A Clockwork Ley-line: Daybreak of Remnants Shadow Review – It’s Always Darkest Before Dawn

    Title: A Clockwork Ley-line: Daybreak of Remnants Shadow
    Developer: Unison Shift: Blossom
    Release Date: March 18, 2022
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Sekai Project
    Genre: Visual Novel

A letter arrives at your doorstep. Curious, you open it eagerly and read the words aloud, not knowing that this one sentence would change everything. “Do you have a wish that you want granted?” This iconic line shown at the beginning of the first entry in the A Clockwork Ley-line series etched itself into my mind as I was transported to this supernatural world.

Now, fans of the series can stop wishing and start celebrating as there is no longer any need to wait for your own letter to a prestigious, magical academy to arrive. Sorry to disappoint Harry Potter lovers, but this one won’t be from Hogwarts. So, whether you’re a devout follower of these stories or just a lover of the visual novel medium, this long-awaited release will undoubtedly have you rejoicing.

A Clockwork Ley-line is a three-part Japanese eroge visual novel that takes place at the renowned, yet mystifying, Libra Lapis Lazuli Private Academy. The first installment, titled The Borderline of Dusk, has you play the part of Koga Michiru, a new enrollee at the academy who, unfortunately, forgets the first rule of starting at a new school and immediately stands out for all the wrong reasons.

With Sekai Project finally releasing the second part of developer Unison Shift: Blossom’s trilogy after nearly five years, long-time readers and VN enthusiasts alike will undoubtedly enjoy this “middle child” of mystical misadventures that is sure to satisfy your cravings for minor misdemeanors, muddled mysteries and, of course, mischievous Mists.

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Fair warning, Daybreak of Remnants Shadow is a direct sequel to part one, The Borderline of Dusk, so before you proceed, it’s recommended that you finish that game before getting into the follow-up. But, unless you’re a masochist that likes engaging with sequels first, then, by all means, go ahead. It’s also important to note that this is the “all-ages” release being reviewed, and you can always choose to play the mature version for a more…’ rewarding’ experience.

Daybreak of Remnants Shadow retains the same lovable core group, which includes Koga Mitsuyoshi, older brother to Koga Michiru and our main protagonist who, as we learned before, is attending the school in his younger sister’s stead, along with Shishigatani Ushio, the stoic and aloof, but quietly caring de facto leader of the group, and, Karasuma Kotaro, the well-mannered, emotional, and occasionally reliable friend. Together, they take center stage while the ever-present supporting cast of Rito, Mibu Tsubaki, Murakumo Kasumi, and Murakumo Shizuka is always there to lend a helping hand to our terrific trio.

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Our tale begins with the Bureau members dealing with another out-of-control magical object called a Mist, a common occurrence in the previous release. Chaos and hilarity ensue as the group attempts to prevent the Mist from causing more havoc but eventually, they can stop its troublesome ways. But, although the day is saved, new guests arrive at the school in the form of a woman named Adelheid, and her butler, Louis. The only question is will they be friend or foe?

The game is divided into 6′ episodes’, including an epilogue at the end, with each section taking at least 2 hours to complete. The first few chapters felt slow and episodic, with minimal advancement for the main plot. However, the writing and dialogue make up for these ‘filler episodes’ as the conversations between characters are easy to follow and are often hilarious.

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Additionally, the narrative choices scattered throughout the novel are mostly just fluff, although some selections do determine who gets to be your romantic interest in the epilogue.

This series’ strengths remain consistent throughout, with the animation style, background design, and voice acting especially standing out. The depiction of the environments shown throughout sets up the plot beautifully, with each backdrop complementing the atmosphere and the feel of the current situation.

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The character sprites are well-drawn and distinctly designed, as each frame skillfully portrays the attitude and personality of the novel’s cast. Finally, the voice acting truly takes this visual tale to a whole other level as it brings the characters to life, making them relatable and gives you the feeling that these are a tight-knit group of friends ready to help (or make fun of) each other at a moment’s notice. The combination of these elements, displayed steadily throughout this series, elevates what was already a well-written story to a must-read magical mystery adventure.

Even the game’s UI, located within the text box, is easy to use and navigate. Along with the typical UI features present in VNs, the Previous Choice button conveniently allows you to go back to the last choice you were presented with, enabling you to see the outcomes of different routes. If you’re planning to go through the game again but want to skip most of the dialogue, the Skip button allows you to fast-forward through conversations, while the Next Choice button lets you move to the next selectable option.

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Now, although this series does display its strengths in spades, like any other work of art, it also does have its weaknesses, albeit few. Translation issues, which were a common occurrence in the first game, are relatively less prominent this time, although they still pop up every now and then.

Further, the soundtrack, often noticeable in visual novels, is generic and forgettable, with only a few pieces actually standing out. At one point, a scene had two songs, both with very different moods, playing at the same time. Suffice to say; I was very confused about what to feel at that moment.

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A Clockwork Ley-line: Daybreak of Remnants Shadow is a great follow-up, as it successfully builds upon the accomplishments of the previous installment through its consistency. Placing more focus on its story and relationship development makes the plot more engaging, and the characters become relatable and easy to root for. The writing, visuals, and voice acting especially stand out, and its strengths outweigh its few weaknesses. Though the opening was slow and, honestly, felt like ‘fillers,’ the action does pick up quickly enough and goes into overdrive, especially during the last two chapters.

Whether you’re a visual novel veteran or a newbie, A Clockwork Ley-line as a series is a great entry point into VNs. With a completion time of around 15-20 hours, you can pick it up and play it in short bursts, but it’s also just as easy to get lost in it because the story is that good. Personally, I’m very excited for the third chapter, and my only wish is that this time, we don’t have to wait too long for the series finale, and it gets released sooner than later, like clockwork.

Score:
8/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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