Tricking Game House / 騙し合いハウス

Here we go again! Tricking Game House is the sequel to Killing Game House, and is another free online web series about a psychological game presented in the style of a fully voiced visual novel. I really liked Killing Game House, and while Tricking Game House was okay, it didn't feel quite as elegant or clever as the previous series. (And, like Killing Game House, it's entirely in Japanese.)

Tricking Game House features the same basic plot as the predecessor KGH: a group of people play a game with magic powers in a mysterious mansion to obtain fabulous ca$h prizes. The basic rules and setup of the game this time are:

  • Each player is randomly and secretly assigned a number and a power.
  • Each day there is a six-hour "Discussion Time."
  • Each Discussion Time, each player may ask one question in the form of "[Player], are you Number [X]?"
  • Players must answer all questions directed to them in this form, with either "yes" or "no." However, each player may lie once a day in answering the questions.
  • At the end of each Discussion Time, each player may attempt to Identify any number of players, by writing down that player's name and (alleged) number.
  • You get money by correctly Identifying another player's number, or if another player incorrectly Identifies your number.
  • Conversely, incorrectly Identifying another player or being Identified causes you to lose money.
  • Breaking a rule or having negative money results in disqualification.
This is a game just about lying, rather than actively killing each other, which would in theory make it less gruesome than KGH... but players are magically killed when "disqualified," so it ends up being a death game anyway. But it also doesn't quite have the same tension as KGH, since in KGH nearly anyone could be killed nearly any time, whereas players only die in TGH when they run out of money, so as soon as a player gets some cash you can stop worrying about them.

As a psychological suspense story, TGH isn't bad, but there are two main areas where I feel the plot isn't as good as KGH: pacing and ingenuity.

First, the pacing of TGH is much more back-loaded than KGH. In KGH, various plans were both being set up and executed over the course of the entire game, meaning there was always something interesting going on. In TGH, however, while a little bit happens at the beginning, barely anything else happens until the last couple of days. This makes the middle segment of the game boring, since nothing happens, and then the finale is difficult to make sense of, since everything happens at once.

Second, the execution of the game just didn't feel as elegant as in KGH. The main issue for me is that in KGH, even though everyone wasn't an omniscient god, everyone still acted reasonably, whereas in TGH, it felt like characters made unforced errors, or some characters noticed loopholes in the rules while other arbitrarily didn't, just for the game to reach the authors' desired result. The fun in these types of stories is seeing the strategies the characters employ to try to win, but that fun isn't there when it's just "We had Character A notice this detail in the rules and had Character B not notice so that Character A could take advantage of it and beat Character B because the result we want is for Character A to beat Character B."

Another element I liked in KGH was that, since all the characters were new and original, any of them could end up dying or winning. However, with TGH, it seems like this series is trying to build up an overarching plot, which... is not necessarily worse, just different. If there's an overarching plot, then certain characters will obtain plot armor. In that case, the joy becomes seeing how the main characters will win, rather than seeing who will win (and how). Series without any plot armor are rare, which makes them especially interesting, but if this House series ends up developing plot armor, there's no reason it can't still be entertaining.

The characters in TGH I thought were slightly better than those in KGH, although to be perfectly honest I'm not sure why. If I had to verbalize it, I think I'd say that the characters in KGH felt like wholesale anime tropes, whereas the characters in TGH felt like characters with traits that were anime tropes, but I may just be splitting hairs. There are two characters in TGH that were clearly based on two Danganronpa characters... but if those two characters were expies, who knows how many other characters are expies that I just didn't notice? (And what does this matter? ...I don't really know.)

Everything else is basically the same as in KGH. The graphics are not professional quality but acceptable, with the biggest problem being the fact that the sprites are in different styles. Voice acting is fine, and the music is appropriate. The fonts are better, and everything is readable now!

I'm hoping that Killing Game House isn't the high point of the series, but Tricking Game House is a decent entry nonetheless.

Series Homepage
Episode 1 (Youtube)
Episode 1 (Niconico)

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