Kiss the Demiurge is a yuri romance visual novel set in modern Japan. Minori Nakahashi, acting as a field agent for the secret organization Universal Magic Inquisition (U.M.I.), is dedicated to keeping knowledge of magic a secret at any cost, and “for the purification of humanity”. Furthermore, the 17-year-old agent lives an extremely dull and empty lifestyle due to accidentally transporting her parents to the demon world at a young age, being unable to enjoy her school years, and even lying to her grandfather about the whereabouts of her mother.
Released: 1st December 2022
Price: $5.99 (with free demo)
Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac
Available on: Steam
This game includes heavy references to topics such as suicide and mental health issues.
In addition, this review heavily focuses on the Tomoko route.
Huh, a secret organization?
Minori’s latest assignment is the infiltration and dispersal of a magic club in one of the country’s schools after a fire accident claimed the life of a student who made a contract with a fire demon. Although the club is made entirely of girls who don’t even know how real magic works, U.M.I. still considers them dangerous if they continued their pursuit of magic, prompting Minori’s superior Sofia to order their termination. Fearing the prospect of committing murder, the young agent came up with an alternative plan involving blackmailing one of the girls into giving up the pursuit of magic and living a normal life – represented by the only choice in the entire game. Players can choose to befriend and deceive the easily excited and energetic mage Akane, the calm and reserved ghost medium Tomoko, or the reclusive and timid fortune teller Chitori, to quit magic. The question Minori will then face is whether the morally objectionable actions she’s willing to take are right.
Kiss the Demiurge’s characters and how they interact with each other have a great mix of comedy relief, awkward moments, self-reflection, friendship, and of course, romance, but also a great dose of tragedy and trauma. The clash between Minori’s duties to the U.M.I. and her personal life is an interesting way to approach the mental and physical tolls of working for a secret organization as well. The game does a pretty great job at making you relate to the unique challenges that the girls face and rooting for them, even having tear-jerking moments in the end. The game also tackles the topic of coming out and family approval with tact and care, even if it’s only one of the many struggles of the cast. The writing is only hampered by occasional typos and spoken lines that are assigned to the wrong (or even absent) characters, and although those don’t happen often, they are still a detriment to immersion.
Doesn’t Minori practice any hobbies? Like drawing?
Kiss the Demiurge’s art style is not the best it could be, but it is serviceable for the story the game is telling. All backgrounds utilize a simple water-colored style as if drawn by Minori shortly before her personality changed, and as such, a lot of them appear lifeless, a reflection of the way she sees her world. Some minor characters don’t even get a proper sprite, instead appearing as a fuzzy, dark-creature-like silhouette of a regular person, also fitting for Minori’s pessimistic view of the world. While the club girls have the most detailed artwork in the game, men like Minori’s grandfather are hopelessly lacking. The CGs that the game presents near the end of the story use a warmer artstyle that conveys the love and the growth of the characters, even if they ultimately clash with the game’s regular art and character design.
The most immersion-breaking thing about the game is the lack of consistent transitions. Most of the scenes in the game just pop in and out, including the intro. Speaking characters don’t light up when they should sometimes, and they also instantly change expression and position, which makes most interactions feel spontaneous and unnatural – especially for scenes that involve illusions.
Kiss the Demiurge may feel a bit rough around the edges in some respects, especially the visual parts, but it makes up for it with the unique magical premise, factional clashes, and growing character interactions that evolve the more the game goes on. The storytelling is also well-balanced between anime-style lighthearted moments and heavy events that test the characters’ allegiances and personalities.