Asphyxia is an English visual novel by ebi-hime and published by Sekai Project. It centres around Samantha (Sam) Taylor Coleridge and Lillian Wordsworth who were best friends but fell out with one another. Sam has been suffering from depression and had hoped to make up with Lillian, will they get back together again?
The characters are all based on British writers, from William Wordsworth to Thomas De Quincey, in a modern era. Asphyxia had incorporated modern references and also references to the writers’ works and pasts into the game which I found very interesting. An example is De Quincey’s opium addiction, which is documented in the work Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, or that Coleridge was interested in Kant. The relationships between the writers have also been portrayed in the visual novel such as Byron’s ‘detestation’ of poets such as Wordsworth. Information about the real life counterparts can be unlocked after finishing a route. Even the trading cards referenced more works such as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Although it presents rather dark themes such as depression and addiction, there are times where the change in era presents itself as humour such as Samantha wanting to sell her children while playing The Game of Life and De Quincey encountering bad ends while playing visual novels.
Sam as a protagonist can feel a bit clingy at first, but the story made me empathise with her especially when she talks about her depression and when her passion comes through. Lillian, Roberta and De Quincey’s past was explored in each of their routes but not Georgia’s. Reading through Byron’s profile, I can understand why it was left out.
It took me around three hours to fully complete the game, which is a decent length considering the price. The wonderful art is by SillySelly, who is returning for ebi-hime’s next project which is centered around food.
Overall I enjoyed Asphyxia because of the themes it explored and it encourages readers to do more research to get to know the people behind the characters.