Mayjasmine Episode 01 is a Visual Novel set in the 1998 Riots of Indonesia. We play as Taiwanese Yu-Chen on his way to Indonesia to accept a job offer from his best friend Zi-Jin. Right off the bat you are likely to notice the poor English subtitles for this title. They are understandable but it will take some work on your part to decipher what exactly they are talking about at times. The whole game is like this and it does get slightly annoying. Another issue that may be an isolated case on my part judging from the lack of it being mentioned on the community forums is that the voices are very low. Even maxing out the voice slider and lowering the rest, I could still barely hear them speak while being only a few inches from my speaker.
Upon finally reaching Indonesia we soon by Zi-Jin and his spoiled child Yu-Qing that quickly takes a disliking to you and your socially awkward ways. So far so normal for a Visual Novel but will soon see that this is a very depressing title full of racism, entitlement and poor parenting. This is not a happy game at all contrary to what it may appear and is not a “loli” game. In fact a good chunk of the game is rather boring and has you follow the protagonist’s drab job as an accountant. The characters back-stories are rarely explored and most of what you gather to know about them are from their attitudes in the present.
There are no likable characters but with most of them being terrible people it is interesting to see how tensions among them slowly boil over time. When things finally reach their breaking point things get really out of control. This is easily far more disturbing and twisted than anything else I have ever played, read or heard. Outlandishly so in fact. The sheer brutality and savagery is just too much in such a short amount of time that it comes across as immersion breaking and makes it a bit difficult to take seriously after that. It makes reading these scenes no less mortifying though. This game features the most twisted things I have ever read and easily trumps other visual novels or horror games like Saya no Uta or Corpse Party.
It gets pretty interesting as your nerdy character tries to survive such an awful event and even if you don’t like any character you can’t help but route for them escaping an extremely terrible fate if caught by the native Indonesians. Mayjasmine does not show many graphic scenes, instead they opt to describe it to you in great detail and let your mind do the rest which is far more effective in my opinion. The music is really solid and perfectly enhances whatever is happening. It may be on Steam but do not mistake it for a tame game. There is plenty of extreme torture, child rape/nudity and just a ton of other messed up things that makes you wonder how the developers come up with this.
You’ll have multiple choices throughout, many of the starting ones are rather inconsequential but when you are fighting for your life it becomes much more important. It isn’t until you get the “true end” that you unlock an Extra menu that lets you view the art and listen to the game’s soundtrack. I wouldn’t call it much of an end since as you may expect from a game with “Episode 01” in its title the story is not over and in fact ends in a pretty big cliff-hanger. Once you finish the game for the first time and you start the game again you’ll experience the same events but through the perspective of spoiled child extraordinaire Yu-Qing. It starts off pretty interesting as you see how early the parents groom their children to hate other nationalities and those of darker skin tone.
The eventual friendship between Yu-Qing and a native girl Cocoa also starts off interesting. It quickly spirals into something far more boring than the adventures of our original accountant character if you can believe that. It is overbearingly preachy and every other word out of the mouth of their teacher is a philosophical quote from a famous book like a hipster college student trying to pretend he knows all of the world’s secrets. The thing is she is teaching 8 year old children, so it feels even more shoehorned in. With that out of the way it is a kind of interesting to see events from the original route explained and seeing the ending through the eyes of a psychopathic child.
Mayjasmine Episode01 is a rather poor and mostly boring Visual Novel that is redeemed by the late game events. Racism without any good or evil type of characters, a dysfunctional foreign rich family amongst the abused natives and the tension between Taiwan and China are all interesting but just serve as non-substantial background dressing that eventually ignites the insane events later on. Most of our time is spent on the uninteresting characters and the rest of the things that I mentioned are just set dressing. Regardless, when people are being violently maimed & raped left and right you can’t help but hope for that character’s safety even if he/she is simply the worst kind of person. If you think you are fine with playing a sub-par Visual Novel only to experience the insane last 10% then I say go for it. The next episode may very well be worth forcing yourself though the first one.