Okay. Here at The Retributionists, we review serious literature. Today's post is my very serious review of a novel I read recently.
The novel is a furry visual novel dating sim called Amorous (✿◕ω◕). I found a few of the datable characters in it to be attractive and adorable, whereas others I found utterly repulsive, but what I really want to talk about here isn't actually character-based at all. I want to talk about how this novel has the most outlandish sense of continuity that I've seen from any story in a looong time, to the point where I can genuinely suggest time travel as something that would improve the continuity, rather than something that would fuck it up like it would in almost any other story.
So, let's get right into the core structure of the novel, since that'll be important if we're going to talk about the continuity here. In the prologue, you're introduced as a guy/girl/guyrl (your choice) who's down on hir luck, having lost your job somewhat recently and having not dated anyone since high school. In an attempt to cheer you up, your step-brother Coby drags you along to a nightclub called Amorous. From here, the prologue ends, and the novel-proper begins. Basically, the club acts as a hub where you can get phone numbers from the datable characters, then once you go back home you can call the characters to initiate their dates; each datable character has three dates before the two of you arrive at the bone zone; it's possible to fuck the dates up so badly that the relationship ends midway through a questline, but basically, getting the phone numbers in the first place is the only real hurdle: as long as you're not deliberately a dick, you can be pretty sure that you'll be getting into a given character's pants as soon as you've gotten their digits. Here's a diagram I drew in MS Paint uwu.
So far, this doesn't seem unreasonable at all for a dating sim. It would be incredibly easy to imagine a novel that pulls off the above core concept really well. But alas. Such a feat would require... remembering that this was the novel structure you chose? And, like, caring? Let's get into everything that happened in my playthough to show you what I mean.
Conquest #1: Coby
In my playthrough, I more-or-less did the characters one-by-one, with a couple of exceptions that I'll point out as we come to them. The first character who I went after was Coby, who is the step brother of the pov character—apparently you actually have to go for him first if you want to get in his pants at all, because the only opportunity you have to flirt with him is the morning after the first time you get home from the club. But, I'd already planned on doing the dick/butt monster mash with him as soon as possible, so I did not encounter any issues here. Coby and I got back from the club, had a sleep, woke up, played rectum hokey-pokey, 10/10, I got ready to continue my adventure as a harem csar.
So far, so good. Before dicksmashing my step-brother Coby I'd only flirted with one other character (Seth), since it wouldn't let me leave the club for the first time until after I'd gotten at least one phone number from another character. At this point in the novel, I had not yet noticed any continuity errors. (I was about to notice some continuity errors.)
Conquest #2: Seth
So, after giving my step-brother Coby a sloppy prostate exam with my weenie, I gave Seth a call. He said he was on his way to the library, and that I could go meet him there. Cool. On my way out the door, Coby (in his underwear) stopped me and was like "ooOOooh you have a daaate?" and I was like "yeaaahhhh~" and that was basically the end of that conversation. And as the player I was like, "hm. That's odd that neither of us acknowledged how we boned like an hour ago. He didn't even give me a goodbye kiss. How cold." But, whatevs. Went on my date with Seth, hit it off really well.
For the second 'date' with Seth, the novel transitions roughly a couple weeks forward, and Seth shows up at your door saying that he was inspired by you to write an entire book (for he is an author, you see). When he shows up at the door, Coby is also there, and I was like, "haha, uh oh, this is about to get into an awkward sitcom-y situation where, in the height of explaining how inspired by me he was, Seth realizes that I had fucked my step-brother Coby on the exact same day that he and I went to the library together." But the conversation went on. And on. And ended. And at no point did Coby, Seth, or myself ever even hint at the notion that me and Coby had done the incest harlem shake. And at this point, I was like, "Nooo. Surely this novel would not be entirely designed around the core premise that you can date multiple characters, but then not have any of those characters or yourself ever acknowledge on any level any past relationship you've had with another character." (I was about to realize that this novel was entirely designed around the core premise that you can date multiple characters, but then not have any of those characters or yourself ever acknowledge on any level any past relationship you've had with another character.)
Third date with Seth, I help him get into the publishing industry so he can start his career as an author (like ya do), we confess our love for one another, we plan a life together going forward, and he helps me warm up my phallus to the exact temperature of his ass as we watch the sun set. At no point in any of these activities did my guy mention, "hey btw I also have feelings for my step-brother Coby, idk if that's cool with you. He and I share a room and we've already played Who's On Bottom that one time, so like, I assume that's been continuing to happen off-screen the entire time you and I have been dating. Thought I'd mention it." Nope. Just a romantic, played-completely-straight, seemingly-monogamous, un-complicated ending to the Seth questline.
So, at this point, I was like, "Weird. As soon as you move to a new questline, everybody including yourself forgets everything that happened outside of that one questline. Seems pretty lazy in my opinion, but, I guess I can accept it. Surely the novel will at least be consistent about this rule and will never leave any indication that any other relationships have happened besides whichever one you're currently doing, since none of the characters themselves remember." (I was about to learn that the novel would not be consistent about this rule and would leave several indications that other relationships have happened outside of the one you're currently doing, in spite of the fact that none of the characters themselves remember.)
An Aside: The Phone
At this point, we need to get into one novel mechanic that I glanced over earlier: the phone. The phone is your main interface for doing meta stuff, like saving/loading your novel, changing your settings, and enabling/disabling cheats. The phone is also crucial for in-novel stuff—namely, calling characters to set up dates. (Oh, and I guess it can do other nifty things like crash the entire novel if you try to click on your achievements, as I found out while writing this paragraph. oops ¯\_(ツ)_/¯).
After slapping my girthy hog around inside Seth's rear entrance on our previous date, I went to my phone to try to call him again, to see if he had more dates or at least if I could just say hey to him, since we were life partners now and all. Instead, when I clicked on the call option, I got a message saying, "You finished all dates with Seth!" So, fair 'nough. In addition to "Call", there were also two meta options under Seth's contact: "Delete contact", which resets all your progress with a character, and "Extra: Sexscene", which lets you go back to fuckville with any character who you've boned before, but this time it does it w/o any dialogue or scene-setting, which I take to mean that it doesn't "really" happen again like it did the first time, it's just the novel showing it to you again "off the record". Neat.
And it was at this point that I tried to call Coby, and learned something novel-changing: (1) he is the only character for whom the call feature never gets disabled, even after you've finished their questline; (2) because of the "bootycall" dialogue option with him, you can explicitly fuck your step-brother Coby at any time between dates; not as a meta/extra feature, but as a with-dialogue, in-universe, in-present-time feature of the novel based on all discernible evidence. (It was at this point that I began explicitly fucking my step-brother Coby between every date with every character, just to see if any person at any point would acknowledge it, and to giggle to myself every time they inevitably did not.)
Conquest #3: Zenith
So after reusing the step-brother slip-inside for the first time, I went back to the club and talked to a few other characters (Skye, Mercy, and Zenith) before deciding on which one I wanted to smooch genitals with next (Zenith). While at the club, I noticed Seth was gone, and I was like, "Ah yeah that makes sense that he'd leave after you've gotten his phone number or finished his questline or whatever. Fair fair." Theeen I talked to the bartender. And one of the options was to ask him about the feline (Seth) at the bar. Upon asking about Seth (who is not there), the bartender will tell you all about Seth as though he is there (he is not there). So, on our checklist of fucking up continuity, we can go ahead and check off "continuity is bad within the same immediate setting," which will make a fine addition to our collection.
I don't really have continuity notes on anything other than that for the Zenith questline, aside from the fact that it is still deeefinitely not acknowledged that my step-brother Coby and I are fucking or that Seth and I are betrothed. Zenith was a nice guy overall. Not husbando material for me personally like Seth was, but, he was fun.
Conquest #4: Jax
Jax is the bartender at the club. Oh mama. Yeah we're about to bite real deep into the continuity onion here. Get ready.
So, after Zenith used me like a well-lubed sock, I fucked my step-brother Coby real quick again and then headed back to the club. This time, I flirted with two more characters: Dustin (a jerk) and Jax (the bartender). When talking with Dustin, I ended up being too forward with him, and he got perma-mad at me: any time I tried to approach him again for conversation, he would just angrily tell me to go away. Conversely: I was also too forward with Jax (the bartender), but he would literally forget me every time I came up to the bar again—he ended up making me like ten of the same very-strong drink (and dropping and shattering like ten of the same bottle) as I attempted to figure out which arbitrary path through his dialogue tree would not upset him. And every time I did upset him, I'd just come right back and he'd be like "heyyy never seen you here before new guy, what can I getcha bub? :)."
So, I went through part of the Jax questline while fucking my step-brother Coby, and at first, everything was par for the course (as in, nobody remembered that I had swapped sperm with three other dudes quite recently. Also I chose to hug Jax during a date, and then later it said that Jax and I had kissed when I'm pretty sure we'd only hugged, but I might have accidentally skipped the line where we kissed real quick after the hug, idk. Anyways.) Partway through the Jax questline however, I ended up calling Zenith again, and found out that his questline does have an epilogue thing, unlike Seth's. So, cool. Zenith and I went out to the beach, and while we were there, he offered me a job at the club (since he is a bouncer at the club, and the pov's initial conflict involved him being unemployed). Again, cool. And apparently impeccable timing on my part, given what was going to unfold with Jax later on.
With Zenith's questline now done-done, I went back to the club to see if I could start a date with Jax there in person instead of calling him from home like usual. He was at the bar. However. Things were fucky. When I went up to him, he introduced me to the club, as though I had never been. Some of his dialogue options were removed—basically the ones that can lead to you hitting on him, which doesss make sense, I guess. But what they did not remove are the rest of the dialogue options, where you can say to him with no trace of irony that you've never been to this club before ("I've never been here before.") and he will tell you, with no trace of irony, all about the place (concluding with, "Hope that helps! Need anything else?" instead of, "Haha jk, I already know that we went to the movies and [hugged/kissed]").
Okay, so no starting a date with Jax from the bar—nor having any coherent conversation with him at the bar at all, for that matter. This is fine. Everything's fine. I went back home and called Jax through the proper channels, and the Jax questline resumed, when suddenly... quite possibly the dumbest conflict in the entire novel rears its head. The conflict: my guy has no time to hang out with Jax anymore, because my guy is going to too many job interviews so that he can find a job, and Jax is too busy working at the club at night.
Now... in addition to this not making sense anyways (how many job interviews could my guy possibly have in a day?), it would also be immediately resolved if the novel remembered any other questline I had already finished. Coby said he would take care of me and pay my part of the rent. Seth was quite wealthy from the get-go, and we were planning to live together going forward. Zenith literally offered me a job. At. The. Same. God. Damn. Club. Where. Jax. Works. So, it was a bit difficult for me to take this conflict seriously, basically, and I feel like it was the first time where the novel's discontinuity directly made a questline way worse than it would've been otherwise.
Anyways, the Jax questline went on, my guy promised to be monogamous with Jax (whilst also fucking his step-brother Coby, like ya do), and after a lewd cutscene with broken graphics where my jizz layer overflowed incorrectly out from behind Jax's anus layer, I once again returned to the club to see what was up. Turns out, what was up was that there was a new bartender. Neat! Talking to him, I found that he had the same dialogue text as Jax had verbatim! That is, aside from one part of one sentence where they tell you their name, so, 10/10 pack it in good job boys, we did it, we did one correct thing for the continuity, we remembered to change "Jax" to "Rou". What boggles my mind with the new bartender having the same dialogue is that... you can't have that guy be the bartender on your first night. He becomes the bartender only after you've finished the Jax questline. So why the dickens would all of his dialogue still act as though you're new to the club? (same "I've never been here before," same "Hope that helps! Need anything else?") It's like they were conscious of how having Jax still be there might be odd if you're at the club to hit on other characters, but they somehow went through the entire effort of swapping him out for the new bartender without also thinking, "Oh yeah and him having this dialogue makes no sense either, so we should definitely go through and at least change a bit of the wording." idk man. I don't think the people who made this novel actually intended for anyone to think about it. Like, at all.
Conquest #5: Dustin
Next I was curious about Dustin, so I tried talking to him again, but oh lawdy he was still furious at me for earlier when I'd told him that I wanted to compare his dick circumference to my butthole diameter. I believe this is the first time I consulted the internet for help with this novel. Basically, the only 'solution' was to start the novel over, to which I boldly said "haha no" and opened my novel's save file. Turns out, it was in cleartext which meant that I could easily fuck with it \o/. Looking at the save file revealed a few things. Number one: the novel is able to save variables about what has happened with all the different characters, and so it has no excuse for this christmas-lights-in-a-drawer-esque continuity tangle. Number two: Coby.Helicopter was set to true in my novel, and I do not remember what that could possibly be in reference to, but I had a very thorough giggle at it all the same. And, Number three: I was able to delete the flags DustinDate, Club_Dustin_Drink, Dustin_LikesMe, Club_Dustin_ExTalk, Club_Dustin_AboutMe, Club_Dustin_AboutHim, Club_Dustin_HimRepeat, Club_Dustin_Tease, Dustin.Retry, Club_Dustin_MeRepeat, Club_Dustin_ExRepeat, and vualá! Dustin would talk to me again :3. (I can acknowledge that, by tinkering with the novel's files, I have voided the continuity warranty on this playthough from here forward, but... yeah c'mon, this shit was already broken. I don't think I did anything that the novel wasn't already prepared to do to itself.)
I am going to take a second here to acknowledge and then move swiftly past one point of interest with Dustin: he also appears in a comic (by the same people who made this novel) called Man's Best Friend With Benefits, where he puts his dingaling in a dog's mouth (not "a dog" as in a standing-up, "hi there how's it going?" kind of dog, but "a dog" as in an all-fours, "woof woof" kind of dog). This raises several questions about when exactly that happened in relation to this novel and what exactly the implications of that are, but, since the focus of this review is continuity rather than character, I'm just going to flag it as "adding an extended universe did not make your bad continuity less bad, you fuck" and move along.
After the first date with Dustin, it became apparent that he was extremely emotionally dependent on relationships, and so I took this as the ideal opportunity to completely stop doing his questline and to start doing another one right in the middle of his, to see if he would care in the slightest, given that it would be so relevant to him in particular. (He would not care. He would not care on any level, even though he seems to be the character with the strictest 'rules' in terms of novel mechanics, given that I think he's the only one in the club who can irreversibly shut you out if you talk to him wrong.)
Conquest #6: Lex
Went back to the club, found Lex, talked to Lex, hit it off with Lex. Lex is an androgynous character, which you can tell by the fact that the novel constantly presents you with dialogue options to be like "WHAT'S IN YOUR PANTS, LEX?", all of which I did not click on because I'm bi anyways and I do not open christmas presents early, tyvm. At first, I figured that the novel was going to pull a sneaky on me, and change whether Lex turns out to be male or female based on some dialogue option I chose at some point that tipped my hand to a preference, so I was very careful to remain absolutely neutral on the issue. Then, in the scene where Lex does take Lex's pants off, I learned that Lex is biologically female, and I was like, "ah that's cool that they took a definative position. I was sure that there was going to be a non-optional 'DO YOU WANT M OR F' thing. Well done."
Later on (via The Internet), I learned that the novel actually does do what I'd initially expected, and allows Lex to be male or female based on the player's preference—they just pulled it off smoothly enough for me not to notice, even while I was being hyper-vigilant to spot it. Again, honestly, well done. I do not have any notes on new levels of continuity fuckery during Lex's questline :3. Although, I did think it was a bit much when they took away Lex's head right before I learned what was in their pants to symbolize that I didn't care about their mind and was too preoccupied with their body, and then after the sex scene they took away Lex's body to symbolize that I was no longer concerned with their body and had realized that their mind was all that mattered all along. Like, solid message, but it was a little on-the-nose, frankly.
Also, I guess it is worth mentioning one dumb thing here—it's not a dumb thing that's exclusive to Lex's questline, but it does pop up in this one and I've got nothing else to complain about at this particular point. Basically, at some point in most of the questlines, you meet a friend of the person you're on a date with, and you have a chance to hit on that friend. HITTING ON THE FRIEND IS FORBIDDEN. THE PERSON YOU'RE DATING WILL GET MAD AT YOU IF YOU HIT ON SOMEONE ELSE IN THIS novel THAT IS ENTIRELY DESIGNED AROUND POLYGAMY. But, as the player, I was smart enough to go "pft, they didn't even give this tertiary character an idle animation, there is a 0% chance that they animated an actual boning scene. Pass." So, it's dumb, but it's an easy trap to avoid.
Conquest #5 redux: Dustin again
Went back to Dustin as though there had been 0 interlude with Lex. gg. He got pissed at one point because his ex hooked up with a couple of new people and then texted him about it. The novel did not give me an option to respond by mentioning how I had continuously fucked my step-brother Coby and also fallen in love with Lex since the last time Dustin and I hung out, and how if there was an option to bang Dustin's ex in a gangbang that also included Coby and Lex and Seth and Zenith, I would have done that too. Oh well.
Conquest #7: Mercy
Mercy was one of the characters who I talked to briefly very early on, at the same time as Zenith. Since I'd already gotten her phone number way back at that point, I gave her a call. She remembered who I was, in spite of the fact that that night at the club had to have been months ago, and also that she was drunk at the time. I guess my goth cross-dressing fox left a memorable impression. Hurray for spending too much time in character customization. So anyways, I fucked my step-brother Coby, got ready for a date, and headed out the door. I was stopped at the door by Coby for a brief pre-date dialogue. Then, as I'm driving to the date, my guy says "Five minutes late... dammit Coby." which was probably in reference to the dialogue but which I choose to believe was a sneaky nod to the fact that we boned also.
These are a few of the notes that I took during the Mercy questline:
So... yeah. Suddenly in this questline it seems like the writing is at least halfway trying to accommodate the fact that you can date multiple people in this novel? But they're doing it in the difficult and frustrating way by writing it to be ambiguous, instead of doing it in the satisfying and actually-easier way by writing two simpler versions of the dialogue (one for if you have fucked your step brother, one for if you have not) and then showing you the correct dialogue based on whether Coby.YouHaveFuckedHimYouIncestMonkey is true or false. I... genuinely don't understand why they're sticking to their guns and not coding in any sense of continuity here, when it would be so easy to do so and since it kiiind of does seem like they suddenly do want to address the issue after all. Maybe they were using the ambiguous dialogue as a placeholder and just forgot to go back and make the novel good afterwards?
Conquest #8: Skye
Skye's entire personality is anime and video novels for the first 90% of her questline and it is genuinely unbearable. Like, full disclosure, irl most of my own best friends are huge anime and video novel fans, but it's not even remotely an issue in their case because they also have the ability to understand that there are things in the world that are not anime and video novels—as in, they actually have personalities that aren't just a katamari of hyper-nerdy pop-culture references; they like anime and video novels, and they are lovely individuals, unlike Skye who cosplays 24/7 and takes you to a mall for your first date where the two of you go to a video novel store to look at video novels and then to a clothing store to look at clothes that she can use for her next anime cosplay for when she goes to the next anime and video novels cosplay convention. She's actually the first one who broke up with me midway through their questline because I refused to go to the aforementioned cosplay convention with her. But, for the sake of completionism, I skiddaddled back to an earlier save file and did see her questline through to the end. She actually does make one hell of a save at the very-very end in terms of her plot/story/character, and so I can't say I completely hated her the whole time, but with that said, I will say that I did completely hate her pretty consistently for the first 90% of the whole time.
In terms of continuity, I mean, it's nothing we haven't already seen. Coby says "I'm glad you're putting yourself out there!" in reference to me and Skye dating, which is quite silly for a number of reasons, barring the minor possibility that he was being sarcastic. Either way, I gave Coby the standard booty call immediately after that, just to ensure maximum discontinuity. At one point Skye says, "Mostly I based it off of animes, you know... Japanese cartoons?" which I feel like is a continuity error that reaches out of the novel and into the life of the player: like, yeah thanks I'm a furry I've heard of anime before. Oh, and if Skye breaks up with you, you can find her in the club again and talk to her as though you two had never met, which of course doesn't make sense but it also doesn't make more not sense than the rest of the novel already has, so, fuck it.
Conquest #9: Remy
By this point into the novel, I was pretty checked out. I'd assumed I'd basically seen everything the novel had to offer. Boy did I receive a final-hour curveball to the nuts.
These are the notes I took as I played through the Remy questline:
So yes. SUDDENLY, THERE IS A QUESTLINE THAT APPEARS TO 100% ACKNOWLEDGE THE BONING BETWEEN THE PLAYER AND COBY. K-KIND OF. It still seemed like it wasn't acknowledged between the player and Remy at any point, but like, there's no way to not read boning into the POV/Coby scenes that took place during Remy's questline. They pretty much literally say at multiple points "haha wanna do sexy things together?" or "haha remember before how we did sexy things together?" while in other questlines it'd mostly be "hey c'mon get the fuq away from me coby, that's gay, sttttahppit". Part of me wants to start a new novel and go straight to Remy to see if the pov and Coby still flirt, but forsooth, my heart can endure no more...
nahhhhhh fuck it—as though I had a heart in the first place. One second here... ugggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggh. Okay: speed-clicking through Remy's date w/o having fucked Coby first, it appears that Coby and the protagonist flirt using exactly the same dialogue. Deskflip.gif
So now that we've been through nine layers of continuity hell and back, here is the diagram from the beginning of the review, annotated to show the actual continuity to the best of my understanding.
In short, the thrust of the problem is this: the novel lets you date more than one character in the same playthrough, but it also forgets that it lets you date more than one character in the same playthrough... sometimes. Other times it seems to remember perfectly fine, or it remembers but only vaguely, or it pulls some 4-dimensional doublethink memory where it both does and doesn't remember at the same time.
Because I'm such a problem solver (in addition to my main role as a problem identifier and maker funer ofer), I have three suggestions on ways to improve this porn novel's continuity. The first two, if they had been done in the first place, would have been easier to do than the novel's current design. The third suggestion, while it is my ideal solution, would also admittedly require Big Effort, so, it's just in there for the sake of having it on-record.
Thank you all for reading my review of Amorous :3. Aside from the continuity it was pretty fun during the Coby and Seth and Lex parts and I had a good time overall even if the continuity was hilariously bad and the writing and animation were on average 'fine but noticably flawed' and peaked out at 'slightly goodish'. Basically, would recommend if you're enough of a homo furry such as moi to see past these issues for the sake of enjoying Amorous for what it was meant to be, rather than what it definitely actually is. Be sure to join us for the next 'real' review where Warnuts and I will open some fan mail.