Mankind is its own worse nightmare. Wars, disease, and famine are bad enough, but we like to up the ante. Through pollution and greed, we ruin everything around us. What’s more, when the world is divided, the powerful people make the gap as large as possible. This is Vengeful Heart in a nutshell. It’s a futuristic look at how terrible life could be.
Developed by Salmon Snake. and published by Top Hat Studios, Inc, this is a cyberpunk visual novel title. Presented with a pixelated style, this is wonderfully retro. On top of this, it utilises synth music to add to the 80s vibes. However, unlike its peers, there are limited branches to the story and this may frustrate some.
Vengeful Heart: a story of betrayal.
Now, call me sick, if you will, but I adore a good betrayal plot. It’s fascinating to watch the hero being knocked down, only to rise from the flames. This happens brilliantly in Vengeful Heart. However, if you are hopeful of some romance to lighten the mood, this is sadly lacking. Therefore, strap yourself in and prepare for many hard-hitting moments.
You are Josephine Lace, a young hydraulic engineer who is eager to please. She is obsessed with work and is desperate to climb the corporate ladder. However, her plans are destroyed when the company she works for betrays her. See, this futuristic world is short on water, and subsequently, this liquid gold makes people greedy. Yet where there is greed, there is rebellion, and this is the turning point for the protagonist. A life-changing event occurs, and she barely survives. Hell-bent on revenge, Josephine moves in different circles and tries to undermine the corporation she used to hold so dear.
Execution, characters, and where is the depth?
Whenever I take on a visual novel, I always worry that the plot will be poorly executed. Sadly, my concerns came to the fore as many of the excellent ideas felt fragmented. Accordingly, it was extremely frustrating to see the wonderful ideas evolving and then not flow together. Now, this genre is guilty of this when there are multiple story branches. However, Vengeful Heart has limited choices, so it should be much stronger in this aspect.
So, the plot is a little bitty, but surely the characters will come to the rescue? Unfortunately not! For unknown reasons, the hero’s persona changes very early on. Subsequently, the betrayal element of the story unfolds very quickly. Now, some of you may like that it gets to the point early on, but I prefer a bit more suspense. One benefit, though, was the introduction of new people and the rich look at social commentary. I adored the blend of characters and the blunt and eye-opening dialogue. Yet, it’s a shame the developers didn’t build this up much slower.
The layers of revenge and hate are clear to see, but other elements take a back seat. The game’s blurb indicates romance as a poignant experience, yet it was more of a damp squib. It was a shame that this plays second fiddle to the core moments, as it would have added depth without detracting from the story.
Vengeful Heart is wonderfully retro and futuristic.
The terms wonderfully retro and futuristic are a contradiction, yet they are relevant for this title. Vengeful Heart has a brilliantly dated look that captures its futuristic imagery. The use of pixelated portraits and low-detail backdrops reminded me of 80s gaming. Furthermore, the purple and neon tones blended with cold and overbearing structures were cold, callous, and dystopian in style. Overall, the presentation didn’t amaze me, but it worked well with the theme, without being remarkable.
The audio, on the other hand, was fantastic. The synth music brilliantly sets the scene with its metallic and electronic tones. Again, it was reminiscent of the 80s, and this complements the pixelated imagery. Moreover, it was nicely balanced with the pace of the story and the dialogue. Like its peers, there is little reliance on sound effects, so the developers needed to get this right. Luckily, they got it spot on.
Relax and read.
What I cherish about the visual novel genre is how relaxing they are to play. The controls are always simple and a handy skip function speeds things up. Vengeful Heart follows suit, mostly, but its auto-read function is abysmal. I struggled to balance the pace, and this broke the immersion. It is a minor thing, but I don’t want to hold the controller all the time. Annoyingly, this game made me do just that.
With two endings to experience, there is some replay value. Luckily, the two branches have unique moments and this prevents repetition. However, it isn’t the longest story, so you’ll get through it quickly. Unlike its peers, there is no good or bad finale and this was unusual. Furthermore, you don’t need to see both endings, but they tidy up the aforementioned disjointed elements of the plot, so it is worth the effort.
Vengeful Heart could have been fantastic.
There is plenty to enjoy about Vengeful Heart, however, it misses many opportunities. Consequently, it doesn’t fulfil its potential, as it could have been brilliant. Sadly, it rushes its character development, and the plot is too fragmented. What’s more, the romantic moments are lacking depth and feel like an afterthought. However, though it could have been better, I still enjoyed it. Therefore, I recommend you to buy it here! Revenge is all-consuming. Yet, when your world is ripped apart, what else do you have to live for?