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Fatal Twelve (PC) artwork

Fatal Twelve (PC) review

"The surprising Visual Novel answer to the current Battle Royale craze."

Fatal Twelve is perhaps the most polite Battle Royale format ever created. Itís a story that starts with the explosive death of its protagonist, Rinka, who finds herself the victim of a terrorist attack on the Japanese underground. Despite her train trip being rudely interrupted by her untimely demise, she finds herself very much uncharred the next day. Then forced to take part in a game of death with eleven other people who died at the exact same period as she. By winning this game, one of the twelve would-be corpses can overwrite their unfortunate fate, returning to their previous lives.

She can win by eliminating every other competitor and being the last person standing at the end of the gameís twelve week cycle. You eliminate someone by revealing three key pieces of information about them; their name, their cause of death and their biggest regret. Everyone, Rinka included, finds themselves quite keen to, you know, not die, so start stumbling the best way they can towards victory.

One of the many issues Rinka faces is that the Divine Selection game she unwillingly takes part in features a random cross section of competitors, chosen solely for their time of death. Like the majority of visual novel protagonists, sheís a school-aged girl lacking life experience, which might give her equal or better footing then some of the younger cast, but puts her at a distinct disadvantage compared to some of the more world-travelled participants. Worse still, the gameís very basis is about getting to know intimate details about people youíre actively trying to delete from existence. It seems custom built to make you empathise with the cast even if you have to become the very driving force of their ultimate expiration.

A lot of the tale is how Rinka deals with this. Some competitors are aggressive in their attempts to survive, while others more passive. It takes a while for Fatal Twelve to balance out which cast members pose the biggest threat or inspire the most interest. This isnít much helped by the fact that the tale takes a while to really get started, taking a handful of hours and a couple of eliminations before it starts delving into the tale proper.

It does make sense, though. It rifles through some cannon fodder characters that exist only to highlight the drive or ruthlessness of the cast it wants to focus on. It also does this by not having Rinka serve as the sole storytelling voice, skipping around the group to offer perspectives or motives on their actions. Itís not seamlessly executed; the change of narrator is often clumsy, bouncing between viewpoints without warning, often taking the reader a few lines before they realise where they are, but itís an invaluable tool. Aside from the early causalities, every character has his and her reasons for wanting to survive and, if Rinka or anyone else is going to win out, they need to not only discover them, but knowingly extinguish them.

The haphazard use of multiple viewpoints serve to make martyrs out of villains, humanising indefensible actions by adding context or motive, helping either harden Rinkaís resolve to destroy them, or have her question her right to lengthen her own lifespan by eliminating theirs. About halfway through Fatal Twelve, the remaining cast can no longer be brushed aside as hollow caricatures, and the decisions made have wide-ranging effects. The limited choices you, the embittered reader, have to make forces you to shoulder some of her regrets. Thereís a selection of endings these choices will drive you towards, some significantly less appealing to Rinkaís continued state of existence than others.

Itís an ambitious tale to tell, especially considering creators, aiueoKompany only have prior experience with one previous release (aquatic horror, Sound of Drop - fall into poison -). While I harboured early misgivings due to the lumpy initial exchanges, I found myself eventually invested enough in Fatal Twelve to hunt down all of the gameís different endings and share in all of Rinkaís outcomes, good or bad. To do so should take you around ten to fifteen hours, in which time youíll probably come to care about a bunch of characters you might have never believed you would have connected with. Then you have to kill them, one by one.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (May 04, 2018)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Masters posted May 04, 2018:

OMG I can't believe you got through this game, and LIKED IT. You did a great job just slogging through, and the resulting review is a nice display of brevity that manages to tell us what's at stake without any spoilers. Good job! On to the next, strange 30-hour VN!
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EmP posted May 04, 2018:

No no no. No more VN reviews for me. Not for a good long while.

I understand why you struggled to get into the game. Aside from the fact you were expecting a different kind of VN , at least. It's pretty hard going to begin with, but it turned out to be a tale I'm not sorry I read about.

On to the next one - thanks for reading.

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