Whoo, finally done!! Summer classes etc slowed my progress.
Anyway, to talk more about the subversive themes I mentioned in my gif
I remember my first playthrough of Toki’s Liar Liar. Knowing full well the plot was helping Yukari kill her boyfriend, I nonetheless tried to play the kindest/”assume the best of everyone” route possible while still helping the plot along.
Sidenote: the first “fork” comes early, when Yukari, in her intro speech, up front tells you she’s going to kill her boyfriend—if you didnt know— and asks if you’ll help her. The moral choice—even though we don’t know what the bf did, especially because we don’t know what the bf did—is obviously “no” but the question is really asking “will you play?”, so it natrually follows: choose “yes” and the game progresses, “no” and Yukari kills you. All this very early on towards establishing a harsh realm, where middle schoolers commit casual murder and everyone is. (I admire the game’s directness, no time is wasted, like Toki said, it’s about 15 mins to play through.)
The strategy got me into trouble in the Miho/Wakaba arc. So after Miho totally saves your/Yukari, providing a clean change to swap for Yukari’s blood drenched uniform, she asks your help dealing with Wakaba, who’s been harassing her. The fork here is whether or not to believe Wakaba’s denial, and it’s framed something like “trust Wakaba”/”Wakaba’s a liar”. I’m not one to quickly call someone a liar, it’s usually more complex than that, so even though I didn’t I chose to “trust” Wakaba..and got killed for it.
This made me totally re-examine my “morally minded” strategy. For one, it didn’t jibe with what I call the game’s “physics”
I’m less of a gamer now, but around ages 10-15 I’d get really into games, actively testing out the “physics” early on (how close to an edge one could get without falling off, how high and fast the character could move, a map’s bounding walls, etc) to get a sense of the game’s mechanics and what I could do and so what my strategy should be.
The world of Liar Liar is an alternate, harsher reality where junior high schoolers kill casually then laugh about it. The “assume the best and be nice” strategy I went in with may work irl, but was completely out of place here.
What’s more, though it wasn’t phrased this way “trusting Wakaba” kind of demanded I didn’t believe Miho—the character who just saved my ass and, I learned when I played through all possible forks, the only character you interact with who doesn’t hurt/kill you in any path. For a game that seems to operate so outside of “morality”, by making me reconsider the moral implications of my betrayal of Miho, this fork caught me off guard and dropped some heavy biz on me.
Of course all this that I got from the game is a consequence of how I approached it. Can’t know what was going through Toki’s mind when she made it, or if any of this was meant to be taken away from Liar Liar, but it’s interesting which themes appear in a work without the author exerting conscious effort. More than stylistic mannerism, I think this too is a key part of the artist’s voice, and I’m hooked. I’m looking forward to playing through the sequel now that I have some time, and for what Toki has to say in the future.