By Henry Badilla / September 28th, 2017
|Release Date||August 28, 2017|
Have you ever wondered what the future will be like? The cell phones that we have today could be considered a super computer if compared to the devices used in old science fiction novels. In the future we may not even need to type or carry a device at all. This is the premise of 1bitHeart, a world in which everyone is connected to a global network which acts as our phone, social network and more. But even in this pseudo utopia, our protagonist is lonely and it’s your mission to help him make friends while defeating a group of evil hackers.
1bitHeart is a mix between a friend making game and a mystery novel that takes place in a futuristic version of our world. Here cell phones are no longer being used. Instead people use Bit Phones, which are headsets that connect to the brain waves of the user and connect them to a global social network that helps and monitors them. This has been a great help in reducing crime and, in general, is a benefit to the human race.
Nanashi is the protagonist of this adventure, a young reclusive teenager with self-esteem issues that stopped going to school, and spends all his time in his room playing games all by himself. Unexpectedly, an amnesiac girl named Misane shows up in his room. After finding out that Nanashi has no friends and no social skills at all, she decides that helping Nanashi make friends is more important than recovering her lost memories at this time.
Under this promise you start to navigate a small city in Japan, getting to know the people who inhabit this world while trying to befriend some of its locals. Soon Nanashi finds out that recently weird things have been happening in the area, and ends up involved in it.
From a gameplay perspective, this is a 2D side-scrolling game. Your main purpose is to talk with the different NPCs that are in the game while investigating the mystery surrounding the events. When you discover evidence or an important piece of information, this will be saved as an item on the main menu as a topic. This will be important when you run into someone who is not willing to cooperate.
The way that 1bitHeart handles conflict is with a discussion. Similar to an RPG there will be a cutscene before a discussion starts. Nanashi will have to talk to an NPC who may be lying to you, or withholding information. Usually, the NPC will say a couple of lines of dialogue, then you have to select one from different options. There is “Ask more information” so they provide more details of the topic, which could lead to additional information that will be stored in the menu as a topic. “Keep talking,” which means that you’ll hear the next line of dialogue that the NPC will have, and finally there is the option to “Present a topic”. This option allows you to introduce a previously-learned topic to the NPC to refute what they are saying, or introduce an important topic.
While it seems a bit confusing at first, the discussion segments consist of learning the information that you can, determining what the lie is and presenting the information to prove it. For those familiar with Danganronpa the concept is similar, but you have time to think it through. Additionally, when things escalate we may have to take a more active approach to conflict. The way this is handled is via some quick time events, in which we have to press a series of buttons in a particular order to advance. As you can see, the game is not particularly complex, and while determining which is the correct topic to mention in a conversation can be tricky sometimes, the game gives you enough room to make mistakes, so it’s never stressful.
The main focus of the game is in the story, and getting to know the characters that live in it. That is why between chapters there is a Free Mode, in which you can go talk to all the NPCs in town. And by giving them gifts (that you need to buy) you can befriend them and get to know about their story and personalities.
The story is lighthearted and while at first it seems basic, by the end it really hooks you and you’ll be rushing to the end. The main characters are interesting and fun, and while Nanashi can be a bit annoying at first, I ended up appreciating his personality and character growth.
Moving over to the art direction of the game, 1bitHeart uses manga drawings for the character portraits and sprites to represent them in the world. The style is very cute, and the character designs are amazing. The clothes are very detailed, unique and filled with accessories. It reminds me of the designs by Tetsuya Nomura in The World Ends With You. The backgrounds are quite detailed and the use of colors to distinguish the different elements gives a unique feel to the world.
The music is the biggest highlight of this game, in my opinion. Filled with jazz, hip-hop, pop and rock among others, it makes the whole adventure extremely colorful. I was tapping my feet through most of the songs in the game.
The main adventure of the game can be completed in around 3 to 4 hours if you rush through it, but the game has three different endings and a bonus chapter. To do so, which I would recommend, it can take around 10 hours, and for the asking price of $3, it’s quite the bargain! 1bitHeart is a unique game that shows you the importance of friendship in a different way that most other games do. If you enjoy mysteries, visual novels or the art style presented on the game, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this little gem.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
△○□× (Miwashiba)1bitHeartAdventure GameAGM PLAYISMIndievisual novel