I finished Parallelo, it’s amazingly good. I’d say it’s my favourite Lucle work for sure, although the style is slightly different from his previous games. It’s also my favourite eroge from 2018, at least out of what I played.
The matches definitely require some active focus by the reader to follow what’s going on, since there aren’t CGs of the field as a whole to help you grasp positions and everything, but if you can achieve that they’re like really intense and gripping, I was basically unable to stop during a match even when they’re like 3 hours long because they’re so engaging. Also the characters are all completely amazing, this is really a game where the side characters shine, Lucle goes into their backstory and their motives for playing and their symbolic meaning in the story really well. Like you might think Ryouji-senpai is just a joke villain character at first but he’s literally one of my favourite male characters in eroge ever now, that was some god-tier development.
The game deals with a bunch of really great themes, like talent vs hard work, or trusting in your teammates, or taking on your loved ones’ dreams, it’s not afraid to go really hard and show the harsh reality of things, this is a common theme in Lucle works where he sets up situations where you think “it’s just a story so things are bound to work out” and betray those expectations, but it’s also super optimistic when appropriate too, it shows how effective determination and perseverance really are. And it also deals with the despair of the losing side really nicely, you always see both sides of the story in full.
It’s worth noting the side routes are really short and mostly just moege stuff, make sure you read the true route first to avoid spoilers and don’t expect too much from them, they’re not bad especially Ria’s route has some really moving content but the true route is what the game is really about.
I guess I should also mention the Aokana comparisons, the game is definitely heavily inspired by Aokana for sure, the setting is very similar and it builds on a lot of similar ideas. But it’s also very different, the matches being 3v3 rather than 1v1 is very important since Parallelo is so much about teamwork and not letting your teammates down and things like that, and Parallelo has a lot more focus on actual matches across the whole season, whereas Aokana just has the 2 tournaments. They’re both good for a lot of the same reasons though, they both have a really large and interesting cast and really exciting matches and really strong themes and ideas, Aokana fans should definitely check this out if they’re ok with how depressing Lucle’s writing can be at times.
But yeah the game is amazing I completely loved it, can’t wait for Lucle’s next game.