Genre: Visual Novel
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: 12
Release Date: 15/10/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Nova-Box is back with another of their visual novels to be released for the Nintendo Switch. Visual novels aren’t my cup of tea and it’s not been until recently that I’ve delved into the genre. I previously reviewed Along The Edge and was blown away by both its story and art. With Seers Isle I started with an open mind. But, seeing that it is also developed by Nova-Box I had sudden high expectations.
Seers Isle is an interactive visual novel that’s set in a fantasy medieval version of Eastern Europe. Every choice you make affects the story and the cast of characters. With a striking art style and promising story, is this another hit for Nova-Box? Or is it one to miss? Come with me as I find out…
We’re Off To See The Seer
The premise of Seers Isle is a pretty simple one. The novel starts with a small group of travelling companions. These companions are travelling to an island together to be blessed by the island’s Seer. In doing so, those who are blessed will be able to become shamans when they return home – and will wield powerful spells as a result. The trip to this island is seen as a right of passage for anyone wishing to become a shaman and many attempt the journey. Naturally, it’s not an easy task and quite often those who attempt this journey simply do not return home.
The goal of the journey is to reach a tree that acts as a boundary from the world to that of the Seers. Once this tree is reached the “successful” adventures hope to be granted worthy of wielding this power themselves. While the premise may be simple, the island has its mysterious ways to test the would-be shamans as well.
The story may seem to be central to this group of characters, it’s surprisingly not. It’s actually about a horned girl who’s trapped between these two worlds. This mysterious character is introduced as whispers and flash glimpses but soon becomes integral to the plot. She’s the one who’s guiding this group on their journey and her voice is the one narrating the story. What is also fascinating with Seers Isle is that you see it from a few different perspectives. You often switch between different members of the party who all have their own personal agendas. It’s an odd-sounding mechanic, to begin with, but as the game goes on it shines on each character’s reasoning.
As with any Visual Novel; Seers Isle features a wealth of narrative branches. Each ending is vastly different from the next and can feature different members of the cast. This is determined by both our choices throughout the journey and four different statistics. These statistics are tracked by various symbols which all have a unique colour. Each time one of the effects of our choices these semi-hidden stats, the representative symbol lights up on the top of the screen. As an added effect if you have a rumble-capable controller this also rumbles. It’s a nice effect but not necessary to the story. Anyway…
Much like in Along The Edge, the relevance to these symbols is not explicitly explained. It’s annoying because you have to keep a mental note. Or if like me – you keep a notebook handy.
The length of the story isn’t particularly long and each run isn’t especially time-consuming. It’s also best in the first couple of playthrough’s not to have a favourite character. Your choices aren’t defined either so there’s a tonne of trial and irreversible error at play. I made this mistake of favouring a certain character to then see them bot make the finale. Much like Nedd Stark in Game of Thrones...
Art & Music
The art of Seers Isle is particularly impressive. Nova-Box sells the game as more Graphic Novel than Visual Novel, and the art sells this premise. There are rare a lot more dynamic scenes with great shifts in angles and presentation. Which in itself is in stark contrast from your more traditional static Visual Novel. When the action kicks in it’s all incredibly fluid and thankfully translates well to the Nintendo Switch (more on that later). Text boxes also appear much like a graphic novel in that they’re positioned all over the scenes rather than being static along the bottom. This works wonders in keeping you engaged in the story and trying something different.
The soundtrack is full of rhythmic drums and soft string chords and plays into the mystical setting. Whilst the music isn’t as capturing as the game art, it does achieve what it sets out to do – accompanying the artwork to set the tone.
The Nintendo Switch handles Seers Isle incredibly well. Whilst due to Joy-Con drift I spent the majority of my time playing in docked mode. Surprisingly the game looked fantastic on my 55″ Panasonic OLED. When I did attempt to play in handheld the game also ran just as smooth and still kept its graphical fidelity.
As someone who’s only started dipping their feet into visual novels, I highly recommend Seers Isle. It’s a fantastic mystical romp that should satisfy fans and genre newcomers alike. It has a particularly short run time of 4-5 hours but offers multiple branching narratives. At no point did I start to lose interest and Seers Isle kept me entertained throughout its story. With multiple different conclusions on offer, Nova-Box aims to keep you busy with one of their novels yet again.
You can purchase Seers Isle on the Nintendo eShop by clicking here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.