Title: Jiangshi x Daoshi
Developer: Dendo Denkido
Release Date: July 16, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Fruitbat Factory
Genre: Visual Novel
The static illustrations of a common visual novel make it tough for newcomers to get invested in the genre. It’s understandable to take one look at these games and reduce them down to a picture book, even though I find them to be so much more.
Luckily, their are visual novels that push the medium to new heights and try new things to ease the world of visuals novels onto new players. One of the more interesting ways to keep someone’s attention is through animation. So, developer Dendo Denkido has taken that idea and mixed it with the visual novel genre to produce their newest title to come west, Jiangshi X Daoshi.
Jiangshi X Daoshi has two leads, a Jiangshi and a Daoshi, simple enough to remember. Don’t worry if you don’t know who these words are because neither did. Other than the fact that I knew the words were Chinese, I honestly didn’t know what to expect before jumping into this game.
In 90% of cases, I typically attempt to explain the meaning of the title and how it relates to the narrative. Still, with Jiangshi X Daoshi, I’m not giving you any hints, which actually might end up making the entire experience better.
Our story opens with a man running through the woods under attack by a strange plant monster. He trips and falls as he is about to fall victim to his pursuer. However, right in the knick of time, a blade flies through the sky, slicing it in two.
The wielder of the blade is, of course, a cute girl named Ling-Ling. She’s a toaist priest who has been sleeping for 500 years and just so happened to be passing through at the right time to save the intrepid yet blase Luan from certain death. In payment, he lets her stay with him and agrees to cook her as many sweets as she desires, which leads her to take him on as a disciple.
Jiangshi X Daoshi has an episodic format as it conveys a tale that is ultimately about the adventures of this unlikely duo and how they get caught up in all manner of ridiculous scenarios. It’s not by any means some deep and meaningful adventure either, but that’s what makes it so enjoyable.
There aren’t enough of these stories told in visual novels. You get to witness a journey between some unlikely friends, and you don’t need much else. However, Jiangshi X Daoshi has a secret weapon that makes it really stand out. Well, it’s not a secret weapon as you’ll have seen it by the time you reach the title screen, and I mentioned it at the beginning of the review: Animation.
Jiangshi X Daoshi has a visual style that leaves everything else in the dust. The sprites themselves have next to no animation, but the title utilizes all sorts of tools and techniques like animated transitions, moving the sprites themselves, zooming, animated cut-ins, the list goes on. A cost to this is that a lot of the background CGs are stock, but they’ve got so much flourish applied to them I didn’t care in the slightest.
The presentation is so good it elevates this title to new heights. That’s all without taking into account the soundtrack, which is peppered with fantastic beats of both vocal and instrumental goodness. There’s also the voice acting, which adds an exceptional amount of quality to an already impressive product. It all just adds the whole vibe of experiencing a group of people having a good time.
Jiangshi X Daoshi is well worth your time as it pushes what the idea of a visual novel can be. The animations, combined with a simplistic story, makes it a perfect entry point for pretty much anyone. It won’t leave you questioning your existence or provide a feel-good experience, but it does present a group of characters who you can’t help but want to hang out with, which is an excellent foundation for any visual novel.
In fact, the first two episodes are completely free, with a third one already confirmed for a western release. So even you poor college students suffering from crippling debt can pick this one up. I’ll be seeing you back here for episode three when it comes out.
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