Our destinies intertwined. Fate had posed us against each other. Our titanic battle sent shockwaves blasting across the seas of time. Nothing has been the same, since then.
And now, we’re going to do it again.
Some of you who’ve been following the blog for a while, or plunging into the archives, or who might otherwise call yourselves “Aether Historians” might recall the first time Lost to the Aether faced off with our fated rival, the always-in-development murder playground known as Yandere Simulator. The feud everyone finding my blog through a search as well as destiny itself demanded. Our clash was titanic. My victory, overwhelming. So overwhelming, in fact, that it actually made the search terms for this blog normal for a good long while. Which was something I wasn’t prepared for, really. C’mon guys, let’s get this stuff weird again.
Anyways, in case you missed it, we just finished up October. Which is a well-regarded time for getting into spooky/horror media, and I got caught up in that myself. Wanted to pick myself up a good horror game. And coincidentally, at the same time, Yandere Simulator came out with a big content update. The game’s been in development for seven years by this point, and the developer feels that he’s almost ready to complete the game, having got about everything done that he can on his own. But to really get the game finished, he’ll need to hire people to do the parts of it outside of his capabilities, which will require a crowdfunder, but after the standard cycles of long development time plus short internet patience, he feels he’s not poised for a successful crowdfunder right now. So, in order to demonstrate the product and build up faith and interest in it again, he’s used the assets he currently has to develop a full story mode for the game, for the first time. Albeit not the story mode everyone was expecting. That’s the one he needs to hire people to do the animations and the voice acting and the whatnot for. Rather, we’ve got a fully-fledged prequel story mode.
Anyways, I was looking for something horror-themed to play, and a game where you’re basically a horror-movie villain sounded pretty solid to me at the time. And I can get behind the idea of putting out a show of good faith for your audience, work to show you’re taking them seriously with a lot of new content. And besides, it was probably my victory over this game years ago that cost it a lot of it’s positioning. So I figured it’d be a good time to jump back into it, and see just how much the game has grown since I defeated it last time. We’re still fated opponents, but maybe destined rivals this time, rather than enemies.
Here we go. For a good comparison to our old post, rather than jumping in to the prequel story mode, I’m going to be going for the main, incomplete story. Because that’s what we did last time. The full game will have ten rivals, but the current edition only has one that’s fully set up, so only a single level’s equivalent of content. But that’s fine for the sample we’re going for. After all, I’m trying to make amends, of some sort. Don’t want to crush this game too fully again.
Starting up, the first thing it has you do is customize your senpai, the absolutely heartthrob that will be the subject of your and at least ten other girls’ affections. I love customizing characters, and I know super well what makes the female mind fall in love with someone, so you can rest assured that I will create a being who is the pinnacle of attractiveness.
And there. There he is. Ladies, you may take a number, and form a line to your left. He won’t have time for you all but don’t worry, there will be consolation prizes.
And then we get a cutscene detailing the premise of the game. So, if you’ve spent too much time around certain parts of the internet, like, you know, this blog, you’ve probably heard of a few of the ‘dere’ types of characters in Japanese fiction. Yanderes are characters that seem sweet and lovely, but then turn around and inflict horrific violence out of a hidden insanity driven by their affection. Or something like that. People find that attractive, apparently. I’ve got at least two posts on this blog touching on that. Well, three now, I guess. Anyways, that’s us. We’re one of those. We spend our whole life feeling nothing, until one day, we run into senpai. Then all of a sudden, a feeling blossoms through. Complete, all-encompassing love. Or something that ol’ Yan-chan confuses for it.
Anyways, Yan-chan is so enraptured by that feeling that she immediately resolves to inflict bloody horrors on anyone who gets between her and the object of her affection.
So she stalks him. Some other girl catches her doing so, and texts her some information on another girl with designs on him. And kind of encourages her to take drastic action.
I’m guessing there’s lots of people in this scenario that could use a bit of professional help.
And with that, we’re in the game proper. We start off in our bedroom, with a few interactables, but so far, only one that’s really meaningful, an anime we can watch to teach us new murder methods. Which seems kind of inappropriate for a high schooler, frankly. From there, I can check out the basement, so I do so, and find it a perfectly equipped murderhole. Also has a cassette tape in there, of which I can figure out no way to play. Because it’s 2022. Who has cassette players anymore?
I do. In my car. In the real world. Aether. That’s who.
Anyways, not a lot to do at home, so I head to school. I get there, and immediately make two impressions. The first, last time I played the game, going to school meant I spawned in with the camera buried underground and staring up my own skirt. That seems to have been corrected in the years since then. And second, holy hades are there a lot of people now. I find myself in the midst of a sea of students. All of them individually designed, and as I find out through playing the game further, all of them with their own schedules and pathing. That’s an impressive thing to see coming together, really.
This is my first time with full control here, so I start messing around, seeing what all the buttons do. I find a button that makes me laugh. This creeps out everyone around. I do it again. Senpai hears that time. And my laugh was apparently so creepy that he never wants anything to do with me again. I got a game over within like thirty seconds of starting the game proper. Harsh.
Ok, starting that over again. This time, no laughing in public. I start formulating a plan. But not much of one. First step is to find my rival/target. I do this quickly, as she’s talking to senpai just off the walkway into school. Second step is to find a reason to… you know, do something about her. Because although Yan-chan is down for wanton murder, Aether’s really not. I have a hard time playing the bad guy in games, particularly when it comes to inflicting horrors on the innocent. Like, I don’t have any moral compunctions with it, really; I’m not sinning by having my electronic avatar commit simulated violence on collected bits of graphics and ai mechanics or anything, but it does require going somewhere that just doesn’t come naturally to me. I usually go for the super good moral choices in games. That’s just more satisfying to me.
But not quite an option here. I did pick a game where you’re playing a horror villain, after all. Anyways, I do find something of a reason for murder, soon enough. It quickly becomes apparent, through eavesdropping on her conversation, that our rival, Osana, is a tsundere. For those who aren’t up on the anime lingo like I am, apparently, a tsundere is one of those dere types who act like a raging dickweasel to the object of their affections in order to keep their feelings secret. This is apparently attractive. I hate tsunderes. Do I hate them enough to kill? Well, we’re going to find out.
I do hate them enough to stalk Osana for a while, apparently. Assisted by Info-chan, the girl egging me on towards murder, who provides me with a schedule of all the important events Osana will be doing that morning. So I watch her debrief with her friend after her talk with Senpai. I watch as she leaves her lunches on her desk and discusses her plans to share with Senpai. I follow them into the courtyard where they talk about boys for a while. I go around looking for weapons, get caught stealing something from the nurse’s office, and have to lie my way out of a conflict with the school counselor. I hide and listen while Osana receives what sounds like a threatening phone call. I follow them as they look at all the clubs around the school.
And you know what? Throughout all this, I discover plenty of means to murder her, but not any opportunities. As I remember from last go-round, Yandere Simulator is a lot like the Hitman series in structure, but whereas Hitman was really focused on infiltration and doing the deed, with the challenge being getting up to your target and managing to take them out undetected, that component’s actually pretty simple in Yandere SImulator. You’re already meant to be there, so no infiltration needed, and you can kill someone with just the press of a button. Instead, whereas leaving after the job is done is an afterthought in Hitman, in Yandere Simulator, the post murder bits are where the real challenge lies. Murder is easy. Getting away with murder is incredibly hard.
And the school is so densely populated there are witnesses everywhere. At anything Osana’s doing. Moreover, she has a friend, Raibaru, tagging along with her constantly. The two are inseparable. And Raibaru’s profile lists her self-defense skill as “invincible”. So I’m going to need to get more clever than just following Osana around and waiting for an opening to take her out.
So I do that. Except the opposite of that. What I do instead is just get bored with following her around for so long. So, when she’s sitting down for lunch with Senpai, which goes phenomenally, by the way, I just grab a knife, walk up, and shank her. Senpai sees. This ruins Yan-chan’s future chances with Senpai. So another game over there.
But, in rejection, I see the traditional options, to quit, restart, or load a save, as well as one to “SNAP”. I remember this being there in the last build we played years ago, but it didn’t do anything then. So I try it out now. And what it does is make Yan-chan go psychotic. Vision goes red, running is replaced by The Ring-style jump cuts in the film, and Yan-chan automatically pummels to death any student that gets close enough to her. Followed by her automatically grabbing a knife. Followed by her murdering Senpai. Followed by…ugh, a player controlled forced suicide. I loathe when games do that. So much so, that I Ctrl-Alt-Del out of the game entirely, rather than go through with it. Well, I wanted something horror-like for Halloween season. Guess I got that.
Anyways, give it some time, pick up the game again, and we’re trucking once more. Now that I’ve learned my way around the building, mechanics, and Osana’s early schedule, I’m a little more structured in my approach. Need to work towards a way of actually ending her.
And luckily, Info-chan’s here to the rescue again. Just like last time, if we do favors for her, we can cash those in to get favors back. Which includes things like weapons, equipment, ruining people’s reputations, getting them kicked out of school temporarily, or my favorite here, a series of step by step guides on various elimination methods. Sort of those waypoint walkthroughs you might get in Western RPGs. And there’s a lot of methods here, some of which are clearly more evil than others. And unlike last time, it looks like most of those options actually work. Hooray!
So, I need to get points with Info-chan, to get myself one of those. And luckily, in this build, doing so is not necessarily as soul crushingly creepy as it used to be. Last time we checked this game-in-progress out, the only way to get Info Points was to take upskirt photos of your fellow students. Now, although that’s still an option, there’s plenty of others as well. Just taking pictures of everybody is a slow but steady way to do so.
Speaking of which, hi, Mai Waifu! Remember when I killed you for no reason and nobody ever noticed? Good times.
Otherwise, you can plant bugs at various places around school, or help Info-chan pick up blackmail material on other students. Obviously, good wholesome things to be doing. I manage to catch someone playing games on their phone when they really shouldn’t be, which scores me well more than enough points to pick the elimination method of my choice. It looks like there’s two options on there that don’t involve ruining someone’s life, so I grab one of those. Because I’m a good person. Accessory to blackmail notwithstanding. Our approach is to now befriend Osana.
Although, while I go around, earning points, I do spot a shadowy figure on a pc in the student council room. Who notices me watching the pc, and has a statement for it. Saying that she knows what I am, and alluding to some greater conspiracy going on at the school. So there is more plot here than just high school stalker murders.
Which largely involves more stalking, at first. I spend the first day listening to her get a threatening phone call, then talk to her friend about it. Sounds like she has a stalker. How fiendish! Who would do such a thing! It sounds like it’s not me, so someone horrible! That’s who! I talk to her, and ask if she needs a favor done. She lost a key chain in the hedge maze. Also this school has a hedge maze. I wish my school had a hedge maze. So I go into it. Grab the key. And then fail to find her again. For the rest of the day. So I go home. Next day comes up, I try to talk to her. But I can’t turn in the quest. Because I don’t have the key chain. Because your inventory empties out completely at the end of any given day, apparently? So I go back to the hedge maze. But the key chain’s not there. So I go talk to Osana again. I have to re-accept the quest, then re-find the keychain, then go back to her once again, to finally get it done. Yandere Simulator has a lot of unfinished game jank that I hadn’t been mentioning throughout, because it is an unfinished game, to be fair, but this is starting to frustrate me now. So then after that, I stick a note in her locker asking her to meet me after school to talk, but she doesn’t show up. I look for her, and find her just wandering around cleaning. I try talking to her about it outright, but that doesn’t work.
It takes me longer than I care to mention here to realize that for her to respond to a note in her locker, she actually has to see the note in her locker. So instead, I go ahead and leave school, come back the next day, and absolutely first thing, I run into school and stick the note in her locker, than speed to class. I hurry through to the end of the school day, and she still doesn’t show. Uhh… ok. So I restart the day, speed to her locker, leave a note in it, and then sit there and watch as she gets to it and receives the note. Then I go through the rest of the day. That works. Apparently, if you don’t see her do some things, it doesn’t really happen. Which is weird, how otherwise together the character schedules are.
Here, we get a good explanation of her predicament. And also the chance to push her off the roof. But we don’t, because Raibaru is following her, of course, because she always does, and my phone says she can kick our butt. Anyways, basically she’s being stalked by some megacreep who’s kidnapped her cat and will kill it if she goes to the police. Yan-chan presses her into giving up the guy’s address, and promises some megacreepiness herself. I have to say, for a really small indie project, there’s some really impressive voice work here. Yan-chan sounds emotionless in a way that’s appropriately uncomfortable to listen to without being remotely flat. That seems to me like it’d be a hard line to carry there.
Anyways, I finish up the rest of the day, go home, and from there, head over to the stalkers house at night. And now, Yan-chan shall use her creepy powers for good! Sorta. She hops the fence, and skulks into their backyard, and wow…. my framerate is crapping the bed here. This is a brand new gaming pc even, and it is struggling. Going through the front door seems like a bad idea for me, so I head around the side of the building, until I find a latticework I can start climbing up. I begin scaling it, and then… start teleporting all around the scenery apparently? And then the scene swaps to a view from inside the house, but Yan-chan doesn’t appear there, I guess because she’s in the wrong place, so I just stay frozen for a while. Uhhh… another glitch.
So I give up on the game for a bit, and come back a few days later. This time, after I’ve repeated my actions and gotten to the infiltration scene, the frame rates just fine, and she scales the lattice like a normal person. Normal people scale lattices, you know. That’s a thing everyone does. So I get in. And go into sneaky sneaks mode. First obstacle, is a girl talking on a phone in her bedroom. Talking about her brother. Who is apparently this big creepy otaku who never leaves his room. Uhhh… that could describe a lot of people I could name. But is certainly our target of the day. Anyways, this guy is apparently so creepy even his sister worries about what he might do with her. I worry about sneaking past the door of her room while her back is turned. Then I head on down the stairs. Sneak past dad searching for something in the couch. Sneak past mom trying to figure out something her loser son will actually eat. And then, we reach his room.
And get to see the stalker in the flesh. Dude is super obsessed with an anime a couple of the students were talking about earlier, and believes the main character of it, his waifu, will be incarnating in Osana’s body. So he plans to use his leverage to capture her and force her to be with him. Romantically. As an anime character. He’s so obsessed with his anime posters that he never notices me skulking up, taking the cat, and leaving.
A quick text message exchange later, and Osana is by our place to pick up her cat and have tea. And again, really excellent voice work in this scene. I really don’t like Yan-chan. But, you know, in a good way. Anyways, they talk for a while, about life, and family, and how apparently Yan-chan’s parents are away which I feel like should explain things in a really significant way but I haven’t pieced together what yet. With the cat free, Osana’s gotten the police after her stalker, and is safe for the first time in a while. I get the option to drug Osana’s tea, but I pass on it. Instead, Yan-chan just comes lean; she digs Senpai, knows Osana is all dere-dere for him too, and asks for Osana to back off so she can have a shot with him. Osana’s reluctant, but given what Yan-chan did for her, agrees.
There. Rival for Senpai’s affections, eliminated. You may be thinking “Aether, I thought you wanted a Halloween style horror experience. What’s up with you taking the Lawful Good route here?” Well, think about it. I may not have killed anyone. Osana’s quality of life might be better now because of my intervention. But I directly manipulated the life of my object of affection for my own interests without his consent, knowledge, or best interests in mind. I interfered with events and changed them for my own desires. Is that not horrific on it’s own?
Case in point. Here’s Senpai, super depressed because Osana, who was his childhood friend and next door neighbor, by the way, suddenly distanced herself from him with absolutely no explanation. Guy is downright despondent over it.
So much so that random passerby are worried about him.
And random passerby grow close to him by trying to make him feel better.
And Info-chan happens to see.
So what, it’s really not horror-ful enough for you?
Fine. You want me to make a moment?
I’m going to make a moment.