I had such high hopes for this game — was really looking forward to it — and it was a disappointment in just about every way. Except the art, which was stunningly gorgeous. Everything else was a clusterfuck.
First of all, the writing is terrible, and I mean on a technical level, it’s almost unreadable. The dev made an attempt to write the entire thing in verse, except skipped over all the hard parts of writing in verse, such as meter, rhyme scheme, and making sense even though you’re paying attention to meter and rhyme. At one point it tries to rhyme “nearer” with “adhere, brr.”* It also seemed to be under the impression that “Aurora” and “Lemuria” rhymed. The game consistently, consistently seemed unable to determine what it meant to have two words rhyme. It was almost surreal, since this was presumably written by adults.
Lines would rhyme seemingly at random, whenever the writers felt they could. It would move from couplets to ABAB to ABCB and everything in between with little warning. 15-syllable lines would occur in the same stanza as 2-syllable. It was an absolute nightmare to read, and sometimes I genuinely couldn’t tell what was going on. To make matters worse, the game tries to have a character who speaks out of rhyme, but because there is no actual rhyme scheme, I didn’t even notice and it took me like an hour to figure out why other characters kept correcting her word usage. Meanwhile, the game simultaneously puts zero effort into making the lines work as verse while still having them make absolutely no sense as prose. Figuring out what the game was literally trying to say was like trying to see through mesh. You could make it out, but it was annoying and you want it to go away.
The nadir of the bad writing was probably when the protag attempted to call a baddie a “boor” but instead called him a “boar.” Granted, that was hilarious.
Worse still, the game was so busy twisting into knots just to get out the absolute most basic explanation of events that it had no energy left to expend for exposition. There was no worldbuilding. Who the fuck was Erin? What was the villain’s motivation? Why, when she’s defeated, does she say the sympathetic, “I only wanted a home,” just to have Aurora make fun of her for that like an asshole and then literally steal her home? Where is Lemuria? Is it supposed to be implied it’s Heaven, and that everyone is dead at the end? WTF happened to Aurura’s father? Is her mother actually still alive? Was she ever dead? Why did she leave Lemuria? Who the hell decided to name a character after the measles (Rubella)? How did Aurora get to Lemuria? Why did the entire country of Austria submerge, and what happened to the rest of the world? Why did Aurora randomly age ten years after getting the Moon, and why did no one react to it? These are basic, basic plot questions and they’re never answered, and that’s not even the least of the things that didn’t make sense.
As for the actual plot, did you guys know that women are evil deceivers who hate and turn on each other and lie to other women’s faces while thinking about how ugly and gross they are? I bet you didn’t know that women use their evil, evil sexiness to ruin good men! Women: the worst.
The gameplay was just as terrible. The game is ostensibly a platformer. However, about an hour in, it gives you limitless flight. Not having to use platforms is something that kind of defeats the purpose of a platformer. For the next 90% of the game, you literally just zoom over the landscapes and obstacles from one destination to the next. I cannot imagine was the dev was thinking with this. It was completely baffling.
Then there was the battle system, which is the absolute epitome of the design sin where you confuse rote difficultly with strategy. On hard mode, enemies just got obscene damage multipliers, and even on easy, the bosses regularly did half of my HP bar. You’d battle enemies doing 50 and 60 damage and then hit a boss where you were getting smacked by 150. Battles were just a matter of getting into a proper healing rhythm so that you could have characters alternate attacks and potions without dying. My absolute least favorite thing was that when a party member fainted, you weren’t prompted to switch them out — you had to wait until the surviving party member’s next turn and then use that turn to send in a sub. When bosses were getting two or three turns to your every one and two- or three-hit-KOing you, and your revive attempts could be cancelled by being attacked, this was absolutely infuriating. (It doesn’t even make sense! Why would your other teammates wait around to jump in and help instead of doing it immediately?!)
The turn system itself would have been fun in a better game. It was similar to FF’s casting system, except that everyone shared one turn bar they moved across at different rates.
In this game, though, I hated everything about it. I hated how much faster endgame baddies were than you, to the point that often I had to just sat there and watch my party get annihilated without ever getting a chance to participate in the battle. I hated that when you finally, finally got a turn, all too often it was Interrupted because almost all enemy charge times were faster than yours. I hated that only one party member had healing attacks, only one had elemental damage attacks, and you could only send out two of the six or seven PCs at once, making it impossible to get out of healing-each-turn rhythms when you got stuck. I hated that I couldn’t see the enemy’s HP bars, something that wouldn’t annoy me in a good game but in a game where I so desperately wanted every battle to just end was irritating.
I also hated that the terrible verse writing made it impossible to figure out what quests wanted from you or discern what you were supposed to do after the original acquisition. There were also no local maps, which made finding NPCs a massive chore. Also, wtf were the “Confessions”? What was I even reading with those and why? Was there any point to collecting them?
And why was there a huge section of the world map you never visited?
The watercolor art was so beautifully detailed that I actually genuinely wonder if resources got siphoned away from other, game-ier aspects of the game in order to finish it. But while I love pretty things more than probably anyone else on this blog, this wasn’t something to hang on a wall in a museum. It was supposed to be an interactive story. And it failed on both the “interactive” and “story” grounds. Everything but the visuals just screams “half-assed.” If you want to paint a picture, paint a picture. Hell, write a kids’ book. With the other facets of development removed, maybe they’d even have had time to take a crash course in poetry 101. I’m sure all the other kindergartners learning about which words rhyme would be a great test audience.
*Or something similar. What I really remember is the /ir/-brr thing, and the absurdity of adding a random “Brr” from another character in order to finish out the line. There were so many lines like this and the Aurora/Lemuria thing. I wish I’d written them down or something, because I’m not going back in now.