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Title: Anima Mundi The Dark Alchemist
Genre: Visual Novel (with crafting minigame)
Publisher: Hirameki International
Where to Buy: Sometimes Appears on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Animamundi-Win-Mac/dp/B000EYXDTM or JLIST / JBOX: (no link available) and sometimes available via Playasia: http://www.play-asia.com/animamundi-dark-alchemist/13/701xnb — It’s out of print, and rare, and a highly regarded game so it can be difficult and expensive to find, but I promise you; this one’s worth it!
Release Date: May 31, 2006
Language: English text with Japanese voice acting
Overall Score: 63/80 79% C+ Good Game for Girls
Story: 9/10 You play as a young man trying to find a way to save his sister. In the opening of the game, your sister is accused of being a witch and is beheaded and her body burned at the stake; remarkably somehow, her head survives; and her soul/spirit/etc are all in-tact. she’s able to communicate with you, and it’s still your dear sister that you love so much. You hide her head under your cloak and make your way to the palace, where you take on a job as an alchemist, in order to have access to ingredients to perform experiments to create a chimera (a new body) for your sister. However, her head repeatedly rejects all of the transplant attempts. Seeing no other way to save your sister, you head down a dark path, including alchemy, deceit, murder, and intrigue. It’s a very emotionally moving storyline; you’ll feel fear, anger, and sadness right along with the characters. It’s also a fairly unique story for this type of game. The story suffers a couple of typos and some censorship from Hirameki International when it was brought overseas. I deducted 1 point for that; otherwise I’d honestly give this a 10/10 for story; it is a must play if you’re a fan of story rich games. There are a lot of romance options, including several “yaoi” or “boys love” “BL” routes. However; romance is not the main focus of this game; it’s more about horror and death. Where as, most visual novels give romance the center stage, this is a refreshing change of pace and offers something a little more heavy and dark which will keep you up at night thinking about the ethical and emotional questions that are presented within this game.
Gameplay: 8/10 Standard visual novel faire here; you progress through a story, without combat, or much “gameplay” to speak of, by reading and occasionally making choices that determine which parts of the story you will see and ultimately which ending you will reach. If you don’t like this style of game, then this game is not for you obviously. I however, enjoy visual novels, and I find this one to have a nice amount of choices and a plot that branches early on in the game. There are a few mini games along the way which help provide clues as you learn alchemy and uncover more bits of the story. They are pretty simple, but give a nice break from the read and click format of these types of games.
Concept: 10/10 The story is very unique, very dark, very sad, touching, and beautiful. The characters are all interesting, and the minigames are simple but fun. The nature of it being a visual novel, also ensures lots of routes and plot branches which increase the replay value. It’s a very original concept for a visual novel; I’ve not played anything quite like this. It’s executed well and given life by a talented team of voice actors and beautiful anime gothic styled artwork.
Characters: 6/10 The love between the brother and sister and their two characters are very well developed; however, I feel most of the other characters are forgettable and not as well fleshed out as the main characters.
Graphics: 8/10 It has a unique art style, reminds me a bit of Vampire Hunter D. I prefer a more clean / kawaii style; but that obviously would not fit with a game like this which is gothic and dark. The character designs are more european with the longer noses and more stylized lines. The clothing and fashion in the game is very beautiful and reminiscent of the Victorian era. – Loses 2 points for not having anime cut-scenes, but the sprites and backgrounds are still lovely.
Music: 5/10 Nothing special here, it fits the mood of the scene; but I can’t recall any tracks which stood out in my mind. Just “average”
Voice Acting: 10/10 I love the voice acting in this game, I think it really fits the characters and fits the dark mood of the game, they have so much emotion, and really make you feel the characters’ pain and desperation. I really appreciate that they left the Japanese voices in the game, which is what fans of these styles of games want. I wish more companies did this.
Voice Acting: 10/10
Overall Score: 63/80 79% C+ Good Game for Girls