Circus Reviews - Starlight Vega
I think it'd be a safe bet to say that this was one of the more anticipated OELVN releases of late 2015, even after getting pushed back to 2016. I mean, multi-route yuri game with a successful Kickstarter? Pretty good, pretty good. As one of those Kickstarter backers, I too have been eagerly awaiting the game's release. Starlight Vega centers around Aria Reid, a high school girl who moves into an old house of her grandfather's along with her mother. She and her best friend, Melody, immediately start finding strange things around the house, like a study that didn't seem to be there earlier and an old book filled with runes. One of these things, a purple gem, turns out to be more than it appears, though...When Aria touches it, a demon named Lyria is set free after fifty years, and the stone links the two of them together, meaning they can't be far apart without feeling pain. Melody begins attempting to translate the old book they've found in hopes that it contains a spell to undo the stone's link, while Aria tries to adjust to the sudden appearance of magic and demons in her formerly quiet life.
The characters are a really strong point here, although (I hope this isn't offensive to say) I think I like the demons a bit more than the humans. Aria is a likable enough protagonist, although she is extremely slow to realize that she's being manipulated by outside parties and it makes her dialogue frustrating to read at times. At the same time, though, her relative ordinariness makes her a great contrast to Melody, an intelligent and kindhearted bookworm who does most of the translation work on the book and has had long unnoticed feelings for Aria that soon come to the forefront. Lyria is flirty and fun, and her familiar Sid starts off prejudiced against humans but soon develops a touching friendship with Melody, the first person human or otherwise to treat him with genuine kindness. Scherza, the demon queen, might be my favorite...She comes off as a cold and distant ruler at first, but her romance path develops her more fully into a leader under phenomenal pressure to somehow save her people while ignoring her own loneliness. Melody, Lyria, and Scherza have the main routes, with a few bad endings and a harem route unlocked after you do all the other routes. The harem route is very well written and far more than the typical harem fanservice junk, but reading through it after seeing all the game's other content will leave you with a bittersweet feeling. Without wishing to spoil, the harem ending has an outcome that is only made possible by the characters working together, rather than becoming somewhat divided as they do in other routes, and it nearly breaks my heart to think that all the routes could have been so much happier had the characters put their differences aside.
The art style feels a bit reminiscent of a sketchbook, and while I like it a lot...Some of the CGs looked rather unpolished, like they weren't complete yet, and I'm not sure if it's the art style contributing to that or if something just went wrong with those particular CGs somehow. There are also spots where a character describes wearing one thing but their sprite clearly shows them wearing another. It's probably a budget-saving move and it might not bug me as much, except there's an earlier point where a character is described as wearing something different and there was actually a CG for it. Music is all pretty and polished, and the GUI I find particularly attractive. It's all starry and pretty and fits well with the game's theme. But you probably don't care about all that boring stuff...You're wondering about those H-scenes, right? Yeah, figures. They're tastefully done and as someone who also likes the ladies I enjoyed them, but if they're not your thing you can turn them off without missing any plot.
At time of writing there is a glitch involving a couple of CGs not showing up in the gallery, and I suspect a couple CGs are misnamed as well. It kind of ties in to that unpolished...ness I mentioned above in regards to the art style. Still, these are easily fixed and not a giant detriment to anything. Everyone's always clamoring for new yuri visual novels, it seems, and I'm happy to report that Starlight Vega is a great addition to the category. It's well-written, it has nice characters, and both the individual and harem romance routes have satisfying conclusions. I'm glad to have backed it, and I'm quite interested to see what Razz ends up putting out in the future.
Starlight Vega is available on Steam and itch.io. Final verdict: While it could have benefited from tightening up in a few spots, Starlight Vega overall presents a well-written story carried by strong and enjoyable characters. Starlight Vega is developed by Razzart Visual. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review. I was a Kickstarter backer for this game and received a copy of this game on launch day as part of my reward tier.