It's hard out there for a visual novel. It seems like everyday more and more just keep popping up, flooding the market with competition. In today's fast paced world a visual novel needs to do something really spectacular to stand out from the crowd and Bible Black does just that. Seamlessly blending the slice of life and horror genre, Bible Black holds back no blows and doesn't shy away from showing you the mature, controversial, and at times down right crazy content that the game has in store. It takes more than a few interesting plot points to make a good game though, so does Bible Black make the cut? Read on to find out. Or don't; I don't care. </reversePsychology>
The story of Bible Black follows Taki Minase, a high school student who discovers a magic book in the basement of his school. Minase quickly learns the spells from the book and gets himself and his best friend - and potential love interest - Kurumi Imari wrapped up in a crazy mystery involving witches, demons, and other occult creatures. Though the plot may sound like a played out slice of life affair, let me assure you, it is not. The game takes a very abrupt turn quite soon after starting and proceeds to jump the proverbial shark several times, throwing in elements more reminiscent of Helter Skelter than of Lucky Star.
Notice how I said Imari was a potential love interest. That's because almost every aspect of the story is left up to the player to decide. Over the course of the game the player will be forced to make a decision on what Minase should do or say and these have real lasting consequences. Bible Black has 12 different endings, which makes talking about it's plot very difficult because my experience is likely to be very different from what you might experience. Rest assured though, the dialog is solid, almost all of the characters are interesting, and the localization is very well done.
That plethora of endings , wail great, is also one Bible Blacks biggest issues. To get all the endings you would have to play the game 12 times; though it's likely to be more than that if you don't look up how to get all the endings online. That means skipping through all the scenes that you already played through just to get to the new part. The game does have a skip function, however, it's buggy and sometimes doesn't work. Even when it does work though, I don't like it. The text moves far too fast for you to read it and only stops when you have to make a decision, so unless you have memorized every decision you have to make, you will end up having to pick an option without really knowing what you're doing
The art in Bible Black is very hit or miss and rather or not you'll enjoy it depends a lot on you. Sei Shoujo, the artist, has a very distinct style in the way he draws faces and body features. Personally, I like it. The character design is solid and Shoujo's style allows for very vivid facial expressions and body language. It's not all key lime pie and buttercups though; many times the perspective is messed up or a character's features may come off as oddly portioned.
Another problem I have with Bible Black is it's repetitiveness. For a game this long, and with so many endings, I would expect there to be a much wider variety of artwork than there is. Often times the game will just give you a single image to look at and leave it there for the entire scene, never changing a bit. Even the character interaction scenes get repetitive, with characters cycling through the same five or six expressions for the entire conversation. All of that is only made worse by the fact that sometimes a character won't even change their expression and just keep the same one for much longer than they should
The music and sound design are all passable, but nothing special. The music normally complements the mood of the scene perfectly, thought I wouldn't buy the OST anytime soon. The only bits of music that really stand out are the darker, more oppressive tunes that accompany several of the more tense mementos in the story, though I feel that those are mostly only memorable because of when they were used and not because they're great pieces of music.
Bible Black has accrued a loyal cult following among the VN crowd, and it's easy to see why. The story is gripping and original, the characters are all interesting and deep, and the artwork is pretty great to look at. The story is surprising and is guaranteed unlike any store from any other game you've played. Throw in a plethora of player choice and ending and you've got yourself one mighty fine game.
The only real issues are the repetitive art and game play, but those are retentively small nitpicky things. Bible Black is an excellent game, a real gem if there ever was one. If you are a fan of visual novels and you haven't played this game yet, for whatever reason, I would urge you to give it a try. Though it seems like a bland slice of life game at first, I can guarantee you that Bible Black if chock full of great surprises. read