It’s not very often that dating sims deal with some serious stuff.
It’s a risk for an author of this genre to dive into deep subjects as death and loss; it kinda clashes with the romantic wishful-fitment. But I think it’s a risk worth taking as it can produce some really bittersweet stories. However, if someone only scratches the surface of such issues, is it even worth going through with it?
That’s the question I asked myself when I picked up Pacthesis’s new title, Star Days. It’s a game that hits you right in the gut at first, before pulling back and focusing more on the fuzzy romance. It’s a fun game all around, but the subject matter really does feel paper thin.
How far will you go for the person you love?
Tara has to ask herself that question when her childhood friend, Lee, passes away from a terminal illness. Moments after Lee’s passing, a strange ship appears in East Cigam. On the ship, three boys tell her they are on their way to The Constellations, where all souls who have passed away go. They’re each from a different universe where a different planet contains life. They each have someone they’re desperate to bring back to life and figured Tara would want to hop aboard.
But, like always, there’s a catch. You can bring that soul back from the dead no problem but it will come at a high cost. Is Tara ready to go the real distance to bring Lee back, and what will it ultimately cost her?
The past few times Pacthesis has released a new game, she’s innovated the gameplay. Be it a time-traveling mechanic that allowed for two different hubs or a walking mechanic that doubled the size of the map, she’s been working hard to shake things up from her old titles. I can see that Star Days is a mish-mash of all this new stuff: We have the ship which you can move around on from screen to screen and then four different planets you can jump to, making four different hub worlds to explore. Each hub features a shop, two places to work, and about three spots to find your three shipmates. It will also feature the fourth spot to find the love interest specifically to that planet, meaning even more options. Seriously, this game is huge.
So, you may ask, how do you get a date around here? Well, you get the goods by finding which guy strikes your fancy and giving him a chat. Each time you talk to him you can pick from two responses, both of which will earn you affection points. I think there’s one option that will work better than the other but I couldn’t verify it.
As far as I know, both options are gold
Once you’ve earned enough points (about three hearts) the game will tell you that you can now give gifts to your beau. There’s one per universe (normally) that they will like, so you’ll have to experiment a little. Get up to four or so hearts than you’ll get an absolutely adorable cutscene where they confess to falling in love with you. It’s a bit fast and I think we don’t have enough build up to it, but it’s still pretty sweet. Once the big confession happens, you can go on a date. The date is super easy as long as you brought two of a gift that person likes. Chat them up and max out the mood-meter and you get a kiss.
But wait wait wait; weren’t we on our way to bring back the dead? In fact, you are, but the ship can’t reach The Constellations right away. You’ll have to jump to each planet until the progress meter on the screen reaches the full capacity and only then can you end the game. This will happen after you spend enough time on each planet to trigger a few cutscenes. If you have a high enough relationship with a character, you can end the game with them after your “business” at the Constellations.
One thing that’s certainly improved as these games have gone on has been the art. The art, in the beginning, was very simple and very loopy (see Festival Days) as any early flash game would have. But as time has gone on – and as technilogy improves – she now has a more distinct, bishie-anime quality to it. It’s still flash animation so there will be changes in character appearances, but things are still pretty cool looking. Especially seeing the tiny little sprites do all the animation.
And, even better, she mixes the art up in each hub. The color scheme ranges from bright rainbows to warm vintage, and it really makes each universe pop in its own way.
Your captain is a handsome specimen, but not the most exciting one. He’s from another version of Saturn, where war is constant and technology has reached Star Trek levels of advanced. Despite this chaotic setting, Mag is down to earth and cool headed, keeping everyone safe and everything under control. This mature attitude is a necessity for the ship, but isn’t the most exciting to talk to. Alas, the person he’s off to bring back isn’t even all that exciting as they weren’t particularly close. The only thing that saves him from being completely dull is how his cool finally breaks when you start dating. The once level-headed captain is now hilariously unsure of himself and it makes for enertaining reads.
You’ll probably have some questions when you meet the perpetually nervous Quarto, or “boxhead” as a few call him. It’s a staple of Pacthesis’s weirdness, this card-board-headed man, but it actually has a sweet reason. On his universe, Neptunians wear masks that cover their whole face; only those most intimate with a person should see it. But he lost his, so he’ll have to be Mr. Roboto for the remainder of the trip. He’s a nervous wreck who worries about everything, is prone to Ritsu-Style Spazz attacks, and is oddly gifted with needle and thread. If you can manage to calm him down and get him to open up, then get ready for an oddly sweet twist to this nervous little tale.
You meet Ry moments after your friend’s death, and how bracing it is. This chipper fellow from Pluto is the one who dragged you onto the ship, no questions asked, and seems ready to be your bestest buddy. But other people you talk to say it’s an odd change from the early days when he was rather mopey. Whatever happened, he’s super aggressive about everyone having a good time and staying positive, and he has a soft spot for someone as cute as you. In short, Ry’s path is a bit of a mixed package, but a nice break from the uber-happy fellow who was always too shy to be romantic.
Sometime in your journey you’ll get a stow-away. This cranky and cotchety blond is not interested interested in making friends or getting to know the weirdos on this ship. He’ll call them by their last names to keep them at a distance and refuses to be friendly. However, with your poking and proding, he will eventualy decide that Tara is worth opening up to. He just wants to get to the constellations at any cost; even cooking and cleaning for four slobs who can’t pick up after themselves. In short, Vanni is cranky cook who loves fine ingredients and a clean ship, a feet which distinctly reminds me of Captain Levi. He turned out to be my favorite since I like the more aggressive types, and found the juxtaposition of neatfreak fighter to be hilarious.
The princess of her village on Uranus in universe G-83 and one of the perkiest brunettes you will ever meet. This Uranus is on color overload and it’s leader is equally bright and vibrant. She doesn’t know very much about ruling – an unfortunate side effect of sudden succession – but does her best to keep smiling and do what’s right. She’s also been having dreams about our protagonist and, I must say, she certainly warmed up to me after awhile. It’s hard not to feel attached to this sweet, innocent, rather delightful young women. She’s the kind of girl I’d love to take out for ice cream.
In the Vegas-y city of Kotoy, you are tricked into a date by Cil in what I’m pretty sure is a fixed card game. A news anchor for KHN, he’s a charismatic guy who knows what he wants and goes after it with little abandon. Thankfully, he has enough sense not to force our protagonist into a date right away, but is forward enough to ask her to forget her companions and stay with him if you play your cards right. He’s also the son of two moms, a fact which I found pretty cool.
Nevertheless, this charming flirt is a great part of this Las Vegas style city. Another one of my favorites.
Lt. Forah Swemond is the commander of Raswaw’s protective forces in an old fashioned town on Mars (universe E-25). This vintage city has an old hollywood glam about it, despite the military occupation, and Forah is a great personification of it. Staid, calm, and steady as a beginners drum beat, all she’s missing in life is a goal to work towards. She reminds me of what would happen if someone finally got Integra Van Hellsing to open up: a slightly stiff woman who would be absolutely aimless without her job. Still, there’s something heroic about her and the dignity she carries herself with. It’s not the last female options free-spiritedness, but rather a more adult calm that’s interesting. If you like vintage glam and a stoic type heroine then Lt. Forah is your girl.
And the award for the hardest to say town goes to Otifonpro, a coastal fishing town on Venus B-16. And what else will you find on this idyllic summer town, where the waves are cool and the scenery is beautiful, then a summer romance: a blonde, Ken-doll looking fella complete with the Fred Jones ascot. Pavervill looks like the kind of guy you’d see in a Rom-Com where the girl is trying to “start over” but needs a little help to get there. But I was super surprised by Pavy’s personality, which was fun-loving, inquisitive and super forward. I had fun with each chat we had, and his goody-two-shoes nature didn’t rub me the wrong way. If you want an improvement on the Boy Next-Door (complete with cool, mismatched eyes) then give Pavervill a try.
- Final Verdict
I had a ton of fun playing Star Days despite the massive size. The story may be rushed and heavy on the exposition, but the characters in it are interesting and the settings pure eye-candy. If I could edit it at all, I’d have it deal with the heavy subject matter a little more rather than gloss over it. But, for a free game, I like how each character deals with something pretty heavy and has a chance to get themselves a happy endings.
Next time: Red String of Fate
Have you tried the game yet? What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment below. Don’t forget to like and follow for more content like this!