Dontnod’s been on an impressive streak Tell Me Why and Life Is Strange, and I’m not going to say that the streak has slowed down recently. The studio’s next game, Harmony: The Fall of Reverie, is a it of a departure from what you come to expect of the studio, but it is well worth checking out if you appreciate good storytelling with emotional power
Narrative titles with multiple choice threads normally offer you branching storylines that will then in turn branch out to multiple endings. Harmony: The Fall of Reverie feels like the culmination of the developer’s work up to this point, mostly because of how deep the choices you’ll encounter feel and how these choices are presented.
Harmony: The Fall of Reverie is a commendable follow up for Dontnod
Playing as Polly, a woman who returns home to Atina after spending the last several years seeing he world, she quickly discovers her mother Ursula has vanished. To add insult to injury, Polly’s home is now megacorporation subsidiary of MK (Mono Konzern), one where the locals are left to wither. Searching for clues, Polly comes upon necklace that when worn, transports the wearer to an alternate world, one dominated by the Aspirations of Humanity, mystical figures that represent Glory, Bliss, Power, Chaos, Bond, and Truth and the choices you make in Atina, reflect what happens in Reverie.
To deal with MK, Polly must her clairvoyance power given to her by the Augural, a skill that allows the user to see the different paths of the future. With the Augural, Reverie utilizes the power as a game board. Whichever future you wish to follow provides Polly with crystals uses to unlock different paths when you inevitably hit a crossroad, ultimately pushing the narrative forward. I enjoyed how the tree lets you plot your way to a brighter future even when going down a certain path would lock out another branch further down the line.
And you’ll need to get the clearest picture of the future of you to take on the Aspirations, who are fully-fledged personae with their own ambitions and emotions. Polly soon learns each Aspiration wishes to become the Heart of Reverie, or the one who determines the fate of the human world’s emotions and determination. Decisions made with the power of the Augural link to the Aspirations and ensure you’re working toward the right future. It’s a smartly implemented system that often works but occasionally stumbles.
The Augural is a great mechanic that plots the future of the story
The themes touched upon in Harmony: The Fall of Reverie detail those of a woman constantly searching for herself in perpetual world. Polly, torn between reality and the world of Reverie, understands the power of clairvoyance only when she realises that Harmony is a fundamental part of her being. To save the world from MK, a megacorporation more interested in money than anything else, she will have to go far beyond her limits, discovering secrets and making new connections.
While a lot of information is provided throughout Harmony: The Fall of Reverie, Dontnod has added the Codex, an encyclopedia of all pertinent information needed to better understand the world, the characters, and the stakes. As a visual novel at its core, there is often a lot of reading to do and terms to remember so I’m thankful the Codex exists, especially later in a playthrough where I was unsure of some of the terminology being thrown around. Furthermore, the Codex helps you understand the lore and the world to a comfortable degree so you can enjoy the story without too many hiccups.
Harmony: The Fall of Reverie’s also a vibrant and artistically stylish experience, and you can see that on full display as Dontnod’s work is breathtaking at times. Characters all feel distinct and just by looking at them, you can ascertain a lot of information from them. Paired with great voice acting and this is a strong game filled with standout moments.
One thing to remember is that you’ll need to reply Harmony: The Fall of Reverie more than once to truly get the best experience. Given the variety of branching paths and multiple endings, I decided to lean heavily to one side for the initial playthrough before returning to do the opposite for the second playthrough. Even if you don’t want to do this though, you’ll get a decent enough experience but you’re doing yourself a disserve by missing out on all the futures unseen.
Harmony: The Fall of Reverie is another captivating outing from Dotnod and a decent visual novel. With branching paths and multiple endings, you’ll have to save Reverie more than once to get the best experience but thankfully its worth revisiting.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: Switch
Harmony: The Fall of Reverie is another captivating outing from Dotnod and a decent visual novel.