Animamundi Dark Alchemist


by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 85/100

Animamundi: Dark Alchemist Review
Published by: Hirameki International Group
Developed by: Karin entertainment / Hirameki International Group
Format Reviewed: PC
Review by: Wencke Schuncken

Once in a while you’ll get the opportunity to review a game which isn’t mainstream or even aware of its existence. With Animamundi: Dark Alchemist it was not only that I’ve never heard of the title before but also the visual novel PC game genre was new to me. Curious I started to investigate what it really was all about but hardly found any information on the net, except in Japanese. So it was time to organise a review copy to experience and report about it so we all are informed and aware of a new gaming genre and its content.

Assumable that you haven't heard of novel games before, we'll start with a brief explanation. Novel games might best be likened to a sophisticated variation on the “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel; the player takes the part of the protagonist and makes decisions at key junctures, and the plot branches accordingly. This genre is quite popular in Japan and is now ready to conquer the heart of all gamers all over the world. It’s quite a passive game to play but the story is impressive and keeps you focussed; passive to play, active for your mind! The active playing parts are divided in answering questions and solving puzzles / riddles. The outcome predicts the story evolvement. When you’re not satisfied with the ending of the story or already disappointed that it has ended, you can always play it again but with other choices to give the story a twist. In total ten different endings are possible, either good or bad.

Animamundi Dark Alchemist Review

Take over the life of Georik Zaberisk, a young doctor with quite a reputation as the head Royal Physician. He cured the King of Hardlands’ daughter Sylvie from a terrible disease. But as everyone, choices in life have to be made and Georik decided to resign his job to take care after his little sister Lillith who is dealing with asthma. They move to the countryside where the climate is much better for Lillith’s health. Years go by and suddenly he receives an offer to serve under the king again as a doctor. While Georik visits the Kingdom of Hardland to make arrangements to move back, Lillith is accused by the villagers of exercising witchcraft. To prove that she's indeed a witch, her head needs to be chopped off. When Georik returns, the ritual already took place but he manages to secure Lillith’s head. Although she doesn’t have a body, she’s still alive. That's the proof that she's a witch after all. Georik is desperately to make her whole again, giving her a body. To help her, he has no other choice left than to start down the forbidden path of alchemy. By becoming an alchemist, Georik is making himself an enemy of king and country, subject to certain death if his activities are discovered. But his problems hardly end there: as he moves deeper into the world of the occult, Georik discovers ever-widening circles of conspiracy, stretching all the way from the palace and the criminal underworld to the farthest reaches of Heaven and Hell. Soon, Georik is struggling not only to save his sister, but himself as well.


Animamundi Dark Alchemist Review

Regarding the female point of view there are quite a few female characters which participate in this novel game. The most important one is Lillith Zaberisk. She seems to be Geroik's naïve little sister but be careful, she’s a witch! She always seems to overflow with happiness when her brother returns to her; she's his "little princess". He would give his life for her, if needed. Another popular character in the game is Sylvie Hardland, the real princess of the Hardland Kingdom. She's got a mind of her own although her father tries to force her into a marriage. The only man she wants to marry is Georik, but is such a marriage possible because of their difference in status? Last but not least is a female role given to Maryn. She's Sylvie's maid; diligent and loyal although she tries to let Sylvie act more ladylike. It turns out that she has a crush on the Captain of the Royal Guard, Mikhail. All ladies are in love, but can they reach their loves ones and build a strong relationship? Female gamers who are fond of gothic horror stories, story driven games, almost equality in gender characters and have a choice as well as responsibility of the outcome, this game is a must!


Animamundi Dark Alchemist Review

While the next generation games are mainly focussed on the most realistic graphical resolutions and pixels, Animamundi takes a step back or better stated a different approach. It's obvious that anime has made a big influence in the design. The graphical style fits perfectly to the novel game genre as pictures are being displayed as in a book. Each scenario has a different picture with a steady background but the characters do change. For example their eyes blink or a hand is raised. There aren't that many graphical changes during a scenario, which keeps you focussed on the English text written in the lower part of the screen. Of the person who's speaking, a picture is displayed and above the text, the name is mentioned. Just to keep on track who's talking IF sound is turned off or if you're having a hearing disability. The pictures reminded me of a book which also had steady backgrounds but with objects which needed to be pulled to move. This is quite equal, but of course the character changes automatically.


Animamundi Dark Alchemist Review

Atmosphere creation takes an important part in this game. Sound therefore is a very important part to influence the players emotions while the story takes place. When something is going to change, the music automatically changes as well. From light orchestral to jazzy tunes to deep, dark opera music. After playing for a while and the music changes the player understands not only by reading but especially by listening that something is going to change. Of course sound effects of swords, heart beating, hand slapping, broken glasses, etc. are used as well to influence the players' imagination / visualisation even more. The most impressive in the category sound is the voice acting. I hardly speak nor understand Japanese, but the voice acting is the best ever heard in a game as it influences your emotions. Later on I found out that the best Japanese anime voice actors were hired to do the job, and they succeeded. Especially Lillith's voice acting performance is superb; she really knew how to touch my heart with her voice. For gamers with a hearing disability, this is a very suitable game as everything is subtitled. Sound is the extra icing on the cake!


Animamundi Dark Alchemist Review

It was a nice chance to start playing a new type of game (genre) without being prejudiced as hardly any English information was available on the internet. While playing I really needed to adapt to the passive gameplay, get into the game and understand that it was a very addictive novel with extra twists by answering questions and playing riddles. Yes the story is very addictive and the urge grows and grows while playing to find out how the story evolves and what effect your choices may have. You'll even forget the possible disappointment about watching the slightly animated pictures instead of fluent animation. It's all about the story and no matter which choices you make or in which way the story evolves, it's magnificent! I've played several scenarios and it really was interesting to see the outcome of my actions. The game's atmosphere is one of a kind. The combination of emotional tempting factors such as sound and graphics are thrilling and a big applause for the voice acting. Although I didn't understand a word Japanese, the emotions in their voices touched my heart. Gamers, if you want to explore a new gaming genre, you're fond of reading stories and not afraid of getting into a gothic horror adventure, this is the game you need to experience. You won't regret it!