Image Credit: GamesBeat/Rachel Kaser
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With all the summer gaming excitement, I haven’t had the chance to speak about several of the games I’ve played in the last few weeks. One of those games is Don’t Nod’s new visual novel, Harmony: The Fall of Reverie. And since this has been a relatively quiet week (and a short one, for those us celebrating an American holiday), I’d like to take the time to at least do a mini-review of the title. While my thoughts have not changed much since I played the preview, I think it deserves attention — so that’s what this Kaser Focus is about.
Strangely, what Harmony reminds me of the most is deconstructed food. I’m no avant-garde chef, but my understanding is that deconstructed food is intended to offer familiar ingredients in a new, raw form to give the diner a refreshed experience. That’s the vibe I get from this game: It has all of the familiar elements of a visual novel, but presented in an alternate way. It makes for a game that’s much different from other games in the same oeuvre. Unlike other visual novels, the game presents its choice mechanic (and the entire game is built on the choice mechanic) via a Twine-like choice layout called the Augury.
The visuals in Harmony are arrestingly beautiful, with the Aspirations making an especially big impression. Each embodies their respective feeling, with Chaos being a mess of discordant colors and mischievous attitude, Truth a bleak pillar covered in eyes and Bliss a small bundle of buoyant delight. Both Reverie and Brittle have distinct, pleasing looks. The story is also engaging with a central mystery hook and some emotional payoff that tugged on my old, withered heartstrings. Also, I can’t sing the praises of the voice actors enough — they all did a great job.
Still, if I have one complaint, it’s that the stark honesty of the Augury can be intimidating if you, like me, get decision fatigue. Most visual novels leave some element of mystery to your choices to encourage you to replay later. And while Harmony does have some replayability, the Augury’s blueprint layout of everything can feel a little overwhelming, particularly as you progress and the choices become more complex. It’s a small complaint considering the game is otherwise lovely and delightful, but it may be a turn-off for some players.
What to play this week
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie
New on subscription services:
- Arcade Paradise (Xbox Game Pass)
- Sword and Fairy: Together Forever (Xbox Game Pass)
- Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox Game Pass)
- McPixel 3 (Xbox Game Pass)
- Darkwood (Xbox Games with Gold)
- Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War (PlayStation Plus)
- Alan Wake Remastered (PlayStation Plus)
- Endling — Extinction is Forever (PlayStation Plus)
- Prey (Prime Gaming)
- Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition (Prime Gaming)
- Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! (Prime Gaming)
- Shovel Knight: Showdown (Prime Gaming)
- Hot Wheels: Unleashed (Amazon Luna)
- Metal Slug (Amazon Luna)
- Endzone: A World Apart (Amazon Luna)
- Mail Mole (Amazon Luna)
- Orbital Bullet (Amazon Luna)
- Octopath Traveler (GeForce Now)
- Octopath Traveler II (GeForce Now)
- Octopath Traveler II Prologue Demo (GeForce Now)
- Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition (GeForce Now)
- Slay the Spire+ (Apple Arcade)
- Lego Duplo World+ (Apple Arcade)
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