Fading Hearts
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Fading Hearts was a pleasant surprise, more so when I discovered that it is not by a Japanese company. A nice combination of visual novel, dating sim and role playing that has plenty of things to discover. Definitely a title that you will want to complete more than once.

Gameplay: Much more to see and do than typical visual novels.
Graphics: Nice characters and backgrounds, pity about the monsters.
Sound: Very nice

Summary 8.0 Great
Gameplay 0
Graphics 0
Sound 0
Summary rating from user's marks. You can set own marks for this article - just click on stars above and press "Accept".
Accept
Summary 0.0 Terrible

Fading Hearts

Developer: Sakura River Interactive | Publisher: Sakura River Interactive | Release Date: 2009 | Genre: Visual Novel | Website: Official Website | Format: CD-ROM / Digital Download

It is not often that I am surprised by a visual novel, well not in a good way in any case, but Fading Hearts definitely caught me off guard. It is a tale about Ryou, a seventeen year old high school student who is caught in a bit of a love triangle. Ryou is in love with his friend Claire, who unfortunately already has a boyfriend. In turn, his other friend Rina is in love with him but he cannot reciprocate her feelings because of his affection for Claire. This is all very ordinary until you mix in a mysterious park full of monsters, a magical girl, past lives and more.

The gameplay starts off pretty ordinary with Ryou spending his time at school or hanging out with his friends.  Then you discover that Ryou is actually a bit of a computer whizz and can make money by helping out companies online. This money can be used to buy books to improve his skills or manga which not only reveals a fascinating story but also bestows him with magical powers. Soon you find yourself having to balance money making with increasing your stats and managing your social life. Ryou receives a regular monthly income so you don’t have to work if you don’t want to and instead focus on other things but it might mean you won’t have enough cash for stuff like training weights or all the volumes of a particular manga.

Fading Hearts has multiple paths and endings, which means that to comprehend the full extent of what is going on, you are going to have to play the game more than once.  At first you might think it is just a simple visual novel where you have to woo the girls.

However, venture into the forest at night and some turn-based role playing game style battles await you. To survive these and discover the secret of the forest, you will need to arm yourself with some magical spells and train hard to increase your skills. You can of course ignore this part of the game completely but you will miss out on some interesting story elements and probably end up with an unhappy ending.

Fortunately, you have two characters, Alice and Mini who analyze your game upon completion and supply you with hints on what to do next time round. The game also has some built-in achievements for discovering certain plot elements. These, in conjunction with the interesting (if surreal) story made me replay the game until I got all of the achievements. The fact that I could fast forward through previously read dialogue helped a lot in later playthroughs though.

The artwork in the game is very nice and although there is only a limited amount of characters, they are drawn quite well. The monsters on the other hand look like hasty last minute additions and do not fit in with the overall art style at all. It really looks like the monster art was done by someone else entirely and then plastered with a heavy blur filter to hide their looks. The audio is also quite nice with some very fitting tunes but no voice acting.

The game is quite polished although I did discover a few glitches and spelling mistakes. Installing the patch cleaned things up a bit but there were still a few instances where the story didn’t quite line up as smoothly as it should have. I guess this is due to the branching paths that you can take but it is quite jarring. Overall, Fading Hearts is quite an impressive effort from a Canadian company and it certainly puts a lot of other visual novels to shame. It is refreshing to play a game in the genre that doesn’t use any adult content as a crutch for its poor plot.

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows Vista, 7
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz x86 processor
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: AMD Intergrated Graphics
    • Hard Drive: 300 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: Older Intel Integrated Graphics Chips are not supported
  • OS: Mac OS X 10.6+
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz x86 processor
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: AMD Intergrated Graphics
  • Hard Drive: 300 MB available space
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz x86 processor
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: AMD Intergrated Graphics
    • Hard Drive: 300 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: Older Intel Integrated Graphics Chips are not supported

Related posts

Reverse Crawl

Reverse Crawl

Nerdook once again impresses with a title that delivers turn-based strategy in an engaging, humorous and very accessible manner. The visuals are charming, the gameplay addictive and although short, there are enough reasons to replay the game a couple of times. Anyone looking for a turn-based strategy title that can be enjoyed without a degree in military tactics should definitely add Reverse Crawl to their library. Gameplay: Easy to play, but with enough depth to keep it interesting right to the end. Graphics: Features the typical charming Nerdook visual style. Sound: No voice acting, but the music is pleasant enough.

Kraven Manor

Kraven Manor

There's no denying that Kraven Manor can be completed rather quickly, but it packs a lot of scares into its short runtime. The story could probably have benefited from it being fleshed out a little bit more, but the creepy antagonist and sinister atmosphere of the manor itself makes for a memorable experience. The game doesn't go overboard with the scares, but knows how to mess with you which makes for a startling experience, at least the first time through. Graphics: Nice visuals and excellent use of light. Sound: Great audio and creepy sound effects. Gameplay. Creepy and absorbing, but a little too short for my liking.

Always The Same Blue Sky…

Always The Same Blue Sky...

Always The Same Blue Sky is a visual novel about a student who transfers to yet another school, in yet another remote location, but this time things are a little different. This is thanks to the presence of Kira, a girl who lives on the island and attends the same school. Life is a little more interesting and mysterious after Kira offers to show the protagonist around the island in this short visual novel. The game has its flaws, but the price tag is low enough to make it a decent impulse buy. Gameplay: Not a lot of choices and the game is quite short, but the story is interesting. Graphics: The sprite artwork is good, but the backgrounds are a little uneven in quality. Sound: No voice acting, but the soundtrack is quite good.

Xenocide

Xenocide

Apart from an interesting gameplay gimmick on each of each five levels, Xenocide is a fairly basic and generic top down shooter. It only has five levels, a very limited selection of guns and a paltry amount of power-ups. Shooting waves of enemies while trying to stay alive is still fun for a short while, but it won't take long to experience everything on offer and then grow bored of the repetition. While the basis for a good game is definitely there, Xenocide just never does anything to elevate it above the competition, which is a real pity as it had potential. Gameplay: Running and shooting will always be fun, but the lack of weapons and variety results in repetition way too soon. Graphics: The visuals are competent enough, but a little too bland. Sound: Unimpressive sound effects, but the soundtrack at least sounds good.

NeXus – One Core

NeXus - One Core

It is tough and unforgiving, but NeXus: One Core is also addictive and very rewarding. The solo mode has enough randomized elements and difficulty settings to keep you busy for a while, but it is the local co-op mode where this game truly shines. If you are a fan of the genre you should definitely check out the game, but for players who regularly play local co-op titles this is a must. Gameplay: Very challenging, but improving your best times through practice is very rewarding. Graphics: The game looks good, but visual distractions are kept to a minimum. Gameplay: Some great tunes that really complement the gameplay nicely.

BIT.TRIP BEAT

BIT.TRIP BEAT

Bit.Trip.Beat is a great game for when you simply want to test your Arcade skills and put up some highscores. It takes the basic idea of classic titles like Pong and Arkenoid, but puts a fresh modern spin on them. Depending on how much you enjoy Arcade titles you will either love this game or find it way too limited and frustrating. Gameplay: Pretty challenging but fun once you get into the "zone" while playing. Graphics: An appreciation of retro visuals is definitely required. Sound: Nice 8bit sounding and chiptune songs.

Leave a comment

9 − 1 =