Final Theosis is a VN that sets out to prove that hell (read: purgatory) is other people; specifically, the devs of this VN.
You start Final Theosis with the ability to pick the main character’s name, gender (male, female, or non-binary), and avatar. As is tradition in questionable VNs, I named my character Block and picked a gender and avatar at random. I was already suspicious by this point because although you could alter your character’s appearance and name, there were no options to adjust the mechanical options of the VN, including toggling to fullscreen mode or being able to adjust the audio. I was stuck reading in windowed mode and having to deal with buggy audio as a result.
The story starts out when your character wakes up with two gentlemen behind the locked gate of a manor. The trio quickly realizes that something is amiss; although they come from different countries and are certain they don’t share any common language, they can understand each other perfectly well. On top of this, no one present has any memory of the last twenty-four hours and each one believes that they are suffering from visual hallucinations. The group is suddenly accosted by a nun, who informs them that they’ve landed in purgatory and orientation is about to start.
It took me exactly five minutes of Final Theosis to realize that I had indeed wound up in a lesser version of hell, because the actual denizens of purgatory are complete assholes. Take the nun who is supposed to be guiding you to the manor for orientation. One of the guys in your group calls her crazy for saying they’re all ghosts in purgatory (understandably) and demands to be let out. The nun basically shrugs and says sure, just step right up to this totally innocuous gazebo in our backyard. No sooner does the guy step into the gazebo then hellfire and the souls of the damned are reaching up to drag him down into the fiery depths below. Nun just turns around and asks if anyone else wants to follow. That’s it. We just move right on with the story and spend the rest of the plot trying hard not to think about what happened to the one guy in the group that didn’t blindly follow along with the nun’s command.
None of the other permanent residents of purgatory are much better. In the world of Final Theosis, all souls come to a branch of purgatory when they die and can stay there as long as they want (provided they don’t completely reject God, which is a one-way ticket to hell). While in purgatory, each soul is tasked with making short trips back to Earth to do small things to aid people who are still living, such as conjuring a hot meal for a starving boy or keeping a train from striking a girl that tries to commit suicide. Doing these good works earns you grace, and with enough grace you can eventually buy your way into heaven. Yup, turns out that’s the key to eternal salvation, doing enough good deeds to pay the entrance fee. Catholics had it right all along, and Protestants with their “sola fide” teachings can suck it.
Getting back to the other characters now. Although you can definitely buy your way into heaven, souls also have the option of staying in purgatory forever to help other souls along, which also gives the soul back some corporeal traits (like being able to eat food or dream). Dear reader, please pause here for a moment and consider exactly what kind of people would rather have the ability to have sex and eat a sandwich than go to heaven. Those are the kind of people running this operation. Shantina is an obnoxious bully, Glaucia is a snitch, the nuns are the least helpful religious figures you can imagine, and worst of all, Tsigan keeps his library books past their due date. In all serious though, I couldn’t find very much that was endearing about any of the purgatory locals.
On the technical side of things, there were noticeable bugs. I had issues with the audio (two tracks would frequently play on top of each other), the dialogue boxes occasionally changed to French on me before going right back to English, and in one run the shopkeeper’s sprite got stuck on screen when I traveled to another area. This is not a very well-polished VN.
But I think my biggest issue with Final Theosis is the fact that absolutely nothing matters. I was talking with a friend before writing this to try and iron out a problem I had with the relationships in this VN. Basically no matter which gender you pick at the start of the game, you can date either a male or female soul during your time in purgatory. Everyone in purgatory pushes this idea that having shed your mortal coil, you become capable of true love and can live free of any earthly hangups about same-sex relationships. On the surface, that sounds really cool. I love the message that love is love, and initially thought that it was wonderful that the game lets you choose your own gender and appearance instead of locking you into one type and thereby only letting you experience a handful of relationships.
My issue is that the freedom doesn’t matter. No matter which gender you start as and which character you pick as your romance option, you get the exact same dialogue after your initial date. The VN pushes this idea that true love is embracing a soul regardless of a body’s gender, but does so in a way that implies that physical love ought to be regarded as lesser than spiritual love (hello Paul, I see the nuns hung onto your 1 Corinthians letter), almost to the point of suggesting that social constructs are the only reason that people choose the relationships they have on Earth. It’s a wonderful message but is held back by an oversimplification of gender as a construct and the value (or lack thereof) of sexual relations. It’s a complex topic handled in a sloppy manner.
Then again, nothing else in this VN matters either. Early in the story, you’re given a task to complete with the promise of learning a spell afterwards. Regardless of whether or not you succeed, you get the spell because it’s one of the core mechanics of the VN. You can use graces to buy things at a shop, but this only matters if you want to get a gift for whoever your romantic relationship is. You have missions to complete to earn graces, but it’s the exact same handful of assignments over and over again, and you cannot fail the assignments, just get a different reward amount of grace. I caused a heart attack on one of my assignments and then went back the next round to repeat the mission and not kill him. There’s a random murder thrown in as well, but it’s solved in about 15 minutes just by clicking along to further the story, and immediately afterwards you are rewarded with enough grace to go straight to heaven, so the whole “complete missions to earn salvation” mechanic was utterly unnecessary. Oh, and there’s a half-assed card game thrown in as well, which has absolutely no bearing on the overall story and is only worth completing if you’re an achievement hunter and want the achievement for beating the creeping demon-eater who lives in the basement while speaking abysmal Latin.
Final Theosis is trite garbage. The story is short and bland, the relationships aren’t rewarding in any way, shape, or form, bugs constantly pop up, there are no options to adjust audio, text, or visuals; the list of grievances goes on and on. The only kind thing I can say is that it only takes an hour and a half to complete an initial run of the story, so you don’t lose too much of your time to this VN. I bought it from Steam where it normally sells for $5, but I can’t recommend grabbing this at any price point. Find something else.