Developer – IDHAS Studios
Publisher – IDHAS Studios and Sekai Project
Length – 2-10 Hours
Original English Language Visual Novels (OELVNs for short) are an up-and-coming group of titles that haven’t yet been able to really make their mark on the industry. A lack of funding makes it tough to compete with the quality visual novel readers are used to seeing. While Rising Angels: Reborn isn’t the OELVN to end that trend it is one of the better examples I’ve read. It suffers from some of the same problems I’ve seen in the genre before but it’s also a refreshing example of what a good Western visual novel can be like. Given its short length and low, low price of free, I don’t hesitate to recommend it.
A Special Investigations and Tactics Officer (SITO) in the Katajian Directorship, Natalie Puccile has spent her career to date on a backwater space station in the middle of nowhere. Now with a chance to prove herself on a new ship and with a new crew, she’s understandably excited to find out what’s in store. Despite her enthusiasm, however, getting everyone on the K.S.S. Nimross to work together is going to be tricky. Perhaps it would be easier if her fellow officer wasn’t horribly racist, her commander didn’t hate SITOs and the ship’s doctor didn’t ooze sleaze, but she’ll probably get there in the end. Unfortunately, she may not have the time she needs before something goes horribly wrong.
The first thing that struck me about Rising Angels was that the writing style was wonderful. Both the narration and character dialogue flow as well as I’d expect from a commercial novel, which hasn’t always been the case with my previous OELVN experiences. Without being a comedy, the novel works in humor without throwing it in your face and without trying to copy common Japanese tropes. All in all, the whole package comes across as a well-written Western-style visual novel. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that English VNs shouldn’t try to mimic Japanese ones – it’s just refreshing to read a production that goes its own way. Having said all of that, Rising Angels doesn’t do anything new in the story department. While it does a good job of maturely exploring themes and getting you involved in the story, it’s not a masterpiece that will leave a lasting impression. The story lacks an emotional impact and is too short for that to happen. Still, I can appreciate the experience for how enjoyable it was overall.
Again, given the length of the story, it’s hard to develop truly deep characters, though I think Rising Angels does a good job with what it has to work with. Some characters get a little shafted but the main two have a decent amount of story behind them that gets explored and it’s easy to follow their thoughts and empathize with them. As with my opinion of the plot, I’m not dying to see any more of the characters while still being able to recognise the quality of thought behind them. I could complain that some of the individuals involved are used more as plot devices than characters themselves but with the time allotted to them and the size of the cast I’m willing to forgive that point.
As with many OELVNs, Rising Angels’ visual assets aren’t fantastic. They’re a lot better than some of the other examples I’ve seen, especially in terms of backgrounds and sprites, but they still leave much to be desired. Once again, they’re fine but they’re not going to wow you. When it comes to the sound track though, I was pleasantly surprised by how fitting each track was and even how catchy some of them were. My only complaint here is that the visual novel as a whole would have benefited from more music, as some scenes that deserve a track didn’t have one (and there’s no voice acting, which doesn’t help). Additionally, there were a few too many grammatical errors and typos than would have been acceptable in a full commercial release, which I’m hoping will be fixed up in the future.
Summary – Rising Angels: Reborn is one of the first OELVNs I’ve played that has really shown what Western visual novels can accomplish. It’s not a masterpiece by any means, suffering from the same budget constraints as its fellows, but the quality of writing and limited but good characterization make for an overall enjoyable experience that I’m happy to recommend. If it means anything at all, there’s a sequel novel that has recently been Kickstarted, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what IDHAS Studios comes up with.
Score: 7/10 – Enjoyable