Thanks to a steady influx of titles on Steam and the PlayStation Network, the visual novel is finally garnering attention outside of Japan. The downside of this development is that consumers are experiencing a wide span in quality across the medium. While we’re seeing a number of noteworthy efforts, bandwidth is also being jammed with the banal- from insignificant imported works to lackluster stories crafted domestically.
At first glance, G-senjou no Maou – The Devil on G-String might seem unremarkable, often accompanied by screenshots which reveal typical doe-eyed denizens posed in classrooms. But midway through the first chapter, the title signals its ambitions, as a character drops his decorous manners and lets loose with a steady succession of expletives. At this point you might suspect that The Devil on G-String is going to deliver more than just spirited banter with a quartet of schoolgirls.
Soon another crucial symbol emerges. As the foster son of a powerful Yakuza boss, Azai Kyousuke is coerced into running one of the organization’s quasi-legit businesses. No simple lackey, he’s a brilliant strategist, who has adopted his father’s conviction that money takes precedence over everything else. But he’s also obligated to keep his nightly syndicate duties a secret from those around him, creating a double-life when he attends school during the day. Almost everyone in The Devil on G-String holds these kinds of secrets, making for an especially engaging read.
During the day, Kyousuke enjoys the carefree hours casually socializing and feeding his fondness for classical music. But his daily sojourns become disrupted when a new transfer student named Haru Usami begins to question Kyousuke’s routine explanations. She also enquires about a person named “Maou”, which the protagonist claims to not know. But later that evening, Kyousuke receives an enigmatic email from the individual, plunging him into the criminal underworld.
What begins as lighthearted classroom banter soon descends into kidnappings, murder and a restrained number of branches for The Devil on G-String’s storyline. Although the number of choices are limited, decisions won’t just give you single-shot responses. Instead, selections lead to significant forks in the narrative, propelling players toward out of four different outcomes. While this construction along with an ample supply of a 150 save slots encourages readers to seek different paths, replay isn’t quite as enjoyable given G-senjou no Maou’s abundance of plot twists. But save for a slight shortage of foreshadowing, the VN’s initial read is one of the medium’s best, elevated by faultless pacing and top-tier characterization.
As for the novel’s localization, things are largely positive. Sekai Project offers two versions of The Devil on G-String. For twenty dollars, you get the basic game. For twenty more, you can opt for the Voiced Edition, where a cast of notable seiyū (Kawai Haruka from Clannad, Kaneda Mahiru from Little Witch Romanesque) help bring the cast to life. While some might balk at the doubling of price, conversation is professionally delivered and helps to distinguish between characters, as only portrait and font colors designate who is delivering dialog.
Given The Devil on G-String’s age (the novel was originally released in 2008), the conversion from 4:3 to 16:9 output is handled competently. Before loading, readers are offered a variety of fidelities which upscale the game from its 1280×720 output, optionally offering to fill any empty the screen. The transition means that some CGs will be cropped, but largely, the trimming isn’t noticeable. What is perceivable is the absence of hentai, with the plotline leading up to HCGs, but Steam’s standards barring the adult content. I went to the trouble of looking up the images for you; you’re not missing too much.
What you won’t want to miss is G-senjou no Maou’s soundtrack, which offers a pleasing selection of classical pieces, often with remarkable instrumentation. Given the game’s subject matter (the eponymous G-String isn’t a panty, but rather part of a violin), its little wonder that so much care was given to the novel’s aural accompaniment. Pleasingly, selections are given on-screen notification and typically play out with incessant looping.
With Steam’s library is rapidly filling with a variety of visual novels, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate the consummate from the chaff. Although exhibiting a few blemishes emanating from age and cultural standards, G-senjou no Maou – The Devil on G-String is undoubtedly one of the better efforts out there. Filled with pulpy intrigue and a great cast of characters, the novel is indispensable purchase for VN aficionados and apprentices alike.
G-senjou no Maou – The Devil on G-String was played on PC with review code provided by the publisher.
Publisher: Sekai Project
Release date: November 5th, 2015
Price: $19.99 via Steam for Voiceless Edition, $39.99 for Voiced Edition