The Falconers: Moonlight
Gameplay 9
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Help Cassandra Winter save a small New Zealand town from a monster in this engrossing Visual Novel by Bionic Penguin. Instead of romance or fan-service, this title places the emphasis on action and intrigue. It is a little on the short side, but the unique setting and fascinating lore ensure that there is never a dull moment. Three different endings also provide the game with some replay value, so if you are a fan of the genre then this is definitely one to add to your library.

Gameplay: The story will have you hooked from the start and never lets up.

Graphics: Great character designs and good use of color.

Sound: No voice acting and the music frequently just stops, but the sound effects are excellent

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The Falconers: Moonlight

Developer: Bionic Penguin | Publisher: Sekai Project | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: Adventure / Casual / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Cassandra Winter is a woman on a deadly mission. As a member of the Falconers, it is her job to protect European colonist settling in dangerous territories from deadly creatures called “ Cullers.” Her destination is the small mining town of Moonlight in the far-flung frontier of New Zealand. With a rising body count, the mayor of Moonlight has called in the help of The Falconers and thus Cassandra finds herself on her very first solo mission. It is up to players to help Cassandra investigate the town, track down the Culler responsible for all the mayhem and hopefully put an end to its reign of terror before it brings her career as a Falconer to a premature halt.

The Falconers: Moonlight is the debut visual novel from Bionic Penguin Productions. Before moving to Thailand they were originally a New Zealand based film production company, which would explain the focus on story as well as the unique setting for The Falconers. In a genre which is known for the disproportionate amount of fan-service, The Falconers: Moonlight refreshingly focuses purely on action and suspense. Cassandra might be a rookie, but she is dedicated to her mission and doesn’t waste any time striking up romances with anyone in town. Instead, she has to deal with an enemy that is far more cunning than she anticipated and figuring out who you can trust becomes a vital part of the story.

The game doesn’t have a particularly large cast of characters, but the ones you encounter are all quite varied and have fleshed out personalities. From Biddy, the whiskey swilling old lady with a grudge against the mayor, to Wiremu Jones, the gambling ladies’ man and Sunshine, the barkeep who more than lives up to her nickname, Moonlight is a town filled with intriguing characters. You are not just a passive observer to the events unfolding either as the game frequently presents you with choices to make. These can be as simple as choosing the attitude to display towards a particular character in an attempt to coax more information out of them all the way to choosing who you can trust with secrets of your own. Some choices only lead to slightly different scenes while others can influence which one of the three endings you see. Although the game isn’t particularly lengthy and can be completed in less than three hours, it remains engrossing throughout and features some great lore. Hopefully this isn’t the last time that we get to see Cassandra Winter in action as it is very enjoyable to play a visual novel where you can’t see every twist and turn coming from a mile away. Players who are curious whether the game is worth their while will be happy to hear that a free demo is available for download, so give it a whirl if you are still on the fence.

The Falconers: Moonlight might excel in the story department, but it is no slouch when it comes to visuals either. The characters all look great and our only gripe is that some of the sprites look a little bit out of place against some of the backgrounds, especially when more than one of them are on the screen. For the rest the visuals are good and the muted color palette used is a perfect fit for the rather grim setting. The action scenes in particular are great and great use of camera movement provides these scenes with a more dynamic look and feel. The game doesn’t shy away from blood and gore either, so be prepared to see just how deadly the Cullers can be in their dealings with humans. We don’t want to spoil anything, but suffice to say that they are formidable foes that live up to their deadly looks.

In terms of audio the game features some nice brooding music tracks as well as a few more energetic ones for the action scenes. Unfortunately, many times during the story the music just stops completely. Thankfully, the game features plenty of ambient sound effects for these parts, so you are not just left with complete silence. We were quite impressed by the quality of the sound effects in the game and everything from the soothing sounds of birds and insects to the powerful cracks of gunshots sound great. Rather disappointingly the game doesn’t feature any voice acting as this is something that could have made the characters even more memorable. On the other hand, we prefer no voice acting to poor voice acting, so at least the characters are not sullied by wooden or inappropriate voice overs. There’s nothing we can fault with the interface and it is one that anyone who has ever played a visual novel before will be familiar with. For everyone else, it involves clicking the left mouse button to advance text or make choices while the right mouse button brings up the menu.

Any visual novel fans who are a little tired of endless titles where the focus is purely on fan service and not story will appreciate the depth of The Falconers. It is short enough to be completed in one evening, but thanks for the story and characters you’ll remember it for much longer than that. Hopefully the game receives the recognition it deserves as we would love to see more stories set in the fascinating world that has been crafted by the developers.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: 2+ Ghz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectX or OpenGL compatible card
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • OS: 10.6
  • Processor: 2+ Ghz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • OS: x86/x86_64
  • Processor: 2+ Ghz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Storage: 1 GB available space

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