Sona-Nyl of the Violet Shadows Refrain Review – Beautiful Memories in the Abyss

Exploring Memories in Sona-Nyl of the Violet Shadows Refrain: A Steampunk Odyssey

Out of Liar-soft’s extensive visual novel catalog, Sona-Nyl of the Violet Shadows Refrain stands out as one of their most renowned titles. The game has garnered a dedicated following and is part of their Steampunk series, alongside titles like Gahkthun, Valusia, Sharnoth, Inganock, and others.

Sona-Nyl of the Violet Shadows Refrain is an essential visual novel that imparts a hopeful message about humanity and the meaning of life, making it a must-play for fans of the genre.

The Steampunk series encompasses independent stories that explore journeys combining elements of fantasy and technology. In the case of Sona-Nyl, the central theme revolves around memories and their significance to humanity. People become engrossed in cherished memories, empathize with those who have experienced loss, and learn from their past experiences. It’s a poetic exploration of uncharted memories.

The Eerie Desolation of New York Through the Eyes of Elysia and Lily in Sona-Nyl

Once upon a time, there existed an advanced city known as New York. This metropolis was celebrated for its technological advancements and served as a global reference. However, one fateful day, a catastrophic event unfolded, claiming the lives of three million people within a single day. Five years after this tragedy, a young woman named Elysia Wentworth discovers a way to access the ruins of New York. The eerie desolation of this abandoned land prompts her quest for the truth. How could such a vast population vanish without a trace, leaving no remains behind?

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Simultaneously, another individual arrives in New York – Lily, a charming child who seemingly tumbled into this unfamiliar world like Alice in Wonderland. Upon awakening, Lily finds herself devoid of memories from the past and filled with curiosity about the world around her. Lily, also known as “the Stranger,” claims to have come from outside. Both Elysia and Lily share a common objective: reaching the tallest skyscraper in Manhattan. However, their experiences in the city differ significantly. Elysia encounters only ruins, while Lily explores what locals refer to as the underground. Within this enigmatic realm beneath the violet sky, Lily encounters a multitude of individuals, each with unique lives, quirks, and emotions, all of which play crucial roles in their journey.

Sona-Nyl of the Violet Shadows Refrain stands out as a poetic exploration of memories and their significance to humanity, set in a beautifully crafted steampunk world.

Sona-Nyl of the Violet Shadows recounts the tales of these two determined individuals as they navigate the desolate reality of New York. The experiences of each protagonist parallel the other, and comprehending the significance of their journeys becomes a pivotal aspect of the game. What initially appears vague and abstract gradually comes into focus in the final chapter.

The Visual Splendor of Sona-Nyl: A Unique Artistic Achievement

The narrative is both poetic and thought-provoking, delving deeply into the search for meaning in life, death, and history. However, it’s worth noting that the writing can be somewhat repetitive, as it frequently employs slightly altered sentences, which may be monotonous for some readers. This stylistic choice can be a double-edged sword, resonating more with certain readers while potentially becoming tiresome for others.

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In Lily’s stories, readers encounter various individuals who share personal poems. These tales possess intriguing layers of meaning, with the author’s inner thoughts expressed through purple text. Players should pay close attention to these words, as they can provide valuable clues during chapter transitions.

At the end of the chapters, players are required to read newspaper fragments that explain events in New York. These reports differ from the personal stories of the characters and necessitate the selection of false stories to rectify them. Choosing the wrong story can result in Elysia lacking a correct choice in the subsequent chapter, leading to an unfavorable outcome. An ominous cackling moon will appear if the player selects incorrectly.

The writing in Sona-Nyl is both poetic and thought-provoking, delving deeply into themes of life, death, and history, though its repetitive nature may not resonate with all players.

Unfortunately, the game does not provide a clear explanation of this system. Consequently, players may find themselves at a point where they have no choice but to return to the end of the previous chapter to try again. While experienced players may have a saved game to rely on, newcomers may encounter initial challenges.

In terms of visuals, Sona-Nyl is visually striking and absolutely captivating. While it may not have the budget for extensive animations, it stands out with its distinctive art style by AKIRA. During conversations, players are treated to full-body portraits of the characters, and those in the underground are adorned with unique, colorful bubbles as outlines. Characters on the surface sport simple epoch clothing, whereas those in the underground boast more distinctive appearances. Some characters feature intricate metal body parts, while others possess feline attributes. Scenes may also include framed areas that emphasize the ambiance.

Unlike most visual novels that primarily utilize medium or close-up shots to highlight character expressions and allow for economical animations, Sona-Nyl combines these with long shots and intricate compositions. The detailed backgrounds contribute to the exploration of the unique purple Underground setting, creating an otherworldly ambiance reminiscent of a fantasy realm. During the game’s infrequent battles, the ritualistic repetition reinforces the sense of magic, as Lily and the enigmatic conductor A recite similar lines and execute identical movements, evoking the atmosphere of a magical girl show.

Visually striking and captivating, Sona-Nyl’s distinctive art style by AKIRA and detailed backgrounds contribute significantly to its otherworldly ambiance.

For players seeking a deeper understanding of the context, the game provides an encyclopedia featuring various terms related to the surface, the underground, the technological advancements of the steampunk world, the mysterious creatures encountered by Lily, and many other details. Additionally, players can unlock bonus stories that delve beyond the limited scope of New York. The game offers basic functionalities regarding quality-of-life features. Players can skip text, whether previously read or not, enable auto-play for the story, and adjust the text speed from slow to instant. Rather than accessing a traditional log, players can rewind the story to a previous text box, replaying its visuals and voice.

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It’s important to note that the Steam version of Sona-Nyl includes only the all-ages content of “Refrain.” However, MangaGamer has made the original version with all the adult content available for those who purchase the game through their store. Additionally, players can obtain a patch for the Steam version on the MangaGamer website.

Why Sona-Nyl of the Violet Shadows Refrain is a Must-Play for Visual Novel Enthusiasts

Sona-Nyl of the Violet Shadows Refrain is an essential visual novel for fans of the genre. With its captivating exploration of the significance of memories through a diverse cast of characters, it imparts a hopeful message about humanity and the meaning of life. In a bleak and unforgiving world, it stands as a beautiful blossom that will flourish in the hearts of readers willing to embark on this remarkable journey.

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

Sona-Nyl of the Violet Shadows Refrain (PC)

Sona-Nyl of the Violet Shadows Refrain is an essential visual novel for any fans of the genre. Its theme of memories forms a fascinating exploration of the meaning of life and being human. A thoroughly poetic experience that proves to be thought-provoking and emotionally resonating.

The Good

  • Thought-Provoking Story: Its discussion of memories is well explored in the chapters.
  • Visually Striking: AKIRA's art style is unique, detailed, and adds an otherwordly flair to the fantasy-like Underworld.
  • Unique Visual Composition: By combining multiple shots in the same scene, it can usually look inspiring even during slow moments of the story.
  • Beyond the Base Story: Bonus stories and the terms encyclopedia are very helpful for readers who want to learn more about the context of the Steampunk world.
  • Quality-of-Life: The basic features are here, making it easy to enjoy the experience.

The Bad

  • Redundant Writing: The poetic tone of the narrative lends itself to dull repetition at times, which may annoy some readers.
  • Poorly Explained Progression: The newspaper system defines if the player will have the chance to advance or not in the next chapter and it should have some tutorial or basic explanation.