Aquadine - Review



Aquadine is developer SoftColor's first project which is a kinetic novel fitting into the fantasy romance genre. The setting takes place in a small town at the sea border where its past and present has been influenced by the beliefs and monumental possession of sirens and the god of the Seas, Levios, a species which lived in the past with humans in the city.


Story

We play as a boy with 2 different identities, one as a school student named Robin, who has given up on following in his mother's foot steps. Robin faces criticism from other citizens for this choice which puts a heavy weight on him to be just as perfect as his mother was. The second identity, as the famous singing Gondolier Ciel from the Cloud Company, well known for their past reputation and well loved Gondolier Torrie, who is Robin/Ciel's mother.



Robin, with the new identity of Ciel works at the Cloud Company to be able to pay off his mother Torrie's hospital bills, which they are barely able to pay. With the bad reputation he has as Robin he had to create a new face with a new persona to be able to attract the much needed customer.


Robin visits his mother anytime he has any free time between jobs watching her condition slowly worsen. Although his mother appreciates this, she is worried that her son is missing out on life while sitting with her everyday. This continues until one day when his friend Diana ends up tricking him into tagging along with her. Thanks to this, Robin gains new experiences with his friend, always being pushed to the front line, discovering what true friendship is, and eventually meeting other friends who have their own secrets and struggles. The bonds of friendship are further strengthened as they together discover the mysteries hidden inside the seaside town.


From Left to Right: Anya, Diana, Cameron, Elisabeth


Characters:

Diana, a red haired happy go lucky and carefree girl, which brings animation and fun into the group, always trying to tease them at every opportunity.


Anya, which is a rather closed, shy and mostly quiet girl but which always end up getting dragged along with Diana to be with her friends.


Cameron, Robin's best friend who is the strong, secure, and loyal defender type that excels at martial arts, striving to be able to be highly recognized by participating tournaments.


Elisabeth, a well known Singer originally from the village Sylphir, who moved recently with her father and butler to Aquadine in hope of being able to recover from her recent past which brought her here on Hiatus from her singing career.



Visuals

Aquadine is a very beautiful visual novel with detailed backgrounds and stunning CGs. I personally enjoyed how the art represented the past and present times. The character sprites are well drawn and have slight movement to them, each with a few different facial expressions to help match the tone of the events that happen in the story. A nice touch is that the characters also have a few different outfits, variety is nice to have in visual novels.


You can choose to play either at Full Screen or Windows mode. I played in full screen mode at 1920x1080 and everything looked sharp with no blurring or distortions.


Audio

The background music is fine. I have no complaints here as it is mostly subtle, just enough to be noticed, and it does change to fit the scene/event that you are in. It is appropriate for the story, but not memorable enough to warrant any DLCs for the music.


The game does include some limited voice acting. There are voiced character reactions as well as when someone addresses one of the character names but all the normal story text is non-voiced.


Routes

After an event on the beach we reach a point where we can select 1 of 4 possible routes, 1 for each close friend of Robin. Each of these routes has its own ending and events that will cause you face a lot of emotions and some hard choices. This is where you realize, you need your friends as much as they need you.


Once clearing all the routes additional "memories" are unlocked on the main menu page which also include a lot of deep emotions and events. I recommend to read Anya's route last, followed up by the memories available in the menu.


The only negative thing that I can mention about the routes would be specifically for the events. They are pretty short and will get straight to the point within a few lines of text and then will immediately end. With this being in the romance genre, it would have been nice to see more dialogue in these events further showing their expressions/emotions before the events end. Honestly this is a minor thing, and can easily be overlooked with so much else that is done right.



Overall Thoughts

My overall impression of Aquadine is very good. It provides a very wonderful and mysterious environment, interesting history and the past events of the city, and the different characters are very enjoyable with each to there own extremes. In Robin's friend circle, there are a lot of emotional moments that really makes you care about the characters, mixed up with a lot of nostalgic conversations and compassion. Every route possess its own flow in the story which I really liked. My favorite route is the one from Anya, which is the only routes that get you involved with the actual sirens and goes even beyond this.


The only thing which I miss in this visual novel would have been a bit more action, or maybe even a bit more dramatic scenes, since the story is rather soft paced. Nevertheless the quality given to the text, the music, and the artstyle is great. I can safely recommend this Visual Novel to all romance and emotional genre lovers.



Check out the game at Steam:

Aquadine Store Page


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Visual novel, JRPG, Anime Steam Group



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