The Divine Speaker is an upcoming Boys Love visual novel from Two and a Half Studios. I’m really excited about reviewing this demo, as these indie developers are from Hobart, Australia. Yay for Aussie developers! Ok, so on to the actual game. 18 year old Raen’s day started on a high note and then quickly turned sour. After heading to the market with his birthday money in hand he sees the town’s Divine Speaker. The DS is considered second only to the gods, and can tell the fate of any person once they’re born. In the crowd, they meet eyes and Raen collapses in pain. A strange mark has burned itself into his arm, and he, on the advice of a dubious character, decides to investigate the DS’s archives. There he’s captured and exiled. Once exiled he begins to question the world he grew up in and the truths he was taught.
The game is set to have three love interests, and complete at over 150,000 words. In the demo we are introduced to two of these love interests, Leos and Fawn. Leos did not get much screen time but he is quite a fiery character, and I love seeing such a strong memorable character in games. I have mixed feelings regarding Fawn’s character. He’s very sweet, and I’m really interested in learning his backstory. But he’s incredibly timid. I’ve never been a fan of super timid characters. They seem to fade into the background, especially when compared to such a strong character as Leos. But I’ll just have to wait until the full release to see how Fawn’s character is developed.
As a visual novel the gameplay is focused on making choices. These choices will in turn influence each love interest’s affection and decide what kind of ending you will achieve. But what is most important about a visual novel is the story, and I absolutely love the world Two and a Half Studios has constructed here. We’re introduced to a small town where your fate is decided at birth. For us, we know it’s a town, but for the inhabitants it’s their entire world. The prologue introduced a lot of interesting bits of intrigue that I can’t wait to see explored. Fans of Steam Prison should definitely keep an eye on this game!
As a final point, I did find some odd parts in the demo that may need a bit of a re-work to keep things consistent. For example, in the opening scenes we’re told that “The destiny is determined by lottery. The speaker’s hand , guided by the forces above, always chooses the correct fate for the correct child.” in the next line we’re told that the judgement helps them become the “person they were always destined to be.” The idea of the judgement being a lottery and also fulfilling a destiny seems a bit paradoxical. Another example is found later in the game. The Divine Speaker is kicking Raen out of the village and says “run just like he did”, referring to Raen’s father. But Raen doesn’t react to this at all, no “how did you know my father?” or “tell me about my parents!”. I suppose he is a bit more preoccupied facing death, but it was something that stuck out to me as odd.
A third example, again at the beginning, Raen tells the other kids at the orphanage that the woods around them are filled with animals and bad guys. In the next sentence he tells them that no one can survive in the forrest. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and assume when he says ‘no one’ he’s referring to the people of the village. As in, no one in the village can survive in the forrest because there’s ‘bad guys’. However, in the next line he says that the village is the only place in the world and no other places or peoples exist. Again, another contradiction. I understand that in this scene he’s talking to children, so he’s using the ‘bad guys’ as a way to scare them. But I’m sure kids would be able to pick up this inconsistency. And, perhaps more importantly, this scene is a way to introduce us, the players, to the world. There shouldn’t be any contradictions or things that confuse us here.
I think The Divine Speaker has the makings of a really interesting BL game. The story and art has definitely caught my attention, and I’m looking forward to seeing how certain characters develop. However, from playing the prologue I found a number of inconsistencies that stuck out to me. These may be explained later in the game, but as the prologue is all that’s available now it’s all I can comment on.
If the game has caught your interest, make sure to try out the demo over at itch.io. If you’re a fan, there’s a Kickstarter campaign running till 1 June. They’ve already met their goal, but it’ll be great to see some of those stretch goals unlocked, like a fourth love interest. The game is planned for release in Q4 2020 – Q1 2021.