Community Visual Novel Book Club - Spooktober 2020 - The Letter

Exzyleph

Dark Eroge Lord
Oct 9, 2018
666
984
93

Welcome to the 13th 14th MetaCouncil visual novel book club!

This is the second Spooktober visual novel book club and for this book club we will be reading Yangyang Mobile's The Letter, a visual novel about seven people who fall prey to a vicious curse, and who discover that horror rests not from the shadows lurking about, but within themselves. Bookclub participants can obtain The Letter on Steam, on Android, and on iOS. A single playthrough of The Letter is estimated to take 21 hours (HLBT), but the game also features a large number of choices and alternative endings.​

Bookclub participants who are not in the mood for a long or a very spooky visual novel can find a number of shorter and less spooky Spooktober themed suggestions in the first Spooktober visual novel book club thread. In addition, the just released, short VN Wherehouse is available for free during October. You are also welcome to post your own suggestions. Just remember to specify which novel you are reading when you post.​

This is an informal book club, so there is no fixed schedule; you simply read a visual novel at your own pace, and share your thoughts along the way or when you are done reading. Just remember to use spoiler tags liberally. For general information about past and future book clubs, please see the main MetaCouncil Book Club thread. The main thread also includes a preliminary schedule for the rest of 2020, and suggestions are very welcome both for 2020 and beyond.​


The Story

"In the outskirts of Luxbourne City stands a 17th-century English mansion, rumored to be haunted by vengeful spirits. After reading a letter discovered inside on the day of its open house, seven people find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of madness plaguing the Ermengarde Mansion for centuries.

Will they be able to free themselves from it, or will they become another casualty?"


[Taken from the official website]​


Walkthroughs

A detailed guide to obtaining all endings in The Letter can be found here:​


Next Month

Next month is the Spooktober Visual Novel Book Club and the scheduled visual novel is Jack-In-A-Castle (VNDB), a visual novel about searching for a missing king, dealing with the most troublesome king's hand, and some other jerks. Also, you can kiss dudes.​
 
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Exzyleph

Exzyleph

Dark Eroge Lord
Oct 9, 2018
666
984
93
I finished reading the first chapter of the letter and it is quite impressive. Granted, the story so far is fairly standard horror fare so far, but it is well executed and the game has a ton of nice touches. Those include animated sprites and animated backgrounds, a logbook that records events, a built-in flowchart, and English voice-acting that sounds fine to my ears. It is certainly made to a much higher standard than the average English visual novel.

The first chapter introduces the main cast of characters, the mansion, and the ghost, though so far it is only Isabella who has realized that the mansion is actually cursed. I gotta admit to feeling some morbid anticipation of the rest of the cast being confronted with the ghost, especially Ash. We also learn that the ghost has been killing people for some time and has been mistaken for a serial killer operating in the area; the so-called Anslem Butcher.

I think the biggest question so far is the identity of the ghost. The obvious answer would be Charlotte Ermengarde, the daughter of the people who built the mansion, who killed herself. However, the fact that the ghost has black hair seemingly disproves that, considering that Charlotte had blonde hair, as depicted in the painting and mosaic window in the entrance hall. But if not Charlotte, then who? We have some minor evidence from the location where the titular letter was found, namely the attic bedroom. The fact that the letter was found there leads me to suspect that the person who became that ghost was confined to this room, though by whom and for what reason is however yet to be revealed.

The nature of the ghost's physical appearance also suggests that they were subjected to a lot of violence, with open sores, missing nails, and broken bones. The most likely perpetrator would be Charlotte, as the death of this person and their subsequent haunting could have driven Charlotte to suicide, though it is of course unclear why she would confine and torture somebody. Another option is that the Charlotte's parents, William and Elizabeth, were not as kindhearted as the introduction makes them sound.

There is also the nature of the letter. The first part, "Help Me", would naturally fit with somebody confined against their will, but to be honest the last part reads like a bit of a joke: "Send this to 5 people or else .....". I look forward to seeing where the authors take this, though I do hope that they do not play it straight or gloss over it.

My choices were as follows and notably ended with Isabella and Ash becoming a lot closer:
  1. I eat other things too!
  2. Be brave and look up!
  3. We'll check with our supervisor
  4. Show the letter to Rose
  5. Change the subject
  6. Stay for the movie
  7. Meet with the professor
  8. My instant noodle days are over!
  9. I know you're trying to help
  10. You're not bad after all
  11. Talk about her cat
  12. Go to work
 
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Exzyleph

Exzyleph

Dark Eroge Lord
Oct 9, 2018
666
984
93
Finished reading Chapter 2 of The Letter and discovered that I am bad at making choices.

I was kind of apprehensive about this chapter, both due to how Hannah is presented in Chapter 1 and how it starts, but it quickly humanizes her and instead paints Luke as the main source of conflict and a terrible person. While I suspect that every chapter is going be biased with regards to the point of view, though Luke's own actions ultimately underscored my impressions of him.

The highlight of this chapter for me was probably the segment in which Zach and Hannah toured the house, even if she was a bit mean to Zach, and I was looking forward to seeing more of their interactions. Johannes, the butler attending to the couple, was also a delight.

My reading ended with a very public confrontation between Luke and Hannah, triggered by a third party accusing Luke of infidelity, followed by a promise of reconciliation. Unfortunately, things were hashed out at the pointy end of a knife, and now Hannah is dead. Whoops. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the story handles one of the main characters being dead and, in particular, how this is handled in Luke's chapter.

As the chapter ends, we see a "memory fragment" showing (I believe) Charlotte Emergarde having a tryst with a man that may or may not be her fiancé, witnessed by an unknown woman with black hair. This calls for wild speculation, so I immediately identified the black-haired woman as the ghost of Ermengarde mansion and the man in question as somebody other than Charlotte's fiancé. Charlotte being witnessed in such a compromising situation could explain why she confined the black-haired woman to the attic, namely to prevent her from telling anyone about what she saw.

There is also a line spoken by Becky, earlier on, that I think lampshades what happened to the ghost before she died: "I don't think you can just sit around, trapped in some tower and hope for the best".

Now on to Zach's chapter.

Choices made:
  1. Remain silent
  2. Free up my schedule
  3. Ask for her silence
  4. Stop it
  5. I was with Zachery
  6. Call them out
  7. Be honest with me
 
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Exzyleph

Exzyleph

Dark Eroge Lord
Oct 9, 2018
666
984
93
Another chapter down and ..

Chapter 3 focuses on Zach, who we learn was originally from America before migrating to England after the racially motivated murder of his parents. My reading of the chapter mainly involved learning that Ash has started taking Isabella seriously regarding the hauntings, though he is still very skeptical. Ash also seems to have a lot trepidation about the Wrights, making me wonder if Hannah was not his first victim. It is also hinted that something has happened involving Isabella's family, as she got a phone-call from her mother, most likely something about her father's condition. I also got a long scene involving shopping with Hannah, in which we learn that she was pregnant with Luke's child.

However, due to my making the mistake of having Zach investigate Hannah's bedroom, he finds that Luke has seemingly tried to fabricate evidence that she was murdered by the Anslem Butcher and when Zach is found in the room he is immediately framed by Luke. The chapter ends with Zach trapped in a cell with an angry ghost and thus another protagonist is dead.

The chapter ends with another memory fragment unlocked, this time showing the woman I believe to be the ghost being raped by a man as Charlotte Ermengarde watches. I suspect that the next fragment will see this woman confined to the attic.

My choices:
  1. Tell the truth
  2. I cooked up a feast!
  3. Show the photo to Hannah
  4. I am a photographer for Luxuary Living'
  5. I think that one looks cute
  6. Never mind
  7. We can still fix this
  8. Look into it
 
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Exzyleph

Exzyleph

Dark Eroge Lord
Oct 9, 2018
666
984
93
Marianne starts with her nearly having a fling with Luke, and if there was any doubt that he'd cheat on Hannah then it is gone now. Though the chapter does involve Luke taking a much greater interest in his wife's happiness than you'd expect considering her grisly end at his hands in her chapter. However, it seemed to me unclear if this interest was purely self-motivated or out of genuine affection for her. We also learn that Luke has an inexplicable fondness for Daffodils, something that doesn't quite fit the rest of his outwards personality.

Hannah also seems to be suffering from a haunting of her own, though perhaps it is just a mere delusion. The voice of a student by the name Amy Lorraine, whose love was she seemingly rejected by Marianne. Lorraine is dead and Hannah seems to blame herself, though it is unclear what happened.

However, the peak of Hannah's chapter is the discovery that the Ermengarde mansion had a dungeon hidden beneath it, one filled with human remains. I had previously speculated that Charlotte or her parents were up to no good and the fact that they had a secret dungeon would seem to confirm this. If it was meant to confine lawbreakers and the like, then surely it would have been public knowledge, rather than something hidden away. It is, however, not clear if the dungeon was part of the original mansion or something added by Charlotte.

My reading ended with Marianne getting trapped in a cell, though surprisingly it did not end with her dead.
  1. This is wrong
  2. You have something to say?
  3. Continue waiting
  4. I just remembered something
  5. Yes, it sounds fair
  6. Check the first floor
  7. You should ask her
  8. Try to lighten the mood
  9. Go in
 
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Exzyleph

Exzyleph

Dark Eroge Lord
Oct 9, 2018
666
984
93
Haha, whoops.
Rebecca's chapter was mainly interesting for what we learned about other characters.

We finally learn the name of the ghost, Takako, as told by Kylie who consider her a friend. However, considering that Takako is seemingly using Kylie for her whims, possessing her both in Zach's and Rebecca's chapter, it seems like a very precarious relationship.

We also learn more details about Luke, giving more suggestions that he did actually care for Hannah, though he also seems be suffering from feelings of inferiority. Overall this chapter does a lot to humanize Luke, though it is kinda hard to take too seriously considering what he did to Hannah in her chapter.

Finally, we learn about the origin of the woman who most likely became the ghost: A slave freed by Charlotte Ermengarde, only for Charlotte to later accuse her of being a witch and having her burned at the stake. For whatever reason this part of the Ermengarde history was obscured, though this chapter does not tell us why that would be the case. However, considering the existence of a dungeon, and her acts against the Takako(?) in the memory fragments, it seems likely that somebody tried to cover up the abuses carried out by Charlotte Ermengarde.

As Rebecca is about to leave the library Takako chases after her, resulting in a blind choice of where to run. I made a bad choice (stairs) that resulted in Rebecca taking a dive off a building. RIP. Not too fond of this kind of choices, but I'll roll with it.

As the chapter ends, another fragment is unlocked, showing Charlotte, Takako and another man, with the man having received a beating at the hands of somebody and Takako being abused at the hands of Charlotte herself. The man looks to be Charlotte's fiancé, and is possibly the man in the other memory fragments. However, the hair-cut seems to be different, suggesting that Charlotte was cheating on her fiancé in that first memory fragment.

My choices:
  1. I'm not in the mood to talk
  2. Sorry for the trouble
  3. Hit him where it hurts
  4. Apologize to Luke
  5. Is this why you didn't go home last night?
  6. You're good at handling her
  7. Okay, but only because Kylie asked
  8. I don't need to answer that
  9. I-I might've seen her
  10. Head upstairs
 
OP
Exzyleph

Exzyleph

Dark Eroge Lord
Oct 9, 2018
666
984
93
Not a lot to say here. Ashton's chapter mainly served to give us a lot greater insight into Luke's hidden persona, and explains why Ashton has been so careful around him. It also has a great scene when Ashton finally comes face to face with the ghost and has to run for his life. When he finally makes his way to the mansion, Ashton randomly drops into the hidden dungeon which seems a bit of a plot contrivance. However, the chapter does end on one hell of a cliff-hanger, when a stand-off with Luke is interrupted by the dead Hannah suddenly showing up.

  1. Insist it's confidential
  2. Tell me about him
  3. Take her offer
  4. Call him out
  5. I know damn it!
  6. It's dangerous
  7. Beg him to listen
 
OP
Exzyleph

Exzyleph

Dark Eroge Lord
Oct 9, 2018
666
984
93
Luke's chapter starts with him murdering Hannah and from the start is apparent that he is under the influence of the Mansion. It is made clear that he did care for her, and that the murder was perhaps partially due to Takako's jealousy towards Hannah, though we also learn that Hannah was far from his first victim. Luke it turns out was an illegitimate child born to a mother who worked as a prostitute, who was chosen to be the heir to the Wright family simply because the other, eldest child was female. The Wrights seem to be something akin to a mafia family and largely have the city under their control.

Seemingly due to his similarity to the former Lord of the mansion (Charlotte's fiancé?), Takako has decided that he must be the new Lord and tries her best to make him take on that role. A series of flashbacks put context to the memory fragments I unlocked, suggesting that Charlotte first had Takako raped out of anger from her being seen in an act of infidelity and then later turned on both Takako and her fiancé out of jealousy. However, I had unlocked just 3 fragments leaving most details unclear.

Luke ultimately burns the letter which seems to exorcise Takako from the mansion. To be honest, that seems like a bit of a unclimatic ending and I would have expected that more would have been required. And indeed, after the credits Kylie is shown in the clutches of a Takako who "is still here!"; Kylie pleads only to have her neck snapped by Takako. Perhaps the true ending will involve her final exorcism?

In the epilogue Luke's shady dealings are discovered and he goes into hiding, only to eventually strike a friendship with Marianne, who had likewise left the city. Isabella accept an art scholarship, while Ashton is promoted, and the two remain friends.

I made just one choice in this chapter, probably owning to the number of dead protagonists I had left behind: 'Burn the letter'.

Having cleared a handful of epilogues, I'll just go through and try to see everything I've missed with the help of the guide linked in the OP. Posts will probably be a bit more irregular from here on out.