Inside Pulse 12

Review: Selenon Rising Episode 1 (PC)

Selenon Rising Episode 1
Developer: Fastermind Games
Publisher: Sekai Project
Genre: Visual Novel
Release Date: 04/29/2016

I’m always up for a good murder mystery and visual novel (even better when the two combine), and I tend to devour games like Ace Attorney, Dangan Ronpa and Cing’s works. Upon hearing this game described as a mix of Ace Attorney and Dangan Ronpa, I couldn’t resist giving this game a whirl. Let’s see how the pastiche turned out.

In Selenon Rising, humanity has lost the war with the eponymous beings and live under their rule. The Bureau of Human Protection is charged with preventing humans from using and researching technology and from overthrowing the Selenon. Within that bureau is a group called SPECTRA (Special Counter-Technology Reconnaissance and Assault), and you play from the perspective of Violet, a newly minted SPECTRA agent. SPECTRA members have different psychic powers given to them by Selenon – for example, Violet is an empath while her partner Blue is a clairvoyant. On the opposite side of the coin is the New Moon Resistance, a group who wants to take down the Selenon. The plot kicks off with Violet and Blue being called to investigate a murder (after a failed attempt to bust the resistance leader the night before), though naturally things don’t stay that simple. There’s a neat mix of noir and sci-fi, and the plot moves at a good enough pace to keep you engaged. Since this is only episode 1, there’s naturally things left unresolved at the end (complete with cliffhanger). I did find a couple of typos (e.g. “I shake me head and look forward”, “vague foggy light hanging around the edges or the curtains”), but these were sparse enough to not bog things down any. In some of the longer lines, the text partially overlaps the bottom border of text box. While it’s still readable, it’s noticeable, and it’d probably be better if a larger text box was used for those parts.

The presentation is generally aesthetically pleasing, though there’s some variations in art style. Some of the art has clean lines and more shading (like the character portraits), while others (like the CGs) have more sketchy lines and flatter colors with more of a watercolor quality to them. Both look fine, but the difference is noticeable. All of the backgrounds are black and white in contrast to the colorful characters, which I suppose was meant to add to the foreboding circumstances the characters live under. At one point, a character is in disguise (and named accordingly), but their portrait and name switches to the regular one for one line, then back to the disguise again. That was an odd blip, though that only occurred once during the episode. The music adds to the atmosphere, setting the right mood for the contexts they play in. The track that plays during questionings in particular is kind of catchy, and there’s even a fast and slow version. Like inAce Attorney, the music keeps playing if you present something wrong, so you know if you don’t hear silence when you present something, you’ve chosen unwisely.

Given that this is a visual novel, most of your time will be spent reading through the dialogue and narration. At times you’ll be presented with choices that affect the alignment meter (with top answers considered law, middle neutral, and bottom answers chaotic). Alignment doesn’t seem to affect much in this episode besides what responses Violet gives in the moment. There are also investigation sections, where you click on items in the environment to gather them as clues. You can toggle on and off outlines that appear when you hover over items you can interact with. I found it helpful to leave them on, since it can be a bit difficult to tell which items you can interact with otherwise, especially with the monochrome environments (and some of the objects you need being tiny). You don’t have to worry about missing anything since the game won’t let you leave the area without gathering all the clues at the scene.

There are also sections where you question witnesses for information. During those sections you can choose to question (like pressing in Ace Attorney), present evidence, or doubt (point out the emotion that’s incongruous with the corresponding statement). The last one is a bit like the Mood Matrix in Dual Destinies (which makes sense since both Athena and Violet can read emotions, albeit in different ways). If you get five strikes while questioning someone, you’ll be allowed to start from the beginning of that questioning segment. Something that comes up in the second questioning segment is mental noise, which obscures suspect’s emotions and prevents you from seeing their current emotions and from presenting or doubting. You have to get rid of it to see their true emotions by clicking on the blue sentences blocking the statements to destroy them, kinda of like shooting statements in Dangan Ronpa (except there’s no truth bullets involved here). These sections were fun to play through, and it generally wasn’t too hard to figure out what to do. I do wish there was a way to go back to a previous statement instead of having to loop all the way back through if the text advances to the next part or if I advance it too much.

You can unlock additional costumes for Violet to wear during the story in this and future episodes (mostly future because the first one unlocks after you finish episode 1). The records section is also unlocked after beating the first episode. A way to view CGs would be nice, and I was surprised there was no such option. Alignment seems to carry over into future episodes, as each episode after the first (not yet released as of this writing) is marked with “starting alignment: unknown”. As an extra touch, the main menu screen changes after you beat the first episode (I assume it’ll also change after finishing future episodes). I enjoyed my time with this episode and want to see where the story goes from here.

Short Attention Span Summary:
The first episode of Selenon Rising establishes an interesting precedent for future episodes to build on. The sections where you question witnesses were rather reminiscent of Ace Attorney (with a dash of Dangan Ronpa tossed in the second one). A way to go back to a previous statement instead of having to cycle through the whole testimony would make things easier. The presentation is mostly polished, though there are variations in art style (cleaner outlines and more shading versus more sketchy outlines and flatter colors). Overall I enjoyed this episode and I look forward to seeing where future episodes go (and seeing how alignment will carry over).