The largest repository of visual novels in the world is Steam.
Defined as choose-your-own-adventure novels with art (and sometimes) gameplay associated with it, the genre was the realm of mostly anime-centric romance games, but is growing into a more diverse and less x-rated genre thanks to its efforts. Smaller studios see low-budget stories as the ideal medium to express their ideas.
Galdra Studios’ crowdfunded visual novel “Arcadia Fallen”, is now available for purchase.
It has all the elements that you would expect from this genre: multiple choices, romantic options, branching paths depending on which decisions are made; but it adds an unusual puzzle element to combating and tinkering.
At the beginning you can choose from a limited range of characters, and then you’ll be able to create your own character. Then you’ll be in a fantasy realm where you become an alchemist’s apprentice. Your fellow citizens won’t treat you well in a world where magic is feared.
Your soul will be bound to the demon pink-haired, and things get more complicated when your little villager is involved in a battle against them.
The story and characters are heavily influenced by anime tropes as well as Hero’s Journey style.
It is possible to choose the choices that impact who these characters are and what the story will look like. “Arcadia Fallen” has a lot more flexibility than competitors. There is no “Bad End”, which is the grim ending found in visual novels.
The game doesn’t just end with endings that aren’t harsh on the player for making “wrong” decisions, but actively announces when a significant decision is being made and what it could mean for your relationships.
Many might see these bold warnings as an immersion-breaking hand. I still appreciated the accessibility of the game, especially because I found “Arcadia Fallen”, a visual novel that was perfect for teens or fans of Young Adult Fantasy, to be very accessible.
The game developers are proud to point out that inclusivity is another advantage. It’s refreshing to find a game that allows everyone to be part of the story, even if they are not from the same race or gender. This is a genre that has been dominated by male-centric romance fantasies.
No matter your gender preference, you can still have a moment of romance with any of these characters. These are beautifully done and even cuter than any other.
I was reminded of “She-Ra” animations, which remind me of how the story is presented in a beautiful package.
I was more interested in the puzzle sections than the actual story. I also enjoyed the longer dialogue sections. You are gradually introduced to more difficult puzzles by the beginning.