Solar Echoes – The Star Legation is a Sci-Fi-themed Original English Language visual novel (OELVN) by Corefun Studios – or at least it is planned to be. I am writing this preview of the game based on a demo, with the Kickstarter due to begin as I publish this article. Please keep in mind that many things will be subject to change when compared to the final and full version.
Our game begins in a world where Faster-Than-Light travel has only become reality a few generations ago. Six alien races have made contact, but tensions are still quite high in many cases. There is some trade between some and wars between others. Essentially the discovery that the races are not alone out there in the universe is still new and the races still do not know much about each other.
The idea comes about to create the Interstellar Union – a diplomatic forum in which each of the six races having a voice at the table. With the current relationships, only three of the races have agreed to this.
Our protagonist Trey is asked to join both as a representative for the humans and to go on a journey to all of the planets to convince the more reluctant to join.
I felt like the idea was quite an interesting one. A journey across different planets, meeting those very different and trying to find a way to work together. The demo itself is too short to really see how the story might go, but the concept is interesting enough to make me want to see how it might pan out.
While I’ll avoid too much detail due to the shortness of the demo, I’ll mention that as the story continues Trey meets a variety of new people from alien races which he has never encountered before. Most things that Trey does come across are new to him, which is used as a device to explain the world to the reader.
Perhaps it’s because quite a lot of the dialogue is used to explain the world, it sometimes felt very unnatural and forced to me. It could be that it changes further into the full release. That said, there are moments like when Trey is chosen as the representative of humans – it is very obvious and led up to, but he somehow still acts overly shocked. It also felt quite suddenly inserted that Trey has a bad history, then followed with the oft-used idea of making it go away if he completes the mission for them. While there were some funny moments in the dialogue such as language barriers between races, I wasn’t overly impressed here.
One more positive note is that I found the world quite interesting. In this demo, we get to hear about a few different worlds. One of the races more friendly with humans is the Reln. We meet one called Daeon, who explains to us that his world has a year with very few days, meaning that many of their days are purely daylight and half of the planet does not receive sunlight. We also visit the Erwani homeworld briefly, where we see technological wonders built to not disturb nature. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that some of the races were not quite humanoid and instead more creative such as plant creatures. It avoids the common situation of most characters being humans too.
Being a visual novel, there isn’t much gameplay to speak of other than clicking away to see the next scene. With that said, there is a bit more to it than that.
At the beginning of the game, you can choose some skills for Trey. These are not just for show. Solar Echoes – The Star Legation is not a kinetic visual novel – there are choices and sometimes there are extra choices based on the skills you have. I chose a type of insight and this let me make choices where I grasped the situation a bit better at times.
Other than that, we select a gun to bring with us from a wall near the start. While nothing that stands out, it may indicate some more interacting with the background in the future release.
Graphics & Sound
I admit I’m not much of a fan of the character art. The style seems fairly generic of an older sci-fi adventure game and it generally didn’t impress me. I did prefer the background art. Some of the ship art and planet are were well done.
This is rather subjective, but I took an informal survey of a few members of the NookGaming team. They all rated the art as below average. There are plenty of screenshots throughout, so this might be better for the reader taking a look and deciding what they think.
One more solid issue was that any movement of the graphics was not always smooth. Sometimes the sprites moved or the expressions changed and it seemed to hang for a moment. On a very powerful PC, this shouldn’t be happening with a visual novel.
The sound again felt fairly standard and did not particularly stand out. It was certainly serviceable though.
The demo of the game took me thirty minutes to complete a single playthrough. I felt like it was too small a taste of the game to fully say one way or the other whether I’d recommend it or not. I felt fairly mixed from what I did play. Not impressed overall, but with some potential shining through.
If this sounds like it would be interesting to you, I’d recommend you go check out the Solar Echoes – The Star Legation KickStarter and download the demo yourself to find out what you think.
If you’re interested in other visual novels yet to release, you might want to take a look at my preview of LoveSick Darlings. It was successfully funded on KickStarter and is in the process of being created now.
Nook has been gaming since the Amstrad and DOS. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.