The end of peace is the beginning of a journey for these two heroines. However, where that journey is leading them is the real question.
Title: fault -milestone one-
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction (Kinetic Novel)
Developer: ALICE IN DISSONANCE (Localized by Sekai Project)
System: PC (Steam Store)
Length: 4-6 Hrs
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “Life is a journey, not a destination” and similarly, the same maxim I like to have in mind when it comes to most of my entertainment consumption. Rather than worrying needlessly about the progression from point “A” to “B”, I am more concerned with world’s construction, characters, and how all the tiny pieces of the quest relate to the larger picture. It isn’t the easiest sentiment to craft into words for me nor most creative minds, but after jumping straight into fault milestone one, I was hoping it would reciprocate that sentiment. Setting through the initial underwhelming beginning to what followed, I couldn’t help but wonder how will things progress since it seemed to take an ambitious turn that leaves me with more mixed opinions than definitive ones by the time it came to a head..
Muddled impressions aside, fault does setup the world-building astoundingly well focusing on a fantasy venue dependent on mana and special individuals known as “manakravte” able to manipulate it. The Runghzenhaide kingdom, a key hub for mana suddenly falls under attack by mysterious invaders and after a concatenation of events, Princess Selphine is forced to flee with her fearless friend and skilled bodyguard, Ritona. Their method of escape is botched and instead landing them near an ally encampment, they are whisked to a place called the “Outer-Pole” on the other side of the world, a land where mana is scarce and science prevalent. At this juncture (aka 25 minuets in), the game has no issue with inundating the reader with term after term containing the most verbose descriptions. Thankfully, the in-game encyclopedia comes as great relief to take the burden off remembering most of it as things move rather briskly and none of it elaborated or just complicated. That being said, with all the precursory fluff handled, it is presumed that most of the story (or some of it) would be focused squarely on Ritona and Selphine and who they are as characters, yet does the opposite as it centers around the Zheviz family affairs – which Selphine decides to intervene in. There are vertically slices of personalities traits that get shown such as Selphine being very energetic and perceptive while Ritona is unyielding and strict, yet the heroines overall still feel paper-thin.
On the other hand, the Zheviz subplot (that takes up most of the novel) is actually very engaging as it uncovers the story of a girl named “Rune” that Ritona and Selphine meet and her relationship with a company CEO researching mana extraction, “Rudo”. As aforementioned, while it does take up most of the story real estate, the characters introduced are very fleshed out in comparison to the heroines and does help the duo learn that their world is far more expansive than they originally presumed. The only problem is how does it relate to the main objective? While Ritona and Selphine are playing the role of a mediator of sorts (not spoil too much), they do stumble across a key piece of information, yet it really doesn’t seem to be that important (now) or relevant to getting the two home. You get a nice sob-story to accompany it – however, still hard to fathom why they spend the whole narrative on something that is not a germane concern in terms of moving the story along…no matter how well it is written or told. Most of the subject matter touched upon is even treated as an afterthought; once brought up and never to be uttered or used as short commentary. It’s a tough sell, but fair to say that serves it purpose…what that purpose is depends on the reader. As a kinetic novel, there are no dire choices to be made (expect for one seemingly insignificant one) and of course, a cliffhanger ensues leaving more to come.
While the narrative leaves me with the most conflicted feelings, everything else is as expected. The UI menu and options are very sleek and accessible, albeit awkward considering that the left mouse brings up an expanded menu docklet. The music selection is also unique, while it is composed of the standard programmed and synthetic tracks, most of them sound well-produced. Only minor nitpick to this end is how frequently they loop. The CG scenes are plentiful and visually eye-catching with the same anime-centric design style most utilize. It definitely does not appear to be a cheap production either in terms of assets and on par with most ambitiously sized projects, despite the novel itself capping off around 4-6 hours in length.
Just as underwhelming as fault began, it ends on similar note that is not completely inane, yet doesn’t exactly inspire me to wait with bated breath for the next installment. Even though everything wraps nicely for this arc, it is very transitory (probably due to budgeting) when it comes to actually doing anything meaningful. No one gets it right on the first try, and for now, it is worth trying enjoying the journey rather than destination for what is. Either way, if you are looking for quick experience to jump into akin to Dysfunction Systems hinging on a continuation and bordering more toward wild science fiction of the 80’s (a la Andromeda Stories is the best example), this is a perspective title to look into, although won’t be for everyone.
Pros: Excellent soundtrack, in-game reference material, character designs and CG, very detailed world-building, ambitious storytelling.
Cons: too short, little focus on the two heroine leads, narrative moves at a slow pace.
Disclaimer: In no way, shape, or form was I compensated for the composition or publication of this review. This by my own volition. A review copy of the game was kindly provided by Sekai Project. All images and rights to them belong to ALICE IN DISSONANCE and for review purposes only.