Sophistry – Love & Despair seems like an odd fit for Steam, and after a full play through my first impression was pretty spot on. This is your standard dating sim, with some episodic drama. It has its fault and merits, but this title is somewhat rough around the edges.
It took a long time for the game to load, and after it did the animated title screen was very choppy. Navigating the menus also feels slow, like the game is severely unoptimized. There are some nice features like a route branch, but it only shows check marks for completed paths and no surrounding details. When I look at it, I can’t tell which decision led to what outcome unless I’m actively playing and at that particular branch. There is a CG library and an achievements list, and there are plenty of both to obtain.
After starting the story, I noticed a few things right away. First off, the characters look strange. They constantly bob their head around in an effort to be animated but it feels very robotic and unnatural. Static images would have worked better here. I also felt my attention constantly focused on their noses! I’m not sure why but it looks like they are constantly flaring their nostrils? The voice acting ranges from average to bad, and some characters sound like they were recorded using a laptop microphone with no post processing. You can also see the animation box surrounding their mouths when they talk.
These annoyances didn’t stop intruding and kept me from being completely immersed in the story. The plot here isn’t bad, but it is directed towards a young adult audience and is your standard prime time soap opera. Crush is indecisive, rich man shows up, what do I do? There isn’t a lot of deep character development, but what Sophistry does well is constantly introducing unexpected twists that keep the reader engaged.
A mobile release would solve most of the issues I’ve detailed and I believe it would find its way to its target audience easier. It doesn’t feel good listing all of these shortcomings because I can tell a lot of effort was put in to this game. My experience playing Sophistry was indifferent, and I can only recommend with hesitation knowing that there is likely an audience awaiting that doesn’t include myself.