Thanks to the folks at Galdra Studios for allowing me to review their debut visual novel, Arcadia Fallen. As a first release from an indie game publisher, Arcadia Fallen definitely exceeded my expectations in many ways. First of all, the game’s high production values from voice acting, to character portraits, and even a catchy anime opening song and animation, all pull you right into the game. From there, the characters and story and unraveling the mysteries of the game keep you glued to your gaming chair. For those that find routine visual novel gameplay a bit dull, you might like the puzzle aspects in Arcadia Fallen because it has a nice crafting and alchemy feature.
With that said, let’s dive into our review. Keep in mind, Arcadia Fallen is a small indie game, but is being held to the same scrutiny and standards as any other game I review here, be it from an indie or bigtime game publisher. For what it is, a small first attempt by a new indie studio, Arcadia Fallen actually holds its own in many areas.
Title: Arcadia Fallen
Platform: PC and Nintendo Switch
Release Date: November 17, 2021
Genre: Visual Novel
Publisher: Galdra Studios
Overall: 68/90 76% C+ “Good Game For Girls”
Geeky: 3/5 – At the end of the day, Arcadia Fallen is a story driven visual novel. For some people, these games are too casual, but for most of my readers, this is our preferred genre of games. I do think Arcadia Fallen has some breakthrough potential to reach a wider audience due to high production values and the alchemy crafting puzzle aspects of the game.
Sweetie: 5/5 – With high replay value, a lot of inclusivity when it comes to who you want to play as, same sex dating options, gender options, and interesting characters and story, girl gamers will love Arcadia Fallen.
Gameplay: 7/10 – Gameplay, like most visual novels, consists of reading a lot of character dialog. When you aren’t reading and making branching plot choices, you’re crafting alchemy items by using a puzzle like mechanic of dragging and dropping ingredients into three spheres and turning them until the inner rings hold the ingredients to make your items. These puzzles range from simple to challenging. It really adds to the gameplay and breaks up the monotony of visual novel style read and click gameplay that all of these games suffer from. It’s a much appreciated little break from the story.
There’s also numerous choices you make as a player that drive and determine the story, or even which characters will join your party. As mentioned, you have a lot of freedom in who you want to romance, including same sex, or gender fluid characters which is nice for diversity and inclusivity.
Another nice touch is that you have a ton of freedom in where to travel to and what order to explore and do things in. You aren’t just forced down one path. From the overworld map, you can go explore side quests, or make branching plot decisions on where to go and what to do next.
There are a lot of quests and rewards and gameplay diversions that help Arcadia Fallen stand out from other traditional visual novels.
Story: 8/10 – The story and writing are very interesting. Without spoiling too much for you, the game starts with a spirit accidentally binding itself to you, and a string of events that have people accusing you and your employer of being evil witches. In an effort to clear your name and unbind this spirit from yourself, you begin a journey where you meet many other interesting characters.
Characters: 10/10 – I really enjoy the diverse characters. The cast is small, but each character truly stands out. I feel like the developers have probably played a few dungeons and dragons campaigns. These characters are spot on representations of the classic “Lawful Good” “True Neutral” “Chaotic Good” “Chaotic Neutral” “Lawful Evil” etc. From a wandering bard/magician who seems to only be tagging along out of amusement/interest, to a young scientist seemingly motivated by fame and greed, to a knight working for the government making sure you don’t try anything suspiscious. These are just some of the characters you’ll meet along the way. The voice acting definitely helps the characters feel more real and personable as well.
Graphics: 6/10 The graphics are not my cup of tea and have a distinctive western style to them, opposed to traditional anime visual novels from Asia. But none the less, I will say these graphics are clean, sharp, and clear with numerous facial expressions.
Music: 7/10 – The opening theme is so cute and was a real surprise. Many of the background ambient tracks are nice and fitting for the scenes. There just wasn’t a big variety of music, but that’s to be expected in an indie game.
Voice Acting: 8/10 – I was surprised at the quality and also amount of voice acting used in this game. There was maybe only one or two characters that I didn’t really care for their voice actors, but the rest I thought fit the characters perfectly.
Character Customization: 4/10 – I was surprised by lack of character customization. It does ocassionally show your playable character. When I played there were only 2 hair styles, and ability to change eye/skin/hair color and a few (less than 10 maybe) options for colors for your clothing. hmm this was a miss for me. But a nice effort to include customization at all.
Replay Value: 10/10 With a somewhat nonlinear approach, and where your decisions matter, this is a fun game to replay to see all of the different effects of your decisions.
Overall: 68/90 76% C+ “Good Game For Girls”