Aquadine
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 9

Aquadine is a kinetic visual novel set in a picturesque town where gondolas are a common sight. It is a magical place that is rife with myths and legends. However, the protagonist has more pressing matters on his mind as he struggles to make ends meet as a gondolier to support his sick mother. As he grows closer to the people in his circle of friends, he also discovers that he is not the only one leading a double life.

Gameplay: An interesting and unique story with different routes to explore.

Graphics: Beautiful backgrounds and detailed character sprites.

Sound: Only partial voice acting, but the music and sound effects are very good

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Aquadine

Developer: SoftColors | Publisher: SoftColors | Release Date: 2021 | Genre: Casual / Visual Novel / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Visual novels featuring high school teens struggling with life and love are so common that it is easy to become jaded after playing many of them. Thankfully, now and then, something like Aquadine shows up that takes this common theme and does something unexpected with it. Aquadine is about a famous young gondolier named Ciel. The story is set in the picturesque town of Aquadine, which is like a fantasy version of Venice. Initially, it seems like Ciel lives a carefree life, but in reality, he is the alter ego of Robin Liyun, a teen working to pay for his mother’s medical bills. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Robin is not the only person in town leading a double life, and by opening up to his closest friends, he might find more than he ever bargained for.

The first thing that impressed us about Aquadine is the visuals, as both the character sprites and the backgrounds are beautiful. Many visual novels intentionally use generic or blurry backgrounds to keep the focus on the story and characters, but this is not the case in Aquadine. Instead, the locations are all colorful and detailed enough to really bring the town of Aquadine to life. In keeping with the aquatic theme of the story, even the most mundane locations, such as school classrooms, look unique. Having a school that is also an aquarium might not be very practical in real life, but it makes for a beautiful backdrop in a visual novel.

The character sprites in Aquadine look really good, and a lot of effort has clearly gone into each one. Most of the main characters have different outfits, but SoftColors did not skimp on sprites for relatively minor characters either. As expected from a visual novel that looks this good, the CGs are beautiful too, and every one of them is good enough to double as a desktop wallpaper.

The audio in Aquadine also impressed us thanks to a well-rounded soundtrack and plenty of sound effects. From the haunting melody of “a world forgotten” to the soothing sounds of home sweet home,” the soundtrack has plenty of pleasant tunes. The vocal track, “Vast Blue Sea,” is also a great song, and the game features a Music Room where players can enjoy all the tunes. Unfortunately, Aquadine does not have full voice acting, but all the characters have a handful of phrases that they utter each time they speak. These convey their emotions, so the words are not a match for the text that appears onscreen, but it works pretty well for setting the tone of conversations. The interface used in the game is clean and easy to navigate, but some of the elements, such as the CG gallery and encyclopedia, feel a bit cramped. This is a minor complaint, though, and overall we had no trouble navigating the menus.

Aquadine is a kinetic visual novel, so there are no real choices to make, but players are presented with a character select screen after completing the common route. Here players can pick one of four girls who each has their own routes. From the shy loner, Anya, and the outgoing Diana to the sporty Cameron and exchange student Elisabeth, these routes were interesting enough that we played through all of them in succession. The different routes flesh out the characters more, but even the characters you don’t pick make appearances. The stories all feature a blend of action, drama, and even some romance, along with humor and magical elements.

We don’t want to delve into any spoilers, but the game explains why Robin leads a double life and how he is not the only one with secrets. It was also interesting to discover the numerous parallels between the different characters. Overall, the whole cast in Aquadine is very likable, and while their stories are satisfying, we definitely would not have minded if they were fleshed out even more. Completing a character route returns players to the character select screen, so there is no need to play through the common route again. Upon completing all the routes, a final route called Aquadine Memories is unlocked, which then wraps everything up. We have to say that this route surprised us a few times and should not be missed. In total, it took us about 12 hours to complete the entire game, but the stories were interesting enough that it felt a lot shorter.

All things considered, we enjoyed our time with Aquadine and were pleasantly surprised by how much thought went into the setting for the game. Despite adhering to specific tropes, the characters in the game are also very memorable and stand out in a crowded genre. Due to its unique setting and likable characters, this is a visual novel that both newcomers and jaded fans of the genre will enjoy. The game does have a free demo available, so anyone unsure about grabbing this title should definitely check it out.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP or higher.
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: HD 720p 1280×720 and above
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • OS: 10.6+
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 12.04+
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0
  • Storage: 1 GB available space

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1 Comment

  1. AskoniWega May 11, 2021
    Reply

    You guys are on a role lately with finding all these awesome looking visual novels. Will definitely give this one a go!

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