Review: Carpe Diem

Review: Carpe Diem

carpe diem logoTitle: Carpe Diem
Developer: Eyzi
Publisher:  Moonlit Studios, Steam
Platform:  PC, Mac
Genre:  Visual Novel
Release Date: November 30, 2015

Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem is a visual novel by Eyzi and published on Steam.

The Official Description

What makes someone perfect? Experience this short bittersweet story in the shoes of the main character, Jung, where you will spend your time hanging out with a girl named Ai. Ai is everything Jung wishes for in a woman… except for one very important thing. A thing he prefers to disregard in order for them to have the best time of their lives. You have a day to enjoy your date and see the world from Jung’s point-of- view.

The Characters

The story is played through the eyes of Jung, a programmer of some sort who has been struggling with a big project for quite some time. With him is his friend and love interest, Ai. Ai is an average girl who loves shopping, because by anime logic the perfect girl is a bubbly one who loves to drag her love interest unwillingly through the mall. She is a flat character with next to no personality or discernible interests besides shopping. Jung, at the very least, has a profession and hobbies. He is a very passive person, letting Ai drag him about, but otherwise there is very little that the characterization.

carpe diem screenshot

Of course you do…

The Story

If you can’t guess the plot twist just by glancing at the game logo, then I really don’t know how to help you. The story begins with you and Ai meeting at the park and she is running late because silly girls are always late. You only have one choice pop up throughout the entire game and it really changes nothing because you end up doing the same stuff and having the same conversations more or less regardless of your choice. In the end, the entire plot fails to make sense within its own universe. The dialogue seems like the first draft of some sort of fanfiction. It feels unrealistic, poorly researched, and created simply to move the story to the inevitable conclusion. There are a lot of inconsistencies in the story and grammatical errors, which is really unfortunate because a lot more could have been done with the game’s core concept. Because the entire game can be finished in ten minutes or less, it is nearly impossible to discuss all of the problems with the story without spoiling the entire game, but I have highlighted a few of these in my conclusion below.

carpe diem choice

The single real choice in the game.

Graphics and Sound

The characters and environments are visually appealing, but have next to no animations at all. Even a change of pose or a slight change in the background would have done a lot to add to the game. While the characters are visually appealing, the backgrounds are lackluster and inconsistent. Some of the locations look like they were drawn in the same whimsical style as the characters themselves, while others look like they were created using MS Paint. The soundtrack seems fitting at first, but quickly becomes irritating as it loops every few seconds.

carpe diem arcade

Jung and Ai at the arcade.

Overall

Overall, it was a fairly mediocre visual novel. The story has been done to death and the only possible plot twist can be predicted before you even start the game. An overall positive rating on Steam made me hopeful that there would be something more to the game than their actually was. Making the game even a little bit longer or a little more customizable would have made the bland plot and even blander characters a little bit more forgivable, but instead we have a poorly written railroaded story with an unsatisfying ending. The story is so predictable that the writer felt the need to add in unnecessary details to draw the player away from the obvious conclusion, but after the big reveal it becomes obvious that they made no sense within the writing of the actual game and only served to mess with the player.

For example (SPOILERS – highlight to read): Ai mentions a male co-worker and Jung becomes jealous, but seeing as how she is a program, her co-worker doesn’t exist. This means that Jung programmed that scene in so he could pretend to be jealous just to mess with the player. Jung visits a computer parts store at the mall to buy parts for his program when he is there shopping with his program. Is it some sort of virtual reality, or did he just pretend to go to the store to pick up parts just so he could ominously reference his project? If he is in fact trying to disregard reality just to enjoy time with her, why wouldn’t he program in a date somewhere without constant reminders about the fact that she’s not real?

Completing the game awards the only achievement “What are you doing with your life?” (SPOILERS – highlight to read) This makes me seriously question whether the game is designed to be bad and it is making fun of people for wasting their time on games, or, perhaps, it is making fun of people who obsess over fictional characters instead of living their lives and forming actual relationships. Then again, it could simply be a reflection of Jung’s thoughts at the end of the game. I’m not sure which of these options is better. If it is intended as satire, it fell flat, and if it was intended to be serious then it’s just terrible.

I may know what I’m doing with my life, but I still have no idea why I wasted time on Carpe Diem. Poor writing, poor execution, and a boring predictable plot land Carpe Diem a 2.9/10.

**EDIT June 9th, 2016: Carpe Diem is now listed on Steam as having an E10+ rating, despite there being no reason for the rating listed. When searching the ESRB website, their is no listing for Carpe Diem registered. It is unknown if this is an official ESRB rating or if it is a mistake on the part of the developer.**

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