I have to admit that I had absolutely no idea what kind of game this was and what to expect when starting out. An Octave Higher is more of a visual novel rather than a full gameplay experience. It may not be for everyone but it’s still worth checking out.
Its seems to me as though these types of games are becoming more popular and plenty of similar games can be found on platforms like Steam. The game is set in a kingdom known as Overture. The story is pretty complex and magic is the core component. The world in separated into three main classes. Firstly, at the very top of the hierarchy are the Aristocrats, who are the richest and appear to be in charge of proceedings. The middle class group are known as the Bourgeois and they have enough money to use magic and attend schools to learn about using magic. At the bottom there is the Proles, who are the poorest and have to work in mundane jobs and live in shanty towns.
As I said the game is set in Overture, which is a massive city that has been using magic that was discovered. The game is more of a visual storybook and is played out with narration from three different voices. The story has some very different story threads and emotional moments that keep you invested as the player. The story sees you follow a real variety of characters and narrative paths. I found that the more time I put into watching the events unfold, the more I became absorbed in the world and the characters. I loved watching the characters develop over the course of the game and the events that took place. The character’s situations are extremely different, with some being very fortunate whilst other have to work in brothels and horrible situations.
I wasn’t sure what to think at first when starting this game, but as I progressed I could see how this story actually draws from many influences and even mirrors real life situations and how the world actually functions in real life. The narrators in the game do a fantastic job of portraying the character’s emotions and the events that take place. This all works thanks to the impressive writing in the game. The overall pacing of the game works really well and slowly builds and builds, creating tension that kept me wanting to find out what was going to happen to the characters. As I said, some people might not enjoy this type of experience and might not have the time to sit through and read lots of text and dialogue. I saw the game as a nice change of pace to other games I have played recently and has provided a nice palette cleanser.
I don’t want to give too much detail on the actual story but I will say that the narration and characters do a good job of fleshing out and describing the world around them. You really get a sense of what it would be like to exist in that world and some of the struggles the characters have to face. There is certainly a lot to take in but if you are patient and give the game some time, you will really start to enjoy what the narrative has to offer. There are some gameplay moments, that mainly come in the form of decision-making and dialogue choices. These events don’t happen too often, but when they do they really do have an impact on how things unfold. The choices you make in the game can lead to six different endings. I have only played through once, but I’m considering giving it another playthrough to see how the story could change. It’s great that your choices can have such a massive impact on the story, but it would have been nice to have more frequent input, even if it was just minor points and changes to characters. I played the game on PC and it ran absolutely fine. You can play the game on mobile, but I liked experiencing the game on a large monitor. The games interface looks slick and feels very easy to use, which is great as you can simply sit back and enjoy the story.
Besides the story my favourite part of the game is its presentation. The game uses beautiful hand-drawn backdrops and scenery but then has anime style characters that move in interesting ways. I really enjoyed the simplistic animation and vivid colour scheme. The two styles of art are pretty different but I thought that it actually came together to create an interesting experience. In fact, it actually reminded me of playing games like Final Fantasy 7, with painted backgrounds and 3D polygonal characters. The music and overall sound design is also worth mentioning. The soundtrack can get a little repetitive but in general it does a good job of drawing you in and feel immersed in the story.
Overall I enjoyed this far more than I first thought when starting out. If you are looking for a game that has plenty to do and lots of action this isn’t for you. If you enjoy experiencing a really good story, with great writing and character development then you may enjoy this. The art style is unique and I found that I wanted to keep on going, simply to find out what was going to happen. It wasn’t what I was expecting but I’m really glad that I stuck with it and experienced it. It would just have been nice to of had a little bit more input.
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