You’d have thought my love for literature would mean I’d be all over the mystery genre. After all, the Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple stories are certified classics in their own right. But the illustrious genre of mystery has never really been able to catch my interest for very long. The only mystery books I ever really liked was the aforementioned Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and that was more thanks to the spark by the TV show.
But one good way to make me pay attention is to add what my old college professor used to refer to as “wizards and shi*t.” Yes, much like how I have a taste for sugar, I also have a craving for magic, fantastical creatures, and larger-than-life adventures. I find that putting your story in a fantastical setting is a great way to add some flavor, especially if you work real hard on immersing the reader.
Thus my curiosity was sparked when I stumbled over Never Give Up, a Steam visual novel about a half-elf killer in a world of classist jerks.
So like I said, our plot is set in a fantastical world where elves and humans are expected somewhat to live in harmony. In truth, the caste system makes sure that’s impossible since the elves are part of the aristocracy and the humans are viewed as plebeian scum. But some believe that the caste system is archaic and needs to be done away with. Thus there’s been a rise of half-elves amidst the elven nobility, much to the chagrin of the more haughty elves. Mia Silverlight has experienced that anger first hand as a half-elf herself. The bullies just never seem to let up.
Mia vs. Darkrose sister, rematch
But all that is about to blow away. There’s been a murderer running afoot, killing half-elves and leaving strange crystals in their mouths. Some think he’s doing them a favor by ridding their ranks of dirty blood but, thankfully, cooler heads can see the danger on the horizon. When her close friend is the next victim, Mia throws her hat into the ring. But can she survive the dark, powerful magic at work? And will she find unexpected love along the way?
Normally, I wouldn’t expect anything from a game I got for so little money. But Cinderella Phenomenon changed that up pretty quick, so I started the game up with an open mind and high hopes. What I got was an enjoyable ride with simple controls, only really lacking in some fine details and length.
The game itself is your standard visual novel, changing Mia’s life with the click of a button. But the game is pretty low when it comes to interaction, with only a few moments where the choices you make cause any significant changes. These tend to be “yes or no” type deals with two choices each. However, there’s also a moment where it looks like you have multiple choices but these are really only there to dump exposition out.
When your gameplay is this low, your saving grace needs to be the world itself and the visual aesthetics of it. Here we were not disappointed, as the screen was usually alive with lots of different characters. You got to see a menagerie of people in the story, of all shapes and colors, along with scenery that changes features, items that could pop up on screen, and magic effects that actually look pretty cool. The only downside I saw visually was that the shifting expressions on the portraits were not that noticeable.
Victory, thy name is Uncle Silverlight
As for the story itself, it’s pretty clear-cut. The world itself is immersive, as are the characters, but the mystery plot sorta resolves itself off-screen. The romance is also not as involved as I’d like but this is a solid game regardless. I only wish there were a tiny bit more interactivity when Mia had her moments of less-than-brilliant moves.
Though there is a moment later on that goes completely off the rails.
A hint for you
A definite selling point comes from the game’s art. The story may have been cut into bite-sized chunks, but the resources clearly went into making this game as pretty as possible. The colors are bright and punchy, with awesome fog and crackle effects as needed. The backgrounds are also quite nice during normal sequences, but anything during CG’s is a bit blurry. But the CG’s themselves are also quite lovely, which made me sad that there were so few of them.
I want more CG’s from this game, I really do. The ones you get cluster towards the end of the game, kinda like Red String of Fate, and it really hurts the immersion factor.
The Darkrose triplets are some of the richest elves at the local academy – and the most childish. They have a habit that they call “verbal jousting” where they playfully insult each other in clever fashions, a habit which translates to bullying with their classmates. Aleister’s twin sisters are prone to bullying Mia specifically, but Aleister’s jabs at her somehow seem more playful, like a baby Mr. Darcy. He enjoys when she insults him to his face – and other such people like him – but is unable to express his feelings openly. If you can see past the snarky comments and stuck-up attitude, you’ll find that little Al is putting up a big front.
That’s right, kiddies, we have our Cold Jerk who’s ready for Redemption through Romance. It’s a plot that feels like it’s aiming for Wuthering Heights but can’t quite reach it (don’t worry, not many people can). But if expanded upon and given more time, I think it could really be quite engaging.
Detective Blackwood is an odd specimen: he’s the only Dark Elf incapable of using magic. However, he refuses to be cranky about such a huge setback and has made his career out of being an excellent police investigator. Perky, funny, lively and protective, the ever confident detective seems to only have one weakness – Mia. She’s far younger than him, but he just can’t seem to get her out of his mind. But oh, what respectable girl would take a shine to someone so much older?
Well, I did; I must not be all that respectable. The romance may be predictable and reek of starry-eyed admirer in a romance novel, but I liked it. Besides, methinks it’s hard to resist the one elf who actually looks visually interesting in-game.
Speaking of old fashioned, genre romances, here’s a human that admits right away to being in love with you. He’s so time-efficient.
Robin is your old buddy from the lower district, where you grew up until your father died in the upper district. You run into Robin when he finally avoids your kung-fu butler and takes the time to catch up with you. But rather than enjoy your time together, he sees this as the opportunity to confess his love. What’s a poor girl to do?
Apparently, learn to love, which is rather upsetting the more I think about it. Still, I do know this is a fantasy for someone, so I’ll never begrudge them their wish fulfillment. For what it is, Robin is a tender soul who isn’t afraid to fight for you. If you like the old fashioned Harlequin-type stuff, Robin Richards is your human.
For such a small fee, I think Never Give Up is satisfactory. It’s charming and creative, with some very nice eye-candy to keep readers interested. It lacks a bit in good, drawn-out relationships but it excels at the fantastical and the dynamics of the Visual Novel engine. If you’re looking for a fun distraction this summer, this is definitely one that won’t disappoint.
Next Time: Ascension Chapter 1
What did you think of the game? Would you play it? Feel free to share whatever your thoughts are below – I adore hearing from you. And don’t forget to like and follow for more content like this!