Shattered Worlds, Episode 2, Part 1: Crimson Hearts (yes, they're now subdividing episodes into parts) is out now and I played it recently. I'd say it's a significant improvement over Episode 1. Although that might be because it was able to kind of ignore the mistakes of Episode 1 without fixing them by not following the same characters; it follows one of the alternate realities with different incarnations of the girls. It also has a nice surprise in the form of new male characters.

The story gives us a lot more information about the multiverse and the villain, and once again I'm pretty pleased with where they've taken it (well, aside from naming the villain "Dr. Dark"... lol). It also shows us the history of Vengeful MC and Silent MC from Episode 1. The ending is also really good; in particular I like the credit it gives to Yuri.

As far as the message that lying to one's friends is okay that is very common in DDLC mods, Crimson Hearts did much, much better than the previous installment. At least all the girls know the truth, and not telling the boys is more defensible than it would have been in the previous installment because the girls don't believe that these boys have anything to do with what's going on and if they're right then they probably wouldn't be able to help much anyway. It's still wrong to lie to a loved one, of course, but beyond that it's pretty clear that the tragic ending is at least partly due to the secret-keeping, theoretically sending the opposite message.

There was one big plothole, which I didn't notice at the time, and that is that it's totally not believable that Sayori still tried to kill herself. Modders seem to forget that it only got that bad in the original game because of Monika's tampering. Not only that, but given what this version of Sayori knows about Dr. Dark and the multiverse, it's even harder to believe that she would be driven to suicide over nothing more than an (entirely unjustified) internal lack of self-worth.

The only other concern I would have about the direction the plot is going is the reference to a "prophecy" foretelling the downfall of Dr. Dark, but I messaged the developer on reddit about why that would kill the story and received a vague but comforting response saying that "the prophecy isn't really going to matter much in the end".

I'll also mention the scene where Monika slaps Yohan and Yohan doesn't hit back, invoking the sexist trope of asymmetric violence rules. On the bright side, Monika apologizes later, but it's still problematic for the way it sacrifices Yohan's believability to uphold sexism. I remember thinking that I wouldn't have been surprised to see Yohan hit first, so it's really not okay that he doesn't retaliate when she starts the violence.

At least in the beginning of the game, the three boys' dialogue was the pinnacle of uncreative. They mostly just echoed everything each other said nearly verbatim. I imagine it's because the writer wrote the beginning of the game before the boys developed distinct personalities in his mind, and he didn't go back and edit it.

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