Seeing a Type-Moon visual novel, Witch on the Holy Night, officially grace Western shores is a genuinely shocking yet delightful sight I’m indescribably relieved by. This developer is most prominently known for the cultural phenomenon that is the Fate franchise, as well as several other releases, like the beloved Tsukihime. In truth, I used to be a die-hard fan of their works over a decade ago, but their eventual primary focus on the mobile gacha title, Fate/Grand Order, caused my interest in their projects to wane drastically.
Though the incoming localization of Witch on the Holy Night has pulled me back in because of how unprecedented it is – not even the Fate series has seen any of its pure visual novels receive official English releases.
Plus, I’ve only ever heard vague mumblings about this entry throughout the years, so this experience of mine is essentially entirely blind. The title originally launched for Japan in 2012, with this upcoming release being an enhanced version with full voice acting.
This demo begins with dense descriptors revolving around the gargantuan mansion in which the protagonist, Aoko Aozaki, lives alongside her roommate, Alice Kunoji. The two have a particularly unique relationship that players will gradually glean fragments of, one rooted in the currently bewildering society of magic. Aoko is studying magecraft from her mentor Alice, but she suffers from the classic double life as a student, which has caused transparent harm to her magical progress. Her arrival into this veiled layer of the world seemingly originates from her grandfather informing her of such matters in her earlier youth.
For as brief as the roughly 50-minute demo is, Aoko left an endearing lasting impression, thanks to her apparent clumsiness complementing her evident efforts in tackling the complications before her. Many elements of her characterization and motivations remain mysterious. Still, the demo contains enough banter and introspective moments to engage prospective players.
On the other hand, Alice appears to be the supposed ‘Witch’ of the title, with the demo’s latter half demonstrating her magical aptitude against intruders. As a result, she is wrapped in a far grander ribbon of an enigma than Aoko, also partially due to her relatively silent nature. The last central character highlighted throughout the demo is Soujyuro, who received roughly equal focus compared to Aoko. He resides in the mansion Aoko and Alice live in too, and it’s suggested that they do not intend to make him aware of magic.
Soujyuro used to live in the mountains and recently moved to standard civilization, causing him to have difficulties adjusting to such circumstances. Correspondingly, some fish out of the water exchanges are utilized, although they’re never irritatingly depicted. In fact, his honest questions about mundane matters are pretty humorous at points. Moreover, Soujyuro is astonishingly dedicated and competent at what he sets out to do, such as cleaning out the weeds of the mansion all on his own, much to the sheer shock of Aoko and Alice. Speaking of, alongside Aoko, I enjoyed Soujyuro’s antics as much as hers, so I’m eagerly looking to whatever his role is in the full game.
Aside from the cast, the slight auditory glimpses of the soundtrack were splendid, especially the beginning piano that established a simultaneously whimsical yet otherworldly mood. Additionally, the presentation is sublime. The character artwork is fantastic, but the background scenery arguably caught my attention more. It’s cleanly gorgeous, and the teased, grimy environments embedded within the magical world truly emphasize its stark distance from ordinary life.
Unfortunately, I did spot typos throughout the demo, and while they did not ruin the experience, they can mitigate reading pacing. Hopefully, the script is given a few more editing passes prior to launch. Still, the natural dynamics of the character relationships in dialogue and the narration’s distinct voice were compelling aside from those few missteps. However, I’m sure that those familiar with the source material’s script will have greater qualms than a complete newcomer like myself who is unaware of significant context.
Witch on the Holy Night is proving to be a genuinely captivating visual novel that already has me sold thanks to its charming characters, terrific presentation, and intriguing scenarios. Even if you have no history with Type-Moon’s extensive catalog, I encourage you to try the demo, as there’s a fair chance you’ll be pulled in.
If anything, I sincerely hope this English release performs well so that other Type-Moon visual novels can receive official localizations of their own. The Witch on the Holy Night demo is currently freely available on the PlayStation Network and Nintendo Switch eShop.
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