Shattered Worlds: Episode 2: Part 2: Hope For Change is out now and I just played it. The Shattered Worlds mods have always been mixed bags, with huge upsides and huge downsides, and this is no exception. But, after finishing it and thinking about it for a minute, I think it might be my favorite installment, even over Crimson Hearts (although that might just be because of the expectation it gave me for future installments). First, let's start with the criticism:
I don't know how much of this was in Episode 1 and I just didn't notice, but this time around it really bothered me how impossibly stupid MC is in some situations, like when he blurts out Natsuki's name to her dad, or when he fails to infer anything at all from Yuri giving him ketchup, noticing its metallic taste, and her saying "There's a little bit of me in every bite!"
A similar problem that took me out of MC's mind was his lack of any cognition when he accidentally confessed to Monika and then snapped out of it, then ran away. He acted like it was a horrible disaster and he desperately needed to think. Why was he so upset? Couldn't he have just said "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say that, it must have been one of the voices controlling me or something"?
As with Episode 1, there's a pretty bad case of MC's alternate selves making no effort to communicate with each other and with MC. A skilled writer can create tension without making characters go completely against all their motivations and incentives.
Now let's move on to the really bad stuff:
When Sayori wakes up, the scene where MC talks to her is a horrifying trainwreck in so many ways. I'm going to have to make a third level of bulleted list:
Sayori's opening line "I should be dead..." makes no sense and has nothing to do with what she proceeds to say. It's clear that's not how she feels about it.
Sayori's dialogue implies that Monika didn't tell her why she did all the horrible things she did, nor did Sayori ask. This is an absolutely abysmal failure of either character to act in any sort of coherent way. Not to mention, what they did even talk about if not that?
Similarly, when MC hears this, he also doesn't tell her why. He's just like "I know Monika tortured and murdered you a bunch of times but I can't bring myself to hate her, all I feel is compassion and pity for her and I hope you can forgive her too" and "She's bound to have a reason". I don't remember if MC knows why, but if he doesn't, that in itself is a plothole since he should have asked a long time ago in Episode 1 and any refusal by Monika to tell him is another plothole.
There's an incredibly offensive instance of the sexist trope of asymmetric violence rules when MC tells Natsuki he doesn't love her romantically and she punches him in the face for it. After MC literally saved her fucking life and gave her food and shelter and emotional support for days! Why should the audience even want to help someone like that? Worse, not only does Natsuki never apologize, but MC even calls himself "evil" for rejecting her and tries to "make it up to her". This is so messed up, it's spectacular. I don't understand how people can be so sexist against their own sex.
Then there's Sayori's similar jealously when she finds out Natsuki has been living at MC's place. This one's not nearly as bad, since MC did lie to her about it, she at least didn't physically assault him (thank god because I would have dropped the mod on the spot), and she eventually apologizes. Still, it's out of character that she was angry at all, and punishing Natsuki for it is absurd.
Finally, there's the way everybody jumps on Enclosed MC's idea of killing Natsuki's dad just to shoehorn the omnipresent and disgusting moral that it's never okay to kill people for any reason even if they're an active threat. The reason I don't consider this a deal-breaker is because in the end they gained new information that absolved Natsuki's dad, so we can blame this in part on the historian's fallacy.
And the grammar in the mod is still atrocious (even after they "proofread" it), but whatever. That's such a small criticism that I'm not even counting it as a bullet point. Now on to the praise.
First and foremost, thank god that everyone finally knows the truth! I was worried they were going to leave Sayori under for several days because they didn't want anyone but MC and Monika in the spotlight. It's still a huge missed opportunity to correct the mod's past mistakes that none of the girls were the least bit offended to find out how much their friends were lying to them, but this is as good as I could have expected.
Once again, we're treated to a significiant development of the world and macro plot, and it's going a really good direction. I especially like the idea of MC's alternate personalities splitting into separate bodies. This author really is a master of sacrificing character accuracy and believability in favor of those things.
Natsuki's dad was handled reasonably well. It looked like they were going the ABND route and it was super dumbass that Redeemed MC wouldn't let MC even fight back against him, and it's still dumbass in hindsight, but at least we got a satisfying explanation for why Natsuki's dad could do such horrible things without actually being evil.
There's also at least a few game file secrets you should see. I actually saw the first one posted on reddit long before the mod was released, but incase you didn't, go into game/ and read memoriesofx3bravo.chr. The other two are under game/logs/.
Update: there are some more that actually appeared in one of the earlier installments (they apparently keep the assets for previous installements in the downloads for the newest mod), but I can't remember which one so I'm putting them here: the text document /game/mod_assets/from_dark.txt, and the logs under /game/mod_assets/logs/. The letters at the begining of the log names must stand for the mods they're about: Exit Music, Monika Before Story, and Crimson Hearts.
Okay, update much later. I didn't realize this when I first read the Memories of X3 Bravo, but this revelation destroys the story. It constitutes a complete retcon of the entire original game. I can't understand being so favoritist toward Monika that you would retcon out everything bad she did and say it was all secretly heroic and not realize you were destroying what made her a good character in the original game. And then also not realize the retcon itself is incoherent since if Monika can stop time she has nothing to fear from Yuri. And then also fail to account for this retcon in your plot. If Monika didn't kill Sayori, why do Sayori, Monika, and MC all seem to remember it? You can't even raise the excuse that this is written by Monika Bravo and we've been playing with Monika Alpha because we only played one original game and this letter is clearly referring to that. The only possible remaining defense is that Monika Alpha killed Sayori Alpha in some other timeline that wasn't the original game we played, which technically works, but is still an egregious storytelling failure because it's revealing that the emotional drama in the hospital visit scene was all based on something we never saw. Although honestly maybe that's a good thing since the scene was such a trainwreck anyway...