Well, here’s something I never thought I’d see.
This will be our last look into NaNoRen2017 for now. When writers start pumping out the finished game for several of the unfinished concepts, we’ll head on back and dive in head-first. For now, let us end on a really high note with the last animal in the world anyone would associate with romance: bats.
Be honest, how many of you think romance or adorable when you think of bats? I imagine only a small chunk of you, a small chunk I never participated in when I was young. Mostly I just never thought they were worth attention so I put them out of my mind. Then again, I never expected to play a game about post-apocalyptic pigeons fighting evil trees, so life’s full of surprises.
If this image makes no sense, go here. You will be amazed.
Games like Hatoful Boyfriend and What’s Your Name are the intriguing because they challenge things, and allow us to laugh/cringe at what we’ve gotten used to. B.A.T is a game that admits to being in the same vein: a surprisingly twisted adventure that pulls you into cute, funny security before ripping the mat out from under you. Fewer jokes this time around, but just as sinister.
Welcome to your new part-time job at the local bat conservatory. You’re working the night shift to keep five crazy bats as happy as you can, taking care of their food, water, and playtime needs. They’ve made it super easy for you by creating the B.A.T system, a neat little tool that allows you to communicate with the animals. It translates what the bat’s say into English, translates your English into squeaks, and even provides human portraits to make it easier to bond.
But, as you take care of your new pets, you’ll notice each of them have some kind of “team.” They tell you it’s a long-running rivalry that you need not concern yourself with. That gets harder and harder as the system starts malfunctioning and as you start to notice shady spots in your memory. Is there more to the Dawn vs. Dusk Rivalry? Where will you fall when this fight comes to a head?
VN veterans may find themselves at a loss when they first start up this game. Rather than making a series of plot decisions to advance the unique plot, we’re taking care of five different bats in this pseudo-Tamagotchi style game. But the things you do for your little buddies have rippling consequences, later on, so tread lightly.
Everything is done through the B.A.T screen, which is broken into three quadrants. The main one is whatever’s in front of the camera, be it a habitat or a bat; the second and third come into play when you choose a bat to take care of. At the bottom, you’ll get their human portrait – for personality sake – and the top will display their needs (as seen above). It’s your job to take care of their water, food, and boredom needs. You do this through a care panel that pops up on the main screen, which has a food, water, toy, and clean option. The toy and clean buttons will raise the bat’s affection for you, while the last button, which plays an awful noise, will lower it.
There’s also an emergency button later on but you shouldn’t need that. After all, these bats are harmless.
The important choices come in which bat you spend the most time with. There’s a section toward the end of the game that tallies up the affection levels of your winged-buddies. The side you spent the most time with (dawn, dusk, or midnight) will determine your ending. If you spend your time mostly with one specific bat, you’ll get a sub-ending centered around him. You don’t have time to tend to all the buggers, so pick and choose which one you want to keep happy. Though, how grim could your future really be?
And, just like its inspiration, you’ll get a special ending if you complete all the endings… and a special surprise.
There is very little art to be had this time around, as everything is drawn to look like you’re working through a panel. That being said, the backgrounds of the biomes are quite well done. It’s pretty clever to put everything on a tri-screen as it means less “screen” to fill up for those detailed backgrounds.
But we’re not here to look at plants, I’m sure. The Bat sprites, as you’ll see in a sec, are cute as possible and the human portraits are very nice eye-candy. My only regret is that they don’t emote very well. The bats indicate mood by little speech bubbles that pop up, which is cute in its own right. Would also be adorable to see their faces shift expressions but that’s a nit to pick another day.
If you recall, Hatoful Boyfriend allowed you to “romance” the birdie of your heart’s desire, which would lead to some wack -endings. This took a page from that book, but the romance is more like playing favorites and accidentally tossing yourself into a faction war. The endings are fairly similar – besides the true ending – so we’ll just give a brief description of the bats.
This Honduran White Bat is the tiniest of our bats and the leader of the Dawn faction. Feisty, very stuck-up, and prone to fits of rage, there could be room in his tiny heart for Malina’s love and care. But surely little Dinky doesn’t have aspirations bigger than his little body or his biome. Surely he’s not here to cause any harm.
Bernard is a Grey-Headed Flying Fox and absolutely adorable. Shy and easily spooked, he follows Dinky’s orders more out of survival than actual admiration. In fact, the only being he seems to admire and respect is his new caretaker. He likes it very much in the conservatory, where everyone takes care of him and he wants for nothing. Surely he’ll be sad when he has to go if he goes. Or maybe he doesn’t wanna listen to the faction leader after all.
Hard to say.
Y’all knew we’d have to have a Vampire Bat somewhere in this game. Stanley – called Wyre – is an elegant, tricky, and super charming fella despite his terrible diet. The leader of Dusk, there’s something distinctly predatory about him. It’s hard to say if Wyre has his interests in mind or the caretaker, but at least he’s locked away behind several panes of glass.
The Desert Long-Eared Bat kinda looks funny to me: like a rabbit someone stuck fangs on. Jean is spry and hyper, likely the most friendly out of all of them. This fun-loving little guy is Wyre’s associate, but he also really enjoys his life in the conservatory. It’s almost like leaving would bring on great disaster.
Last, and certainly not least, we have Slaine the Spotted Bat. He’s an oddball in this little group, a neutral party who seems to stay on the sidelines of this strange faction-war. He’s curt but courteous, cold, and prone to speaking in a direct fashion that will rub some the wrong way. But maybe, just maybe, that blunt attitude is the very thing you need right now.
I freaking love this game. I adore games with little dark twists and well-written surprises. B.A.T is a fun pet project with some cool mechanics and an awesome story, a story that may very well stand up fine on its own. Sometimes I need to see more of a plot to understand it. But, in this case, I think all this game needs a few more sprites and more publicity.
Next Time: Cinderella Phenomenon
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