With production first announced in August of ’06, Light’s long-delayed “gakuen romance battle opera ADV” Dies irae finally hit store shelves on December 21st. In the past week the game has been met with a storm of criticism, much of which is reflected in reviews on its Erogamescape page; while there are many who rated the game in the 70th percentile based on its independent merits, an equal number have declared it a “land mine” and a “betrayal of expectations” (two possible tags in the EGS system). The chief complaints appear to be threefold: first, art used in promotional material and magazine articles was either altered or omitted entirely from the game’s final release; second, characters expected to be possible romantic targets were not; and third, prior to release the game’s writing credit was given to a single popular author, but the ending credit roll revealed a team of six additional writers on staff. More below:

Heisei Democracy [ERO] Game News: Light pleads mea culpa over Dies irae flaws

In response to these and other criticisms, yesterday Light posted a message on their official site explaining the rationale behind some of the design decisions, and apologizing for others, placing the onus of responsibility on their own deficiencies and inability as a company to meet both their own expectations and those of the players.

The cause of the game’s long development was apparently due to a tremendous amount of waffling and wasted production. It was initially planned as a deep single-route romance, but fan interest in other characters during the development process prompted the team to attempt to build in additional scenarios for the other heroines. This effort was ultimately scrapped, however, resulting in the finished product that many players felt was lacking.

While they don’t offer any immediate remedy for the situation, the company announces in the message that an expansion to the game is planned which will contain alternate scenarios and additional routes not present in the original, and will be available discounted in some way to those who have already purchased the game.

Whether this will placate injured fans has yet to be seen, and the extent of the damage to Light’s reputation caused by the release of a game many see as flawed is unclear. This particular case is important beyond the scope of the game itself however, as prior to its release an all-ages manga version had already begun running in Comic Gum, and the property was built up from the start as a heavy hitter with high anime potential.

We’ll be watching for further news on the title as it develops, and I hope to have time to install my copy soon and see what all the fuss is about.