Update Three Hundred and One: 14 April 2019
This is going to be one of my more incoherent reviews, and for that I apologize. I finished this game yesterday morning, which makes the distinction of the longest length of time between finishing a game and writing a review for it. Last night we had a spectacular D&D session that was incredibly fun and gratifying. My character lost in a tournament against her estranged older sister, lead a brutal interrogation, and acquired an enchanted tetsubo, and then my friends stayed up talking with me literally until 6 am in the morning when I finally kicked them out. Suffice it to say, I didn’t get a full night’s sleep and my brain is still whirling with stuff and another player gave me this amazing fanart they painted of my character in ANOTHER game and we barely know each other but they liked how I was playing him and I feel giddy as hell and it’s really hard to focus on things but I’m going to do my best.
I have a tension-filled relationship with Choice Of Games offerings—they’re right up my alley and of variable but usually very good quality on the one hand, but they lack basic quality of life features and have very little achievement documentation on the other. I haven’t AVOIDED playing these games, per se, but when Heart of the House came up, I certainly was a little nervous.
I really shouldn’t have been! The writing was magnetic and interesting as hell, striking the perfect spooky tone that still allowed for levity and, of course, some really choice fockin romance. The story’s clear progression—you chasing after your Uncle Kent and tracking him to this strange manor far from London, gaining access and having various misadventures in said manor—moved the plot at a crisp pace and still allowed for dalliances, dreams, and of course the prerequisite masquerade ball scene. The mystery’s questions and answers are set up and given at the right pace, and, unlike in other Choice of Games titles, the ‘stats’ that you have matter less than just the actual decisions you make. I’ve been listening to the Magnus Archives as I’ve been walking dogs, so I’ve been in a spooky mood and this was the perfect complement.
I did two playthroughs, and I wasn’t sure how much I liked this game after the first playthrough, mostly because of the negative shock and heartache that I felt at getting my love interest killed. I have to admit, after that it was a blur—I was numb and aghast and pretty upset bc I liked him so much. When I realized I was still thinking about it as I laid down to try to sleep, I figured that a game that could affect me that much certainly was a game that had something going for it.
The spooks aren’t necessarily horror in a real immediate sense—I’ve read scarier visual novels—but the tensions of the mystery hold up well. Come for the haunted house, stay for the choice romances and the ever-expanding scope of wrongness as you discover the heart of the house.
This is the second Choice of Games title to make it into my Visual Novel Masterlist, which has been experiencing a renaissance of late! That’s nice c:
Okay, that’s it for me today, folks. Time to bask in these good feelings (and be thankful for them) (and try not to fall asleep until nighttime).
Next up: my kyoudai Shax gave me this for Christmas, and RNGesus decreed me to play it. Thank you so much, Shax!
See you soon!