The Nardio Visual Novel Review
IS This World Unknown WORTH YOUR TIME?
Yes it is!
WHAT DID WE THINK WITHOUT SPOILING IT?
This World Unknown is a damn great visual novel.
Like I almost always do with visual novels, I bought this and forgot it so that it would be a totally fresh experience once I started the experience up. Once again I am darn happy that I did. This visual novel really does perfectly match it’s title.
I bought this after reading a few of the author Ebi-hime’s works and decided to go all fanboy in and bought everything she had written. So far I am happy with this irrational financial choice.
This World Unknown was a wonderful experience that opened up an interesting world to me. A world so rich, vibrant and seemingly full of life that even after I finished the visual novel I wanted more. This isn’t because it lacked a good ending, this is because the world is just that interesting. As fanciful as it was, it had a sense of realism to it that kept everything feeling grounded. There weren’t any info dumps, just bits and pieces of story here and there that felt natural. Characters mentioned things here and there, the main character explained things here and there, yet nothing really felt forced. This World Unknown enthralled me with it’s perfect world building.
The story had an amazingly strong balance of mood, light and darkness. It goes from light to, melancholy, to uplifting, and continued to run the gamut. It never went too heavy and any direction instead continued to move forward. Sure there were a few instances here or there that could have used a bit more fleshing out, but for the most part it was perfect.
Like seriously, I found myself surprised at just how great the experience transitioned from one event to the next. Bad things aren’t forgotten the next day by characters, they carry them. Good things help them get better. This felt like reading about real people dealing with real problems. This World Unknown was very well written.
The Characters Were Great
Seriously, there really weren’t any cliche characters to be found here. While the protagonist was a bit slow on the uptake at times and innocent, it made sense. Her friends and everyone around them behaved and spoke in ways that also made sense. Sure here or there some of them would say stupid things or behave in an off putting way, but these are teenagers in a surprisingly harsh world. A lot is said that makes sense, a lot is left to be said, but that just adds to the appeal and allure of this magnificent experience.
The Story Pulled Me In, But Maybe Not How the Author Intended
Description from This World Unknown’s Steam Page:
A medieval fantasy visual novel with an otome twist. Rhea works as a nurse in a village hospital and lives a peaceful life – until one of her patients contracts a mysterious illness. Go on an exciting adventure, meet a varied cast, and see if true love conquers all!
You know, this is going to come off as some backhanded praise or what have you, but the medieval fantasy worked wonderfully here, shockingly so, while the otomi twist felt underdeveloped.
While there were olive branches of possible romance to be found here early in game, most of it felt kinda forced or at least not developed enough that I decided to pursue them.
On the other hand, the overarching story was so engrossing and magnificent that I just had to keep playing. (Remember that I totally forgot there was supposed to be any sort of romance here anyway.) I figured there would be more time to sort out things and my feelings later. As I held on for the ride some things I predicted would happen, happened, but still felt interesting. A lot of things I didn’t expect to happen occurred and I was pleasantly surprised and enthralled.
As plot points came and went a bit of romance sort of just started kinda getting forced on me, but it fit well within the story. As I found myself appreciating this situation more and more the experience shifted and a new story was revealed to me. It was done wonderfully and I found myself even more enthralled. The story felt right as things evolved…until I got to a end credits screen. It fit, but It felt a bit rushed… Then more story happened after the credits. It tied things up nicely and ended.
I do have to mention the wonderful sound design that helped things along marvelously. You can’t have a good VN experience without good sound and it was done right here.
Overall it worked and I don’t regret my purchase.
It’s Not Without Its Problems
While the story in This World Unknown may have been mostly magnificent The art was lacking. While the characters all looked nice and cool at a glance, they didn’t fit the story. Everyone looked as if they were kids or young adults. Having a guy who is supposed to be 29 look just like the teenagers of the story was just weird.
One character Meirin get’s referred to as old and old looking several times and yet looks just as young as the other characters. I think the art hurt the experience a good bit. I often found self ripped out of it whenever age or appearance was mentioned.
Lack of character art was another issue for me. There were several pivotal scenes in the story where we just looked at the basic characters while the story focused on something else entirely. There were also the times when a character was supposed to look one way but was portrayed looking totally normal. Now I get that this is really just about making magic happen on a shoe string budget, and I get that this is an insanely affordable visual novel at the end of the day for the experience I got from it, but those few scenes did pull me out.
I noticed later on towards the end that there were a few grammatical errors that would rip me out of the experience as I would stop to reread them.
The available romance paths felt lacking, underdeveloped really. The path I ended up with felt natural, interestingly that path was one where I didn’t go out of my way to “pick” anyone. The male characters feel as if they could have used more alone time with the protagonist. So that I would have more chances to fall for them, understand and root for them. As is, I wasn’t actually shipping my heroine with anyone until the story made it happen.
Now I find myself in an interesting position. The story ended marvelously and part of me wants to leave it at that. I definitely got my monies worth here and I can just as well leave it be. Yet as I write this review and see all of the other options and characters waiting for me to discover I find myself curious. Maybe I should dive back and give some of the other boys a chance? The preview pics on the Steam page has me interested.
I find myself wondering if this would have been better done as a stand alone novel. The story certainly holds it’s own. I think I would have been even more enthralled with it all if it were just a book with occasional pictures that fit the scene. That said, I did really enjoy this experience. Well, more than that honestly, I found myself enthralled by it.
I think the reason I felt the need to bring up the issues I did have here is because they marred what would have otherwise been a near perfect experience. I don’t dislike it, I do recommend it, I just wish it were as perfect as it possibly could have been. It was so close.
That said This World Unknown would be a wonderful intro to visual novels gift for friends who are normally book worms. The writing is on point. The world is believable and honestly I hope the author Ebi-hime plans to come back to this world she masterfully created because I want a lot more of it. This World Unknown is ripe for sequels, prequels and side stories. There is a lot unfinished here and damnit I want answers!
Please Ebi-hime, give me more.
For it’s $7.99 normal asking price on Steam this is a bargain. I would compare this favorable to visual novels that cost five times as much.
Yes, this was worth the asking price on Steam. Yes, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Yes, you should all buy this now. Finally yes, I am going back to this visual novel this weekend to see how the rest of the story turns out.
Just buy this. It’s great and you’ll thank me later. If you don’t like it, well, you suck and we can’t be friends.
Agree? Disagree? Write your comments below
BASIC INFO & WEBLINKS:
- 300k+ words
- Around 10-15 hours of reading
- Branching storyline with 4 different routes/love interests
- Large cast of characters (about 25 characters with sprites)
- Fantasy otome game
- 50 CGS
- Steam Achievements
- Author & Programer: Ebi-hime on Twitter
- Author & Programer: Ebi-hime on tumblr
- Publisher Sekai Project On Twitter
Get more games from Ebi-hime at the links below: