In December last year Aniplex launched their own visual novel brand ANIPLEX.EXE. The new brand came with two visual novels as its helm – ATRI: My Dear Moments and Adabana Odd Tales. Yesterday, a demo for both of these games was released on Steam*. Both games feature Japanese voice acting and English, Japanese, Traditional and Simplified Chinese subtitles. Of the two, Adabana caught my intention immediately. It’s gorgeous graphics combined with a fairy tale storyline made it irresistible!
The game follows a young girl who wakes up in a forrest with no memories. Just as she’s about to be attacked by a monster, she’s saved by a boy who wields a brush as a weapon. If that wasn’t confusing enough for her, he then uses his brush to create a door to another world for them. Safe and sound, he then tells her she is called Shirohime and he is Kurofude. Together, they go into damaged story book worlds to ensure their stories continue on as normal. The demo covers the prologue and first story book that they jump into.
Who’s it by? ANIPLEX.EXE (Publisher) and Liar-soft (Developer)
Demo length: 1.5 hours
Release Date & Price: June 2020 at $17.99 USD
Systems: Microsoft® Windows® 10 / Windows 8.1 *Not compatible with Windows RT/Mobile
This is one of those games where there was a lot I loved about it, but also a lot I didn’t. I’m not even left with a neutral perspective on the game, instead I just feel a bit lost on whether I enjoyed it or not. But let’s start on a positive note. The art in this is gorgeous, and it’s actually what first drew me to game. The character sprite styles are very different to the background style, but that only makes them stand out more. And oh gosh don’t get me started on the CGs. Love. Love. Love. The other massive plus for the game is its soundtrack. It’s so well crafted, and I can listen to it endlessly. In fact, I’ve had the offical website open for the last hour just listening to the game’s music as I write this. The voice acting is wonderful, and perfectly suits the characters. In particular I liked the chapter 1 old man’s voice, it really helped form a fully realised character.
In terms of features, even by visual novel standards, there was minimal gameplay in this demo. In the 1.5 hours I played I made two choices. The first was a dialogue choice which just lead to a few sentences changed in a short conversation. The second choice was deciding how the story of chapter 1 should end. Or at least it appeared to be. No matter what I chose, the story’s ending was the same. I don’t mind visual novels that have one path forward, but what irks me is having the illusion of choice. If things are only going to go one way, why even bring it up? I also think this game could have had at least one more interactive feature to make up for the lack of choices. For example, a big part of the game is looking for hidden bookworms (the creatures that ‘eat’ the story). Surely a point-and-click feature could have been implemented, no matter how simple it would have been, it would have broken up the large blocks of text.
I know 1.5 hours is barely scratching the surface of some visual novels, but I feel in that time I should have had some connection to or sense of the characters. Shirohime is the typical amnesic heroine, à la Bad Apple Wars, and Kurofude is the cool and distant hero. A lot more time seemed to have been put into making the writing a literary as possible rather than actually developing characters. I remember reading one paragraph that just flowered on when it could have just said “Shirohime was shocked.” I will say, one cool feature of the game is that you can adjust the opacity of the text box to what will suit you, as you can see in the examples below.
Overall, Adabana Odd Tales seems like a really interesting game. But it’s not a game for me. The writing style is not one I particularly enjoyed reading, and I didn’t get much of a feel for the character’s personalities. I know it’s just a demo, and it’s a limited sneak peak into a full game, but neither character really grabbed me enough to want to know more about them. I’m sure there are people who would become absolutely enamoured by this game, and truth be told I’m almost tempted to play it solely for the art and music. But with an ever-growing backlog of other games to play, I may give this one a skip.
*Please note: For some reason Adabana Odd Tales has been region locked for Europe on Steam. I’m not entirely sure why, or if the full game will be available in Europe when it’s released. However, ANIPLEX.EXE’s other game, ATRI: My Dear Moments, has not been region locked anywhere.