0 of 8 people (0%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 5.7 hrs on record
Posted: Nov 12, 2014 @ 3:37am
Updated: Nov 14, 2014 @ 1:07pm

Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius is an indie visual novel with a catch. Depending on
the choice you make at the start of the game, you will play anything ranging
from a good visual novel to a terrible turn-based spaceship battle game. I had
pleasure to try both the former (visual novel difficulty setting) and the
latter (hard difficulty setting). This review is, therefore, split into two
separate sections covering both variations of the game separately.

First of all, I probably would not even consider playing this game if it was
not free, unless I got a strong recommendation from a friend, or the game came
as a part of a bundle; this game being free will only cost you about 1GiB of
bandwidth to play and you should definitely check it out.

Also, thanks to the technology the game is created with (RenPy) this game is
supported across three major operating systems. Sunrider deserves a big plus
just for diversifying Linux gaming ecosystem.

The great side: visual novel mode

As long as visual novels are concerned there’s three things they have going for
them: story, art and sound, and the game does fine at most of them.

Story

This game has a traditional science fiction setting – in a far future the
humanity has already inhabited most of the galaxy, they have huge spaceships,
warping devices and laser weapons, and, obviously there’s evil guys who try to
take over the same galaxy. The writing is very approachable and easy to follow,
but repetitive, cliché at times. Sunrider being a visual novel, ability to make
some “important” story-altering decisions as the story progresses would be
expected; capability to make the decisions is presented, but they appear to
have no substantial effect to the story at all: throw a girl into a confinement
chamber and you will still find her in your virtual harem sometime soon anyway.

Art

The story is wrapped into beautiful japanimation-style art, as common to most
of the visual novels. It is clear that much attention was dedicated to it and I
hereby declare art to be the best thing about Sunrider.

Sound

Unlike the art, the music is in a much worse shape. While the selection of
tracks is quite likeable, they have a severe deficiency that should not have
been overlooked for beta – the tracks lack any form of loudness normalisation.
You will find yourself reaching for volume control to save your ears when a
louder than usually track starts casually♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥them.

On the positive side, the characters are voiced! I’m making the Asaga’s “I’m
firing my lasers” my alarm right now. A big +1 here.

The bad side: combat mode

Now, if you happen to make a mistake and pick any difficulty harder than the
“visual novel”, you will find yourself battling 8-bit sprites better part of
the game instead of indulging in textual pleasures with your virtual harem
and, occasionally, a dude or two. This does not sound like a problem until you
realize there’s only a few types of units available to fight against and they
are all powered by a pretty stupid, suicidal AI (more likely, just a few hard
coded patterns) making the combat mode a lackluster.

Sound

The playlist in combat mode seems to differ somewhat from the one used for the
visual novel mode. Regardless, music here suffers from the same issues
mentioned in the visual novel part of the review. Moreover, all this is made
worse by the playback of the tracks: they are stopped after each turn and
another randomly selected track is started from the beginning when next turn
comes around. This results in a feeling of discontinuity and, alas, makes it
hard to appreciate the possibly fine music in its full form.

Misc

Bugs

While I realise this is a beta version, it is still quite easy to encounter a
crasher or two and get thrown back into the main menu losing all your progress
past the last save. Other bugs I found (where’s the “report a bug” button?)
qualify for beta-grade and mostly consist of graphical issues such as
miscalculated text baselines in research fund allocation screen.

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In conclusion, while I’d like to rate this game as two separate games, Steam
only has a single binary switch. Therefore, unless I rate visual novel part
>8/10, the average score turns out to be less than ½, hence the “thumbs-down”.
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