Autumn's Journey Reviews

  • AlertCat WeaselAlertCat Weasel443,056
    11 Dec 2020 11 Dec 2020
    4 0 0
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    The fantasy genre is big business. Every facet of the media is saturated with different interpretations of what a great fantasy setting looks like, and each has its own characters and lore that must be studied to appreciate the world that they live in. With so many options available, it's really challenging to pick out the bad apples from the rest of the bunch. You may struggle to find yourself something that resonates with your ideals and tastes. What I'm hoping to do is to give you an insight into my latest review game, and hope that it will inspire you to play it, removing any concern that you may purchase a terrible title.

    Autumn's Journey is a short visual novel (VN) from developers Apple Cider. This VN has been published by Ratalaika Games and makes up another addition to their ever-growing library of title in this genre. At only 41,000 words, this novel is around half the length of others in its field, but unlike some recent VNs that I have tried, this one concentrates solely on the plot, and decisions to keep you entertained. There isn't a glimpse of a mini game or character stats to alter the path of the story.

    Without spoiling it for you, I'll give you a synopsis of the story. The tale takes place in a land known as Ishtera. It is populated by 2 races; Dragonkind (this is their homeland) and Heavenkind (are new to the kingdom). You control the female protagonist Auralee; she is an inspiring Knight from a backwards fishing village called Berri. One day she undertakes her routine checks when she encounters a mysterious person known as Kerr. After some lightheaded conversation she discovers that he is in fact an Earth Dragon who has lost his dragon form. Without hesitation Auralee decides that she must help Kerr find his form, begrudgingly he and a fellow dragon named Ilmari accept her help, and so begins their adventure. You discover the relationships they form, and the lore of the world that you exist in.

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    You may think, "why do I want to play a game where all I do is sit and read a story, surely that's what a book is for?" I wouldn't disagree, but what I have found is that the visual novel genre fills that gap between movies and books perfectly. Autumn's Journey does an excellent job of creating its mystical and magical world with its combination of text, audio and visual elements. What's great about this title is the characters do not take themselves too seriously. The relationship that is built up is one of fun and friendship, where most of the storyline focuses on how they develop as a group on their journey of discovery. This doesn't mean that the world in which they exist is totally ignored. No, as small references are made throughout to help you understand the lore of this ancient land, and what makes this world tick.

    Like with most VNs, this one has taken a large influence from Eastern culture and most of the art has a manga esque style. Because of the theme, Apple Cider have been given the freedom to create a dreamlike world that is colourful and unusual in its look. A mixture of earthy tones and vivid colours help to show the woodland aspect, whereas the bright colours enhances the magical air to the tale. All imagery is shown in still frames, with movement shown by characters disappearing from shot, and then reappearing when called upon. Emotion is shown through over the top facial expressions. Though the artistic concept is simple, it works, and feels like pictures that would accompany a traditional fantasy novel.

    The emotional element is also represented through the use of audio, with both the music and sound effects helping to support this. You will hear a mixture of fun and jovial folksy music, and heavier sombre songs. Each work well with the text to help drive the narrative forward. As with most Eastern influenced games, the sound effects are effective, but they are repetitive, shrill and can get annoying after some time. Fortunately, as this story is so short, it staves off the annoyance, mostly.

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    VNs are one of the few games where you can progress and complete it with a cup of tea and cake in hand, that's how simple the controls are. Limited controller use is required, with most of the action taking place when you are forced to choose between 2 options, this decision then changes the course of the plot.

    As this is a Ratalaika Games published Visual novel, you are given the freedom to auto skip, and fast forward through any of the text that is presented. This makes finishing each playthrough a quick and simple task. Your 1000 Gamerscore can be unlocked within 1 hour of playtime, and all 3 endings can be seen using this method. Obviously, if you undertake this method, you will miss the whole story, so I recommend only using the skip function once you have completed your first playthrough. The game is around £4 to purchase, so for achievement hunters and lovers of a good book, this represents good value for money.

    If you fancy a title that shows the friendship between 3 strangers building as they undertake an adventure together, then Autumn's Journey is the game for you. A short and lighthearted affair that allows you to explore the lore of this strange land while enjoying the fantasy setting it all unfolds in. Do I recommend you try this? Yes, if you want a quick read of something that doesn't take itself too seriously. Will Auralee become the Knight she has always inspired to be? Can Kerr find his dragon form? Why not grab a drink, sit down, and enjoy how this tale unfolds.
  • APOPHIS1989APOPHIS1989947,073
    15 Mar 2022
    1 0 0
    Ratalaika Games Visual Novels
    Autumn’s Journey/Angels with Scaly Wings/How to Take Your Mask Off Remastered

    Developer: Apple Cider/Radical Phi/Roseverte
    Publisher: Ratalaika Games
    Genre(s): Visual Novel
    Platform: Xbox One (Also available on Nintendo Switch and PS4)
    Age Rating: PEGI 7/PEGI 16/PEGI 12
    Release Date: 9/12/2020, 30/4/2021, 5/2/2021
    Price: £4.99/£9.99/£14.99

    Digital copies were provided for review purposes. I am mostly blind, so some things I have trouble with may not affect your experience with the games.

    I’m approaching these reviews a little different. Since they are all from the same publisher and of the same genre, it made sense to me to put their reviews together. We’ll start with the similarities. All three of these games are fantasy visual novels. This means that they play out like a choose your own adventure book. You will have some story and dialogue before being given a choice that steers the rest of the story. Some of these choices are minor and just influence the order in which the story unfolds, while others are major decisions that can create a different ending or cause characters to leave the story completely.

    The simplicity of the game leads to simplistic controls. You only need to navigate text choices and press one button to make your selection. The other buttons are optional. Some are used to speed up dialogue, while another accesses a menu to allow saving and loading, should you need those features. It only takes about an hour per playthrough, so you may never need to break up your run into separate sessions.

    The game publisher is known for publishing games that are easy to get all the achievements. As such, very few of these achievements require any skill. The only time to worry about not getting one is if you are playing a mini game. Otherwise, the majority are unlocked for making certain choices. You can, and possibly even encouraged to, start a new playthrough to make different decisions. This allows you to see different endings and develop relationships with different characters each time you play.

    Even the graphics and artstyle are relatively constant across the three games. During conversations, there is a text box at the bottom, showing each character’s dialogue, and slightly animated characters in front of a static background, representing the area you are in, at the top. What I mean by slightly animated is that these characters have different poses and facial expressions, but never move on the screen. All the character models are 2d and pretty distinguished from each other. Cutscenes can be a little more animated, but not much.

    None of the games have any voiceover, so will need to read a lot of text. Luckily, the text is presented quite large and the text box has good contrast, so it shouldn’t be a big issue. Sometimes, the game even asks if you would like to skip text you have already seen with previous playthroughs, which is quite helpful to reduce reading and speed up subsequent runs.

    The stories and characters are what set each apart. The first one I played is called Autumn’s Journey. This one is the smallest in scope for a few reasons. It only features a few characters, has the smallest script resulting in fewer choices, and only has three different endings. The story is set in a fantasy world inhabited by two races, dragon kind and heaven kind. The character you play comes across a man in the woods and discover that he has lost his dragon form. So you decide to help him, and with the help of another dragon, set out to get his dragon form back. Throughout the novel, you can improve your relationship with these characters, ultimately choosing who is your best friend at the end. Overall, it is a tight story with light relationship building. Because of its small scope, I think it’s a little worse overall compared to the others. I rate it a 2.5 out of 5.

    After that I played Angels with Scaly Wings as well. This one is significantly more fleshed out than the previous game. It has a sizeable cast of characters, many locations to explore, and many lines of dialogue resulting in an enormous amount of choices. I don’t think that I saw every line or even every choice, though I did see all 12 different main endings. It takes place in another fantasy world inhabited by humans and dragons. Most of the characters are dragons, but there are also a few human characters, including the main character that you play. You are an ambassador to this world of dragons and begin to discover that there is something sinister happening here. The game takes on somewhat of a Noir vibe, with you helping the police investigate the incidents. The mini games are related to this part of the game, including interrogations and even a crime scene investigation. Of course, you can also pursue relationships with many of the characters, but this time it is optional unless you want to see each ending. Speaking of endings, most of them are “good” or “bad” causing you to strive to get the good ending when you see the bad for the first time. Overall, I actually enjoyed this one more than the others and would suggest it over the others. I will rate it a 3.5 out of 5.

    Finally, I also played How to Take Your Mask Off Remastered. This one takes on an anime tone with its story, music, and story. You play a girl that works in a bakery with her little brother Ronan, but one day you find that your body has shrunk and you’ve grown cat ears! You run away from the bakery and run into a city guard, Ronan! The story then revolves around discovering which of these lives is the “true” one. You meet many characters along the way, with some allowing you to cultivate a relationship with. Although the setting is less fantasy than the others, I would say it is still a fantasy game overall, just a different kind I can only describe as anime. It’s more on the shorter side than the previous game, having only two main endings, but still having a decent cast of characters and an adequate amount of locations. I’d recommend this one if you are more into anime instead of fantasy. Overall I would rate it a 3 out of 5.

    In the end, each game provided a relatively short experience with one playthrough, but a decent amount of entertainment by playing multiple times to achieve different endings and relationships. None of them are particularly expensive, but I found it out of place that How to Take Your Mask Off Remastered is sold for more than Angels with Scaly Wings, considering how much more content is in the latter. As a whole, I found these visual novels from Ratalaika Games pretty average. If I were to rate all three of them together, I would give them a 3 out of 5.
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