That was… quite amazing. Well worth the 45 hours of my life spent on it, really.
Heck, who the hell would’ve expected the story that I recognized to be a potential landmine to single handedly become the best release of the month.
You know what? When twists go past a certain point in surprise it honestly feels like a waste to even write about it, much like with Harukuru. As such I’ll probably dodge talking about some of the most surprising twists in the story.
First let’s talk about dive1/dive2.
I did play them and I did reasonably enjoy it, both for the gameplay and story. However I really more or less felt “well that was a good game” and left it that. The reason for this is that while I loved the setting and so on, I never liked the characters all that much. Rain was exceptionally good but she was practically the first route you get over with and the rest of the story sets her at the sidelines.
The further I progressed the less I cared about the heroines, really. That was a huge minus from my enjoyment of the story and why I never thought of it as any more than a “good” story.
Now here we have Baldr Sky Zero which takes the setting and pieces together a wonderful cast of characters that are all around likable. I still found Sakura’s voice a bit awkward to the very end but well that’s another story.
Since the characters were replaced, what I didn’t like about Dive1/Dive2 was resolved and as an added bonus, you get Rain and Kou still making appearances in the story. Seeing as Rain was the only redeeming factor of the characters there, it was a perfect combination.
As for the story…
The story follows a typical true route format with the first two routes (Sakura and Kei’s) serving to expand on things that comes together in the true route (Fran’s). With that said, all of the routes serve fairly well as stand alone stories.
In Sakura’s route it focused on Sakura’s relationship with Church22 that, as you can guess from the name, is a group of religious fanatics that are also drug abusers on top of that.
In Kei’s route we get to find out the real identity of Edward and his backstory. If I had to be completely honest the route felt like a glorified Ed backstory arc because that was the main highlight of the story and just about the only notable thing I felt about it.
Finally in Fran’s route we get to experience the joy of watching all of the twists that the author hid throughout the story unfold one after another. Some outright shocking, some disturbing and frankly, there were enough surprises along the way for me to just give up keeping count.
To set an example without dropping major spoilers, let’s take a look at this guy.
When you review his actions again after finding out that truth you see the events involving her(?) in a completely different light. Disturbing, very disturbing. In fact I think I will never trust eroge with being honest on gender ever again.
But for reasons like such, you can see why my brain decided to close doors for the day not long after entering the route. There was just… too much to digest, really.
Every route in the story more or less involved one disturbing scene or another that’s comparable to Kou’s trauma. Speaking of which…
What especially stood out to me in the story is the contrast it drew to dive1/dive2 with a different protagonist and different cast. In fact, in some parts of the story you can say it draws a contrast with a large portion of the eroge, or rather, the entire anime/manga/vn medium in general.
I won’t say it never happens in the medium but it’s quite rare to see scenes where characters will casually shower/bath together without raising a huge ruckus because of being seen naked. Moreover, every route involved sacrifices of important or at the very least great characters (especially in Fran’s) but that didn’t throw the entire cast into depression for the rest of the story. As a matter of fact, as sad or tragic as it may have been, they stood up and went back to business without much delay since they still had a job to do.
More comprehensibly: God dammit it’s not just Ed, all of the characters have their priorities straight and that’s amazingly uncommon in the medium.
Now take this fact and look at dive1/dive2. The entire damned story basically started and revolved around Kou dragging on the death of Sora. The differences between the two protagonists were made pretty obvious with their interactions. Although notably, the Kou in question here is pre-amnesia Kou.
On that topic I have to mention, Ed going around and shipping Rain with Kou with every chance only made me like his character even more. Yes, that’s right. Realize that the best girl has been by your side the entire time.
It also turned out that the story appears to follow a different timeline from the events in dive1 which made a Kou/Rain ending possible. That only served to make things better. Though it’s pretty obvious that Giga knows who the best girl is when thinking about how much attention Rain has received in terms of FD content and now this.
Alright, now let’s talk a bit more about Fran’s route.
Fran’s route is without doubt the true route as it is unlocked only after finished Sakura and Kei’s route. Things revealed in those two routes come to play in Fran’s route so her route ultimately serves to tie everything together.
Fran’s route is also the longest of all routes that honestly took me well over 10 hours to read. Abnormal by individual route standards, although gameplay is a factor as well of course. Probably thanks to the route length, it left plenty of room for character development and you can really see how Fran changed overtime.
… As well as Ed’s steady fall into becoming a fully fledged lolicon. As expected from Victor’s daughter, really, that’s all that can be said.
That aside, I can see where people are coming from when they say that BSZ has incomplete portions. Honestly speaking the story already wraps things up satisfactorily but there are still holes in the story that are left alone.
I don’t know if the normal end/bad end serves to expand on it further but at the very least in the good end, the entire WALRUS arc met an unsatisfactory finish as we never got to see the full picture of things. Marelle who desperately required a route had her identity revealed but still missing the core of things. She also had the splendid fate of dying in every single route.
Although as a finish, Fran’s route was already great, I think it’s quite reasonable to believe that there’s still going to be a continuation of sorts. Maybe we’ll see a Rina route as well? Unlike Marelle however, we did already receive a brief backstory for her though so perhaps not.
Anyhow, to sum things up…
It has a great cast of characters, it has a large, interesting setting inherited from the rest of the Baldr series and it has a story with plenty of interesting, surprising twists and turns that are revealed as it progresses. The chemistry between the characters was also an interesting sight to see and as Kou commented about them, it’s terrifying how they can go around light heartedly murdering countless numbers of people as if only playing around. Truly a gathering of oddballs.
Also the gameplay was reasonably well done but got a bit easy too easy towards the end even after tweaking the settings to “Very Hard”. That was a shame but at the same not too surprising as it happens with many games once you reach the latter end.
Adding all of it together, there’s just about nothing to complain about. I’M SATISFIED.