Meteor World Actor Review – A Sleuth in a Stylish Dark World

    Title: Meteor World Actor
    Developer: Heliodor
    Release Date: November 30th, 2020
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Shiravune
    Genre: Visual Novel

Meteor World Actor is a visual novel developed by Heliodor and written by Syougo Kinugasa, known for works such as Akatsuki no Goei and the light novel series Classroom of the Elite. With gorgeous arts by Yuu Akinashi (Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate), the game has a stylish and cool ambiance that is clear from the very first minutes of the story and its opening video.

One thing worth of mention before getting into more details is that this game is only available in its 18+ version (with mosaics in the sex scenes) and sold exclusively via the Johren storefront. Publisher ShiraVN originally meant to release an All-Ages version through Steam as well, but the game was unfortunately hit with a ban.

Meteor World Actor has fascinating worldbuilding. It takes place in a fantasy world where humans, elves, and other races exist, but instead of a medieval period, it’s set in the future. Specifically, the most crucial area to the story is the Seventh Republic, a country where some of those races live in harmony despite being ruled exclusively by humans.

Tensions between races are commonplace, but it’s mostly peaceful at the end of the day compared to the days of yore. Once upon a time, something happened in the Republic that deprived it of the sunlight, making its urban areas into eternal night cityscapes. Besides humans, elves are one of the most common races in the Republic. They are a special race that can control the wind with magic powers. Though the elves’ original motherland is Alfheim, they’ve migrated to many places around the world with the globalization trends.

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Segitts are another significant part of the Seventh Republic. Despite humans being the original population and having the most power, their high reproduction rates make them an already vast and increasing portion of the populace. Their most impressive trait is their physical prowess, making them strong and resilient, but it’s also easy for them to lose their temper, and that leads to a bad reputation as usual suspects for crimes.

Meteor World Actor tells the story of Ruka Hiryu, a detective in the 13th Division of the National Police Agency (NPA). He’s a longtime veteran in the force, but he’s still at the lowest rank of the investigation chain. The 13th Division is an ostracized group for nobodies, and Ruka is known to have a low rate of success in his cases, besides obvious personality issues.

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Frankly speaking, Ruka is a mess, being too apathetic to get things done most of the time and getting on the nerves of pretty much anyone he meets. He’s terrible with the women, and his big ego (with no reason to deserve that) leads to him trying to treat others as inferior often.

However, he’s a memorable protagonist with an intriguing backstory, and most of the things he does are more of his twisted idea of a joke than anything else. It’s easy to feel empathy for him, like a friend with a bad attitude who is still dear despite it.

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The story starts when he gets a new partner, a rookie called Claris. She’s an elf who was sent straight to the 13th Division, and he has to train her. Being the lazy bum that he is, the two end up butting heads often, mostly with humorous retorts.

Other important characters include the other division members, the musclehead segitt Vars, the nerdy and gloomy Tamako, the lone wolf Sosuke and the morale-boosting underachiever Chief Yamada. They are a fun group who often jokingly picks on Ruka for his constant failures.

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Even more relevant to the overall game are the heroines, though, since Meteor World Actor is an eroge. Besides Claris, there are three other main girls. The first one is the segitt Chiffon, who looks small, a trait that’s actually common for the females in the race, but don’t let that fool you: her strength is the genuine thing. She’s a hardworking girl who’s mastered the secret arts of being poor and moves to the same building as the protagonist, a decrepit and cheap apartment complex.

Another heroine is Mell, a human who comes from Genomland, who is polite, kind, and hiding because of particular circumstances. Accompanied by the knight Harrelson, her time in the Seventh Republic somehow allows much more freedom than she had in her original home.

The final love interest is Komachi, a cop from the Traffic Division. She’s a sociable girl who’s famous in the NPA, making friends wherever she goes. Besides her contacts in all divisions, this social butterfly is also known for her high attendance to group dates.

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All the characters are somehow involved with specific cases Ruka ends up investigating, and their backstories are intriguing enough to make them all special in their own ways. As the story progresses, more pieces of the world are shown, making for an imposing setting. Keep in mind the player has no bearing in the investigation, which is solved by the characters themselves.

Another aspect that’s fundamental to the game is its atmosphere. The Seventh Republic is a dark place, but instead of the pure ominous threat of darkness, it’s filled with this cozy ambiance of the coolness of the night. Rather than fear, it evokes curiosity as its fantastic jazzy soundtrack coordinates the mood of the events.

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Visually speaking, it’s also impeccable. The characters are really expressive in both sprites and CGs, and the interface’s style with cooler colors (blue, black, gray) collaborates with the ambiance.

The backgrounds are detailed and interesting, with the urban areas showing buildings that feel futuristic and old enough to make for a believable world that people live in. The backstreets look shadier, a little filthy, and like a place in which a criminal could jump out of at any moment.

However, after a while, the reuse of these detailed backgrounds can make it feel a little odd, as it’s easy to associate them with previous scenes from different areas. It’s just a minor thing, and it isn’t frequent. Another small inconvenience is that some small typos are here and there, but they are easy to ignore.

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The issue with the game is definitely the character routes. Each heroine’s route is expanded, offering a better insight into their backstories, but the ending abruptly halts the actual development. Though the game isn’t short at all, these are lacking, presenting much more significant issues that are left unresolved.

I’ll also mention that the sex scenes (even with mosaics) are really, for lack of a better word, sexy. However, the narrative ends with a feeling of being unfulfilled. Like putting a tape of “hey, they are happy now” in a broken aquarium of plots that absolutely should have been resolved and are just leaking for the next adventure.

Sadly, this brings to a head that the character routes are rushed and leave a lot to be desired. They have a few great moments, but they don’t even deal with what’s going on satisfactorily.

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In the end, Meteor World Actor offers a well-defined atmosphere with worldbuilding on a level that matches some of the best in the genre. Sadly, the character routes are underwhelming, but that doesn’t compromise everything it has to offer leading up to the conclusion. I’d love to see a proper continuation of the tale of these fascinating characters who live in a city eternally covered by the darkness of the night.

Score:
8/10
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.