It’s been a while since I played Chess of Blades. But since I liked the game a lot and I’m on itch.io now, I‘d like to give my impression (possible spoilers included).
Overall, the game was a great experience. I was hooked since the first time I heard about it, because I’m a sucker for fantasy, romance and aristocratic themes. Moreover, the characters were very handsome and fascinated me at first sight. Initially, I wasn’t sure about the humor part because I usually don’t like comedy that much. But I have to say, it turned out to be very pleasant. It didn’t feel ‘over the top’, as it is often the case in games with comedic themes. And I had the feeling that it fitted very well with the noble setting and the puffed up little peacock boys and girls (as Sabre would say).
I also liked the characters, especially the cold-hearted Linnaeus and the passionate Franz. They were so different in their personality. I remember that one dinner scene when they sat at the table next to Rivian and looked at each other in such a malicious way. I already saw the cutlery flying through the room. : D Of course, Rivian was great as well. He was such a cutie with his unique sense of humor and his social allergy! I couldn’t have wished for a better protagonist. I also liked the supporting characters. Everyone had their own unique personality and was an important part of the story and the world.
The storytelling is very good, too. Each route had a different story to tell, so you didn’t get the feeling of having seen everything after completing one route. That motivated me to play through the game several times. I also liked the many secrets and plot twists. Especially Sabre’s route was a very interesting surprise. It wasn’t what I expected (in more than one way hehe). But I’m very happy how that turned out to be.
The art style is also very beautiful. The characters and backgrounds are carefully designed and a lot prettier than in Requiescence. The protagonist and his three love interests look very detailed and elegant and their appearance fits well with the setting. The same is true for the supporting and antagonistic characters.
But also the background characters are drawn with great care. That’s very important to me, because those minor characters are often involved in the events in one way or another, even if we often don’t know exactly, who of them is talking at a certain moment. Sometimes, you hear some voices whispering, talking, discussing, or cheering in the background, while seeing different faces. That gives me a feeling of immersion.
The only criticism I have is that some CG's were used for multiple scenes without adjusting the background. For example the identical kissing scene with Sabre in the cellar and in Rivian’s room, although Rivian’s room looks totally different.
I’m really thankful that the game has full voice acting! The voices fit so well with the characters they belong to. I must confess, I really fall for Franz. His voice was so deep and sexy, that I still have goosebumps while thinking about it. Only Sabre’s recording could be somewhat better. I sometimes had the feeling that his dubber’s microphone was of lesser quality. But maybe that's just my imagination. Overall, I liked his voice too.
The music is very memorable, cheerful and goes well with the aristocratic theme. I especially liked the opening tune and the melody that was played at the stalls. You really feel like you are part of the festival. As if you would stroll along and buy things yourself.
Another advantage is that the game is more interactive than Requiescence. I prefer to have lots of choices in a visual novel, so that I can feel more like a part of the fictive world around me. I also liked the way how there’s no obvious way to reach the good ending and therefore you could say something wrong and miss it by accident. When I play a game I want to be challenged and to think about what I'm saying to solve a situation satisfactorily. In this regard, I especially liked the courtroom scene in Linnaeus’ route.
Unfortunately, the bad endings felt more like a ‘game over’ to me. That was a pity, because I think that endings should be designed in such a way that you feel like you've come to an end, even if it's a negative one.
But that’s the only bigger point of criticism I have. I had much fun with the game. Next to story and characters, I especially liked the playing time. I prefer long visual novels (around 100,000 words ore more) because I often feel that shorter games leave to unresolved issues and open questions. Nonetheless, the Story has the potential to be continued. I wouldn’t mind another game, which is playing in this universe. But it can also be considered a completed work. Both things work.
Thanks again to Argent Games for this very good game. I had a lot of fun with it. Keep up the good work! : )