Review: Shiro’s Alternate Dimension (S.A.D)

Review: Shiro’s Alternate Dimension (S.A.D)

Shiro’s Alternate Dimension (S.A.D) is a short psychological horror visual novel developed by Kurama for the second annual Spooktober visual novel jam. Name your protagonist and venture through a world that you can’t seem to remember.

A review was requested for this game through the VN Game Den review request form.

The Story

S.A.D has around eight minutes of gameplay, so the story is admittedly not too in-depth. For a game like this, though, it doesn’t really prove to be a problem. The intent of the game isn’t to provide a mind-bending story with several different choices and outcomes. Rather, its strengths lie elsewhere. 

Graphics

Some premade assets were used in the making of this game—but for the experience the game is intended to create for the player, it doesn’t matter at all. The game excels in manipulating these graphics to what the dev needs to accomplish. Character and background graphics are animated and transformed to tell the story. 

The Engine

The game suffers in some technical aspects, which are unfortunately inescapable because of the engine it was created in. TyranoBuilder is notoriously limited in its functionality, which makes navigating the game and some of the menus a bit of a hassle. 

That said, it is important to note that this is Kurama’s first visual novel, and what they were able to do with the engine is an impressive feat.

Glitches in the System

The game’s jump scares come in the form of glitches in Shiro’s coded dimension. How these glitches manifest differs depending on the situation that the player finds them in. These can be very clearly obvious in the way a graphic is morphed or by what a character says. Or, it can be as subtle as text not shown on screen showing up in the backlog. 

Overall Ambience

Shiro’s Alternate Dimension is unsettling in the best way possible. A seemingly innocent day turns into a harrowing experience that confuses both the protagonist and the player. As the story progresses and we are faced with more glitches in the system, the game gets scarier and scarier. We never truly know what to expect, and that sort of unpredictability left me feeling uneasy but excited to delve further into the game.

Playing Beyond

Shiro’s Alternate Dimension affords players an experience that lasts far beyond the first playthrough. Players are encouraged to play through the game multiple times, or at the very least, run the .exe for a new experience. 

More Time

The game could have benefited from a longer development cycle and a more expansive story. The Spooktober visual novel jam ran for only a month, but if Kurama had more time, I wonder if they’d be able to create a game similar to Doki Doki Literature Club! in length. Shiro’s dimension is a wildly fascinating concept and, if really explored, could prove to be a gripping and entrancing world for the player. 

Overall

Shiro’s Alternate Dimension (S.A.D) has some shortcomings. There are grammatical mistakes, the game menus are clunky, and the game itself is far too short. I am willing to overlook all of these things not only because of it being Kurama’s first game, but also because of its short development time. The experience created far outweighs any of the negatives. I was genuinely impressed by what was accomplished and think S.A.D is a great little game to play if you’re short on time and want a quick scare. 

You can download Shiro’s Alternate Dimension (S.A.D) on itch.io for free.

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