Review: Arcadia Fallen
Publisher: Galdra Studios
Developer: Galdra Studios
Release: November 17th, 2021
Reviewed on: PC
Arcadia Fallen is a new visual novel that incorporates the core mechanics of what makes a visual novel great and mixes in some puzzle elements. Along with the strong story, excellent voice acting, and beautiful graphics, Arcadia Fallen is one of the better visual novels I've played.
You play as an alchemist in a medieval fantasy world where magic is revered yet regulated, and demons threaten the existence of the world you know. The game begins with a musical interlude that reminds me of an opening of an anime. You start by creating your character; you have a few choices of hairstyles and can change the color of your outfit, but what is the most interesting is that you can choose between male, female, and androgynous. You can even select an option to be referred to they/them. While the amount of options for customization isn't extravagant, the inclusion of the androgynous option is a welcomed inclusion.
You begin the story working as an apprentice of an alchemist, and rather quickly, you are thrown into the story's action. Pretty early on you encounter a spirit, creatures that are outlawed in most cities. Without spoiling the plot, your fates are twisted together, and you are thrust into a world that has you hunting down demons, trying to figure out what is causing the increase of demons, and getting caught up in a world much larger than you're used to. It's a well-told hero quest story, an unexpecting hero thrust into danger, and the only hope to save the world lies with you.
What I appreciate about Arcadia Fallen over other visual novels is the number of choices in the dialog. Many decisions will determine the type of character you are playing by selecting options that will drive your personality. Besides dialog choices, you also can romance some of the characters you meet as well. And while a lot of visual novels have a lot of text to read between choices, Arcadia Fallen takes a different approach and has very little reading between dialog choices. This made me feel like I was much more in control of my fate and more integral in telling the story.
Besides the dialog tree options, Arcadia Fallen also incorporates some minor puzzles to solve to either make new potions as an alchemist or seal demons away. This is done by spinning three different panels with patterns on each to match the presented picture. The puzzles aren't too complicated and there isn't any fail state in the puzzles, and while I appreciate the mix in the gameplay, I didn't feel like this was a necessary element. The dialog choices and character building are the most critical aspects of the game, and I didn't need anything more than that.
Another way that Arcadia Fallen differs from many visual novels is the amount of voice acting in the game. Of course, not every line is voice acted, but plenty are, and this also broke up any sense of grinding through reading walls of text. And the voice acting is good. Adding the voice acting also gives more depth to the characters and made me feel more connected to the characters that I encountered. My only gripe is that the audio levels weren't even. Sometimes I found myself turning up my speakers to hear what the characters were saying.
I loved the art in Arcadia Fallen. It has an anime feel and a look of paging through a sticker book, as each character looked like stickers. The characters were animated as well, not a full-on cartoon, but enough animation to portray the emotions that they were feeling.
Final Grade: A
Arcadia Fallen is a good game for those that are new to the visual novel genre. It has plenty of dialog choices that allow you to control both your character and the direction of the story. And it's not heavy with the amount of text that you usually have to read with visual novels. The story is exciting, and the voice acting helps bring the characters to life and creates a fascinating world. If you are a fan of visual novels or want to give them a try, Arcadia Fallen should be part of your library.