Halloween Month: Cartagra ~Affliction of the Soul~ Review (PC)

I somehow always end up playing horror visual novels. It’s not that I am a fan of horror games, but there is just something captivating about not knowing what to expect. Cartagra ~Affliction of the Soul~ mixes a detective mystery with a disturbingly gory storyline – a perfect combination.

 

 

Made by Innocent Grey, Cartagra ~Affliction of the Soul~ is a horror visual novel that is the first game in the Kara no Shoujo universe. Even though it came before Kara no Shoujo, the game was localized and released to western readers three years after its sequel. Which is in turn the reason why I kept putting off reading the franchise for so long. Finally with Kara no Shoujo 2 scheduled to be released to the west this month, it’s time to dive deeper into this series.

 

Like most of their other games, Cartagra is set in a period just after the war. The mix of traditional and western culture of this period err much more on the side of traditional, which makes for a unique experience.

 

 

The story is told from Takashiro Shogo’s perspective. He is an ex-police officer who is now living at a local brothel. From time to time he gets private detective work from his longtime friend. The story begins as you are given a job to find Kohzuki Yura, Shogo’s former lover before he was sent off to war. You are accompanied by her innocent twin sister Kazuna, who you have to keep safe during the investigation, all while a series of gruesome murders occur around town.

 

You will meet a variety of characters that will aid your search, from Nana, your detective-crazed sister, to Aoki Toji, one of the leaders of a criminal organization, to Ujaku, the owner of the brothel, and Rin, a cheeky worker there.

 

At its core Cartagra is a detective mystery. It has rather good pacing, revealing just a bit of information before showering you with even more questions. You will be constantly on your toes as the game will pull off red herrings whenever you get too close to the solution.

 

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This is not a story for the faint of heart. It gets dark very quickly. The murders you encounter will have dismembered corpses, mutilation and other elements that are sure to leave you turning your gaze away from the monitor. The descriptions are just as gut wrenching, as every scene is described in great detail.

 

What I like about Cartagra is that it doesn’t shy away from the adult content. While many visual novels can do without the sexual content, it definitely gives Cartargra a much grittier atmosphere. Considering that the protagonist lives in a brothel, it’s only natural that there will be sex here (unlike another visual novel). Thankfully, most of the time it is done tastefully and serves as a great contrast with the gory and disturbing things you will encounter.

 

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There are a number of choices during the 20 or so hours of the game. While some of them only differ by the CG you will unlock, others will change the outcome of the entire game. There are a number of endings, both good and bad. The bad endings can be nightmare inducing and will linger in your memory far longer then you wish. The only way to get the whole picture of the mystery is to make it through and get the true ending, which may not be the happiest.

 

Cartagra has some stunning artwork. The backgrounds look amazing and are some of the best I have seen. The game is set during the course of one winter and this season is a perfect setting for the events that transpire. The post war time period also helps make the whole experience much more sinister. The soundtrack has a variety of tunes which always complement the mood of the scene. Finally, the whole cast is voiced, with the exception of the protagonist.

 

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Cartagra ~Affliction of the Soul~ is an amazing experience. The beautiful presentation and deep mystery make this title stand out from the crowd. Its adult content and dark atmosphere may not be for everyone, but if you are in the mood for a mature gory mystery Cartagra ~Affliction of the Soul~ is for you.

 

 

Thanks goes to MangaGamer for providing us a review copy of this game. Cartagra ~Affliction of the Soul~ is available on MangaGamer’s website as well as a demo you can try out.

 

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