GamingReview: OPUS: Echo of Starsong

Review: OPUS: Echo of Starsong

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Reminiscing and longing are fundamental human emotions that we all tend to have, whether we like to admit it or not. It is a part of what makes us so vulnerable, so when a game can tap into these emotions successfully, it can produce a narrative that becomes very hard to forget.

OPUS: Echo of Starsong tells the story of an old nobleman by the name of Jun, who reminisces of his younger days in the Thousand Peeks galaxy. In his youth, Jun explored asteroids called lumen caves, which held a fittingly named valuable resource called lumen. After one particularly unsuccessful expedition where Jun had exploded some caves that belonged to the similarly noble East Ocean, he was exiled from his family and nobility. In an attempt to restore his family name and status, Jun joined forces with his guardian Kay, a young woman Eda and her pilot Remi to discover the secrets that the Thousand Peeks galaxy held.

Jun’s fate is in your hands

OPUS: EoS is a mashup of a visual novel, a two-dimensional side-scroller and a puzzle game all in one. Stylistically, OPUS: EoS is beautifully crafted and unique. The 2D elements of the visual novel and side-scroller often morph as you play into a 3D environment that compliments the drama and the plot magnificently. These morphs tend to occur during high-suspense moments and the art style itself lends itself well into these moments. It sports an anime-like style for the 2D character art and sprites during conversations and these morph into 3D low-poly character models during area exploration and action scenes. The combination of both 2D and 3D elements made both the characters and world of OPUS: EoS simply come to life in the best way possible.

The art for the backgrounds and environments in Thousand Peeks is simply stunning. Whilst the style itself doesn’t lend itself to realism, the world of OPUS: EoS still manages to create atmospheres that feel realistic. The lumen caves for example, whilst they are all different in capacity and under control by several groups and corporations in the galaxy, the caves themselves are presented in a way that feels isolating and closed-off from the outside galaxy. They’re lonely and suffocating; dull grey and black walls and machinery only illuminated by the rich aqua colour of the magical lumen embedded in the walls. The caves themselves are reminiscent of the galaxy outside: lonely, suffocating and full of secrets, especially if you are in the shoes of Jun or Eda.

The characters themselves are very likeable throughout the story. As you learn more about the pasts of Jun, Eda and the others, the more they begin to feel like real people with real concerns and motives—and it’s very easy to sympathise and form a connection with the main cast because of their rich backstories and hidden lore. Each character clearly has a purpose, and none are subject to stereotypical box-checking agendas. An overarching theme that I loved as a result of the bond between the main cast was the found-family aspect. Eda, Jun, Kay and Remi are all brought together by the desire to find purpose in their world—and the way that their concerns and fears of abandonment and the feeling of being useless in a situation are incredibly well written and struck deep chords with me personally as I played.

Eda and Jun’s first encounter

In addition to the lore of the characters, the world-building and development of the Thousand Peeks galaxy and the surrounding lumen caves and civilisations is wonderfully brimming with detail. As the story is being told from the perspective of Jun’s older self, each location you visit and “memory” item you obtain has valuable pieces of information and smaller details about his journey as well as his developing friendships with Eda and Remi. They can be easily missed if you tend to rush through areas without fully exploring, however so it pays to keep an eye on the walls as you pass through each location for interactable content.

Find and collect pieces of Jun’s past that shed light on the universe around him

Perhaps the most important aspect of OPUS: EoS is the music. The plot has a firm connection to sound and music, with lumen itself being powered by song and the abilities of Eda. The music is simply magnificent and ranges from more mellow pieces that you could imagine space may sound like to some more sinister and lively pieces depending on your situation. Music plays a key part in both the story and gameplay mechanics, and it’s clear that each piece was conceived with purpose and consideration into the plot. There are various puzzles that require the use of music, but one that stands out uses Jun’s sceptre to align markings on gates using the frequency and volume of Eda’s songs. Sometimes you’ll need more than one song to get through the gate which requires some exploration, but overall, the puzzles themselves are not extremely challenging.

The exploration mechanic is fairly simple. Using the galaxy chart, you can choose which areas to travel to and explore. However, you will need to keep a keen eye on your ship’s fuel and armour. If you fail to plan your fuel usage you could end up stranded in space with limited resources, which isn’t ideal. You can replenish your fuel using exploration kits that you can find in abandoned locations on the map, or they are purchasable from shops. As you travel, you may also encounter some random events that you can either run from or take on—these can range from assisting random ships to stopping pirates from hijacking ships for a reward. These choices employ dialogue checks and RNG dice rolls, so it really is down to you to gamble on your resources or not.

The more you explore, the more locations you’ll discover

Whilst this is the third title in the OPUS series, you can fully enjoy OPUS: Echo of Starsong without having any prior knowledge of the series or world that the games take place in. Without spoiling too much, OPUS: EoS is an incredibly well-made and emotional journey. You can very easily reach over 10 hours of gameplay simply due to how detailed and gripping Jun and Eda’s stories become. One of my only criticisms is that the first chapter and some of the second can feel a little stiff as you learn about the universe.

For me, OPUS: Echo of Starsong had everything I could possibly want in a game. Rich storylines, interesting characters that genuinely have purpose and have their own motives, wonderful world-building and simply magnificent music. In fact, OPUS: Echo of Starsong holds a very rare accolade of being one of the very few games that have brought me to tears by the end—in a completely good way of course. OPUS: Echo of Starsong taps into your emotions with ease and utilises them exceptionally well to create a story that is not only beautiful but equally as heart-wrenching. OPUS: Echo of Starsong is a phenomenal tale that you simply must experience.

SUMMARY

+Fantastic world-building
+Interesting and relatable characters
+Music is incredible and adds so much depth to the story
+Art is beautiful and the combination of 2D and 3D styles works incredibly well
+Easily over 10 hours of gameplay and room to do multiple playthroughs for achievements
+Puzzles and minigames are unique and blend well with the plot

-First two chapters can feel a little stiff compared to the rest
-Some people may not enjoy the RNG elements to some choices

(Reviewed on PC)
Jordan Kirkpatrick
21, Scottish, journalism student. Loves gaming, pop culture and anime.
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