Your Smile Beyond Twilight:黄昏下的月台上
Visual novels cover a variety of sub-genres, but there is a certain section of them that appears to be written solely to make players cry. Your Smile Beyond Twilight, a short kinetic novel by Lingtan Studio, doesn’t quite fit into this category, but it comes very close. It is the story of a young man, named Yunshan, who returns to his small hometown for the first time after six years. Accompanying him on the trip is, his girlfriend Jingxuan, who appears to love him deeply despite how much of a jerk he used to be in the past. Your Smile Beyond Twilight opens with Yunshan and Jingxuan stepping off the train and accompanying Yunshan’s mother back to his childhood home.
When we said that Your Smile Beyond Twilight is short we weren’t kidding, the entire story can be completed in about an hour. Since it is a kinetic novel there are no choices to be made, which means that the replay value is also non-existent. However, while the story is short it doesn’t feel rushed and somehow manages to make quite an emotional impact. On the surface, Yunshan is a very smart man with a beautiful girlfriend, but during the story, it is revealed that he was very arrogant while growing up. This led to some conflict with his peers who felt that he was always looking down on them. As soon as Yunshan finished school he immediately left town to make it big in the big city, but even there his arrogance cost him some opportunities. The presence of Jingxuan in his life appears to have made Yunshan reevaluate his personality, so he carries a lot of regret with him.
Initially, it seems like Your Smile Beyond Twilight will just be a slice of life visual novel with Yunshan revisiting his hometown and observing his girlfriend win over his mother. However, not long after his arrival, things take a rather supernatural turn as Yunshan begins to see a young girl who seemingly knows him. Not only does Yunshan have no clue who she is, but it also appears that he is the only one who can see her. The encounters with this girl begin to trigger memories in Yunshan’s past and he soon realizes that there are some things that he has seemingly forgotten. We won’t spoil anything by further elaborating on the story, but it is a bit of a tearjerker.
Your Smile Beyond Twilight was clearly not made with a very large budget, but it does an admirable job with what it has. The character designs are beautiful even if there are only sprites for Jingxuan and the mysterious maiden. The backgrounds are also quite limited, but the ones that are in the game are vibrant and detailed. Your Smile Beyond Twilight only features three CGs, but once again these are well done. The user interface is also clean and functional, with our only gripe being that the story text is sometimes too much for the text box and ends up over the options menu at the bottom of the screen. Graphical options are limited to playing the game in windowed or full-screen modes.
Surprisingly for such a small title the game does feature voice acting for the two female characters. However, everything is in Chinese, so we cannot comment on the quality of the voiceovers. The game features three different language options for the text, though, including Chinese and the translation isn’t too shabby. The six music tracks that are featured in the game are all very soothing with just the right amount of melancholy for some of the songs. Players can also adjust the levels of the music, sound, and voices to their liking.
These types of smaller visual novels often rely on fan service or outright nudity to draw players in, but not Your Smile Beyond Twilight. Instead, it tells a short, but compelling story that manages to be moving even if it is a little predictable. There are a few lighthearted moments in the game, especially in the banter between Jingxuan and Yunshan’s mother, but the overall mood is rather somber. It also doesn’t feature a conventional “happy” ending even though the story wraps up satisfyingly enough. Overall, Your Smile Beyond Twilight is not a game for players looking for something cheerful, wacky, or upbeat, but anyone who can appreciate a heartfelt story should experience this one. Even though the game is very short, it doesn’t have a very high asking price, so it’s worth checking out.