We reported on the suspiciously named Amplitude: A Visual Novel last week, and that it had a public demo available. Today I had a chance to play it, and came away pretty impressed. You can watch the video for yourself above, or if you hate the sound of my voice (I don’t blame you) you can continue reading.
My major concern with the Indiegogo pitch was that the developers were trying to do too much with too small a budget. Unfortunately, the demo didn’t have any of the vast player choice elements that are promised to be in the main game, but that’s hardly surprising. Towards the end, it does show off the cellphone, feature however, although you only ever to receive messages instead of sending them.
What immediately caught my interest, after I took off my headphones and let the ringing in my ears subside caused by the loud sound effects, was the music. A truly amazing Japanese-techno-pop song opens the game, and before I knew what was going on, I caught myself tapping my foot, banging my head, and five minutes had melted off the clock. The soundtrack continues to be excellent through the demo, with subtle tunes playing throughout.
The art is equally stunning. It doesn’t have the usual budget feel to it so many crowdfunded visual novels have. Instead, Amplitude feels like a big multi-million dollar visual novel on par with big Japanese titles, thanks largely to the presentation.
As mentioned in the previous article, there is voice acting, kind of. Whether it wasn’t fully recorded or the demo was glitching I’m not sure, but about half the otherwise voice character’s lines were missing. There were also some audio balancing issues, as that funky soundtrack drowned out most of the actor’s lines anyway.
This is a visual novel though, and nothing is more important than the writing. From the small sample available, the writing appears to be pretty good. It’s easy for a Japanese anime inspired game about humans with super powers in the future to get cheesy with the dialog, but the demo managed to avoid those pitfalls. That’s not to say the dialog is a sterling bastion of literature either. The narration suffers from a constant reliance on telling, not showing, something even some of the best visual novels struggle with. At times it can read like an instructional manual, saying how you do this, then do this other thing.
The game is being developed in Indonesia, and while the English translation (and the Indiegogo page) reads naturally, there are a few lines that sound lost in translation. Whether this really is due to a bad translation or just bad writing is hard to say, but these instances were fairly minimal.
Amplitude’s demo doesn’t show much in terms of what the overall gameplay will be like, but it does show a high production value. The art is fantastic, the soundtrack makes me want to star in a Nicki Minaj music video, and the writing is better than I expected. Despite still having questions about whether the developers can pull this off, the demo convinced me that if they can, Amplitude will be a great game.