One of the biggest takeaways I had after playing CAPCOM’s Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is its iconic phrase — Igiari (Objection)! Well, maybe not the phrase per se but the idea of being firm and raising objections to things that are simply nonsensical. I thought I would never find a game that is centered around this very concept but NO! On 9 April 2021, Studio Fizbin and Thunderful Publishing released Say No! More, a casual comedy game that doubles as a virtual training ground for players to learn to say “NO!” more.
Do I think Say No! More should be turned down with a “NO!” or not? Find out in this spoiler-free review based on the PC version.
Save your precious lunchbox!
In Say No! More, you play as an intern who is about to begin their exciting first day of internship at a big company. The work culture is such that all employees have to always say “Yes!” to every single thing thrown at them. That includes when your supervisor takes your lunchbox away because they have forgotten theirs. How dare they! No one steals good food from me- I mean, you! Thus begins your most important and heroic video game quest ever: get your stolen lunchbox back!
But wait, you are actually too shy to holler “NO!” when confronted with people who are hindering your quest. Oh no! Fret not, however, as the best coach in the universe will drop down from the ceiling to help you actualize this immense power that is hidden inside of you. Simply wear the headphones, play that cassette tape, and blast through all of the obstacles with a single word “NO!”
For those who do not want to say “NO!”, as in not in the English language, Say No! More offers sixteen more languages to choose from. Note that this applies only to the playable character’s voiced “NO!”, and not the entire voiced game script, even though subtitles are available in ten languages. Besides the nice range of language options, there are four distinct tones of “NO!” spoken as well. Players may choose to let off steam with a heated “NO!”, when hell freezes over, with a cold “NO!”, showing that they couldn’t care less, with a lazy “NO!”, or be unshackled with a wacky “NO!”.
And for those who do not want to say “NO!”, as in not only “NO!”, the game includes four actions that can be freely mixed and matched with the four abovementioned tones. These actions serve as appetizers before one dishes out their spiciest “NO!” for the sweetest impact. Players can laugh with the intent to ridicule, clap sarcastically, nod in fake acknowledgment, or hum whilst feigning serious consideration.
The main downside of this variety of tones and actions is that they are not all available from the start. Akin to the level progression of a typical role-playing game, players learn a new set of tone and action only upon progression to specific chapters of the story. This means that the opportunities for me to use, say, my utmost favorite wacky “NO!” is considerably fewer since I cannot use it right from the first chapter. Furthermore, the automatic unlocking of all tones and actions is not offered as a feature, for example through a New Game+ mode, after a complete playthrough. To this, I shake my head with a disappointed “NO!”
With unsophisticated controls, Say No! More allows players to easily jump into the game straight away and enjoy its mindless fun. The tutorials explaining the keyboard controls are simple to follow too. While there is no manual save function, the game auto-saves chapter by chapter. Loading any of the unlocked chapters always begins that particular chapter from the start, regardless of where one has left off previously. Coupled with the lack of a fast forward function, one may find replaying chapters to take up more time than they would have liked. Nevertheless, each chapter is pretty short and packed with interesting events, so that helps to cut down any miserable “NO!” one may sigh upon a chapter restart.
Another thing worth pointing out is that this (roughly) 2.5 hours long game plays like a movie. It is story-rich but like a movie, your main activity is to watch the story unfold before your eyes. There is neither free exploration nor multiple endings to find. Players do, however, get to make minor changes within some chapters via their ability to say “NO!”. Otherwise, the main storyline is railroaded, and oftentimes, saying “NO!” is merely a means to drive the story forward. Whether such a linear story and minimal gameplay appeal to one or not is up to the individual’s tastes. Personally, I did not find this setup hampering my enjoyment of the game in any significant way; I had plenty of fun from all the giggles and tears during my first playthrough. My subsequent playthroughs are indeed more boring as I already know what is coming, but choosing a different language for the voiced “NO!” has helped to spice up the fun once more.
A lunchbox packed with much food for thought.
Say No! More may be a comedy but tucked beneath its goofy surface are heartwarming scenes and heartfelt lessons, which are the true delicacies worth savoring even after one has finished playing the game. Three of these tasty morsels, in particular, stand out to me.
First, the entire character growth arc is so satisfyingly wholesome. Seeing the employees gradually picking up the courage to say “NO!” to things that are impeding them from leading healthier, happier lives brings joyful tears to my eyes. Second, despite the game’s focus on saying “NO!” more, it is not at all a one-sided affair. The story is sprinkled with discussions of some valid reasons for people to be hesitant to say “NO!” and provides counterarguments on why it is okay to say “NO!” under those specific contexts. Third, the scenes where you try to refuse your best friend’s unfair requests with a “NO!” effectively spell out the worries and internal conflicts commonly experienced when faced with similar situations in real life. In a way, this subplot lays a foundation for further reflections on what constitutes a healthy friendship.
Sure enough, the narrative is dramatic through and through, tells of the most ideal situations, and ends on a classic fairy tale note. Nonetheless, its core message is clear. Anyone can say “NO!” to undesirable things that are preventing their or others’ lives from betterment. Of course, being able to say “NO!” does not equate to everything magically improving immediately, but for some people, this conscious recognition of the ability they actually have within themself could very well be their first step towards a better future. And this makes Say No! More a meaningful serious game.
Look how beautiful the lunchbox is!
Perfect for a comedy game, low poly 3D art is used in Say No! More. Actually, any art style can fit a comedy genre as long as it is done well. Still, there is an undeniable charm in these cute little blocky characters who get all clumsy when they stumble or all jumpy when they are jubilant. Facial expressions on every character, some of which are exaggerated for comical effects, are certainly a lovely sight to behold as well.
The User Interface design looks clean and free of clutter. Maximum screen space has been allocated to the game itself, with the subtitle text box and playable character’s stats given spots that are conspicuous yet not overbearing. Font size is also huge enough for a comfortable read.
A key that outshines other elements under the visual aspect, other than the majestic unicorn on the lunchbox cover, is the brilliantly designed character creation system. In addition to sixteen premade character models ready for use, Say No! More allows players to create their own playable character from scratch. There is wide room for self-expression and much consideration has been put into having a decent range of age groups, skin colors, and body types represented. Besides the pretty extensive wardrobe, the walking animation used on the character models who are exiting or entering the character selection screen is another wonderful detail implemented.
Hey, listen, what’s inside the lunchbox?
Say No! More features a fully voiced English script. All the voice actors and actresses have done a fantastic job in bringing the characters to life. The same can be said for those who gave voice to the playable character’s four tones of “NO!” in different languages. I have tried the English, Mandarin, Korean, and Japanese versions and their wacky “NO!” never fails to crack me up.
Audio work is on the whole impressive. Sound effects are generally used to lend power to the “NO!” attacks. Audio panning has been applied to character voices so that the voice would accurately follow the general movement of the speaking character. At times, the background music is deliberately reduced to complete silence in order to induce a heightened focus on those moments.
As for the music, it generally sounds upbeat and playful, which fits the overall feel of the game. The recurring motif found in a few tracks is easy to catch and I enjoy those tracks where their intensity ramps up along to the climax of the story. But all in all, the entire soundtrack did not leave a special impression on me.
If you are looking for a fun silly game that can be completed within an afternoon, Say No! More delivers with its comical questline and wacky combat. If you are looking for a wholesome serious game that can potentially leave a long-lasting positive effect, Say No! More is it too with an important and balanced lesson on the topic of saying “NO!” to teach. For a game that is both entertaining and inspirational, it is rather difficult to say “NO!” to it.
SAY NO! MORE IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Many thanks go to Thunderful Publishing for a PC review code for this title.
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A person with many hobbies (and even more WIPs), KuroKairin plays, playtests, and reviews PC games. She loves games with good stories that bring her on an emotional and thought-provoking journey. Her favourite genres include otome visual novel, point and click, puzzle, and RPG. Follow her @KuroKairin.