We’ve had our fair share of browser-based Otome’s on this series. But none of them have ever really ventured into Visual Novel territory.
There’s only so much data you can cram into a website hosted space, so fresh authors don’t have a lot to work with. But, in my early days of browsing for such sundry, I discovered an artist/author who managed to get around that problem in a very creative fashion. Because hey, if you can’t fit it all in one game, why not make two or three?
And thus, Ascension was born.
This game comes courtesy of the well-known artist, Rinmaru. She’s proven herself very talented with her various dress-up games and anime scene creators – and I highly recommend you check out her website – but she proved she could write as well with these games. We’re only going to be covering chapter one today; the others are so beefy that shoving them in here would be claustrophobic.
Now then, onward to more fantasy!
Valond has a legend about “The Old Kingdom.” In this city built by elves, dwarves, and humans alike, a race of people known as “The Nobles” ruled with their superior speed, reflexes, and lack of emotions. You would recognize a Noble by their silver hair, deadly red eyes, and swift action as killers. And even with the fall of the Old Kingdom, many still fear the presence of these deadly creatures.
Aida has had to deal with this fear all her life, all thanks to her silver hair. But somehow she isn’t one of these fearsome soldiers and has been content to live her life with her best friend, Sky, and a merry band of thieves. But Sky’s desperate need to know more about her enigmatic mother leads them to an old temple and a lot of trouble, both magical and physical.
Crap is going down…
It turns out that a band of mercenaries called the Eagles is chasing after the old kingdom as well, wiping out the thief camp and stealing the mother’s journals. But with the help of magical researchers, Zander and Tillie, they can stop whatever scheme the Eagles are hatching and get those journals back. But is there another figure with a hand in all of this, and what does he want with our protagonist?
So gameplay is where the Ascension series is very unique. It’s a web-based game, obviously, so expecting full motion and voice may be a bit much. But they do add far more than I was expecting, which made for one of the more pleasant surprises in my Otome journey.
Not ominous at all
For one, this story is going in the same direction no matter what. Going through it will feel more like a “Let’s Read” than a “Let’s Play,” and the only interaction you are gonna get is from Aida herself. You’ll sometimes be prompted to pick one of three responses that will elicit a variety of responses from the characters. You can choose blue for “goodwill,” purple for cunning red for rage. You can also occasionally pick the option with a heart next to it to flirt sweetly or aggressively.
The rest of the game plays like a visual novel/adventure hybrid. You get thrown into various different areas where you can collect clickable items and bring them to clickable areas to progress the plot. These items could be anything from a random potato that actually becomes essential to progressing the plot to random bits of gold, scattered and ready for the taking. You can also get items that aren’t clickable but still get a bit of exposition.
Again, not ominous at all…
Where things do get spiced up is in the minigames. Twice in the game, you’ll be prompted to finish a task that turns out to be a timed minigame. Here the goal is just to click on the correct objects, sometimes in a specific order, until the timer runs out. Get as much done as you can and you earn more gold.
But where this game really shines is the immersion. This game is loaded with dynamic scene changes, punchy sound effects, and music that really enhances the scene. Furthermore, the characters you meet feel like real people, not just dancing sprites, and it pulls you in before you know it. You will get attached to these personalities real quick if you haven’t already succumbed to their snarky comments and off-hand jokes.
Rinmaru is an artist herself. So, naturally, the game is gonna be very easy on the eyes. Most of the time you’ll be looking at stiff sprites on a bright background, but sometimes you’ll get these “posed” images where important moments take place. It could be a kiss, it could be a fight, it could be anything, and it makes for some really good action.
That being said, I urge my readers to keep in mind that Rinmaru’s art has a very bright, “kawai-desu” feel to it. The anime art is loaded with bright colors, long flowy hair, soft lines and red rosy cheeks. If you can handle the unapologetically shojo look, then you’ll be just fine.
Zander is a Moon Elf, a race of elves known for their strict, aristocratic society and their unfair treatment of another race of animal-beings. Zander is not a racist, thankfully, but his own problems are far worse. As a mage, he feels emotions far stronger than anyone else around him and can cause great damage if those emotions ever get out of control. It’s why he fights to keep calm and in control. He left home to study magic with his alchemist friend, Tillie, and now finds himself falling for a white-haired lady who’s almost nothing but trouble.
He’s a classy but snarky elf and became my favorite as soon as I set eyes on him. He’s the straight man in all this chaos, just trying to keep things under control, and it is utterly hilarious. The romance itself is a bit rushed but I blame the game’s short length, not his character.
Jace is a Knight, formally at least. Of the many crimes the Eagles have committed over the years, they are also responsible for wiping out the Knights Order. Jace is the survivor of that attack, attempting to drink and wisecrack his sorrows away. But his “spirits” lift when a beautiful half-noble gets in a huge fight with him and offers him the chance at redemption.
Jace was not really my cup of tea. Obnoxious flirts were never really up my alley, and his romance feels even more rushed considering you only talk to him a few times. He may be blond, blue-eyed and heroic, but his lack of strategy skills just doesn’t do it for me. Great character; not all that romantic.
Ascension’s first chapter was an odd one those many years ago, mostly thanks to the strange format. But this game knows how to keep things interesting and dynamic despite its limitations, providing a visually compelling experience. While it’s a very wordy piece, and sporting some early-game glitches, it is still a good game and worth playing to get this beefy story off the ground.
Next Time: Ascension Chapter 2
Does this game peak your interest? Or does it make you yawn? Whatever your thoughts, on anything, feel free to comment below. And don’t forget to like and follow for more content just like this. And if you really like me and wanna be a big help, consider sharing the post to others who might like it.