“I can seer rainbow,seer rainbow..seer rainbow too..”
Set in the fantasy world of medieval Europe.A group of shaman apprentices embark on a journey of discovery,destiny and enlightenment to an enchanted island. A place of mystery,mystical encounters and a goal for each shaman,to possibly connect with its strange inhabitants.. The horned masked seers of legend and tales bestowed to them from their respective clans. Can each member return home with infused knowledge and spiritual enlightenment? Are the seers that appear,friends and eager to share with humans their vast powers and knowledge and insight ? Or are they harbingers of danger and doom and best avoided at all costs ?
Seers Isle is a title by interactive visual novel developers Nova Box,and arrives as the second release. Following Along the Edge in terms of stunning visuals,great soundtrack and multiple choice decisions in order to push the narrative.Readers immediately get the same experience here, in terms of visual style and slick presentation.
After a storm nearly destroys their ship and injures their crew. Our apprentices are stranded on the island with no shelter and limited supplies. Do they ascend to the safety of the top of the island by the steep staircase in front of them or look for an alternative route? Carrying an injured member would certainly delay the journey and plunge the trek into nightfall, darkness and possible danger. What are the strange bones discovered on the beach and who is watching them constantly? What could those ghostly horned masked children possibly want and should the team follow them?
It’s decisions that are given to our player from the start. Seers Isle begs choices and like the previous title before it.Those choices are not pushing down towards “good” or “bad” outcomes,but more fortunate and unfortunate multiple story branches onto a multitude of different story endings.
What’s clear from the loading screen and the first few story scenes,is that the visuals are once again of a very high standard,and this is also accompanied by an immediate and very polished orchestrated soundtrack.
The difference with this title however,is that readers are not confined with making narrative choices based on just one character. On Seers Isle,every character is given choices and those choices reflect their relationship to the other characters in the story and ultimately shapes their moods and behaviour as the story progresses.
I’ll be honest and say,that after playing and being totally won over by previous title Along the Edge. My first impressions of Seers Isle were ones of slight disappointment. The artwork was certainly impressive and above the standard of other visual novels but in my opinion,it didn’t carry the jaw dropping impact of the previous title and the soundtrack didn’t immediately deliver either.
On playing further,it’s evident that this story is a little slow at first to get off the ground,and this is mainly due to the multiple characters in the game. Whilst this presents readers with a multitude of decisions and opportunities and after completing the story,multiple playthroughs. It’s clear that your first playthrough is going to be one of experimentation and uncertainty. Mainly because you will not have the time to familiarise yourself with each clan members personality and make the right decisions based on that. Multiple playthroughs are always welcome,but here I think it comes at a price!
As the story progresses though,and by the time you all reach the misty and mysterious island summit,which is not too far into the story,I’m pleased to say,things greatly improve. The visuals especially,during sunset and sunrise transform to breathtakingly gorgeous. The soundtrack turns to mystical and meditative and the story suddenly becomes one of gripping suspense,shocks and surprises and mystical mystery,ambience and atmosphere.
From a dialogue/narrative and story perspective,I’m still not entirely convinced with what’s being told in front of me. This is a medieval world with medieval characters but the overall impression from the dialogue is one of things feeling too modern for their own good. There’s references to the “city”,which in fact did exist in medieval europe,but worded in the styles of each character,it raised an eyebrow and made me wonder if actually writing that these were modern day characters in medieval fancy dress would be more realistic and easier to believe.
It also feels rather cliched in first story and character impressions. A group of younger generation embarking on a journey of expectation to find said sudden events turning into danger and mysterious figures in the distance is not quite summer camp or Harker on the way to castle Dracula,but it did remind me and take me along similar veins. In that I was finally thankful that the sudden appearance of the seers were wearing horned masks and not hockey masks and not holding machetes!
Characters have the predicted personality traits also. We get the butch male warrior type,full of bravado and male chauvinism and unphased by any dangers. The static quiet type that’s totally devoid of emotion and rather creepy because of it. The intelligent and forthright character who knows more than they are letting on and a range of female personalities stemming from the mage predicting doom and the ever questioning totally sensitive one,frightened at their own shadow. Whilst,I appreciate a range of personalities are essential and needed for variable story branches,I wasn’t taken into fresh and new territory by what I was reading about these people,and because it wasn’t overly appealing and personalities not developed enough. I wasn’t too phased on my initial choices and decisions with them. Again,this is really geared towards multiple playthroughs I feel…
Overall though,it’s pretty clear that Seers Isle is a story requiring a little perseverance and really cutting yourself off from any thoughts about the developers previous title,and treating this on face value.
It certainly gave me two big surprises on its journey. Firstly,one was a severe dent on impact and expectation on initial startup and in the first portion on the way to the island but most importantly,the second surprise is the sudden way it transforms itself as you walk across the top of the Isle. Visually,audibly and the story itself vastly ramps up and surpasses the standard you initially expected.
Like a fine wine,it needs sampling again and again to truly appreciate its ingredients and vintage and for a story that’s heavily relying on replayability for the complete experience to show itself. It ultimately succeeds in eventually building a story that will grip and drive you to revisit the Isle again and again..
Another winner !
Thanks to Nova Box for the code.