Milky Way Prince is a partly autobiographical adult story entirely designed, programmed, illustrated, and scored by a young author, Lorenzo Redaelli.
“During my experience with a borderline partner, I thought that falling in love with him was like becoming part of a binary star system. It’s the rarest, most precious thing in the universe – but the closer they get the more unstable they become.”
“My idea was to create an immersive experience where the player is asked to try to understand the dynamics of this unusual relationship. The character you interact with adapts their behavior to yours – using academic terminology, they could set up “rage tests”, “love bombing”, or otherwise guilt trip you. The plot’s branching storyline is guided by variables such as “submission” and “interest” that fluctuate at each interaction.”
A visual novel with multiple choice options. The story tells of a young impressionable man named Nuki. Nuki loves star gazing and owns a rather slick yet unusually sparse apartment which he shares with a pet starfish that he loves and cares for.
From the gorgeous panoramic view from his front room stands a single telescope. Nuki’s pride and joy and his gateway to look at the stars in the night sky. He has a dream and this romantic dream stems from a single book that he keeps in the room.. The Milky Way Prince.
“ Once upon a time, there was a young boy fascinated by stars.
He felt a strong connection with them and dreamed of reaching their kingdom so he could finally feel understood.
One night, gazing at the firmament, he spotted a strange pink light in the darkness. The brightest star, the one he loved the most, was falling to Earth.
He dashed towards the light as it crystallized into a pink spark. It landed right into the boy’s hands, and he cradled it as if it were a delicate firefly.
For reasons he could not explain, the boy wept, and a tear dropped on that precious light.
All of a sudden, the light shaped into a bubble, and a human figure appeared inside of it. It was a boy,and the boy spoke..
“” I’m the Milky Way Prince. Thank you for catching me! I’ve lost my kingdom to a treacherous conspiracy!
Take my hand and together we’ll save the galaxy.”
The boy took his hand, and together they flew across the milky skies of infinity..””
After a sudden explosion in the night sky. Nuki views from his telescope and sees a star falling and crashing to earth. Suddenly excited and curious to see what had happened, he ventures outside and comes across a hunched figure sitting on the floor. The figure is dazed, confused and appears to be crying. That mysterious figure upon settling down introduces themselves as Sune.
Nuki is both delighted, overwhelmed and slightly confused but then overtaken by a sudden surge of excitement ..Is Sune the Milky Way Prince?
What soon materialises is a relationship between Nuki and Sune that is spontaneous, often dreamily romantic but heavily laced with obsession, paranoia and the beginnings of a downward descent into darkness and depression as a young boy tries to save a boy from the trappings of his failing mental health and multiple personalities.
As you can well work out by now. This is not a story for the faint hearted or indeed the faint of mind. Milky Way Prince takes and often drags the reader down a madness fuelled slippery slope into the realms of a doomed impending relationship that is often mentally abusive, demeaning and cruel yet continuously tinged with sadness and desperation as Nuki prepares to give everything to ultimately try and save his prince.
What’s apparent and immediately impressive is the look of the story and some very bright, crisp and clear visuals on a colourful palette with some impressive elements of lighting and shading littered throughout. It perfectly creates ambience and atmosphere but also accentuates those moments in the story that will definitely shock and discomfort the reader. This is a nerve shredding rollercoaster ride of a story for sure but the simple elements such as selecting and using the small number of items at Nuki’s apartment comes complete with short animations that are some of the few instances where the reader at least gets some moments of respite and clarity
The story for most parts though, uses quite a bit of symbology and flash scenes in order to demonstrate its points. A star chart on the wall is a “family- tree” like branch of symbols that track progress throughout the story. A poster and mirror illustrate Nuki’s state of mind and mood and the flash scene segments deliver with more than enough impact and shock and rather like the twist and turns of some psychotic ghost train fairground ride. A good portion of the controversial scenes are never explicit or gratuitous in any part but sporadic visual pieces that leave it up to the reader to interpret and mentally join up the dots. Moments of physicality are good examples of points with symbology used for body parts and text descriptions giving the results rather than graphic pictures. Are they moments of two people in love? Or cold unions of self gratification?
The predominantly thick atmosphere of mood and often despair is perfectly accompanied by a sultry score throughout that’s reminiscent of a gangster film noir with the piano hitting the obligatory out of tune keys at moments of surprise and story twists.
This tale often deviates into the realms of the psychotic and psychedelic with excursions into the cosmic with various musical snippets and sound effects that never feel out of place and perfectly accompany whatever mood is expressed ,albeit often strange and dark.
For a visual novel, I often find that pacing and text descriptions to be of key value. Too long in conversations or too long in chapters can often bring about boredom and tedium and sometimes the need to scroll down quickly.
Thankfully, Milky Way Prince is not a Tolstoy epic by any stretch of the imagination and has six chapters where the conversation is kept minimalistic and to the point. Each chapter has a few key events and then moves on with each playthrough from start to finish lasting you no more than just over an hour.
As regards the text though. The only downside and only annoyance was the colour of the text during conversations. White for Nuki and red for Sune. Pretty clear to start but there comes a time at various points of the story that there’s multiple conversations from the inner voice of the character that’s the same colour. So you get instances of losing the conversation because you couldn’t quite work out who’s saying it and where it’s coming from. In a story that will quickly bewilder and confuse you, the lack of clarity in the multiple conversation text is often a drawback and strangely unnecessary.
Naturally, and like with most visual novels containing multiple choices there’s multiple endings. Three quoted at good, bad or neutral but I must add that from my experience and from two different endings. It’s very hard for me to decide whether I had a good or bad outcome. The symbology often appears to tell the story and as the end credits roll, it’s often a case of personal contemplation, digestion and then reflecting on the information that’s paramount rather than just a passage of written words.
Milky Way Prince The Vampire Star is an experience and in all honesty, an often bitter pill to swallow. The developers should be commended by addressing mental health issues and traumas such as self harm, suicidal thoughts and specifically multiple personality disorder and it’s welcoming to see creators bringing these subjects into gaming and with such strength in this particular title.
It’s not a title you’d recommend and it’s not a title you might like. It might even pass you by without any interest or thought but then after the credits have rolled there may come a time. A time after the shock and disturbance has settled when you start to think and start to evaluate. Evaluate the story and maybe..evaluate yourself.
Thanks to Fantastico Studio for the code