[Review] Ascendant Hearts – Nintendo Switch

Written by Akio Kahoshi
  • Developer: Visualnoveler
  • Publisher: Visualnoveler
  • Release date: 30/01/2020
  • Price: £8.99 / $9.99
  • Review code provided by Visualnoveler

World Traveler

Ascendant Hearts is an isekai (another world) visual novel, where the protagonist Hayato wakes up in a fantasy world. From there he meets a beautiful adventurer who convinces him to become an adventurer. From there they go on quests, meet other adventurers, and try to solve the mystery surrounding the town.

Despite taking place in the typical RPG trope-filled isekai world, there are no actual RPG gameplay elements here. It is a pure visual novel, instead using its story to look at those tropes in both interesting and humorous ways. It also has well-drawn and well-written characters to support it.

Truck-kun Not Included

Even right from the start, Ascendant Hearts plays heavily into the tropes with Hayato waking up with amnesia. A fact that is pointed out multiple times throughout the story as “cliche.” That is the part that made the story so entertaining: this game is incredibly self-aware.

The various characters throw terms like “fetch-quest” and “raid” around as part of their typical lives, these MMO standard terms all having logical in-universe explanations. Watching these terms be explained and all the other oddities that are so common in RPGs be explained to the confused Hayato was consistently amusing.

Probably the most interesting thing the game explores is what it would be like living in a world where RPG cliches are just part of life. This ranges from the good, such as resting at an inn to recover health, to the bad, characters being shunned because of their past. Hayato confronts these beliefs head-on when they clash with logic, often leading to character growth among the cast.

FOR SCIENCE!

All of this would still fall flat if not for a color cast of characters. Each character, not just the three party members, feels like a real person who has interests beyond their day job. Well, with the exception of Dr. Takizawa because SCIENCE waits for no one!

The game’s three party members, Shiori, Aiko, and Chise, are the most fleshed out. Depending on which options you choose throughout the game, you get to see different sides of them and spend time with them when not battling monsters or fetching blueberries for the innkeeper. It should also come as no surprise that you can also pick a romantic partner depending on your actions.

As there are quite a few choices throughout the game that can affect the game’s ending, and the game does not force the player to choose a girl if they do not want to. To see everything will require multiple playthroughs, though the game’s skip option makes this easy to do. If I found one thing lacking when it came to the characters, it would be the game’s complete lack of voice acting. While not necessary to enjoy the game, it would have definitely brought the experience up a level.

FINAL THOUGHTS

For the price, Ascendant Hearts is a fun little visual novel that can easily be played in a single sitting (about six hours). It has a pleasant art style with a decent amount of CGs, including some sexier ones. Given this is Visualnoveler’s first foray into gaming, it is an impressive start. Voice acting would have been nice but does not take away from what makes the story fun.

PROS

  • Good Art
  • Multiple endings
  • Good replayability

CONS

  • Lack of voice acting
  • Limited interactivity

Verdict
Ascendant Hearts provides an entertaining story with just enough fan service to spice things up. At it’s low price point, it is definintly worth picking up for fans of VNs.
3.5/5

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