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G-senjou no Maou: The Devil on G-String (PC) artwork

G-senjou no Maou: The Devil on G-String (PC) review


"If you’re a fan of visual novels in the slightest, you owe it to yourself to read this one."


When I was attending college, someone introduced me to a crime thriller called "Heist." If you've seen the film, you likely suspected at some point that it holds some kind of record for featuring the most "gotcha" moments in the history of cinema. After playing G Senjou no Maou, I feel I can confidently say that it manages the same feat for visual novels.

G Senjou no Maou, or The Devil on G-String, is a visual novel from 2007 that was just recently released on Steam by Sekai Project. Like most visual novels, there is no gameplay to speak of and interaction is restricted to a few choices made throughout the story. That makes reviewing visual novels quite difficult, since it succeeds or fails solely based on its narrative. With minimal spoilers, I’ll attempt to make the case that G Senjou no Maou largely succeeds.

The story initially focuses on Kyousuke Azai, the foster son of a Yakuza boss. He ended up in this situation after agreeing to pay back the debts owed by his mother in place of his incarcerated father. We’re shown that Kyousuke is a brilliant businessman that puts all of his trust in money because it lacks the emotional instability that relationships can bring.

We’re also introduced to Maou, a shadowy figure that operates from the Japanese underworld. Little is known about him except that he’s connected to Kyousuke in some way. The nature of that relationship has left some members of the Yakuza convinced that Kyousuke is actually Maou.

The third individual rounding out the cast is Haru Usami. She’s introduced as a goofy young woman whose face is mostly obscured by her long, black hair. It’s quickly revealed, however, that she’s a genius and has dedicated her life to putting an end to Maou.

Over the course of five chapters, these three characters play a deadly game of cat and mouse, with Maou escalating his crimes within each chapter. What makes these scenarios particularly riveting is that Kyousuke and Haru are constantly given the impression that they’ve won, and then it’s revealed that Maou has been yanking their chain the entire time.

While this does make for a captivating read, the tale's “gotcha” moments are somewhat problematic. In the film I mentioned, the characters drop subtle hints for the double cross or the miracle escape that’s about to occur after it looks like the matter has been resolved. G Senou no Maou instead resolves the matter in an apparently forthright manner, but then upends the table (as it were) without any warning. I’m willing to admit that I’m pretty oblivious sometimes, but here it often felt like the story was pulling Maou’s miracles out of thin air for the sake of surprising the reader. What’s annoying about this is that the reader should be given some kind of hint regarding what’s really going on. Those who are especially attentive will no doubt feel good about themselves for guessing the twists. Those who misread the hints and guess poorly, thoughy, will find that the eventual surprises have more impact because they didn't see them coming.

Another issue in G Senjou no Maou is the selection of three additional heroines: the well-meaning naive girl, the step-sister and the cold tsundere. These characters were obviously added to give the players more romantic options. A romance with the main heroine, Usami, works because it never gets in the way of the main narrative of the battle against Maou. In the other instances, though, Maou simply vanishes from the picture as soon as Kyousuke becomes enamored. The stories aren’t bad, but they’re certainly an afterthought compared to Haru’s story. I would have enjoyed expanded endings with the other heroines that tackle the battle with Maou, but ultimately, it’s Haru’s and Kyousuke’s fight. Through that lens, the shortcomings are easier to forgive.

My final complaint is really only relevant in the first three chapters. As Kyousuke and Haru are battling Maou, there’s also plenty of ordinary high school fluff on the side that’s obviously meant to mimic the idyllic high school setting so often found in the more light-hearted visual novels. Beyond a few humorous moments, these sections are pretty boring and I had to force myself to push through them. A successful narrative shouldn’t force its readers to plough through boring bits to get to the good stuff. Unfortunately, high school hijinks are so entrenched in the visual novel genre that it almost feels like a game can’t be released outside of this setting, even if school hallways offer no tangible benefit to the narrative.

Despite my complaints, though, G Senjou no Maou tells one hell of a story. From the start of chapter five until its conclusion three hours later, I couldn’t bring myself to stop reading. I now know why it’s one of the most celebrated visual novels of all time, and it deserves every bit of praise it receives. If you’re a fan of visual novels in the slightest, you owe it to yourself to read this one.

4/5

Phazonmasher's avatar
Freelance review by Zachary Walton (November 29, 2015)

Zach Walton likes JRPGs, visual novels, horror games and anything that gives him an excuse to drink.

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