Obey Me! | Lesson 1 | Story Review
Back to where it all began: Obey Me is a hugely popular mobile game with millions of downloads that consistently publishes new chapters, events, and even external productions like the Otaku FM podcast, Obey Me Anime, and the recently released manga series.
With such a vast amount of content available, it can be overwhelming for new fans to know where to begin – so, this review series will start from the very beginning: that is, Lesson 1 of Obey Me – the demon-dating mobile game that kickstarted a rapidly growing franchise…
Note: ‘Lessons’ in Obey Me are the same as ‘chapters’ or ‘acts’ of a typical story. Lesson 1 has 16 parts, eight of which are story chapters, while the other eight are ‘dance battles’ – a.k.a. the minigame you have to pass in order to continue reading.
☆ Arrive in the Devildom – initial plot premise is revealed
☆ Meet (some of) the main cast – Diavolo, Lucifer, Asmo, Satan, Beel, Mammon, and Levi
☆ Tutorial for basic gameplay features
☆ First plot hook is set up – introduces concept of ‘pacts’ between Humans and Demons
Eight story chapters isn’t enough time for major plot events, but it is enough time to establish the main premise of the game, and introduce some of the core characters, concepts, and gameplay features.
In Lesson 1, we learn that Obey Me is essentially a supernatural romantic-comedy set in the ‘Devildom’ (Hell, in everything but name), where the most powerful demons are on the Student Council.
That’s right, millennia-old demons in a high school – well, it’s technically an academy (The Royal Academy of Diavolo), but still, it’s very clearly meant to be the classic high school trope we see in anime rom-coms, just with demons… in hell.
While this premise may sound strange, it actually works surprisingly well, as it lends itself to the over-the-top, comedic tone of the rest of the game. It’s obvious from the very beginning that Obey Me isn’t something that should be taken too seriously, as we’re immediately introduced to an absurd premise, presented to us by characters with interesting (but exaggerated) personalities.
If you just consider the student council to be some sort of substitute for a governmental system – rather than a literal high school – it makes a lot more sense, yet this high school trope somehow feels more appropriate for the over-arching tone of the game.
A complex political system would likely be too mature for to the rest of Obey Me – and the idea of a student exchange program with lessons and tasks is so integral to the gameplay, that it’s hard to picture what the game would look like without this core element of the overall concept.
The partial animation and variety of facial expressions for the sprites helps to convey the exaggerated, comedic tone of the game. This is especially important for Obey Me, as it’s only partially voiced, so some of what might have been communicated through voice acting is instead communicated visually.
Furthermore, each character has a distinct style, or ‘voice’, which allows the reader to learn a lot about the main cast without needing multiple paragraphs of exposition. This wasn’t only reflected in the vocabulary or grammar, but even the way their lines were laid out in the text box.
For example, Lucifer would often only have one or two lines appearing at a time, which means the reader has to tap the screen multiple times to read everything he has to say. This forces the player to read his lines more slowly, giving a sense that Lucifer speaks carefully and deliberately, adding to the sophisticated feel of his character, without explicitly describing him in this way.
On the other hand, once Leviathan started talking about his favourite fictional series, the text box became full of multiple lines at a time, with long, run-on sentences that would start in one panel and finish in the next. This gives a sense that he’s rambling at a fast pace – something that shows the reader that Levi is prone to becoming excitable about his hobbies and interests, again, all without having to explicitly say anything.
In regards to the gameplay aspect, the tutorial is mostly integrated smoothly into the story – the sole exception being a slightly odd, immersion-breaking moment where Lucifer explains the gacha and dance battle features, while still remaining in-character. But, as I said with the premise, Obey Me doesn’t take itself too seriously, so it doesn’t actually seem that out of place when you read it in context.
We’re also introduced to some of the main cast, but rather than cramming everyone in for the sake of it, Obey Me chooses to spend more time with a select few characters – although they do mention some of the others, presumably to encourage players to keep reading in order to meet them.
Diavolo is the first to appear, followed shortly by Lucifer. We also meet Asmodeus, Satan, and Beelzebub, before Mammon makes a dramatic entrance around the mid-way point. Leviathan is the last to appear, and MC’s scene with him sets up the first plot arc, introducing the concept of ‘pacts’ (a core theme of the early story), and finishing the lesson on a cliff-hanger that leaves you wanting to read more…
Overall, the first lesson serves its purpose well as an introduction to Obey Me. The creative decisions in the style of writing and amount of exposition clearly had a lot of thought put into them, and the lesson ends at a point that makes you want to continue reading.
Obey Me doesn’t try to hide what the game is about, instead laying it out clearly from the very beginning, with several jokes that show the developers are completely aware of what they’re doing – so you know they’re not being absurd by accident.
Final thoughts: I finished the first lesson impressed by the quality of writing, and curious to read more – there’s a lot of potential in the premise and characters, so I’m looking forward to continuing the story in the next lesson!
Next post: Obey Me! | Lesson 2 | Story Review
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