12 people found this review helpful
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 4.6 hrs on record
Posted: Mar 3 @ 9:18am
Updated: Mar 3 @ 1:03pm

Overview

The Source is a graphic tale containing full audio support for all story text. The player reads on as an outsider following the unfolding events of a couple of story characters, with no agency to alter the narrative. In summary, the epitome of the genre description “visual novel.”

Story
The post-apocalyptic world is a crumby place to survive. Life is hard. But there is hope for a select few each year thanks to a solitary paradise on earth known, somewhat strangely, as “Source City”.
Annually, a few pairs of individuals are selected to partake in a trial together which involves travelling back in time to visit moments in history. They have free will over whether to get involved or simply act as bystanding witnesses. At the end of their travels, they are expected to report on what they have seen, and thus a decision will be reached as to whether they have passed or failed their trial; with success leading to their admission to Source City and a life they could only have previously dreamed of.

The story has a 50/50 split, with our first pairing of Joe and Eva experiencing one side/viewpoint of a scene from this alternative earth's history, and then moving on to a further 6 events before being returned for their evaluation; then we experience the adventures of Tom and Mei, a second pair, as they are sent to see the other side of each of the same moments in time that their counterparts previously encountered.

Presentation
Every character is fully voiced, even the narrator; and the huge majority of these are very good, bringing a greater sense of personality to each of the characters involved. I did feel that a couple of them sounded like they were merely reading a script, the “Gatekeeper” in particular felt emotionless and spoke so slowly that I'd read his captions before he'd vocalised more than a couple of words. If you remember Milo from the film Jumanji: The Next Level – yeah, like that!

The graphic decisions in the game are interesting. Sprites are of the semi-realistic style and I really liked them, Joe's mother with her rollers in right at the start delighted me, I have never seen a VN character like that before. Kudos to the artist for the depiction. Backdrops are all, exclusively, shown in soft focus to enable the sprites to stand out. I think that this is a good idea when the palette for both lead and support graphics is the same as it prevents colour merging between them – but, many of these backdrops appear to have some good detail in them and we are denied the chance to enjoy them fully in their own right.

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=3170443011

The absence of a gallery – even with just the game's backgrounds presented in sharp focus – is a poor omission, and one which ought to be comparatively simple to implement.

I didn't give a huge amount of attention to the supporting music as the voicing took precedence (which tends to happen when it is present in full), but what I did notice sounded pretty good and in line with events taking place.

Experience
Considering that there are no player decisions to make in-game, the user interface implementation, menus and features present are easily enough to ensure life is comfortable for most readers. They include multiple save slots and a backstep option. Weighed against what is necessary for this type of storybook, it earns almost full marks in this respect. The font used for the text is unusual and attractive to the eye, but I could imagine it being challenging to read for the visually impaired. This is the only appearance negative I could find. The addition of font options would be helpful for some.

There are oddities along the way. I found the non-naming convention used throughout for the historical characters to be incomprehensible for much of my journey through the game. For example, in the opening scene visited by our first lead pair, they meet two people called “Spotter” and “Sniper”, which are their role descriptions but also the names they go by, even to each other. This pair are supposedly in love but don't call each other by their names? What?! Further on, we'll meet a child simply called “Kid” (so if she's from a class at the school where we meet her, presumably all of her classmates are called “Kid” too? I bet that's a riot at registration!)
I did notice that this girl is referred to as “him” subsequently, although that is the one and only typo I noticed in the entire production, which is pretty good going.

This weird approach to not naming anybody outside of the lead players and ONE mysterious person is partially addressed during the second pair's travels, and is left to the reader to infer why it is that way by the end – and again, it is possible to apply logic to it if you really want to – although I remain thoroughly unconvinced that it was the smart play to take when writing the script; it feels odd and offputting at the first time of reading; which, being a non-branching story, will be your only time.

The ending to the story will probably be unexpected to most readers, and respect to the writer for coming up with something that creates the possibility of reasoned explanation for everything that has gone on before: even the seemingly arbitrary “decisions” made by some of the historical characters we get to witness (which I found laughably lacking on basis or reasoning at the time) take on a more believable aspect once everything is clarified..

Verdict
Overall I found The Source to be a bit of a mixed bag with pluses and minuses vying for domination. It was not compelling enough to have me trying to force time to have a little session every evening to see what happened next, but it did maintain enough interest to ensure that I returned to it with sufficient regularity to reach the ending whilst recollections of what had come before were still fresh in my mind.

Considering that there is complete vocal support from start to finish, user friendly controls, good graphics and a story competent enough to remain engaging through to completion; my final verdict is that at the quoted full price, this story represents fair, if not exceptional, value; and is unlikely to leave fans of the genre feeling short-changed. I feel that it is the type of product you'll either like or hate, with no in-between. Therefore, if unusual science fiction stories tickle your fancy, it's worth a punt at asking price. For the work put in and the features provided, holding out for a sale would be a harsh decision upon this indie developer.

Be sure to check out Otome Lovers other excellent review of this game by Amjara

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I'd like to thank my wonderful friend for gifting me this game when she learned that I was interested in it <3
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2 Comments
This "kid" loves the review Foxxelle! Although this game is not for me (I don't like Kinetic ones) I was almost tempted to get it.
Amjara Mar 3 @ 9:58am 
Awesome review Foxxelle! I agree with the generic names too given to the characters like "kid". Some of those characters ended up playing a signifigant role but not significant enough to have a name?

Definitely a mixed bag for me too but overall I was curious enough to want to know the end. A pretty good attempt to a novel overall.