Meteor World Actor: Badge and Dagger Review – Leaving the Heroines in the Shadows

    Title: Meteor World Actor: Badge & Dagger
    Developer: Heliodor
    Release Date: June 10, 2022
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Shiravune
    Genre: Visual Novel

Meteor World Actor: Badge & Dagger continues the story of detective Ruka Hiryu in the Seventh Republic. While it’s not strictly necessary to play the previous visual novel — the one banned on Steam for no good reason — this is a story in development. The game does its best to make it easy for newcomers to enjoy, but it’s tightly connected with the events of the previous Meteor World Actor, and there’s also a tease for another sequel.

The Meteor World Actor series takes place in a world that mixes fantasy elements with a modern/futuristic setting. In a society where non-humans and keepers, people with powers, exist, various social issues and crimes emerge. While the Seventh Republic tries to act as a human-centered society that accommodates other races, this nation covered by the eternal veil of the night has a terrifying criminal underbelly.

To investigate whatever cases show up and try to keep order, we have the National Police Agency. The NPA handles all sorts of crimes, having each division deal with a specific part of the job, like forensics or traffic. At the lowest rank of the agency, there’s a group of infamous sideliners who could not function well in their original sectors. The worst offender of them all is Ruka Hiryu, our protagonist.

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Ruka acts like a dumb, insensitive, and incompetent person, but this is partially an act. While he mostly fumbles the cases and all sorts of people in the force hate his guts, it’s more that he’s focused elsewhere. Ruka’s determined to end the Cult, a criminal organization responsible for some of the worst crimes the Seventh has seen. He wouldn’t even spare a thought for his safety if there was a chance to accomplish this mission.

While he has strong ice powers, their constant use leads to severe consequences for his body. Eventually, they will likely go haywire and cover him in ice. As he struggles against the Cult, he delays this inevitable fate with drugs. However, Badge & Dagger shows that Ruka is getting worse, and teases that the end of his life is near.

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Meanwhile, the NPA is undergoing some curious internal changes. The thirteenth division gets two newcomers: an antisocial forensics investigator called Nagare and the snob first division ex-member Alex. These two don’t mingle with the rest of the team, and both seem to be hiding their intentions. There are also rumors about the top brass closing the thirteenth division down.

The first game focused on presenting the Seventh Republic, its conflicts, and various aspects of the world around it. Now, Badge & Dagger uses those as a pillar for more internal conflict and setting the pieces for yet another game. As far as moving the main plot around Ruka, it manages to be a good experience, but it also inherits the issues of the previous game for the story as a whole.

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First of all, this is a relatively short sequel, with only two main chapters tied to two new “heroines.” The focus isn’t on them, the crucial aspect of the story is the straight path to the ending, so it feels more like they shoehorned those scenes into the game. It’s a shame because the detailed illustrations are gorgeous, but these side dishes are just as unsatisfactory as the original game’s character routes.

As a sequel, Badge & Dagger doesn’t manage to develop a lot of threads left behind by the first game. It instead decides to shift its focus entirely elsewhere, making a lot of characters feel like they don’t matter much anymore. Despite the issues, the series’ charm, engaging dialogue, and worldbuilding are all here, making it an enjoyable read.

The visuals are also top-notch, with a few animated scenes for action events. Even during the more basic battles without all the eye candy, the game still offers polished graphic effects that help the feel of flow in those scenes. t’s easy to notice how the game reuses illustrations and music from the previous game, which is honestly a good choice as they were already very good.

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Unfortunately, Meteor World Actor: Badge & Dagger is a short experience that, like its predecessor, doesn’t handle its heroines well. It’s a big shame because the series has an exciting worldview that should have at least one game deserving the status of a masterpiece. Maybe the next one can finally live up to all its potential. Nonetheless, I still recommend the series for its stellar world-building and gorgeous illustrations.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Ivanir Ignacchitti

Random Japanese games are my jam. Handhelds, RPGs, VNs and PC banzai.