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Game Info:

CyberRebeat -The Fifth Domain of Warfare-
Developed By: E.N.Nach
Published By: Sekai Project
Release Date: August 24, 2018
Available On: Windows, macOS
Genre: Kinetic Visual Novel
Number of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: N/A
MSRP: $9.99

Thank you Sekai Project for sending us this visual novel to review!

Hiro Yoshino is a loner whose memory goes back only a couple of years. To survive, he works several odd jobs at places that don't ask questions about ID and pay in cash. As he arrives to work at his pizza delivery job one day, he finds that it's more than closed - it's been completely stripped and abandoned suddenly, and without explanation or warning. As he's contemplating what to do next, a girl he worked with, Kana Izumi, runs into him and is also wondering what's going on. Given her extreme kindness and innocence, he takes a chance on her and tries to get her a job at his other place of work, an internet cafe called the Little Garden.

It turns out that Hiro actually lives at Little Garden as well as works there part time, and everyone, including the owner, absolutely loves Kana, so she joins him there in part-time work. In addition to Little Garden, Hiro has another part-time gig freelance writing for a tabloid magazine.

While investigating a legendary hacker named Warlock for an article he is working on, a fire breaks out at the company he writes for - that kills several. As he looks into it more, he learns that the computers were hacked into. Clearly freaked out by what he finds, he teams up with another Little Garden resident, the hacker Misa, who then begin to find out what is really going on here.

CyberRebeat -The Fifth Domain of Warfare-
Highlights:

Strong Points: Excellent story and characters; riveting conflict that keeps you glued to your screen; neat art style
Weak Points: VN engine is probably the worst that I've seen; you can only progress to the next slide via a mouse click, as no keyboard key goes to the next sentence; clearly low budget; very low resolution everything
Moral Warnings: Most common curse words used, including 'd*mn', 'sh*t', '*ss', 'f*ck', and uses 'God' and 'Jesus' in vain, including in conjunction with 'd*mn'; God is mentioned once or twice as being unlikely to exist; glorifies breaking the law in the form of hacking; a few sexual jokes; one woman goes out of her way to say how cute another one is, but it never goes farther than that; blood is shown in a few scenes; alcohol is consumed to drunkenness; a character smokes cigarettes

 

CyberRebeat is a kinetic visual novel, so it's mostly words and art, and there are no choices to make. Having read several VNs of each kind, I'm honestly not sure which I prefer. VNs with choices tend to have more overall play time, since there are several arcs, and you can get to know each character well. On the other hand, those without choices tend to be a tightly-woven narrative, and far more closely mirror novels which inspired the genre. This is one of the latter, and weaves quite the tale - one that I couldn't pull myself away from once I started reading it.

Beyond just dealing with a local hack, the story dives much deeper into hacker culture, history, and the future. I really wish that I could go into more details on what the story is about, but I also really don't want to spoil it - it's worth reading, so please do so!

Technically, the VN is honestly pretty terrible. The engine is incredibly basic, and the art is all in a very low resolution - though thankfully, what you can see is done well enough, especially the characters. The backgrounds are a bit odd, but you get used to it. The music fits the mood, but is nothing special, and it doesn't loop properly. There are a couple of short video clips, but the quality is also not particularly great. But by far the worst of all is that in order to read the next page, you must left-click the mouse - there is no keyboard equivalent, though you can use auto progress if you wish.

Morally, it also has flaws. The main issue is that it glorifies hacking, which of course is a crime. As someone who knows quite a bit about computers, they did a great job of straddling that line between believably accurate and extremely unlikely. Suspending disbelief was not difficult, despite knowing quite a bit about the internet and computing technology. Nevertheless, hackers are shown in a semi-Hollywood glamorous way, with hacking competitions (called CTFs) broadcasted live on video streams everywhere. It was certainly entertaining, if not exactly realistic.

CyberRebeat -The Fifth Domain of Warfare-
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 70%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 2/5

Morality Score - 70%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 3/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 9/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7/10

It was also interesting to see how the stakes of hacking are much higher in the near future of this story than they may be now. While there are certainly cases now where hacking can be life or death, to see a future where peoples' computers, appliances, and other devices can all be forced to malfunction in such a way that can lead to death is quite the sight to behold. It's also fun to see how viruses, botnets, and other tools of the dark net are used in interesting ways to bring about real-world consequences. As a result, blood and death are shown in a few scenes.

Other than the clearly illegal hacking taking place, there are some curse words used, including 'd*mn', 'sh*t', '*ss', 'f*ck', along with using 'God' and 'Jesus' in vain. There are also cases where they are used in conjunction with 'd*mn' and other strong exclamations. Thankfully, these uses are very rare throughout the 15+ hour story. God is mentioned once or twice as being unlikely to exist. There are a few jokes of a sexual nature, especially near the beginning, and one woman likes to comment on the cuteness of other girls she is in the proximity of. Thankfully, it doesn't go much farther than that. Alcohol is consumed to drunkenness in a few places, and smoking is depicted as well.

CyberRebeat -The Fifth Domain of Warfare- really surprised me. The publisher warned me that the visual novel was originally free in Japanese, and still is, and the quality of the presentation suffered as a result. If you can read Japanese, then there is no reason to purchase this version. However, if you cannot, then I would say that the twists and turns you take with Hiro and Misa is quite excellent, and is worth suffering through the low-budget presentation in order to find a story absolutely worth reading.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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