There is something magical about games that cross genres. Taking the best parts of each and mixing them together to create something new. Developer Visualnoveler takes this concept a bit further with their newest game, Ascendant Hearts.
The project just launched on Kickstarter seeking a $4,053 funding goal. This is Visualnoveler’s second crowdfunding campaign and the second of their mixed genre visual novels. This time they are trying to meld RPG mechanics into a traditional visual novel format.
It’s an idea which (on paper at least) sounds completely plausible. RPGs tend to be story-driven, much like visual novels. In theory the biggest difference should be the methods of input available to the player. I have no doubt Visualnoveler can and will make the game. They’ve already proved their commitment last year when they funded and released their first visual novel, Anime Studio Simulator. I just wonder how the visual novel mechanics will limit or enhance the RPG ones.
A Story About A Game Inside A Game’s Story
The story for Ascendant Hearts follows the ordinary life of Hayato who wakes up in a world resembling the video games he plays. Having amnesia (because of course) he has to learn to cope with a world driven by fetch quests, skill points, and respawning.
Hayato is aided by three buxom anime girls as he explores the town of Lightshire. A town which is being attacked by strange monsters. Monsters who’s attacks leave their victims dead. For real dead, with no respawn.
It’s a lighthearted parody of traditional JRPG tropes. Ultimately, the player’s choices and actions culminate in one of four possible endings and the potential for romance. The art is lovely and after minor missteps with the musical score last time, I anticipate the sound design will follow suit. My only concern about the campaign is that the RPG elements feel very watered-down when applied to the choose-your-adventure style of visual novels.
Some of the complaints from the mostly well-received Anime Studio Simulator touched on its failure to feel like a true simulation game. Reviewers also noted a weak narrative which pushed the story along, but little else. This left players feeling rather apathetic about both, the characters and their plight.
If you’re into visual novels and just looking for pretty and competent example of what they can offer, then Ascendant Hearts might be the perfect game for you. Those who like visual novels with a bit more depth may be better served waiting for something else. If you’re on the fence, you can also tryout the demo.