Title: Gothic Delusion
Release date: 7-23-10
Living an ordinary life in an ordinary town, Takamichi’s kind, straight-laced demeanor has gradually become fraught with frustrations, troubled by his unsuccessful career, and at a loss for how to break away from this cycle of growing unhappiness.
Without warning, his own personal troubles are put aside when he comes across a girl alone on an abandoned road, in the middle of the night. She introduces herself as Lo, and acts unexpectedly mature and collected, considering the circumstances. After taking her to a police station, Takamichi intends to leave her in the hands of the authorities, when an explosion engulfs the station in flames.
Unfortunately, the explosion is just the beginning of the hunt: Lo has become the target of bounty hunters, who will stop at nothing to capture her for their own profit. Managing to escape from the hunters unscathed, Lo reveals the truth to Takamichi: despite her youthful appearance, she is an ancient creature of the undead, a vampire who feeds off the blood of humans. Still, Takamichi insists on providing shelter for her, even offering his blood to keep her alive.
Convinced by Takamichi’s determination to help her, even at the risk of his own life, she invites him to become her minion, as both a food source, and a servant to care for her every need. For when the hunters return, Lo will need all her strength to survive.
Despite its short length, Gothic Delusion is not light reading in the slightest, with an abundance of story-specific terms and complex plot threads which come together over the length of an introduction, five chapters, and an epilogue. Much of the emphasis is placed on the character interactions and creating a slow sense of suspense, while the inevitable conflict between vampires and humans draws nearer.
This allows Lo to be given her first chance at a normal life, while also hinting at her dark past, and the constant struggle for survival as one of the undead, hunted by the living. Her coupling with Takamichi is genuinely heartfelt, precisely because it takes such time to be established. While Takamichi is reluctant to initiate anything, concerned that he may be taking advantage of her, it is Lo who must convince him to take her feelings for him seriously, and to assure him that their relationship is not only consensual, but enthusiastically so.
Not just Lo is given the spotlight, however. Even her classmates, expected to be simple sub-characters, are given especially bittersweet pasts. When a student falls in love with her teacher, rather than glossing over the undertones of such a relationship, it addresses the taboo of forbidden romance, and the consequences which develop from it.
Not to be forgotten, either, is the promise of supernatural warfare on a grandiose scale. Although they are unfortunately few, and occur infrequently, the action sequences are truly cinematic masterpieces, each one a thrilling spectacle to watch.
Admittedly, the pacing suffers occasionally during the more mundane scenes. With quite a few of them devoted to Lo attending school, or spending time with her friends, it becomes repetitive rather than for character development. Alternately, the final chapters are overwhelming, burdening the story with too many plot twists to be properly concluded in such a short time.
But, especially considering its brevity, it is incredibly ambitious for Gothic Delusion to attempt to tell a love story, complete various character arcs, and simultaneously orchestrate a vast epic of life and death. More often than not, when the writing, pacing, and atmosphere come together, the result is a triumph in storytelling. As a tale of unconditional love, bloody damnation, and ultimate redemption, it is a darkly delightful addition for enthusiasts of vampire lore.
“Why did I save you? Well, that’s obvious, isn’t it? I couldn’t help but save you.”
A teacher at a local school, Takamichi has gradually grown discontent with himself, unsure if he is capable of earning respect from his students, and yet also gaining their obedience without resorting to disciplinary measures. Takamichi’s innately good nature is also his most vulnerable weakness: he is modest, to the point of self-depreciation, and he is compassionate, yet his trust in others often attracts danger.
“In that case, you can be my minion!”
Overwhelmingly enthusiastic and sweetly affectionate, it is simple to believe Lo is an ordinary girl. Her maturity in some matters is contradicted by her overwhelming naïvety in others. Wanting to try every human experience, she soon transfers into Takamichi’s class under the guise of a new student. Unfortunately, her inquisitive nature also leads her to be truthful to a fault, informing students and teachers alike of her otherworldly nature.
Yet, to forget that Lo is not human is to make a grave error, for she is also a wellspring of enormous power. She is capable of battling hunters who outnumber and outsize her, and while it is possible for her to consume human food, her favorite meal is still humans themselves.
“How can you believe in others so easily?”
Takamichi’s co-worker, Haruka takes the opposite approach to teaching, subjecting her students to strict rules and harsh words. She is initially suspicious of Takamichi’s relationship with Lo being more than that of teacher and student, and sternly warns him of such. She also takes an instant disliking towards Lo, as she believes Lo is disrupting the classroom with outlandish tales of her vampiric origin. As she begins to slowly trust Takamichi and Lo, she expresses affection towards them in her own blunt manner.
“If I said I had no regrets, it would be a lie.”
Takamichi’s student from the prior year, Yayoi quickly developed feelings for him which went beyond just simple admiration. When she wanted to deepen their relationship, Takamichi grew alarmed that she wanted to cross a taboo boundary, and rejected her hopes for romance. One year later, Yayoi has become a solitary, bitter girl, who acts viciously spiteful towards Lo, and still feels heartbroken and betrayed by Takamichi.
“You wanna say that twice to my face?”
A merciless bounty hunter whose sights are fixated on Lo, his tolerance lasts only as long as the promise of reward. While he is initially overwhelmed by Lo upon their first confrontation, he soon learns not to underestimate her twice.
Zekka’s second-in-command, Saimon is a taciturn individual who relies on sheer intimidation and physical stature to subdue his targets.
“Call me Agent Smith. Not just Smith, Agent Smith. Add a ‘-sama’, too!”
Another bounty hunter, it is she who first approaches Zekka with information about Lo. She has an incessantly cheerful and bubbly attitude, eager to please Zekka by any means, even teasing him whenever she likes, yet there lurks a sinister edge beneath her antics.
What is most striking is the absence of paper dolls, instead replaced by entirely CG. Although the artwork is not always of consistent quality for certain scenes, the sheer amount of CG involved to bring the story to life makes the occasional imperfect one more than forgivable. When the art is at its best, it is gothic splendor at its finest.
Furthermore, all of this is enhanced by an abundance of stunning special effects: realistic explosions, crackling flames, falling snow, and more. The action is certainly spared no expense, but the every day scenes are often treated with the same lavish quality. Characters actually move, whether approaching or retreating from the screen.
The text, rather than traditionally displayed on the lower half of the screen, is written over the imagery. This is a bit of a presentational flaw, considering that the visuals deserve just as much attention as the prose, but it’s a minor complaint.
Every character is given not only a fitting voice, but each delivers a powerful performance to match. The voice acting for Lo truly stands out, able to convey the very highest of notes, to a mature, subtly darker tone. Takamichi’s voice is absent during the sex scenes, as expected.
A vast library of music matches the atmosphere for every scene. A tender moment becomes absolutely heartwrenching with the accompaniment of somber piano and violin, while a battle scene is elevated to operatic heights when paired with a suspenseful string section, or the distortion of electric guitar, or the beating of drums.
Before addressing the content itself, there is a unique system which deserves mention. When each sex scene occurs, rather than being combined with the storyline, it is automatically skipped. In order to read these scenes, one must return to the main menu, and access the special menu to view them there. This method ensures that the title can be read as all-ages, while giving others the option to read the adult content as the plot progresses.
There are a total of seven scenes, with an extra seven more after the installation of several patches. With one exception, all of the erotic content is entirely consensual, whether an impulsive moment of passion, or an oath of loyalty between lovers. Unfortunately, some of the most lovable characters are denied intimate moments, and although this can be remedied with patches, it is disappointing that the additional content is not integrated into the game.