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April Was A Fool


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Rating: 4.5/5 (28 votes)
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April Was A Fool

DoraA long time ago six great heroes saved the land, so when they're called for again, it puts them in a bit of a sticky situation, since one of them very recently had an unfortunate run-in with a dragon, and now they're one member short. Luckily for them in Dragonfly Studios' free indie visual novel April Was A Fool, you just happen to bear a striking resemblance to their dearly departed party member, April. Too bad you're just a local server who really has no business running around with high-level legendary heroes, and while they assure you all you need to do is show up at the castle to fool the king into thinking all six of them are still around, you've always wanted to be a hero anyway despite lacking the qualifications, and thus begins a tale of magic, romance, adventure, and a bunch of screw-ups who can barely get their acts together and aren't as close as they once were. With a fantastic, polished presentation, eleven endings, five unique plot lines, and a loveable cast of quirky, heroic maniacs, April Was A Fool is a fun, funny, and engaging visual novel that's an absolute joy and worth replaying again and again despite many points of the narrative feeling rushed.

April Was A FoolTo play, all you need to do is select the choice you like from the menu when you're presented with one, though keep in mind every decision impacts your relationship with the rest of the group. Right-clicking will open a menu where you can see the whole party and check each character's affection for you, which increases or decreases depending on your actions. Blunt, confident Gabby likes someone who can hold their own and be as bold as she is, for instance, while towering, intimidating Gunn seems a liiiiiittle too into violence for such an accomplished healer but isn't as scary as everyone thinks. You can use the mouse scroll wheel to rewind through dialogue you've already seen, and you can save and load your game whenever you like. Unlike a lot of visual novels, April Was a Fool doesn't actually put any words in your mouth... the text describes your reactions and impressions and anything you do, but the actual wording of any dialogue your character would speak is largely left to your imagination to build her personality.

April Was A FoolWhich, speaking of, the rest of the cast has in spades. From Kent's deceptively sweet obliviousness to Erwin's still-might-need-a-punch-or-ten charm, all of them are very well written apart from a few minor spelling errors, making it worth replaying each and every path, which is dependent on where you decide everyone should go at the beginning of the game. The artwork is fantastic, giving everyone an expressive look and changing frequently to fit the mood, making it all the more impressive that the game was put together in just a few months. Still, it's a short game, and a lot of the time skips in the narrative means a lot of plot points, character development, and even relationships and endings feel rushed or in need of more fleshing out. Despite that, April Was A Fool is so charming and engaging that it stands out easily, and while a bigger sequel somewhere down the line would be great, it's still sweet, quirky, and lighthearted in a way that makes it a perfect fit for an afternoon.

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10 Comments

trepiechick April 2, 2015 3:42 PM

It was rushed because it was made for NaNoRenO.

Reply

Actually, it wasn't made for NaNoRenO. We didn't know about NaNoRenO until much later. We started making the game in January - so a three month span of time. The April 1st deadline was self-decided, since the running theme of the game is how much of a fool April was.

Reply

This was a lot cuter than I expected it to be. All the love interests had enough charming qualities to make their paths worthwhile (Kent and Blake were definitely standouts, but all of them were great.) There were some really great twists on the standard D&D style fantasy tropes, too (especially with Erwin and Gunn.) Gabby was really enjoyable too: in a lot of VNs with like four girl/boy paths and one girl/girl path, the girl is the blandest, most boring character to ever be written, and her path reads more like friendship than anything else. Thank you so much for not doing that, people who made this game! Gabby was actually a character with a personality, and I liked her a lot!

I also really appreciated (mild spoiler about April)

that April wasn't just an idiot dead girl for the player character to replace. She made a bad decision in the end, but she had a lot more complexity than that, too. She was a really positive force in a lot of these people's lives, and it was nice to see that she was handled with a lot more nuance than the title would suggest.

Side note, though: I would really encourage every dev who's planning to go with the lots of girl/boy paths and one girl/girl path setup to maybe reconsider doing that? Not all paths are gonna appeal to everyone, and that's life, but it can still be pretty disappointing for people for people who like girl/girl paths, since they're still so rare...

Reply

I'm really glad to hear you enjoyed Gabby's route! I wanted to make sure she didn't feel like she was just tossed in, because I've noticed and been annoyed by that trend with games in the past. She was actually the second member of the party designed. As soon as I knew I wanted a RPG setting, I knew I wanted a fiery lady-mage. I'm also very pleased to read your comments on April herself. I never wish to make characters who are boring, even ones who never actually appear in the game.
I'm glad that that was achieved here!
Thank you very much for playing!.

Reply
minstrelofmoria April 4, 2015 6:43 AM

So . . . does anything ever explain WTF is up with the worst ending?

What is May, exactly, and did Evil really make her join the heroes? Or is it just lying to her because she's the weakest link? How much of what it said was true?

Reply

Thank you very much for such an entertaining experience!

It took me a while to unlock the bad endings (other than the "rule over the world" one), but I was thrilled when I did so. There is something very satisfying in seeing the characters pushed to their very limits. I liked it that, even when everybody lives, something feels very, very wrong because something that is fundamental to the characters gets taken away...and nothing good can ever come out of that.

Therefore, great writing. I also very much enjoyed the art style as well, so thank you once again for everything.

Reply

Ahh, it's been a while since I played a nice visual novel. I enjoyed that.

During Erwin's story, I appreciated that

during the inn scene, letting him kiss you isn't the "correct" option toward getting the good ending with him. I had put off playing his storyline for last because his character appealed to me the least. I can't stand the self absorbed pretty boy type who pursues the girl whether or not she's interested (all that stuff about "stealing your heart"-- ugh), so at that point I said screw it to whatever ending I was going for and smacked him, and was surprised at how high his affection meter was when I checked it later. Turns out his advances were supposed to come off as creepy-- his whole character arc is about getting over his feelings for the person he can no longer have and respecting her wishes for him to be a better person. His good ending doesn't end in romance at all. I like that. Letting him use you as a romantic surrogate for April is actually the worst thing you can do to him.

Come to think of it, because of the nature of his character arc, Erwin is the only character who tries to kiss May without consent. Everyone else asks first-- even Kent, who also loved April but was resigned to his feelings never being returned, asks and doesn't kiss her until she agrees. So kudos for that. Consent is important.

Speaking of Kent:

I'm a little surprised his pet arctic fox is never really addressed (as far as I remember?). At first I thought it might've just been a scarf thing, but no, it's a live fox. It changes poses and expressions with him, and its eyes even change color with his, so it seems strange we never find out if it has a name or how he got it or why it never leaves its perch on his shoulders. It seems like it would be a good symbol for the dual nature of Kent's personality, since the fox is so much a part of him and his beserker side also appears to affect it, but it's never explored at all. Maybe that's something that got cut due to the tight schedule? Either way I really liked Kent but definitely felt parts of his story were rushed, especially the way he's able to reconcile with his beserker side so quickly on the good ending.

On Gabby:

I agree that as a character, Gabby is well developed and unique, and while I appreciate that the game doesn't try to shy away from f/f romance, I thought the romancy aspects in Gabby's story felt kinda tacked on, since her story focused more on her relationship with her brother than any romantic relationship with May. Even so, I think I like it better to have the romancy bits be there since this is the only f/f path in the game and there's so little good representation out there for girls who like girls... I just wish there was another girl in the party. Hell, even if Gabby's story was entirely about developing a romance with May, I still would want another girl in the party. More awesome lady characters for everyone. More gender balanced casts for everyone too.

Aside from Gabby being the only living non player female character and maybe one or two minor offhand comments, I love how progressive this game is overall. Especially with Gunn, the way the otherwise traditionally masculine man wears pink and wields what is basically a magical girl wand and fills the healer role that's often assigned to women and it's never played off for cheap laughs. He's just good at what he does and the others respect him and that's that. I also like how the answers you pick don't always have the effect you might expect. I already talked about Erwin's arc, but it shows in the other arcs too. Picking a confrontational sounding option might be more off-putting than a straight no for one character, while another character might find it surprisingly endearing. Their perceptions of how the other characters related to April aren't always accurate either. There's one character who says she understood them all, but when you play the other stories, you find that, from their perspective, that's not always the case. It really shows how everyone's their own person, and it's really nice being able to pick up on that kind of nuance on different playthroughs.

Reply
Starshield April 5, 2016 1:02 PM

This game is awesome, if a bit short. I really like how the characters are portrayed to SEEM flat and stereotypical and '2D' until you play their routes and find out that you've been judging them wrong all this time. I can't seem to find the Evil Ending though...

Reply
Starshield April 5, 2016 1:02 PM

This game is awesome, if a bit short. I really like how the characters are portrayed to SEEM flat and stereotypical and '2D' until you play their routes and find out that you've been judging them wrong all this time. I can't seem to find the Evil Ending though...

Reply
Starshield April 12, 2016 4:24 PM

Sorry about the double post, computer gritch. Also, does anyone have a walkthrough for this game? I mostly don't need it, but I'm still stuck on finding the evil path.

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