IxSHE TELL Review – So Many Options

    Title: IxSHE TELL
    Developer: Hooksoft
    Release Date: August 28, 2020
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: NekoNyan
    Genre: Visual Novel

There is no such thing as a high school eroge that couldn’t be described as simple wish fulfillment. So, many try to create a protagonist similar to the target audience. Y’know, a nearly friendless, unpopular, widely disliked pervert with a complete lack of social skills, just like the player.

I joke, but it’s a general setup that forms the foundation of the much-parodied harem protagonist, as our hapless hero manages to stumble into a vault of admiration by making a few lucky actions that have their chosen heroine swooning before them.

On the other hand, Hooksoft decided they’d rework the concept and just cut out the middleman entirely by making their protagonist the most popular kid in school that the heroines are already falling head over heels to win over. Still, whether it works or not is left to be seen.

The private school Kenseikan Academy had some stringent rules on inter-student romance. The keyword there is, had, as the student council president Ninomiya Hajime has fought tooth-and-nail to have this ban lifted so he can enjoy the potential of a high school romance for himself. The act of which leads him to be hailed as a hero of the student body.

Unfortunately, he’s run into a slight problem. He’s the student council president and riddled with responsibilities, leaving him with next to no time to kindle the proper romance he so desires. If that wasn’t enough, he’s getting confessions from all sides. These romanceable classmates include classics such as the “popular girl,” “childhood friend,” and “transfer student” along with another school’s student council president, and his very own vice-president who wants to stir up drama and bring back the relationship ban. As the player, we are subjected to follow Hajime, who must juggle his newfound popularity and continued responsibility.

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IxSHE Tell is as linear as an eroge comes, if not even more so. You’re going to be spending your whole time reading and judging, as once you finish the nearly three-hour prologue, you’ll discover it’s not about trying to woo the heroine you like the most, oh no. It’s about seeing which heroine woos you the best.

Each chapter will give you 10 points, which you can assign to any of the main heroines if you want to keep a running tally of who caters to you the most. In between chapters, you can choose to hang out with one of them to get to know them better, and you’ll even get prompts at points to see how you, I mean, Hajime are living in the other heroines’ thoughts rent-free.

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There are also quicktime events that judge how long it takes you to perform a particular action. These will elicit a different response, which is an entertaining way of adding interactions as opposed to stock choices. While mostly unseen and silent, Hajime is one of your better protagonists of this kind.

With a reputation to uphold, he keeps any perverted ideas to himself with varying results. This, combined with incredibly varied and charming heroines, fun and helpful supporting cast, and a self-aware script that relishes in the absurdity of the situation that keeps your eyes stuck on a script and is far more enjoyable than you’d assume.

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Still, don’t expect it to get too deep though, IxSHE Tell does not do much more than play around with a few different romance narrative types, and 75% of this game’s CGs are of the H variety, which you’ll need an external patch to get to and are confined to character-specific routes. The art is excellent; make no mistake, though. The game’s options menu has a few basic options, but the text box is a grey-white color that can occasionally make the text hard to read at points.

Once you’ve progressed far enough, Hajime will have to make the only proper decision in the game: Which girl will he choose? However, this game amounts to more of a “‘Who’s route is it anyway, the eroge where everything is made up, and the choices don’t matter.”

You see, the girls you’ve dedicated the most points to will show up as options for him to confess to alongside “think about it” and “refuse to choose.” The think about it option lets you just pick whoever you like the most, no strings attached. On the one hand, it defeats the purpose of the point system, but also, it makes a lot of sense in-universe since no matter how many points you put in, they’re still the ones who confessed to you to start.

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For what seems like an average harem game on the surface, IxSHE TELL does a good job of making the concept feel more earned. The title messes with a bunch of classic anime tropes to give the player some real variety to experience within a title that’ll take you roughly 20 hours to complete. Even if the choices don’t matter, there is just something about this game that makes it all work.

Score:
8/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Jacob Kavanagh

Staff Writer - Illusions to illusions. Will solve murder mysteries for money so he can buy more murder mysteries. @JacobPFZE on twitter