It’s always a pleasure when a developer, publisher or localiser reaches out to me and asks if I’ll take a look at their project, because it tends to expose me to things that I might otherwise have been unaware of.
In turn, I can then share those things with you, and you can check them out as well! Everyone wins.
The latest title I’ve encountered in this manner is Bluemoonpark, an upcoming Kickstarter-funded visual novel by LA-based startup Amateras Inc and Korean developers Archive Factory Creative Group and Project Team Heimdallr. Let’s take a first look!
Bluemoonpark is an intriguing looking visual novel that combines elements of Gothic fantasy and mystery. The story centres around the siblings Crow and Cheery, two dark-skinned, golden-eyed youngsters with impressive black wings on their backs.
At the outset of the narrative, Crow and Cheery are hiding in a closet from some home intruders who claimed they had been sent by the siblings’ father — who we learn to be some sort of “king”. There are many mysteries presented by this opening, however.
Why would a king be living a seemingly humble life in a cabin? Why would he send an imposing-looking devil woman to fetch his children? Why did he warn them to stay in the cabin until the storm outside had subsided?
Crow and Cheery subsequently escape from the devil Peevish, but become separated. Now it’s up to Crow to track down his sister and uncover the mysteries of the extravagant Bluemoon Park and its peculiar inhabitants.
It’s an interesting setup, for sure, and the game’s Kickstarter page promises a variety of colourful characters to interact with over the course of the story. Besides Crow, Cheery and Peevish, we have the super-cute fox girl Bell, a beautiful but dangerous devil named Ambition, an imposing-looking warrior named Bravery, the angelic Care and a mysterious girl named Tia.
I’m particularly intrigued by the fact that a lot of the characters appear to be named after emotions or personality traits. I’m wondering exactly how this is going to come into play — or if it just happens to be their names. Either way, this is a particularly distinctive and memorable aspect of the setup for the story. Who wouldn’t want a little sister called Cheery?
It’s early days for the game as yet, since all that is currently publicly available is a short demo of the opening chapter and a Webtoon online manga. This, coupled with the descriptions on the Kickstarter page, is enough to get an idea of what to expect, however.
Probably the most striking thing about both the manga and the game itself is the art style — it’s really lovely. The characters are presented with bright, vibrant colours and stand out against the darkened backdrops, and there’s exquisite use of lighting for atmospheric purposes. The designs are distinctive, too; while there’s a few recognisable tropes among the cast (most notably the obligatory “sexy devil”), Crow and Cheery are noteworthy for being a little bit different from your average visual novel protagonists.
The manga also makes great use of some lovely dynamic motion lines and stylised art, giving it a real feeling of life; the demo of the visual novel, meanwhile, approaches this somewhat differently with extensive use of camera motion, character movement and background parallaxing to keep things lively and interesting. It’s clear already that this isn’t going to be a visual novel where you’re just staring at static character busts for hours on end. It’s surprising what a difference these things can make to the reader’s immersion in an interactive story.
At present, the slightly weak link in the visual novel side of things is the text, which has a few clumsy or literal-sounding translations from its original Korean script, but that’s partly what the Kickstarter is for. Besides porting the original mobile version from the Artemis Engine to the popular Unity framework for a cross-platform worldwide release on Steam and mobile storefronts, the Kickstarter funds are intended to be used for English and Japanese translations and proofreading, so hopefully that’s something that will improve should the project secure the funding it needs.
Although the demo version doesn’t offer any choices or interactivity, it seems there will be a variety of routes through the final game. At present, the full length of the experience looks to be about 10 hours in total, which is an impressive length for a small-scale, low-budget project like this. There will apparently be some “hidden stories” throughout the game, too, which is an intriguing prospect — though exactly how these will be unlocked or how they differ from more conventional routes isn’t clear just yet. Presumably it will involve specific combinations of choices to unlock them.
At the time of writing, Bluemoonpark is struggling a little to secure its funding on Kickstarter; judging by some comments and discussion on the page, it appears to be developer Amateras Inc’s first project, and they are still learning the best ways to make use of crowdfunding to realise their goals. As I type this, they have 138 backers and have secured £2,473 out of the £6,325 they seek, with a full week left to run on the campaign.
At present, the rewards on offer include a digital copy of the game on Steam, pin buttons, postcards, notebooks, mousepads, character acrylic stands, cups, tumblers and bags, but Amateras is accepting feedback on other possible reward tiers if that might help the campaign be successful — some other backers have requested things like giftable copies of the game or a complete collection of the available acrylic stands, for example.
It’s certainly an intriguing project and I thank the folks at Amateras Inc and Archive Factory for reaching out to me and making me aware of it! Be sure to stop by the Kickstarter page, give it a look and try out the demo for yourself — you might just see something that you like!
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