Title: Without A Voice
Release Date: March 20, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Studio Élan
Genre: Visual Novel
I enjoy it when visual novels leave me guessing up until the very end. Even more so, when choices in dialogue dictate what that ending will be. Developer L³ has seemingly done this in their visual novel Without A Voice, which takes us on a journey of unexpected love.
Without A Voice introduces Cassidy, a princess who has been exiled from her kingdom and must now live out her days in the forest. Although she has help from agents sent by her brother, she doesn’t seem to be adjusting too well to the new lifestyle. Still, she is trying her best and often takes matters into her own hands with chores such as collecting firewood. Her situation is a unique one, which becomes more complicated after she meets Elowen, a strange woman who claims to also live in the forest.
Cassidy and Elowen are opposite in many ways, where Cassidy requires assistance to understand day-to-day things, Elowen seems to force her assertiveness any chance she gets. It’s not clear what Elowen sees in Cassidy at first, but there’s some type of attraction between the two that grows during each encounter. However, you can tell that something is off as Elowen brings to light holes in Cassidy’s reasonings for living in the forest.
The story leaves it up to the player to decide whether to trust Elowin’s intuition or not, but there are so many reasons to doubt her. Still, the points that she brings up make sense, so you can only hope that you are leading Cassidy down the right path. Whether you trust Elowin or not will lead to one of the many endings, which frequently had my eyes glued to the story.
The themes of Without A Voice can get dark at times, which you wouldn’t have guessed considering Cassidy’s lively mood. Each playthrough takes about an hour to get through, and at that time, I couldn’t help but find myself invested in the resolve. The writing here is engaging and easy to follow, but I think the team could have lightened up on the character’s proper accents. It just came off a little corny and caused me to roll my eyes during some moments of the dialogue.
It’s clear where the branching paths in the story as most of them revolve around Cassidy siding with Elowen or questioning how she can be so blunt. This led me to not really root for their relationship since I felt that the only reason they were friends is that no one else was around. I mean, Elowen says some pretty rude things as she questions Cassidy’s way of living and intelligence. I just couldn’t imagine being friends with someone like that, let alone wanting them around me. However, many answers are cleared up as you reach certain endings, and this all makes a bit more sense, but still, their differences made it tough to believe in their potential love at first.
Without A Voice features many background environments full of colorful forest scenes. There weren’t any standout backgrounds, but there was a good handful of them that helped with the flow of the story. Character illustrations are unique and rather adorable. There are limited CGs here, but the ones you get are well detailed. Music in the game is calm and relaxing to the point where I almost fell asleep, which gave it a fairy tale vibe.
Without A Voice is a well-written story that explores the relationship of two opposite individuals, which sometimes hurt the believability of them spending time together. Still, the themes of ulterior motives and mystery kept me engaged across its multiple endings. I should also mention that the game is free on Steam, so there’s no harm in trying it for yourself.
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