The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa
Date:Mar 2022


one of the most memorable game experiences i've ever had. the nature of the gameplay format here almost ensures a different playthrough for everyone in content and focus. i had misgivings about the beat em up elements and combat overall but it kinda slipped into the background. incredible life simulator elements with countless options while not falling into the trap of centering everything on the main character like elsewhere. outside of some of the earlier tutorials and scattered events that trigger in various times/places you can do whatever you want without restriction. (though maybe a bit of guidance towards what triggers the story progression wouldn't hurt?)
An interesting game to replay. Knowing my way around the town, as Ringo already would but players do not the first time out, made a huge difference. By the end of the replay, I had maximum health and Ringo's full moveset, which seemed like the apex of the game mechanically. I could finally understand some of Yeo's frustration that his combat isn't particularly well regarded, but, well, it is locked behind hours of working in Ringo's open schedule. Even at their best, though, collision in fights and multiple object interaction doesn't work terrifically well. It does lend to a chaotic feel, but that's almost incidental. There's a ton that I like about the game aside from that, from the art to the choice of royalty-free chill beats to beat faces to, and Yeo's writing works for an overly-dramatic teenager whose friends get into real trouble. The ending lines up very well with the title and Yeo's various inspirations. As I've said elsewhere, this is more Night in the Woods than Persona 3-4-5, and it's the better game for it.
Quirky game for sure. Many games a called "unique" but this one really stands out as very different. Definitely one of a kind, and very unapproachable. I'm happy I managed to vibe with it!