Title: Harmony: The Fall of Reverie
Developer: DON'T NOD
Release Date: June 8, 2023
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: DON'T NOD
Genre: Narrative Adventure
Developer Don’t Nod has made a name for themselves in the narrative adventure department, and seeing them expand their ideas and systems to new IPs creates an exciting foundation for the future of this team. Harmony: The Fall of Reverie is a self-published visual novel adventure that aims to explore a branching narrative where choices have a significant impact on the outcome of all characters involved. However, the story pacing and conclusion don’t do justice to the strong opening.
Harmony: The Fall of Reverie begins when Polly returns home in search of her missing mother. However, while investigating her vacant old home, she stumbles upon a necklace that opens a path to Reverie. It’s here that she meets her fate of stepping into the shoes of Harmony, a goddess tasked with choosing the next Aspiration to rule over Reverie.
Harmony and Polly are pretty much the same person, and the personality of the character doesn’t change no matter which role they take on. However, their responsibilities differ as Harmony must deal with navigating these godly tasks while Polly must interact with old friends who also require her assistance.
The setup is unique and engaging in these opening acts, but the narrative ends up falling apart by the second half. Elements of gameplay change, and the story becomes a bit flimsy. It’s as if some points of the plot are left on the table to force a conclusion onto the player. It mostly feels like a way to pad the already short runtime of the experience, but so much of the narrative becomes overly wordy explanations and long-winded dialog.
However, the presentation of this narrative is one of brilliance. The themes become rather heavy, and this is complimented by the character animations during dialog. It makes it easy to empathize with the current situation and understand what each character is feeling. The voice acting also does wonders in following the story as it gives significant personality to each of the characters.
Some of the most standout characters are the Aspirations of Humanity, comprised of Glory, Bliss, Power, Chaos, Bond, and Truth. Each of these characters plays into their name and will, over time, shape Polly’s story. Further, depending on who you side with the most, branching paths won’t become available until replaying chapters.
This introduces the most significant feature of the game, where a timeline represents various choices made by Polly and Harmony that branch the narrative and affect some aspects of the conclusion. While there are different paths to the end, I’d say everything gets really good towards the end of the first half. Crystals representing the Aspirations are collected as you navigate this timeline, which can potentially lock you out or routes if you don’t have a balanced pool of crystals.
The nodes act as paths chosen by the player, but some are locked, requiring a key or number of crystals to proceed. The choices available were tough to make at times. Still, the way it shaped the narrative is profound in a way that only this team could pull off. It’s clear that understand how to keep tension high when needed, but they aren’t afraid to also take time to show different aspects of these characters that shape their personalities.
However, some choices didn’t really feel like I was changing anything of significance. There’s really no indication if you made the correct choice or not. Even when I was trying to be mean or confrontational, the story continued. Regardless, it’s a clever system that works in some unique ways.
Strangely, a few of the most impactful moments of the story happen off-screen. While the outcome is displayed within the cast, the actual events are missed by the player, which hurts its impact. Still, it’s impossible to actually lose the game, so you just sit with the consequences, and you’ll eventually get through the narrative. I don’t see this as a negative since the story is rather good, but it’s best to know what you’re getting yourself into.
Harmony: The Fall of Reverie has an amazing presentation that gives narrative adventure fans a visual treat to watch as they progress the story. The branching paths carry some emotional weight, but the second half really drops the ball on keeping the plot consistent. If you’re up for a relaxing mystery that revolves around unique themes and characters, make this your next weekend game.
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