Fix Me Fix You is an absolute slog of a visual novel which exemplifies the problems inherent in materialistic characters and their relationships.
Fix Me Fix You is one of those VNs that I picked up on sale for super cheap (probably less than a buck) and still feel like I overpaid for the experience. Reading the story quickly became a grueling war of attrition between the continuation of the narrative and my flagging attention span, and the narrative almost always won. The entire thing couldn’t have taken more than an hour and some change to read, and yet I could only bring myself to invest 5-10 minutes at a time in reading before I found myself desperate to do literally anything else. The story is banal, the characters are flat, and grammar mistakes throughout convince me that Sapphire Dragon Productions either didn’t hire an editor or had one in-house who themselves couldn’t be bothered to invest the time and energy necessary into this story to do any kind of proper proofreading. Yet despite the fact that I knew 20 minutes into Fix Me Fix You that this was an absolute dumpster fire of a VN, I was nevertheless intrigued and compelled to continue reading due to the way it presented financial success and happiness in its own universe.
Let me start by saying that I do not believe in any way, shape, or form that the critiques it offers on a capitalistic society are deliberate and well-constructed. The writer was clearly trying to make this story as sad as possible and might have drawn a little inspiration from baby’s first death to the bourgeoisie pamphlets, but that’s it. However unintentional this message might be, though, it’s still the only worthwhile part of the entire VN, so let’s dig in.
Fix Me Fix You centers around Austin, a quintessential college student. Austin exhibits every trait necessary to be your cliche total failure: he has no specific life direction, he frequently smokes pot and is obsessed with one-night stands, he’s failed multiple college classes to the point of needing to repeat almost a whole year of work, and his girlfriend dumps him barely ten minutes into the story. Again, we’re not winning any points for originality here.
But what intrigued me about the breakup wasn’t just that Austin was being dumped by Kelly due to his lack of ambition or tendency to come into work high. Rather, on the day of the firing Kelly had just received a promotion to management level, with the understanding that one of her first tasks would be downsizing this location’s workforce. She would have to let go of some underperforming staff, and she knew ahead of time who they’d be. Ergo, Kelly decided to take the promotion knowing with absolute certainty that she’d have to fire her boyfriend, and she not only did this with gusto but then chose that specific moment to break up with him as well. And I thought to myself, “Huh. That seems harsh.” But this was just the tip of the selfish iceberg.
Everyone in Fix Me Fix You is completely vapid and obsessed with money. The next character you meet is Natalie, the manager to a highly successful pop star named Jacqueline. Natalie has come to find you because Jacqueline has just suffered a nervous breakdown and specifically asked for Austin’s company because they used to date. Natalie makes it clear how preoccupied with money she is from the very start of her interaction with you, because that’s the closest this VN can ever come to trying to give someone a personality. Natalie is willing to bribe you with $12,000 to spend a single week with Jacqueline, not because she’s worried about her client’s well-being but rather because Jacqueline having to cancel shows and parts of her tour are cutting into Natalie’s profit margins. Jacqueline is a cash cow, and her mental breakdown is frequently treated like a flat tire which needs to be fixed already so that she can get back to work and return to making Natalie money. It’s like someone decided to base her entire character off of Mr. Krabbs but failed to realize how awful that sort of personality comes across outside of a cartoon.
Worse than this, Austin doesn’t seem to care about Natalie’s questionable motivation at all. He’s far more interested in the money he can make just by going to a beach house for a week and talking to his former girlfriend. There’s not even a suggestion that he should feel bad for so readily and easily accepting the bribe; this trip represents only positive things for him. He doesn’t even seem particularly concerned about the mental state of his old friend because he’s too busy thinking about what this payment could mean to his paying for another year of college classes. He is not going on this trip out of genuine concern, but rather because he can see a clear and tangible financial gain for himself.
When Austin actually arrives at Jacqueline’s home, he quickly encounters Erik the psychologist, a British gentleman who insists on doing therapy sessions with Austin. It’s mentioned that this is partially done to make sure that Austin isn’t in a mental state to hurt Jacqueline, but weirdly the VN also emphasizes how this doctor is apparently a top mind in his field, and wouldn’t Austin be crazy for not taking advantage of free therapy worth hundreds of dollars? It’s like Erik is acutely aware of how much people are willing to pay for time with him and can’t fathom a situation where people wouldn’t be desperate to get such a great deal on his services if the opportunity were to present itself. The whole thing gave off a weird super-capitalism vibe.
I began to feel bad for Austin at this point in the story. Like this kid is clearly an idiot and kind of a directionless pervert besides, but everyone else in this universe so far comes across as a money-grubbing skinflint who would sell their own grandmother if they thought they could turn a profit. Their happiness seems to rely almost entirely on how financially sound they are at any given point in life; without fail, all their stories revolve around picking career paths that maximized profit over everything else. It’s their one defining trait and the common vein throughout many of the stories of their childhood, and because of that you get incredibly boring and flat characters who aren’t so much full-formed persons as empty shells puppeted about by a singular desire to forever increase gains and acquire more money.
Even Jacqueline’s character suffered from this affliction to an extent. During the time you spend in California, Jacqueline gradually reveals how much of her own music career was altered to ensure her financial success (having other people write her songs, deliberately making jokes and socializing all over Hollywood because people don’t like silent introverts, etc). Austin commented a few times on how sad that must make Jacqueline since it’s not the way she wanted her career to go, only for her to basically shrug and say that it’s no big deal, just something that was necessary to turn her into a multi-platinum hit. Like yeah it’s made her sad, but she wants to get right back into it as soon as possible. Here the VN sets up a situation where you think the takeaway message is going to be about money not buying happiness, but we never see that properly delivered to the reader. Instead, we’re left with a quiet acceptance that financial success must come with the sacrifice of one’s personal happiness and dreams, but it’ll be ok; just write some short stories on the side until the pain goes away.
The entire narrative felt like the writers had somehow confused “wealthy” with “interesting” and ran with that for far too long as they crafted together a story about the variety of ways people in a very small group can try to bleed each other for profit. There’s nothing endearing about any of the characters because they’re all so focused on their own happiness and success. Several times through the story I wanted to grab a particular character and shake them while screaming that the reason they’re going to die alone isn’t because of their travel schedule or shoddy work/life balance, it’s because they’re a horrible human being incapable of seeing people in terms beyond mere financial gain.
Fix Me Fix You therefore manages to send a pretty clear message about human greed; namely, people whose personality could best be defined with words like “cutthroat” or “beholden to irrepressible avarice” are ultimately unpleasant and dull folks to be around, and writers would best be served by not designing an entire narrative following such people around.
Fix Me Fix You is available on Steam. Your money would be better spent on something else.