What is Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius

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Okay a while ago I covered Sunrider: first arrival  the free, visual novel/ tactical rpg set in a space opera universe where shortly after gaining command of the newly commissioned star ship Sunrider you plan your three hour tour without many of the regular necessities content in the knowledge that you will however soon be home. However ‘PACT’ have a different idea and quickly storm into the system wiping out the ship yards and conquering the planet below. Now it is up to you Captain Kayto Shields to assemble a crew, a fleet of ryders (read fighters) and allies in the hope that one day you will be able to go home.

The question is why am I covering it again? Is this a sequel an update and why is my last review now kind of pointless?

In my last review I stated that ‘first arrival’ was the first part of a story, desperate for a follow up. Well in a way this is that follow up, but instead of releasing a sequel ‘first arrival’ has been replaced with this new version, now roughly double the length in terms of story and with a few new features to pad out the gameplay. Thus I am going to try again and probably again when the third part comes out because I don’t doubt that it will and once again it will probably be an update to the game, renaming it and adding in another six hours or so of gameplay.

For those who got the first one in the series this is kind of a no brainer. It is also free, picks up the story and improves on it not only in terms of filling in some of the buffs and features lacking in the tactical side of the last game but also by giving us twists and turns to the story that feel far more weighted and dramatic. Perhaps this is just due to us now having been hanging around this harem for past the six hour mark but I felt far more invested in some of the stuff to come than most of anything in the first act even the big revelation at the end. However despite caring more for these people and how they viewed me I was disappointed to find that the number of choices seemed to have gone down in relation to the story telling going up.

For those who haven’t played the first the game it is a cross between the visual novel style popular in places like Japan and a grid based tactical rpg also popular in places like Japan. All of this is done in a typical anime art style, popular in places like Japan though not quite as polished as something like Katawa Shojo but passable and also actually drawing in its epic star splashed backgrounds and ship interiors all with gaint mechs, done in an overtly cg style, which as you can guess if you don’t know is popular in places like Japan.

The game is split between about four different screens each of which is simple and direct though sometimes to its detriment. The two main ones are the dialogue screen where characters will fade in and stand opposite you with the text scrolling along the bottom. The other main one is the combat screen which places excellent mech models on a grid atop space with the controls working on a basic click each unit and allow the options to pop up and tempt you. The characters stats are in the bottom right telling you how much health they have left as well as how much energy they possess, with energy dictating how many squares they can move or which abilities they can use. The abilities themselves are in the bottom left with a note telling you how much energy they use and a pop up giving you a bit more fluff.

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Outside these two you will have to explore you ship in basically the same way as Mass Effect but without making you actually run. Instead you get a basic floor plan/ schematic of the ship and merely pick which floor you want and then which character you want to talk to via their portrait. Finally you have the upgrade screen where you can spend the coin earned from battle to buy new ships and increase armour and weapon strength on the existing models.

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Perhaps my only complaint about this new instalment would be the slightly more perverted nature. Now this wasn’t that bad when you celebrate your victory from the end of the last instalment by doing an obligatory Anime beach episode where all the girls get changed into small bikinis and quite a few chug beers to “comedic effect”. That, though not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, fit in with the Anime style of the whole thing. My problem started in the opening credits where two characters are frozen mid strip while the theme music plays. Something I don’t recall from the original version. Characters, some quite young, sit and stand in awkward ways that while no Spider-woman felt kind of close. As usual I probably wouldn’t mind if it was that kind of game, but other than those few instances and an eyeful as one woman contemplates her fate in the shower, the game is fairly clean.  Maybe I’m just a prude but they felt a little jarring too me.

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If you played the first one I would recommend this one even though it didn’t feel better or even as good, just more polished. If you haven’t played the first one that I would simply ask if you would fancy a tactical, rpg/ visual novel hybrid for free. The soundtrack is a good mix of standard and electric guitar, the arts quite good and it never seems to drag.

For those who wish to try it out the game is available for free on Steam.

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