Harmony: The Fall of Reveries by DON’T NOD
That it’s taken DON’T NOD this long to make a pure visual novel is a surprise. The Life Is Strange developer has been at the forefront of games that put narrative first for a decade now, and this genre is the purest form of that.
Well, better late than never, I suppose. Harmony: The Fall of Reverie eschews the interactivity of the developer’s previous output to let its story do the talking. The question is, can their storytelling stand on its own?
Bound by Desire
A medical researcher named Polly returns home to her once sleepy town, now taken over by a futuristic mega-corporation. While searching for her missing mother, she stumbles into the world of Reverie, a parallel dimension inhabited by living manifestations of humanity’s desires. Reborn as Harmony, she’s tasked with saving Reverie, and thus her own world, from destruction by choosing which desire is destined to rule. It will involve some incredibly hard decisions.
Visual novels are made and broken by the strength of their plots, and Harmony (the game) makes an immediately positive impression. Its premise is interesting and gives you just enough to follow while keeping things hidden.
While exploring the plot is a simple matter of clicking through dialogue, there’s a bit more to it. The game is littered with moments where you have to make concrete decisions that can have drastic impacts on how the story ends up unfolding. And it’s not afraid to tackle some pretty heavy topics.
What helps tremendously is that the game’s characters are legitimately interesting. Polly/Harmony is a likable protagonist with plenty of secrets to draw out.
Similarly, the cast of Aspirations (physical manifestations of humanity’s desires) are all extremely compelling. From the peppy and hyperactive Bliss to the mysterious Chaos, you’re guaranteed to find someone you connect with.
This is also helped in no small part by Harmony’s production values. The game’s visuals are lush and evocative, and the characters are brought to life through stellar voice acting. The entire package is an audio/visual treat.
Master of Disharmony
While there’s plenty to praise about Harmony, this praise does come with a bit of a “but…” Like an unfortunately common number of stories, the later chapters do lose their way after the extremely strong beginning and middle. To explain exactly why would be to get into spoilers, which I will not do here.
Suffice it to say that the mystery and dilemmas of the opening chapters eventually give way to the plot feeling somewhat railroaded and overly verbose by the end. It doesn’t come close to undoing the story, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel like the ending was rushed.
Even with this caveat, I thoroughly recommend Harmony: The Fall of Reverie to visual novel fans and newbies alike. It’s a journey full of genuine wonder and heartbreak, populated by characters I’ll remember for a long time.
Sticking the landing would have been nice, but here the journey is enough to see you to the destination.
Harmony: The Fall of Reverie is available via the Nintendo Game Store, Sony PlayStation Store, Xbox Live Marketplace, and Steam.
Watch the trailer for Harmony: The Fall of Reverie below: