Title: A Light in the Dark
Developer: CreSpirit, Storia, Narrator
Release Date: April 5, 2023
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Sekai Games
Genre: Visual Novel
Originally released on Steam in 2018, A Light in the Dark has arrived with a new port for consoles. This is a visual novel set in Taiwan where Protagonist Hao-Chen Jiang is kidnapped by a mysterious and threatening Woman living in poverty with her younger sister. The Woman kidnapped Hao-Chen due to his wealthy background, hoping that she and her younger sister could make off with a large amount of money by holding Hao-Chen for ransom.
A Light in the Dark opens as Hao-Chen is tied up in a rundown room in an unknown location. The only thing he can do is try and improve his relationship with his kidnappers in the hopes that he’ll be released while also making sure he doesn’t succumb to the injuries that the Eldest Sister begins inflicting on him when he attempts to free himself.
Most of the game will be spent on Hao-Chen getting to know the sisters each day, which represents the narrative chapters. Like other visual novels, the player can make choices that can change the story and, in the process, Hao-Chen’s relationships with both sisters.
An extra precaution the player has to look out for is the stamina meter that decreases whenever Hao-Chen get’s hurt, such as when the Eldest Sister gets angry at a sarcastic reply.
The Eldest sister, in general, is always angry with Hao-Chen and treats him with disdain during most of their conversations because she thinks he has it easy in life. In contrast, she and her younger sister had to suffer through poverty.
While she’s aloof and rude most of the time, her Younger Sister is shy and a little nicer to Hao-Chen. I should note that both Sisters’ voices are performed amazingly by Yurika Kubo as the Eldest and Kana Ichinose as the shy Younger Sister.
Slowly each choice the player makes will progress the relationship between the characters and hopefully get him closer to freedom. Suppose you’re worried about quickly losing stamina by making a wrong choice. In that case, there are opportunities to regain stamina during each chapter, where you can take a break from talking to perform optional actions. The first is rest, which regains stamina, while another is observing the room to find something useful to help later on.
As you view the rundown room and examine each object lying around, you soon notice the details the developers had put towards showing the bleak situation the three main characters are in, providing a claustrophobic feeling. Still, some scenes take you out of the room, such as flashbacks or when the point of view changes to the Eldest Sister as she thinks about Hao-Chen and how to handle the kidnapping without making it worse for herself and her sister.
One last option is to talk to one of the sisters again. Depending on which one is in the room, you may gain some information about their life. The Sister’s relationship with each other is as central to the game as Hao-Chen’s kidnapping. There’s even a moment where you can cast doubt in the Younger Sister’s mind about what her Eldest Sister is doing and try and convince her to assist in an escape, even if it goes to the point that you’re manipulating her.
The choices made matter as they lead to one of the multiple endings, whether escaping from your imprisonment safely, with a few wounds or not escaping at all. Aside from the Sister’s backstory, significant time is spent telling Hao-Chen’s life, such as issues with his parents.
Depending on how you approach the narrative, you can try to improve his situation by befriending the kidnappers, but you can just as easily make him pull away from them.
A Light in the Dark features CGs to highlight important moments of the narrative, such as when the Eldest Sister threatens to kill Hao-Chen when he tries to escape, which helps make the scene feel even more impactful as you try to predict what might happen next and if you’re about to see Hao-Chen face a bad ending. The entire experience is an intense and surprisingly realistic story where you must make strategic choices to survive a genuinely dark situation.
A Light in the Dark features significant reply value thanks to its choice system and story that has players want to see Hao-Chen make it out alive. The story is full of dark and traumatic truths about each character, adding to their depth and complexity. Additionally, this console port makes it a bit more approachable by adding the voiced female leads that do well to immerse the player in this fascinating narrative.
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