Discipline: The Record of a Crusade review
Ah yes, the visual novel genre. Just as there is more than enough that revolve around sexually insecure school students potentially finding first everlasting love there are also many that are basically *bleep* scenes where everything else is just built around them. I've never really been too interested in the latter as I thought that a novel trying to flaunt its adult content so aggressively must be doing so in order to hide highly damaging shortcomings in other areas. Still, it doesn't hurt to test the waters. However, after enduring Discipline I can say that my opinion has not been swayed in the slightest. It's hard to find much of anything this novel does right and I can't imagine how anyone would find any appeal in this.
I guess I'll start with the visuals, which thankfully aren't too bad at all. I'm not exactly fond of the female uniform design but it does have a way of accentuating the female figure, which is a plus for the direction taken. If anything it's the colour choices for the clothes that are somewhat off-putting. Regardless of that though, girls will find excuses to dress in more casual clothing or special outfits as circumstances require (or no clothes at all) and it's nice to see them sporting these looks. The character designs themselves seem to match up nicely with the expected personalities too, which makes it quite easy to associate the different characters early on.
There is a problem with the different expressions people use. Technically they do change expressions but it's very hard to even notice as the changes are minimal and very few characters ever actually switch poses. Even in terms of VNs, it tends to make things look too static and less interesting. In fact, animation as a whole is largely kept to a minimum.
In terms of background imagery there is really nothing special to note as it all pretty much does the job. Typical settings like the class room, gym, bedroom, bathroom etc are all accounted for. The colour scheme is a little duller than the novels I'm used to, but then this isn't a happy-go-lucky scenario anyway so it sits in well.
CGs next. Only a few are used for normal circumstances and the rest are filled with the *bleep* scenes and generally any other reason to show off as much female flesh as possible, so those seeking the visuals of the female form are sure to find what they like here. There is a wide spread of positions and plenty of "milk" to go around, though the odd CG just ends up as weird - mainly when viewing action straight on. Still, I can't really fault the technical quality of the image works.
Music is pretty meh for the most part. Typical humdrum tunes that seem too commonplace in the given settings and really nothing about the tracks stand out. That is, except a particular track played out during many *bleep* sequences that is seriously poorly placed. Perhaps it's just me, but some kind of heavy metal number is hardly what I would expect for such events. There are no real tunes to associate with anything other than that though. No catchy character themes and no actual opener song (the latter possibly due to a lack of an actual opening sequence).
Vocal track is mostly what you'd expect, consisting entirely of a Japanese voce cast to give some life to the girls onscreen. Leoan Morimoto stands out quite well in this regard by really giving the character an air of twisted evil with classic cackles and sly comments. None strike me as bad either so they did well with this. What is unusual for a VN is that the male protagonist also has an actual voice which is done well enough, but purists are free to disable his voice in the settings menu should you desire to do so.
Players take on the role of Takuro Hayami, who transfers into a new school due to his parents leaving the country and his unwillingness to leave with them. Things get off to an awkward start when he finds that most of his new dorm buddies are *bleep* crazy females, and things get more sticky due to the school previously being an all girls academy and having very few guys and more than enough girls with *bleep* drives to match those of the dorm girls.
Essentially it's one big excuse to throw Takuro into one *bleep* scene after another. The dark undertone of the story lies mainly with Leona Morimoto, a delinquent who practically has power over the whole school (and possibly Japan entirely based on several events) due to her family's position, and thus is collectively known as the devil of the school. Consequently she's possibly the only interesting character you'll meet. There's a certain level of depth to a girl who simply does what she wants and revels in tormenting others in what can amount to rather sadistic means. Her tendency to overkill situations is something to be admired too. She's the kind of girl that rigs a bomb up to her car's security system and then, when it explodes, arrives to school the next day in a harrier jet. If anything it's a shame how her events are treated. Her appearances are somewhat too sporadic and some tend to descend into pointless dragged out sequences where her character is almost ignored.
Everyone else? The best of the rest lie in Saori Otokawa and Sudo. Saori's role is unique in that she's probably the only one portrayed as not as *bleep* crazy maniac, which in the world of Discipline practically puts her on the same level as a saint. She seems to flip often between saint and pissed off which can lead to some interesting circumstances where she is not above punching people. Sudo is the usual pervert male friend, although in an environment where almost everyone qualifies for that then he seems somewhat redundant. Basically these two are mundane that don't exactly offend but fail to attract too much attention. Sequences involving them can be interesting at times later on but these are few and take too long to even get there.
Then the remaining girls are just poor. Yuuki's only notable features seems to be a love of *bleep* and general laziness, as I seriously can't think of much else to describe her. Ruri is an odd mix of childish behaviour with dirty thoughts on her mind. Maiko is a bookworm with a serious personality disorder, who can't seem to decide whether she's a completely disinterested student or a sexually active deviant whose perversions outstrip virtually anyone else. Takuro comes across many other girls and a few other guys as well but none of them hold any real importance, as even the few that appear more than once serve as nothing more than another sexual partner to tag up with or background filler.
There are a few non-Leona moments that can bring a smile to the face and warrant genuine interest. It's amusing to see Saori getting talked into joining the baseball club and then subsequently wrenching control right out of the president's hands or how Sudo suddenly backtracks on trying to get Takuro to join his club when he finds out Leona is trying the same thing. It's just that there isn't enough because, just like the Leona sequences, these tend to drag on beyond normal and all of it is hurt with the abnormal need to through sexual perversions in there for the sheer sake of it.
Which brings us onto the actual sexual content, and the general mess made of it. I suppose in terms of actual quality of the images there's nothing to complain about and the novel revels in providing such a wide variety of scenarios for players to indulge in, but that's pretty much where my compliments end.
In the first place there tends to be a somewhat overkill done in this department, even beyond what I was expecting. Surely there's a problem when I literally lost count of the amount of times Takuro ejaculated during the second novel day? It just tends to drag on into nonsense territory, especially when they never quite seem to figure out when to move on and thus a lot of the impact is lost.
I'm really unsure what is supposed to be erotic about it. Perhaps I just constitute the wrong market, but having very little buildup in favour of repeated *bleep* spraying does nothing but make it look silly. There are literally times where Takuro explodes from a single touch. Um, yeah, can this be over already? Almost as expected the actual reasons for Takuro to be landing in this situations tend to stretch the willing suspension of disbelief to the limits.
The bigger problem lies in Takuro. Why, oh why, must he complain through every single one? It's really hard to get into these events when the protagonist you're supposed to be taking the role of finds each experience awkward and terrible. It certainly kills whatever mood was building up (if any). It was bad enough that I started skipping through portions because my mind was wondering when the next part was going to begin, and that's a problem.
Unfortunately, there really isn't much of a story outside of trying to find reasons to drop Takuro into perverted situations. The whole thing tries to revolve around a battle against Leona Morimoto and her twisted schemes, but my general mindset found it hard to care too much to try and sift through the story content that didn't involve perversions. It doesn't help that the whole thing is dragged out and boring. Leona does help to bring a spark to proceedings during her appearances and there is the odd moment with others but it's too rare and not enough to justify everything else.
Thusly the really long span of the novel is not a good thing here. It's torture and I wanted it to be over asap as soon as I figured out that there really wasn't going to be some miracle reversal of quality. In terms of decision making you are given a tremendous amount of decision to make, with a lot of them seeming to be fluff or slightly alternate CGs. These do eventually lead to five different endings; whether you'll play long enough to reach them is another matter.
If you're looking for an indepth engaging story with sexual content then this is not it. If all you're looking for is cool looking *bleep* CGs then you're clearly missing the point of the genre and I would like to suggest an alternative. I never want to see anything like Dicipline again. It has a few foundation blocks but there's just so much wrong with it that I could not extract much enjoyment here.
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