PEGBRJE: The Seven Districts of Sin The Tail Makes The Fox EP1 and Three Lesbians in a Barrow
Man these titles are lengthy.
The Seven Districts of Sin The Tail Makes The Fox is the lenghty title of a visual novel by Reine Works, a study from Canada focused primarily on romance novel video game titles. Players follow the story of the canonically named Lilim, an auditor for the main hell government and resident 2 tailed gumiho. She is sentenced to discovering the possibility of foul play in the Kumonoito District under order of Lucifer, to whom Lilim is a resident servant and unapologetic boot-licker. With 4 interactable characters upon arrival, Lilim needs to choose between discovering the possible soul fraud or the chance at finding somebody more special than the Overlord themselves.
While I wasn’t familiar with Reine Works before this title, The Tail Makes The Fox (which will immediately be abbreviated to TTMTF) follows a similar production quality that has been apparent throughout many of the larger visual novel titles found within the bundle. The entire cast of characters (barring the protagonist) is voiced with relatively superb quality, with only some subjective delivery during certain lines throughout. The art is clean and consistent, with the district characters all matching motifs — most likely due to Governor Anzu demanding it. The music as well is quite fitting with its piano progressions, having a mild disconnect between the stillness of the song and the fact that the player is in hell currently.
All of these facts are important in creating a polished experience, but a visual novel lives and breaths on its writing prowess, and that’s where TTMTF is a bit of a different experience. Touted as a romance AND a comedy, the 4 romanceable characters (and even the protagonist) are almost overexaggerated versions of common tropes in a visual novel, but I wouldn’t expect it any other way when one remembers the setting is in fact, Hell. The kitsune Gaki is a ‘hopeless romantic’ (see raging perverted creep), Anzu is a manipulative succubi and Lucifer is the overlord who seemingly doesn’t care about any of the squabbling of the districts they set up. These brash interactions are at time accompanied by 4th wall commentary, almost appearing that TTMTF is a parody of visual novels in general. However, this does lead to the jokes being somewhat of a coin flip, either landing perfectly to laughter or falling flat to confusion and bewilderment.
TTMTF is certainly a vertical slice of the full product, only giving episode 1 to players to work with and hinting at the future conflicts that can arise. This also means that some of the endings are a tad light on feeling, such as my favourite vampire Saleos’ ending feeling super underwhelming. With each character receiving 2 endings and a few secret ones littered within that may result in death, TTMTF is definitely a game that I can recommend to visual novel enthusiasts to prepare them for the next episode if it were to come out. Due to the nature of many of the jokes poking fun at visual novels themselves, it may be a tad difficult for new players to jump in and enjoy but the characters may entice you to see what Hell has in store.
Three Lesbians in a Barrow is a visual novel adventure by Digital Poppy, whom one may recall from the previous game in the bundle “The Testimony of Trixie Glimmer Smith”. Unlike many other titles that I’ve mentioned from the same creator this is actually a sequel to the events of TGS, following the story of Trixie, Nikita and Tabby as they are paired together to complete an assignment in archaeology. Upon a series of unfortunate events, the three find themselves trapped inside the barrow they were sent to investigate, along with pages with scary implications on what may lurk within. However, that may not be the only problem, as these three aren’t exactly the best of friends.
Players mostly take action as Tabby, due to her lack of connection to the events of the previous summer (as Trixie will continuously point out and Nikita will deny vehemently), before and after they are trapped inside the so called ‘Rot Prison’. Tabby brought her translation guide, thankfully, so during the interactive elements she can study up on some rune translation and figure out what the tablets are saying. Her actions are limited, however, as it’s exhausting attempting to read in the dark and trying to translate phrases when there are two ladies arguing with each other constantly. It does give players specific choices that they must make that aren’t dialogue decisions, common to visual novels (those are in here as well). Whether or not they have a significant impact on the narrative I know not, but I like to think that they do.
When it comes to writing, I personally enjoyed TLB (abbreviations are nice ok) moreso than its predecessor thanks to Tabby’s perspective and how tight the plot feels. Tabby feels like the perfect narrative focus for a follow-up to the previous title due to her complete detachment from said events; she knows little to nothing of Trixie and Nikita’s previous history, and converses as more of a moderator between the two’s squabbles. Her exclusion from their bitterness is much more relatable for someone such as myself, who had a difficult time connecting with either Trixie or Nikita in the previous game. What also helps out Tabby make the plot run so smoothly is the condensed location and objective that is obvious from the start of the game. Players know that the trio are locked in a barrow that may or may not have magical powers within and they need out, while interacting with each other and fleshing out their personalities since they can’t do much else but talk and dig. It almost reminds one of an after-school special episode of a cartoon, where the established characters have been put in a precarious position for a singular episode and must solve this singular, 1 episode problem. This clear objective gives way for the characters to discuss other aspects of themselves since they’re focus doesn’t need to be on the objective due to how obvious it is. In TLB, Trixie and Tabby get to discuss their own friendship in lengthy detail while also exposing a lot of Trixie’s insecurities about herself and social interactions. Nikita also gets her time to shine as less of a massive jerk, and more of a hyper stressed out academic ‘with lesbian tendencies’.
Three Lesbians in a Barrow is a shorter experience, only about a few hours in comparison to The Testimony. However, with the combined efforts of a smaller cast to flesh them out better and tighter writing for some fantastic comedic moments (the title drop to make a band section is my favourite) it achieves just as much as its predecessor. Even though the musical motifs were removed, their spirit lives on with the soundtrack including a constantly rotating music section with the clarinet and strings as little reminders of the past. If you were a fan of The Testimony and looking to get more information on Nikita or Trixie, or just wanted more of these lovable university dorks then TLB is probably already in your library. It does play as a standalone as advertised, but I cannot state just how well it would hold up as one due to me, well, playing the previous game. Judging by how much information is given and the interactions, however, I would state that it does the job very well.
Notice: while there may be grammatical/spelling errors, it has been acknowledged by the creator and honestly didn’t detract much from my experience.
Links to both lengthy named titles below!
[EN/ESP] The Tail Makes the Fox - Episode 1
Lilim is an auditor for the main Hell government. When her beloved Lord Lucifer tasks her with going to the Kumonoito…