to give up some of what they want in order to change over the course of the story. Pretty deep for an extended April Fool's joke. :P

I was amused by Sickle's whole, "Why is there a Scyther school, anyway??" thing, but at the same time, I kinda would have liked to see the game lean more into the absurdity of the premise/the worldbuilding. It's tough, because there isn't a lot of room here for it, in a game so directly focused on the characters. But I did enjoy the bits that were in here, and enjoyed the levity they provided, like when I'm trying to figure out how the leader opens the door to the classroom despite having literal blades for hands. This is actually a pretty heavy game, despite the fact that the characters are all scyther in an apparently-normal high school. (Crack theory: Sutoraiku High takes place in one of those post-apocalyptic-style PMD world where humans have died out and their buildings and whatnot are still hanging around.) I kind of wonder how comprehensible the game would be to someone who hadn't read your fics before, though... Like, if I didn't know what the Code was, I think I might have had some trouble with the central premise. There's this thing that's really important and it says scizor are bad and also that you need to sharpen your scythes a lot, is what I feel like I would have gotten out of it if I didn't have some background coming in. But it would again be hard to make sure people got a full picture of it regardless of what route they did and without just barfing a bunch of extra text at the player.

Not related to the actual writing, but I like how you designed the different scyther so they were at least somewhat easy to tell apart. I think going a bit bigger on different body plans would help set them apart more and give them a bit more unique character... those identifiable silhouettes and all. Most of the changes are in the faces and relative size/color of the bodies, I think, but varying the shapes and dimensions of different parts of the scyther bodies would give them a little more personality.

All in all, though, this is a really cool game concept, and I love that you took this joke and absolutely played it to the hilt until it became something that wasn't a joke at all. There are a lot of ambitious ideas here in terms of the way the routes can be combined, and the variety of different permutations that can be generated based on the choices you made. At times I felt like I wanted a few *more* choices... I think there are usually something like ~5 to make per route? There were situations where I was kind of expecting the game to pop a choice window up but it ended up being fixed text anyhow. But I don't know how much more elaborate you could really get without needing to go, like, full IF... I certainly remember the flowcharts you did, and it's clearly already a ton to keep track of! Props for putting in the work to make things as branching as they already are, and for presenting such an interesting story in this format! I think it works both as a fun and unusual game and as a sort of experimental spin on the genre.

I'm curious... I think a couple times you've mentioned wanting to add additional routes/content to the game. I remember you were drawing the different endings, but iirc didn't end up finishing all of them? Was there anything else you were planning to add? Route where you can romance the leader for April Fool's this year?
 

Shiny Phantump

Born of Smol and Void
Location
Hallownest
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. sylveon
  2. absol-mega
  3. silvally-psychic
  4. custom/ninetales-phantump
  5. cosmog
So, I have discovered that this is a thing that exists. I am so very intrigued. I've never played a dating sim, but Wikipedia says Ace Attorney counts as a VN so I'm clearly an expert on the genre anyways. I've even heard of Hatoful Boyfriend, so really I'm overqualified for this position.

I... like it? Like, yeah, it's an april fools joke and it wouldn't work played straight, sure, but... With that context, I did enjoy kicking back and enjoying it.

So, I've only done two runs so far, both took the Nightmare/Sickle branch of the first choice. I'll go back and play the others later (and probably give more thoughts) but I'm saving it because I'm considering streaming it in the TR discord as I do. In the meantime:

In the first run, I thought it was going to have the "only human in a school of scythers" a la Hatoful Boyfriend, but the MC is also a scythed, which is good. That makes it a lot less awkward to play.

Anyways, we get introduced to the characters... and one very much sticks out. Not just visually, but the leader also puts the spotlight Nightmare's baggage, too. There's hints at the personalities of the other characters, but Nightmare really takes the focus. When it came time to choose one of the three paths, it was a very easy choice.

So, I ended up talking to Nightmare and Sickle. Having not talked to Nightmare about the circumstances of her (involuntary) evolution yet, I read her as kinda transy. That then ended up with me seeing everything related to the code as a theocracy. With that reading, I was totally down for bug anarchy.

Still, I decided to respect Nightmare's wish not to drag anyone else into it... for this run. So I ended up with the Sickle route. I actually forgot there even was a choice not to go with her until I went back to check things for this review. I suspect that'll tie into the other characters plotlines and if I want to do that on-stream, I want to do it blind. I'll check it out later.

One thing I'll not about Sickle is... She insists she doesn't care much about the code, but that she does care about the way the code hurts her friend. To me, that sounds like caring about the code with an extra step.

Sickle suggests running away, but I suspect that scene was mostly for the shot at romance, which I skipped that first run.

We all run away and form an anarchist bug commune in the woods...

But what if it was a lesbian polygamous bug anarchist commune in the woods? I wanted to see what would happen if I went to detention and seduced people, so run 2 was born.

Cut to detention, everything else before is the same. I like the analysis of why they actually have the code. Not the answer he was expecting... though we never get to see his reaction. That out of the way, we get a teaser for Razor's plotline, and plenty of backstory. No idea what make of the human stuff alongside this scyther high school. The weird premise stuff is half the fun of it anyways.

Anyways, the game hits the point where the romance opportunity comes up. When I did this run for real, I picked the objectively correct answer. I want my lesbian bug commune. When I did the recreation run I tried the other options, and yeah, I don't have much to say about any of the others. The other option is awesome. They held hands but also not hands because they don't have hands. Hilarious.

The rest of the story plays out similarly. The scene where you can romance Sickle is different, and I chose to go for that too because why not, I'm having fun. It's not as much as the Nightmare option, but I should try it without taking the Nightmare option and see if it changes, because the entire scene seemed swayed by that option. Brb seducing bugs.

Okay yes that was quite different. I like it, but enough babble. (Gosh, if only I could write this many words this quickly for Elegy.)
 
Last edited:

Shiny Phantump

Born of Smol and Void
Location
Hallownest
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. sylveon
  2. absol-mega
  3. silvally-psychic
  4. custom/ninetales-phantump
  5. cosmog
Okay, I didn't stream anything but I've done a few other routes. I'll try to "organize" it into something that isn't babble this time.

This probably counts more as a comment on the genre of VNs in general, but I like messing around with all the timelines here. Reminds me of playing 999 when I was younger, trying to find all the different endings. (If this actually introduces me to a genre I unironically like like I'm going to die laughing.)

Pure Stormblade
Took all the options to hang with Stormblade. The cloud scene was pretty damn adorable, for what it is. (From this point forwards, I'm taking all the romance options because avoiding them seems to just remove things. Might dabble with it when I'm mixing routes.)

For the most part Stormblade's role in the guys dynamic is just being the intermediary. He's one kid who delivers notes back and forth between the other elementary schoolers when they're too mad to talk to each other. (That happened in other people's elementary schools, too, right?) And gosh, those two really do act like elementary schoolers. What is this, some kind of april fools joke?

I think the real intresting part of this route is going to be mixing it with the anarchist bug commune one. I want to see if I can get him to come along instead of getting the more "generic" ending.

Pure Razor
(Skipping to the hunting scene, since that's where it branches off from Stormblade.)

Dang, Nightmare's not as based as I thought... I want to try a route mix where I go to detention and talk to her armed with this knowledge, but I'm sticking to Razor like glue for this run. After talking about Nightmare, we jump straight for the throat. We're really rubbing salt in this wound. He seemed to be in denial for a moment before going into full breakdown mode?

Everything right up until the next choice goes very similarly... though I'm starting to notice that there are so many little line tweaks that happen. Some real effort went into that inner monologue, didn't it?

After that, it's back into the woods with Razor, and... Oh, he didn't really know Nightmare, but he knows this "Pointy" who just showed up yesterday? She's different. (Maybe Pointy just got lucky in the lottery for pheromones, they're bugs what do I know?)

*sigh.* Some people really are just doomed to repeat history.

Speaking of repeating history, there aren't any more major changes. Still, a good few little tweaks here and there. I don't know wether to count it as a "different" ending or not. (It's like Hollow Knight's Embrace the Void ending thing all over again.)

Pure Shadowdart
I have my hazmat suit on. I'm prepared for survival in all levels of edge.

So, I follow him to gym and... he's fighting invisible enemies? Dude, does this gym not even have, like, a punching bag? Gosh, it's like elementary school recess all over again. He comes over to talk to me and edge readings are off the charts. Dude's like Verizon from Gates to Inifinity, but more intense about it. Dude needs an Emolga to bring him back to planet earth... or whatever planet we're on. Listen, they don't teach geography or astronomy in Scyther School, how am I supposed to know?

Aww, he believes in second chances though. Maybe I'd like him if I wasn't too busy laughing because it occurred to me to picture him with a fedora.

Oh gosh maybe I'll go back on my decision to do all the romance options... On second thought, glad I didn't. That reaction was much better than I expected, I didn't even get called "m'lady." I'll have to go back and see what happens if I don't piss him off. It seems to end up platonic anyways, which is neat.

Having tried it, yeah, it goes better without that choice. The lecture on the code is nice. Good to see it not be complete shit, I guess? Like, it had a point, I guess. And... oh here's the real choice. Okay, let's see what happens this time...

Well, that happened. Theoretically, that was brewing beneath the surface in all the other timelines, too? So I guess that's technically better? "Maybe somewhere there's an alternate universe where I was less stupid" isn't exactly a good ending, either. At least I got an anime battle where we yell at each other about ideologies out of it. Really, a fitting end to this arc.

Now it's time for my true goal: Recruiting Stormblade to the Anarchist Bug Commune!
Started with hanging with Stormblade, but went to detention instead of the cloud scene in order to join the revolution. When things go south, I talk to the guys instead. I want to see what they think of Bug Anarchy, but I just ended up getting the normal Shadowdart gym scene...

But my plan works anyways? Huh. I expected this attemp to fail, and that I'd to have to go talk to Sickle instead to talk about Bug Communes. But when the time comes, I do get invited to the Anarchist Bug Commune, and Stormblade does, too. After a little heart-to-heart, so does Razor! I barely even talked to him. (Poor Shadowdart lol, all alone with the leader.)

Some of the dialogue suggests I might be able to get Shadowdart along, too, if I help the apology go better. I'll add that to the goals list.

Talking to Razor, then Nightmare
I mentioned trying this, but we still ask what happened between her and Razor, and don't bring up anything he said. Even if I pick the "Razor" option to her question. It resulted in the same ending as above. Oh well.

Recruiting Shadowdart to the Anarchist Bug Commune?
Attempt 1, I went to the gym, then detention. I didn't get the option to bail on Nightmare after she got beat up to go to the gym, so mission failed.

Attempt 2, I went to the gym, but tried to earn my Bug Commune invite via Sickle instead. No change.

Attempt 3, I went to the gym, then talked to the guys, followed Shadowdart, didn't piss him off. This gets me the option to follow him to the gym again... but then I don't get a Bug Commune invite, so I have to take the default option and see if it gets me anywhere... Which ends up taking me to the gym anyways, so I just repurpose it as a chance to see if picking neither romantic option does anything. It doesn't, still the murdery ending.

After that, I checked the spoiler list you put on discord and yeah, there's no such ending... Which means I've gotten them all. I'm done. 'Pointy' out.
 

Nubushi

しぶい
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. custom/slowpoke-hgss
  2. custom/togekiss-nubushi
Hello, I’m here from the Review Blitz—and also wanted to review something of yours, since I really appreciated your taking the time to review Only the Truth.

So, just out of pure curiosity, I have to ask, is there a reason why you phoneticized the Japanese katakana word for scyther instead of writing it as “Strike,” since ストライク is a Japanese phoneticization of the English word? Did you want to avoid any potential puns or misunderstandings that would come from naming the game Strike High (like, people thinking that the name of the high school meant the verb or noun “strike” and not the species name)? I thought the potential for wordplay could have been interesting, but I realize not everyone likes wordplay as much as I do.

Anyways, jumping into the game, this will pretty much be a play-by-play of my reactions to in-game events, with some additional thoughts here and there.

Playthrough 1

I decided to be a firebrand and stand up for Nightmare right away. So I hung out with her and Sickle. I also picked "no one" when Nightmare asked in the Truth game who I liked.

I liked some of the verbal nods to scyther physiology and culture, like these:

blood rushing to my face behind my exoskeleton

the swarm

bow quickly, dropping forward to be supported by my scythes
I really liked this one in particular, as it was a double nod to Japanese culture (bowing) and also envisioning that in a way that involved scyther physiology.

bigotry and toxicity
A little bit preachy right away? I don't disagree, but it comes across a little heavy-handed to get this dismissive judgment before the player knows hardly anything about what the Code says.

Nightmare's comments about the Code not being "sacred" made me wince a little, as this could possibly be interpreted as a sledgehammery attack on any religion's sacred texts. (Like, it’s just a bunch of writings, what makes it “sacred”?) Just a few lines later, though, it seems the game isn't going there, but just saying human laws aren't sacred, therefore, why should the Code be sacred? So that was a relief to game isn’t attacking all forms of organized religion in the entire world.

I felt like the way that the player's thoughts change from "The Code is sacred, right?" to "I guess it is a pile of crap!" was pretty fast--realistically, it takes a long time for someone to reconsider and change deeply-ingrained beliefs that have been instilled in them since childhood.

I'm curious about whether the bigotry against scizor and the "wrongness" that the player feels is a comment on how a lot of Pokémon players don't like the scizor evolution?

Nightmare is a pretty cool character. I really like it that she is big enough to not hold a grudge against Razor. Like the player says, this shows her strength of character, not letting herself get caught up in grudges. Also, other than wanting to overthrow the Code, she is pretty chill, actually. In general, too, as a character I like her a lot.

During the truth game, I was actually kind of glad that there weren't a ton of choices for what the player says; it helped me feel like the player character has some personality that's not dependent on mine, and I wouldn't have known how to answer "Have you ever broken the Code" anyways.

Let me think about it
(as the answer to helping lead the revolution): Good, because I can't see anyone as nervous about social acceptance as the player was to begin with making that kind of decision immediately.

I'd almost forgotten about the [truth] game.
So had I, actually!

Nightmare realized that not being with a human or being a scizor made her hate herself, it was the Code: Pretty big realization there.

Cool discussion of the convenience of pincers instead of scythes.

It was pretty fun that it was all the females that stayed standing when the guys sit down. (I decided sometime around the point when I was hanging with Sickle and Nightmare, and the other three characters were "the guys," that my character was female.)

The fight with Leader: saw that coming.

I thought it was really interesting that Shadowdart is enraged with the Leader for beating up Nightmare. Just a guess, I suppose that whatever path you choose, any and all of the students can be convinced that Nightmare's right about the Code, and to stand up for her?

Trying to get to my heart with flattery, eh?
Made me laugh out loud.

Are all the others really okay with this? (Sickle)
Well, the player character was looking at the guys' expressions, and it did NOT look like they were okay with it, but fell into that category of people who don't like something, but are not going so far as to do something about it. (Which is extremely common and a very human thing.) Maybe Sickle wasn't looking at everyone's faces?

Sickle is the loyal-to-the-hilt friend almost to the point that it consumes who she is. She does have a different personality than Nightmare, which is made clear in the game text (just wanting to live in peace without harassment), but the utter loyalty to Nightmare, wanting to stay with her and help her wherever Nightmare is, makes it feel like Sickle has nothing she wants for herself.

When Nightmare asks the player if you want to leave instead of stay and fight: I thought maybe there would be a choice here.

When the three of them leave together, I suspect maybe I didn't get the "best" ending--it feels like we're giving up (which we are) and this is not really what I was hoping would happen, which was for the school environment to change. I guess that's not too surprising because you did mention something about needing to talk to all the characters, and I only talked with the girls--but I was only actually given a choice of who to talk to twice, so it was a little surprising that there weren't more opportunities to make choices of who to talk to (I think I made only three choices in the game).

It's a neat story, I like the theme of taking a stand against bullying, but I feel less than satisfied with the "give up and go live in peace in the wild" ending . . .

Which brings me to my second playthrough.

Playthrough 2

I pick Razor and Stormblade, since Stormblade interests me the most out of the three guys, and stay around with Stormblade when Razor goes off to hunt. I thought his perspective on Razor bullying Shadowdart was really interesting--that Razor wasn't doing it for the sake of being mean, but because he was having a hard time himself. This also makes a lot of things about Shadowdart make sense: that he is paying attention and trying hard in class, and going to the gym, alone--this is all probably to compensate for his small size. [Later edit: NOPE, there was still more to it than that!]

Aww, it was really sweet how the player was proactive right away about wanting to help Stormblade help Razor find a better way to deal with his feelings, and also bringing up the idea of trying to reconcile the other two guys with Shadowdart. I like it!

Hmm, so Shadowdart wants to become the next Leader? Especially based on my last playthrough, I really wonder what his reasons are and what he thinks about the Code.

between these three
"Among" is correct (which you probably know anyways); it stuck out to me, but as an example of a colloquialism, what a person would actually say (in their thoughts, in this case), I feel like it's justifiable.

Whatever happens, I'll still have your back
Awww, so kind. This is really a warm fuzzy kind of game, isn't it?

So, this time, when I get to this line

In the corner, I notice Shadowdart giving the Leader a hard stare,

based on my previous playthrough, and what I just heard from Stormblade, I'm really seeing this guy in a new light. In my first playthrough, I pegged him as "the serious, studious type" at first, but then started to wonder whether he was kind of a mean guy who agreed with the bigotry of the Code. Now, it seems like it's probably the opposite, he probably is giving the Leader a hard stare because he disagrees.

Sickle; her scythe is trembling in rage
Should it just be singular, or plural? They all have two, after all.

Keeping a lower profile this time because I want a chance to talk to Shadowdart; I pick "stay silent." I like it that the game doesn't condemn me for it, but says that Nightmare probably wouldn't want that (but you feel bad). This helps make it feel like the player isn't being herded into any one particular response.

Picking "the guys" at the next choice for the same reason, but I wonder if this is a mistake (laughs) and I need to talk to both genders?

...The Leader is a bully and a hypocrite.
Yep, not pulling his punches here at all.

Awwwwww, Stormblade standing up for Shadowdart!

. . . But Shadowdart really has a chip on his shoulder, huh.

Following Shadowdart at the next choice: Stormblade is really sweet, but I am intrigued by Shadowdart and this is what I was angling for since earlier.

Wow, Shadowdart planning to challenge and defeat the Leader! Pretty ambitious--and also, he's really good! So much for him being the underdog just because he is small!

One comment on a detail I noticed a bit more this playthrough, I like what you do with the characterization through little movements--like Sickle glancing at Nightmare while she is staring down Leader, or the way Leader's eyes flicker after her when they are all filing outside.

Keeping in mind variety, I pick "check on Nightmare" at the next choice (after the fight). Maybe there's a way to bring the two cliques together to all band against the Leader?

It's nice seeing Razor change his mind about bullying Shadowdart. If only things in real life were that easy.

I'm really glad [player] got us to actually talk about it.
Awwwwww.

I love the repeated "I've got your back," this time the player addressing Razor when he says he wants to apologize to Shadowdart. Warm fuzzies abounding here.

The scene where Razor finally apologizes to Shadowdart was really touching.

But . . . again, Nightmare and Sickle leave. Still haven't gotten the ideal ending I'm sure is out there somewhere; I guess after all I really do need to talk to both the guys and the girls more evenly. But still, it was interesting to play through again and see what was going on with the guys, and at least get the three of them reconciled. Having seen that part of the plot, now I at least feel like there's hope that Shadowdart can defeat the Leader someday and change scyther society for the good, because he's obviously really strong.

Also . . . . . . . . . is there actually romance in this game? If it’s there, but I’m missing it, I’m sure it's partly my fault, because I picked (in my first playthrough) that I don't like anyone romantically. Based on my two playthroughs, it seems like the point of the game is to overthrow the evil and hateful Leader (as well as maybe helping the guys resolve their problems) so all of the characters can live together happily. So, it seems like it's more like a friendship game than anything. And that's totally cool, too! But I am frankly a little bit curious about whether there are any endings where the player gets together with someone, and what those are like.

Playthrough 3, I want to find a better ending to this game!

I haven't ever picked "Shadowdart" for the first choice, so I'll try that this time and see what happens. (Yes, I am pretty much just flailing around, still, not trying things systematically.)

Whoa, fear of death and being close to people making you fear death more, this is some really interesting stuff that Shadowdart is spouting!

And, again, Shadowdart not pulling his punches at all calling the Leader a "filthy hypocrite" and declaring he wants to replace him. Love it. Also the next line:

good for him that he's got career plans, I guess?
Hilarious.

His take on the Code is interesting. In my previous playthroughs, I feel like I never learned much about what the Code actually says, so it's interesting to hear that Shadowdart has this point of view about Nightmare, saying she broke the Code but should be given a second chance. Part of what makes it interesting is that he doesn't fall into any extreme--he's not condemning Nightmare, but he also isn't totally defending Nightmare. I feel like his character is an example of someone who is conservative and values tradition, but isn't demonized for it. So, the fact that this bit of dialogue is here makes me feel like the game isn't totally pushing the more extreme positions (Nightmare's), like revolution, or if something isn't working for you, just get rid of it, or codes and laws should always be questioned (/overthrown), or you can never tell someone they did something wrong. A lot of times in real life I hear people making blanket statements like "All organized religions promote bigotry and prejudice," which I find really disturbing. The Code has some parallels with religion (being seen as sacred) which I found troubling (because it seems most of the time that the Code has a lot of problems and is promoting bigotry), so I'm glad that there's another point of view present in the game and it's not a black and white "The Code (religion) is evil and must be done away with."

I enjoyed the scene of bonding with Shadowdart by training together with him.

Shadowdart's hard stare at the Leader's comment about the Code making sense--absolutely, it makes sense now--though I suspected a bit of even by the end of playthrough 1 (where I didn't talk to him), and a lot more in my second playthrough.

Picked "stand up" this time, wondering if maybe that will help.

Shadowdart, though, looks disgusted with me. Yeah, he really didn't like me dunking on the Code, huh?...Maybe I should've thought about that. I promised to train with him today, hadn't I?
OOPS. I stepped away from the game prior to this choice to eat dinner and came back after, so I'd forgotten about promising Shadowdart to train with him. Maybe this was not such a good choice for Shadowdart's path. >.>

Shadowdart and Razor and Stormblade apparently talking
Well, maybe that's good? I can't recall if that happened in my first playthrough (the last time I shared detention with Nightmare).

little smirk on her lips
Do scizors have lips?

Hm, so detention goes differently when I talked to Shadowdart prior to it. Some interesting insight from Nightmare here about Shadowdart not being crazy about the Code in the past.

Description of Shadowdart in the past: hmm. So he seems like he's a lot more serious and focused now, and not insecure anymore. I'm a little skeptical, because it's hard for me to imagine a secure person who tries to cover up his insecurity by acting ostentatious suddenly becoming secure in himself, and focused on an important goal like this, in whatever length of time it's been, without some sort of watershed event in his life . . . and I can't really imagine being bullied by Razor and taking to training by himself would give him that sort of mature sense of security in who he is.

So after you left Shadowdart became obsessed with the Code
. . . hmmm indeed.

I'll stop and note here that it was interesting that the game just took it for granted that humans understand pokemon speech. I wonder if maybe that's because the game is about anthropomorphized scythers? It still stood out to me as a little strange, though (mostly familiar with Pokemon gameverse, where only some rare exceptions can talk with Pokemon).

The question about who I like:

Well, I started out talking with Shadowdart (though, I may have totally derailed and had a train crash), so I guess I'll pick that?

Yeah, Nightmare is less than enthusiastic about that, understandable since she just said it was not likely that she and Shadowdart would like each other anytime soon. I feel like I'm making a bunch of wrong choices in this playthrough, but Nightmare's response cracked me up anyways.

Having stood up for Nightmare once already in this playthrough, I'm of course not going to change my mind now, so the question about whether to join her and Sickle is a no-brainer.

Hm, so now "check on Nightmare with Sickle" is the only choice. Also no choice but to stay and hang out with Sickle. At least I've gotten slightly more variety in who I've talked with than in my first playthrough? Still haven't talked with Razor or Stormblade.

Hmm, but having talked to Shadowdart makes the scene go differently this time, as the player brings up that Shadowdart hates the Leader. . . . But I still get that dialogue about running off together with them. I guess I'm headed for that same ending again. It doesn't seem to make as much sense to me this time to run away with the two of them, since I didn't hang out with them all the time, and in fact I never talked with Sickle until that conversation in the forest.

But, oh, hey, this time my answer changed due to having talked with Shadowdart.

Shadowdart's expression darkens
Yeah, those two do not get along.

Shadowdart cares if it's a fair duel--shows he has values.

I almost ask if he's even sure he could beat him on his own at all, but I don't want to offend him....I have a feeling he'd react badly.
Good thinking, player.

There's only one problem here, and it's you…I’m not following anything!
Shadowdart is pretty awesome in this scene. The descriptions of the duel between him and the Leader are great, too.

Shadowdart may not have meant to give the signal. That’s interesting. Sounds like him. I’m not a big fan of using violence to defeat evil people in power, but still, it was pretty satisfying seeing Nightmare jump in.

…And Shadowdart is the only one who’s not happy. Unfortunate, but it makes sense given his personality.

Shadowdart leaves: …huh. That leaves everyone else to throw the Code out the window; I guess he can’t become Leader and stay and uphold his (fairer) interpretation of the Code with a bunch of people who just ganged up on the previous Leader and drove him out. He’s right, there’s nothing for him here. So much for playing his storyline! . . . But at least I finally got a better ending, with almost everybody happy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Overall: I liked all of the artwork, both the pokemon artwork and the backgrounds looked really nice. I did wish there was just a tiny bit more difference among the scythers, though: in my first playthrough, I thought that Leader and Razor looked kind of similar (though, they're not really that similar), and I still think that Razor and Sickle look similar--similar head shape and coloring, seems kind of a "standard" scyther appearance (color, shape, and size), but with male versus female features. In context, it seems like they’re almost never in the same scene, though, so it’s not a big problem.

So, with this being a tongue-in-cheek, deliberately tropey high school dating friendship sim, comparisons with Hatoful Kareshi are inevitable (true confession, yes, I played that game (free version) . . . the only visual novels I have ever played are the ones making fun of dating visual novels, that one and this one, and I just now learned that Hatoful Kareshi also started as an April Fool’s joke).

In Sutoraiku High, I could easily see the personality types that the characters fell into—Nightmare wants to start a revolution, Sickle is sweet and loyal, Dreamcatcher Stormblade is spacey but sweet, Shadowblade Shadowdart is a serious (studious) lone wolf type, and Razor is the cool, popular guy (but a bit of a bully). Obviously, with this being a fairly short visual novel, it’s not possible to put a ton of characterization into these characters to make them really three-dimensional, but I did feel like they weren’t totally stereotypes, and for the most part, they all had multiple sides to their personalities, and at least a little bit of something giving them depth. For example, Dreamblade Stormblade isn’t merely spacey, and sweet, and uncomfortable with conflict, he also put some actual thought into why he stuck with Razor even though he knew what Razor was doing was wrong, and it wasn’t a selfish motive to keep hanging with the popular guy, but out of a feeling that Razor needed someone to be there for him. Shadowdart was also kind of complex (and maybe also a little bit unbalanced??), and if in my second playthrough I thought I understood what his deal was, after my third playthrough, now I’m not so sure. (Why did he become so obsessed with the Code?) The only one that seemed to me somewhat lacking in personality was Sickle, which I touched on above. So, anyways, with the characters in Hatoful Kareshi, in contrast, being really extreme and playing their tropes to the hilt, I think that Sutoraiku High totally blows it out of the water both in terms of characterization and having an actually meaningful plot. The only thing, really, that Hatoful Kareshi does better is being totally wacky and absurd (a human girl romancing the pigeons . . . because if you fail to get a pigeon boyfriend, the human species will be deemed a hopeless lost cause and will be ethnically cleansed).

Obviously I had a lot of fun playing this and trying to figure out how to get a better ending; I’d love to see another April Fool’s project like this again someday in the future. :)
 

Chibi Pika

Stay positive
Staff
Location
somewhere in spacetime
Pronouns
they/them
Partners
  1. custom/pikachu-chibi
  2. lugia
  3. palkia
  4. custom/lucario-shiny
  5. custom/incineroar-starr
So I played this to death when it first came out, I might as well finally leave some thoughts!

I really love how the game just makes no attempt to explain the concept at all. There's a Scyther School. Alarm clocks apparently exist. Pokemon trainers are still a thing somehow. It's utterly absurd on every level and there's no justification at all. Amazing.

Even as someone who's already read all the Scyther fics and knew what all the social dynamics were before going into this, it was a lot of fun seeing how you went about revealing information to the reader, with bits and pieces from different perspectives, often requiring combining what you've heard from multiple characters. I really enjoy how just pursuing one character doesn't give you a very interesting conclusion! You've got to weave the various social interactions together to try to mend the bonds between all these damaged characters, and I like it a lot. It's also fun to see how you handled the protag starding off doing one thing and then switching gears to follow a different route. There are so many subtle dialgoue tweaks! You really went all-out.

So, here's the rundown on the endings I got:

- Run away with Sickle and Nightmare - First ending I got, via befriending Sickle.
- Stay friends with Razor and Stormblade - I noticed that a lot of paths where you befriend either of these two will loop back to this end. The apology pretty much always fails unless you've talked to Shadowdart first.
- Three guys reunited as friends
- Shadowdart bad end
- All five run away together - This one was tricky because I had to get invited by Sickle and Nightmare and have made friends with Razor or Stormblade. Took a few tries to figure out.
- Leader and Shadowdart leave - This one was tough! I knew there was a revolution path but I was surprised that it required befriending Shadowdart first!

All in all, I had a lot of fun with this game, thanks for going all out and finishing it. ^^
 
Sutotaiku Legends

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
Sutoraiku Legends is the ambitious visual novel sequel to the highly acclaimed Sutoraiku High. In the grand tradition of Pokémon Legends: Arceus, the spinoff-slash-sequel features more action, noticeably inflated life-and-death stakes, and being isekaied to the Hisui region to calm the noble Kleavor.

Please note that the game contains violence and existential horror and should be considered a PG-13.

(The game is best played after the first game - it spoils Sutoraiku High’s endings - but does not technically require it.)

(Also, thank you all very much for all the feedback that I never got around to replying to!)
 

Negrek

Whole of the Moon
Staff
Hmm, what's this? A game about solving problems through talk and connection rather than through violence wrapped in a Groundhog Day cycle where the main character has the potential to die repeatedly? I wonder who can have written this...

This was a fun follow-up to SRH! Interesting in that it feels like a rather different sort of game... Like, in SRH there was a "best" ending, and some pretty bad ones, but it felt like the majority were mixed bags, where some things might go wrong or you might not achieve all the objectives, but at least some characters end up happier at the end than they were at the beginning. Whereas here you seem to more or less win or die, heh. It also feels a bit more linear, but I am really curious how much impact the questions relating to your SRH playthrough impact things. Clearly choosing a branch in general influences what characters you might meet in the distortion, but I wonder how the choice of how the storyline ended might impact things.

Kleavor was definitely the star of the show here, and it was certainly fun to see the contrast between him and the protagonist's previous Leader. He wasn't around all that long, relatively speaking, before he got a touch murderous, but he definitely made a strong impression! What a cute bug who kills his prey instantly by dropping his gigantic stone ax on the backs of their skulls!

The end of the game did seem a bit abrupt to me--Kleavor is calmed and I think Dialga comes in literally two or three screens later to whisk you away? Would have loved to see a little more resolution to the events of the past, but I imagine the sharp cut-off is due to time constraints. I did also find the amount of text to fast-forward through with iteration a little heavy... this feels like a game where you're more expected to play it several times over in order to reach the good end, so the fact that almost everything that happens in the past up to when you visit the distortion is the same between branches (I think?) means that the amount of identical material sat through on each play is a little much for my tastes. I greatly appreciated the option to skip a lot of Dialga's exposition through the question selection; something similar for the Kleavor scene, cute as it is, might be a good idea.

Always here for a high-effort April Fool! I'm super curious whether we'll get a "director's cut" version of this one as well. It's clear you have a lot of fun with these, and I look forward to seeing how far the series extends!
 

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
This was a fun follow-up to SRH! Interesting in that it feels like a rather different sort of game... Like, in SRH there was a "best" ending, and some pretty bad ones, but it felt like the majority were mixed bags, where some things might go wrong or you might not achieve all the objectives, but at least some characters end up happier at the end than they were at the beginning. Whereas here you seem to more or less win or die, heh. It also feels a bit more linear, but I am really curious how much impact the questions relating to your SRH playthrough impact things. Clearly choosing a branch in general influences what characters you might meet in the distortion, but I wonder how the choice of how the storyline ended might impact things.
I did also find the amount of text to fast-forward through with iteration a little heavy... this feels like a game where you're more expected to play it several times over in order to reach the good end, so the fact that almost everything that happens in the past up to when you visit the distortion is the same between branches (I think?) means that the amount of identical material sat through on each play is a little much for my tastes.
It definitely is a different sort of game! Same way PLA is a different sort of game than classic Pokémon, heh. More linearity was pretty much required to create anything that made sense that could still be continuing from any ending of the previous game, so this time around it's mostly one largely linear route per character, only Shadowdart has three fairly different 'chapter twos' (because your relationship to him looks very different depending on exactly which route you took in SH, whereas for the other characters so long as you were on a route where you'd befriended them they'd all act pretty similarly in this situation).

I definitely agree about the amount of replaying necessary to get every ending. The way I originally structured the choices at the beginning, it was basically to serve as a joint recap and route choice, where you'd pick and thus simultaneously recall exactly what had happened in the first game, and then I could work from there with the ability to have anything adjust itself to exactly what had happened in the timeline that was canon. I realized at a certain point while organizing the actual routes that it would probably be a lot more streamlined and easier on the player if you picked a character to find in the void first and then made any relevant choices about exactly what had happened in this timeline, even if this made the recap aspect less effective - but I relegated making that change to "if I have any time left over after I finish actually writing the thing", and as it turned out I did not! Also as a result, some of the route choices right now are actually completely irrelevant - there wound up not being a single line in the game that is different depending on whether or not you romanced Sickle in the first game, for instance, but I didn't know that when I was writing the recap tree. All in all, if I get around to polishing it up, would definitely go for something like that.

Unfortunately I don't quite think it'd make story sense if much of the conversation with Kleavor could be skipped in the way the prologue is, since the player character references it again in every version of the confrontation, but with the choices backloaded to the storm, you'd be able to just save in the storm and not have to actually play through any of the beginning multiple times unless you feel like it. (Alternatively, on subsequent playthroughs I could just add a nondiegetic choice to the "any questions" bit in the prologue that'll let you skip right to the storm but with the understanding that everything in between still happened... don't really like nondiegetic, but one way or another it needs to feel better to play.)

Thanks for playing!
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom