Image taken from official website from the free downloads section. Permission was received to post it here.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Looking for updates for RenPy, I learned of their headline game and decided to give it a try. It’s the fall, after all, so it’s the perfect time for this. The game is only a little over a year old already, but that’s still fairly new in my book.
The game is created by a small company called Apple Cider – big plus in the name :) – and, since it’s made with RenPy, it is cross-platform. The game is, yes, free to play.
Official website: http://autumn.ishtera.net/
To fund the game, the company sells an art book and music on iTunes.
The game is about the adventure of a girl “knight-in-training” and a couple of “dragon”-humanoid companions whom she meets and tries to aid. The gamer/reader gets to enjoy CGs that can be viewed from the main menu once found. The story is very linear, but there are some slight deviations from the story to allow for the discovery of more CGs.
While the estimated game time is about an hour, it took me a couple evenings.
- Story and Setting
- Morals and Ethics
~ Art ~
First, you are expecting the fall, but this story begins at the end of summer, so everything is green. Don’t be disappointed! A little over halfway through, you get to see the artist’s impression of the fall.
For a free, not-originally-commercial visual novel, this is excellent quality artwork. It’s good enough to be commercial quality, although it’s got some rough edges. The main character designs were good, and the eyes were animated – a nice plus, if you don’t find it annoying after awhile (it isn’t too distracting, I’ll say that). There is a lack of generic stances of the characters. i.e. They stand the whole time, with the exception of their poses in the CG moments. But that’s a minor detail.
I thought the chibi images was a neat idea. There were a number of these (as they were easy to do, apparently), and the quality is fine, though they look more like Hostess desserts than clothed mini-figures.
The backgrounds quality varied a little now and then, but overall, it was good. I particularly enjoyed the outdoor forest scenes, notably the majority of scenes. Background animations, as in the very end, were also good.
One thing that struck me funny was the setting, as was evidenced in the artwork. But I’ll get more into that in the next section.
Lastly, the menu was ornate. I liked the menu screens, which gave the game an appearance of completeness and quality.
~ Story ~
The story, written by KittyKatStar, is about a girl named Auralee who wants to be a knight. This is a rather odd story, because it seems like females have the key roles as knights, knight have no place in a kingdom, and knight guilds are run like a business. Oh, did I mention that the housing is log cabins with glass windows? Amongst other oddities in the scenery and story, nothing really quite fit with your classic medieval, Renaissance, or traditional fantasy (pardon me; I think of Lord of the Rings) that I initially expected. It’s not too difficult to accept this, but I think the style of the artwork threw me off a bit, like seeing a skyscraper behind a pagoda… or a pagoda skyscraper…
The story is very much a slice-of-life paced adventure. Even the action scenes could be yawned at. The writing wasn’t gripping, but at the same time, I don’t think I’d want it to be. It was a relaxing tale. And, unlike Clannad – The Past Path, the spelling and grammar were correct (at least, nothing stood out as being wrong).
Fantasy wise, the tale involves two dragons in a humanistic form, but humans in this world are referred to as “heavenkind”. No explanation was given. Magic was used – again, with little explanation. However, quite a bit of culture of both races were explained. In fact, (exaggeration impending…) 90% of the tale was spent explaining the culture and society. It’s understandable, and there wasn’t much else to talk about. However, the culture wasn’t very interesting; the writer hardly touched on the unique fantasy culture for the dragons, but spent a great deal of time with explaining the human/”heavenkind” culture and society. While I wouldn’t say it got old (again, this is a relaxing tale), it did start to approach topics of human intimacy… and then the main character would nix the conversation.
Overall, I would say that there was some creativity, mostly in the sequence of events, but I think the most unique part of the story was after the characters reached… nah, I won’t spoil that for you.
Que the tropes!! Ambitious, excited, naive girl!! Pompous male turned tsundere! (uh, I guess) and finally, a much-older-than-he-looks, oversensitive, inquisitive child!
If you can’t stand characters that fit tropes, don’t even bother with this story. There is some uniqueness in the character Ilmari (teal dragon), if you can see it, but everyone else is as flat as your computer monitor (Disclaimer: the previous statement is not intended for people reading my blog with 3D glasses or using a holographic screen).
After that, there isn’t much to say about the story.
~ Music and Sound ~
Good picks; some original music, some not original. The music fit the scenes. The music played its part in setting the tone as a very mellow story. Notably, even the music could be slightly “off” from the setting. The ending theme was perhaps the primary example of this (it’s the going-away song, after all; how could I not notice?). While the song is good in its own right, I could only sit back and chuckle at how, after this whole time, I had to think of the game as “just another indie game with RenPy” because the music choice wasn’t spot-on.
The voices were… voiced! That was a plus, except that the voices only ever said one or two things throughout the game and only at certain points. Meh – it added alittle to the immersion experience.
MORALS AND ETHICS
This is why I even write this article. lol. Oh, wait, no – it’s because I played the game and had nothing else to write about. Doh! -_-
The main character – the knight-in-training, Auralee – has admirable desires: protecting civilians and aiding neighbors, strangers, and those in need. Ilmari, the teal dragon, is the second best character, being polite as can be, but his questioning ends up bringing up parts of human nature not to be discussed. Finally, Kerr, the other dragon, is a snob.
Notably, there was no foul language. There was some insulting, but none of it involved nasty words (you know what I mean).
That, in combination of the writing, leads me to believe the writer (who I assume is female) has some good ethics and morals, at least with respect to families. I appreciated this. However, one last detail would top the list of preventing me from recommending this to kids:
The story talks about fantasy religion. While few details are given, it’s made clear that heavenkind offer sacrifices to the dragon-kind at altars. That, and seeing as dragons can be very arrogant beings reduces religion to being nothing more than a pointless fantasy mechanic, which, note, was never elaborated on much anyways.
- Art – 9/10 – Excellent for an indie game, though missing some things. (The oddity of the setting doesn’t count against this score.)
- Story and Writing – 6/10 – Relaxing, enjoyable, but struggles a bit with being creative. No grammar or spelling errors. Linear story with some optional paths.
- Music and Sound – 8/10 – Rating is relative to the novel. Overall quality of the music was good, though there weren’t many songs I really liked. Finally, the music didn’t always fit the story. Voiced characters is a nice little feature.
- Morality and Ethics – 7/10 – Clean, quite so, but docked for (1) even starting to mention certain things and (2) tossing around religion in such a nonchalant manner.
- Overall – 8/10 – The art trumps the story, and for that matter, everything else.
It was worth reading. I only plan on rereading to find the other CGs. After that, there isn’t much to the story to merit a rereading, excepting maybe next year when I’m in the mood for a visual novel in autumn.