Recently, the developers of Neon Tide contacted me to tell me about their Kickstarter campaign and ask if I’d be interested in playing their demo.
Neon Tide is a cyberpunk visual novel set in a world with sentient AI and a virus known as the “Neon Tide” that is affecting robots.
The visual novel itself is almost completed, and the Kickstarter campaign is so they can add voice acting as well as a Japanese translation.
It’s clearly an ambitious project, with character models instead of the typical 2D sprites used in visual novels and a mixture of still shots and animated scenes. The cyberpunk aesthetic is visible throughout the game, including its menus, which gives it a nice flair.
However, I feel like it could benefit from a bit of traditional visual novel storytelling as well. The silent scenes in the demo, while impressive, were a bit hard to follow. I found myself hoping for a bit of narration to give more context to the game’s events.
(Then again, maybe the ambiguity is intentional, especially if it’s the start of the game.)
Neon Tide’s demo tosses you into the fray with two characters. One is a sentient hologram whose motives are unclear aside from hating AI, and the other is an AI infected by the Neon Tide trying to escape some sort of robot facility.
I was intrigued by what was happening, but again, I wanted a bit more context. Similarly, while the hologram character (Beta) had a few moments of internal narration, it wasn’t quite enough yet for me to connect to him as a character. He seems like the main protagonist, but I was more interested in what was going on with the robots.
According to the Kickstarter page, the fully-infected AI wants to rule over humanity while the partly-infected AI wants the two groups to live in harmony, and it sounds like Beta will be swept up in trying to learn the truth about the Neon Tide.
Neon Tide has an intriguing premise and an ambitious vision. The demo left me just a bit too confused to be sold on its storytelling, but I’ll be keeping an eye on it as we go forward.---
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