The odyssey home to the Kingdom of Rughzenhaide continues in the science fantasy kinetic novel fault milestone two. With new characters entering the fray and a host of other problems following Ritona and the group, getting back home becomes far more complicated this time around, but the process of doing so is one filled with tenderness and emotional catharsis.
Title: fault milestone two: side above
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction (Kinetic Novel)
Developer: ALICE IN DISSONANCE (Localized by Sekai Project)
System: PC (Steam Store)
Length: 5-7 Hrs
If you read my review for fault milestone one then it should be very evident that it did manage to provide a bunch of wish-fulfillment that I felt like I haven’t experienced or even come into contact with any visual novels I have touched so far. Ambitious storytelling, excellent set dressing of the world (albeit confounding terminology), technical creativity…but somewhat of a failed proving grounds when it came to any actual progress forward into the story or development for the two leading ladies. Diving into fault milestone two the difference is like night and day only due to the sad fact that nothing much has changed…however, compared to the predecessor, there is a great deal of progress beginning to happen. This is not only limited to the narrative, but also more extends to the style of how events are rendered, too. By no means is it a great deal of progress, but some that does make this installment awhole more lot more captivating than its forebearer.
Picking up from where milestone one concludes (even including a cool recap sequence), Melano, like all badass antagonist only sticks around a short while to divulge her intentions, but not before showing off a fraction of her destructive powers that goes as far as to breaking the fourth wall and temporarily crashes the player’s game only start minutes later with an undo button at the start screen?! Did I mention how much I love the technical creativity? That aside, Ritona, Selphine, and new companion Rune after the madness finally arrive in the Second-Pole, a continent where mana of the Aqua variety is plentiful and acts as the next leg of the journey with its own hardships – some that even linked back to home. Where the beginning starts out with more the same in regards to setting the stage with copious amounts of information, it does at least zero in on the main cast more intently as well as bring out some hint of personality. While Selphine and Rune get most of the characterization work this time around, I do like and appreciate the approach, especially for Rune that acts as a stand-in for the player – experiencing a new locale and not necessarily understanding what is going on. Of course, she does get to show off a fair amount. There is also kind of a dual story going on with the game also following the Alliance members Misha, Flora, and Riggs that are searching for the girls…yet they don’t stick around long enough and possibly will hold some relevance later.
Checking out okay in the storytelling arena, I still do feel that fault really shines on the thematic front which is on full display here. Covering a wide range of topics such as: discrimination, class division, social status, privilege and the weight of human life – whether that culminates it in taking one to protect another or revolutionizing one through unjust circumstances, these niceties not only add flavor to the world, but also introduce many of the elements and institutions spurring them on. The divide between the rich and poor is one the major focal point where most of the rich citizens live in an undersea city called Neo Sasary that are granted healthy lives by the Vita Stream while the common citizenry lives on land and subjected to harsh prejudice. It is also from this divide we get the main story arc for this volume that leads to some great dialogue between Rhegan speaking through Selphine’s Path-Down ability and a sibling duo, one of which is facing an unavoidable fate and builds up to very cathartic and emotionally numbing denouement for everyone involved by the end.
While I could gush on and on about how milestone two shows it meddle upon its previous shortcomings, there is still a great deal of work that can be done. One major problem I have with the series is that there are still things that don’t seem to add up. For example: Melano is very insistent that she doesn’t want the Path-Down line of succession to continue and could have easily killed Selphine, but opts to let her go under the contingency of not returning back to Rughzenhaide. Couldn’t she just kill Selphine and then use her omnipotent abilities to track down other candidates? She clearly has the power to do so and seems like that would be more straightforward, so there definitely something on going in that regard. Another example surrounds some the new characters introduce like Sceatoire and Rupika that are important enough, but get obfuscated to why they even show up in the volume in the first place. Sure, we get that whole spiel about how Rupika has some misaligned ties to Rughzenhaide (not exactly being all forthcoming for this “voluntary” leave) and there is possibly some bad blood between the Hyves and Zheviz corporations, but just amounts to superfluous information I wish would be touched upon better rather than hinted at and dangled in front of my face. Again, while I did like the story arc that happens here, there just seems to be too much going on all at once and the narrative real estate itself is just too brief too make any sense of it for the time being.
Despite having mixed feelings toward the narrative structure and flow, I can at least say that the technical aspects of milestone two has been improved upon by leaps and bounds over the original. One of the most noticeable changes are those made toward the presentation of cutscences and some of the normal story segments that include the use of a 3D camera perspective. It definitely is an unusual choice considering all the character sprites are flat and all the animations are static, but looks extremely well done and does make for a more immersive experience. The soundtrack also is a delight with plenty of new tracks as well as some returning ones. I wish the soundtrack was made available for purchase, but for any tracks and images you wish to revisit the in-game gallery is for that very purpose.
Ending off on the same type of aberrant cliffhanger that inspires very little of me to be excited for the next entry, I am least assured that I do want to continue with fault even if it is only for the express purpose to how all these revelations and story arcs fit together into a cohesive whole rather than anything having to do with the overall narrative. Aside from aspects of the narrative and the just lacking basic improvements I hope to see by now (I.E: log function), but bringing host of others to the forefront, fault is still a work in progress, but one that is starting to come into its own. At any rate, if you liked milestone one this installment will not disappoint for the most part.
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.