Here’s a look at The Scorchfarer: The Wanderer and the Anchor (episode one) – a visual novel from Michiyuki Project that’s out this week on Steam. It’s the first in a series, but just a heads up: self-contained enough for it to be worth looking at as a standalone title, despite a cliffhanger of sorts.
I’m going through a book phase at the moment. There’s nothing unique about that, but I have these impulses where I’ll watch loads of a particular film, listen to a particular artist, or obsess about a guitar, or something like that.
Getting The Scorchfarer: The Wanderer and the Anchor in my inbox was good timing. I’m not the greatest fan of visual novels, but I’ve played some interesting ones and will happily look at a title – especially if it means an indie dev gets some exposure. That doesn’t mean I’ll be charitable and be overly nice for its sake, but I am overly nice in general.
Disclaimers laid, what’s it about? The Scorchfarer: The Wanderer and the Anchor is a story set in the future, in a fantasy-like world. A terrible disaster has wiped out much of civilisation, and the only real thing to bring forth restoration is via magic.
The magic in question is terraformation, and I quote:
…the magic process through with infertile and abrasive soil is manipulated to sustain life once again.
The heroes in The Scorchfarer: The Wanderer and the Anchor are Yukiharu (Yuki) and Mikaela (Michi). They’ve been together for some time, but more relevant to the story is their being on a three-year waiting list to become enlisted as Terramagus – fixing up what remains of the world.
Set in a fantasy world, we have a nice selection of characters, races and lore. Rather than bombard you with extracurricular reading, there will be moments during dialogue where you can point and click around the scenes looking for clues. Much like a hidden object experience, you’ll be clicking around until you see a spark, which then triggers some dialogue.
These sections are optional, of course, but they can be a little patchy. While the illustrations and backgrounds are all very nice, sometimes there isn’t much happening in a scene, so you might find yourself pixel hunting in a corridor or a field. It’s nothing major, but there you go. Let’s mention the presentation.
In my opinion, as I’m sure is the majority, a visual novel’s key ingredient is the writing, but it helps to have something pretty to look at, what with it being on your ‘puter and all. I liked the illustrations. They’re a little manga-like but with a different spin. I wasn’t keen on the expression most of the characters had – like they’re perpetually embarrassed, and a few scenes were a bit cringe. It was between cute/romantic, but with a show of thigh. It’s not that kind of game, though.
The Scorchfarer: The Wanderer and the Anchor is a nice game. It’s a nice story, with nice illustrations and a standout soundtrack. Visual novel music can get repetitive and stick out like a sore thumb, but the team have done a fantastic job here as it was lovely. But let’s get back to the core: the writing.
I don’t actively look for typos and grammatical errors. It annoys me when people seek them out. I do it all the time. Not that that makes it ok, but to err is to… Anyway, the writing was without any awkwardness. It doesn’t go overboard on lore with history to recall, nor was it as sickly as it could have been. What I will say is the tempo didn’t suit my tastes. For all the compliments, the story didn’t appeal to me, and I found that it would often stray – as would my attention. It was difficult to follow its direction, not because it was complicated; it took too many detours.
But that’s just me.
If you like inoffensive visual novels that are sweet and have a calming nature, then The Scorchfarer: A Scarred Earth Record might be for you. As mentioned, I received a review code for the game without knowing anything about it. It’s not a game I would have sought out, and it is a bit sleepy in direction, but it picks up from chapter four with an ending that genuinely makes you want to go on to the next episode. This is the first entry to the series, so no doubt it’ll pick up as it goes on.