As I stated in my preview, Fading Hearts is a visual novel that puts you in total control, which is something I adore! The game released originally in 2009, and recently became available on Steam. You play as Ryou, a guy who I can identify with! He uncovers the mysteries of the people around him, and finds out a few things about himself along the way, just as you would expect!
One of the first things that happens before you even begin gameplay changed the way I looked at the game. You are immediately warned that things are not as they seem. People have secrets that they intend to keep. When a game starts off this way… I am never sure exactly what to expect. Full-on treachery, just a few white lies here and there or something else entirely?!
After this, you see a dream sequence which will happen quite a bit, and offers a different aspect to the story. Ryou then wakes up and complains about having to get out of bed. He needs to get up and get ready for school, but is running late (as usual). On the journey to school, you meet up with a couple of his friends, and you all walk to school together. After school, you head home and can now decide how to spend the rest of your day.
An onscreen menu will appear. Look through that and decide what you want to do. You can work, shop, go out or read. All of these choices will be available to you throughout the game. The setup here and gameplay features are brilliantly simple. To move the dialog along simply left-click with your mouse. If you missed something that was said, you can use the mouse wheel, and scroll through the latest text. Left-clicking is also how you pick which menu options you want to select from the menu. As I said.. brilliantly simple!
Each option will afford you a different outcome in the game. If you want to build up some money to buy things in the game, you can select “work.” This will raise your weekly pay and, once you receive a paycheck, you can browse through the online shops and get some manga, books or workout equipment.
Reading the books and manga will teach you different things. You can learn magical spells or useful skills for work. The magic spells, as well as workout equipment, are all to help you better prepare for battles. If you do want to fight, head to the Park and enter the Forest. Wandering around here will get you into a battle. The skills you learned from reading manga or working out will come in handy. If you do enter into a battle expect a turn based affair. The more reading you have done, the more choices of magical attacks you will have. Have you spent any time training? How about reading manga? Every action you choose is important, depending on how you want to play the game.
If you don’t want to go fight, you don’t have to! You can spend your time cultivating relationships or working instead. If you decide to spend time with people you can call either Claire or Rina to make plans. Depending on how much time you spend with each of them, you can try to unlock their secrets. Rina fears that Claire is in a bad relationship, but what of herself? What secrets is she holding? You can also go to the Bubble Tea Shop, and see Alex or visit the Cosplay Cafe or Park. You can visit Sophia after school, and see what new information she might have. You might want to stay home and read or work. When you first meet Sophia she is questioning you about your friends Claire and Rina. Keep talking to her to see what secrets she knows.. or thinks she knows! She prides herself on knowing what is going on, and you can check back with her after school to talk with her.
From the Shop or Cafe, you can browse items, read, relax or visit with someone, depending on how you are playing the game. Speaking of spending time with your friends, the characters found in Fading Hearts all offer something unique! Since you were already warned that people want to hide their secrets, you kind of look at everything they say differently. Or, at least, I did! You wonder: Are they lying? Misleading you or hiding something? Probably! What can you do about it? Keep playing and see what you can uncover!
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