AsicxArt has released its 5th title on Steam for 2020 with Vampires' Melody, containing thriller, romance, fantasy and fan service. This visual novel features an apprentice chef Raylan Monroe, and a vampire girl Yella Lester. Raylan is gathering ingredients for his restaurant in the wilderness one day when he stumbles across a girl sleeping inside a tree who had taken shelter from a heavy thunderstorm.
Raylan is then bitten by the girl, and both of them fall asleep for 300 years. After waking up, the girl introduces herself as Yella and tells Raylan he has become her minion and he has to accompany her if he doesn't want to die. Left with no choice, Raylan decides to accompany Yella and work together to survive in the modern world. Gradually, they begin to develop feelings for each other.
Having played AsicxArt's earlier titles, Vampires' Melody retains many of the charm and highlights from its earlier releases by featuring cute well drawn artwork and having great musical compositions for its accompanying background music. The art will look very nice on any visual novel fan's Steam profile. In addition, this title is AsicxArt's first foray into the thriller genre with two different routes and ten endings, marking a shift away from the kinetic visual novels that AsicxArt has developed so far.
In terms of plot, the scriptwriter Hua-e (画囮) has written an interesting and engaging story that includes the usual teasing, cute comical moments, and fan service (✿◠‿◠). The end result is a combination of funny, sad, cute, and also exciting moments with several surprises along the way split up into two different routes to keep readers interested in the story. Players can also refer to a flowchart in the game that will progressively unlock the various routes in each chapter to help players quickly return to a decision point and attempt another option after reaching an ending. This is a welcome change from being forced to utilize the game's manual save/load options as most visual novels require you to do.
Although the game features a vampire which is usually associated with horror, Vampires' Melody tries to keep the storyline cute and makes the vampire girl endearing by having her own set of principles and there are certain twists in the story that removes the need for any killing even though vampires are typically known to feed on human or animal blood.
The fan service and romance tropes with a female vampire domineering over a human male may make the plot seem weaker, especially when it doesn't exactly match the huge difference in abilities and age between the protagonist and the heroine. However, I think the way the script is handled came off as very funny, and the scriptwriter has also given the protagonist several chances to save the day over a vastly more powerful supernatural being which saw me rooting for the protagonist despite his inherently weak and cowardly nature. Many of the scenes are also brought out very well by the excellent voice acting, artwork, background music, and sounds. They help to lend immersion into the game, bringing out the tense moments during fights, and the variety of emotional moments between the protagonist and the heroine.
For the soundtrack DLC, I'm a bit disappointed that the background music for the best ending in the game which highlights the importance of teamwork and triumph against adversity is not included. With that said, the full theme song Oath Melody which has a lively techno beat capturing the charm and challenges the characters face, along with the background music The Very Moment by 麋鹿音乐 (Milu Music) which plays during the most touching moment in the story are more than worth the price of the DLC.
Overall, Vampires' Melody is an unusual story with a variety of exciting, comical, and sad moments that kept me engaged and interested to know what happens in the other routes and endings. Hence, I highly recommend this title and the soundtrack DLC.
Lastly, I would also like to share that I handled the English translation for this game. As a long-time fan of AsicxArt, I was motivated to work on this project after following feedback from my friends in Steam, members of my Steam group (Visual novel, JRPG, Anime), and fans of AsicxArt over a weakness in AsicxArt and SakuraGame's earlier games. The game's excellent production quality and feedback from fans of AsicxArt, together with support by SakuraGame and my friends in Steam helped to build up the sense of pride and excitement to bring a cute, funny, and interesting thriller with romance and fantasy to an English audience. I hope the English translation for this game is an improvement over their earlier titles that will not disappoint fans' confidence in the games by AsicxArt, and would like to thank all the fans for their patience and support all this while (By the way, this game also has a short cameo appearance of the three animal girls from Fluffy Store to thank AsicxArt's fans).
Thank you to all my friends and family members who have supported me, and to SakuraGame for giving me the wonderful opportunity to work on the English subtitles for the game before release.