Genre: Adventure Casual Indie
Developer: aiueoKompany, Sekai Project
Publisher: Sekai Project
Release Date: Mar 30, 2018
Edited by TheUndeadLords, kytten
When a mystery novel tells its story right, it sets the reader in a mindset open to possibilities and yet intrigued about what will happen next, a positive sign of good writing and also visually keeping the reader enticed in the story at hand. This is the story with our next review: Fatal Twelve. It is a mystery adventure visual novel developed by aiueoKompany, later released by Sekai Project, that takes the tune of a mystery novel and turns that dial up to twelve with a gripping and engaging story, beautifully drawn visuals, and character development envying that of the Grisaia: Phantom Trigger franchise.
Stepping on board the evening train, as usual, the story of Fatal Twelve envelopes the reader in mystery from the start, leaving you with questions that, once answered, only leave you with more questions, but in a way that adds to the overall storytelling. We, the reader, take in the footsteps of Rinka Shishimai, an ordinary girl who lives a fairly normal life running a small coffee shop called the Lion House in her grandmother’s absence, as well as going to school. Although, one day when coming home from school with her friend, Naomi Hitsuji, the train they are riding explodes causing Rinka to give her own life to shelter Naomi’s, or so we thought. She wakes up in the Lion House, with Naomi and another girl from school there talking about a festival coming up at school, but when the two leave after enjoying some coffee, Rinka finds a mysterious book with a golden feather detail in her room. She leaves the book well enough alone and one night, upon returning from a day at an amusement park with Naomi alongside another friend, Miharu, she falls asleep but wakes up in her dream, surrounded by a white void and a golden clock beneath her, a mysterious being standing in the middle of it all. The mysterious being reveals herself to be Parca, a goddess who has come to inform Rinka and 11 others that they have been chosen for an event called the divine ritual. This event extends over twelve weeks and the twelve people must decide the others’ fate to have their memory of existence erased from the world, as they all have died in some form or another. The kicker is to remove someone from the twelve, you have to know everything about their death through sleuthing in the real world, that mysterious book being your holder of the cards. I will end my synopsis here, as to go any farther would be a heavy spoiler to the story, but know that this story goes so much deeper, with twists and turns around every corner.
Sadly, Fatal Twelve, like most stories, is not perfect, which can take away from the complexion and mystery the novel is selling you on from time to time. The first issue I found was that, at times, you would jump from character to character without notice, which would temporarily drop the mysterious nature of the novel, only to have it pick right back up once more. This was a small but very impactful transition issue that can cause disconnection between the reader and the story, before bringing them back in once more information is obtained. The other issue I found was just a few key instances where the novel overstayed itself on some story events. These times were few and far between, mind you, but still, when they showed up, it brought any progress for those characters to a slow crawl.
Before I touch on the game’s visuals and soundtrack, I wanted to give credit to something this novel did well, which is the card system and diary. The card system allows you to access the pause menu to check on the story of the characters you have met so far, including what cards they have gotten and letting you check your own cards, similar to the evidence system from the Danganronpa series. This was really great because it lets the player get a mini-review of all the cards seen in the novel so far for the choices you can make in the it. The other system I wanted to touch on was the diary system, a backlog of all the events that happens during each of the twelve weeks of the novel. I found this very helpful when I wanted to go back and get a refresher on some of the novel’s minor characters, as well as some of the bigger events in the story.
Sitting around a golden clock, the presentation of Fatal Twelve is something to awe at. For the most part, it is with a beautiful hand-drawn art styling and a mixed soundtrack that kicked in where it was so very well needed! Visually, I was enamored by the amount of detail some of the art Fatal Twelve brought to the table, considering this was done mostly by hand in terms of its overall look and the loving care shown. The backgrounds, while beautiful and often times a focal point for the novel, in some places looked a bit disheveled. Each place was unique with no two sharing much the same design, which was great, but a library scene will look the same after some time reading the novel. The character designs, as well, were a highlight for me, as they show off that exquisite hand-drawn art styling, but at times the character’s art did feel like it was stiff. This was not a big issue, as the characters had good, if not great, facial work per position, but it was noticeable in a few key locations.
Bringing a lot to the table, the soundtrack to Fatal Twelve brings a flavor all of its own, sporting a mixed and varied musical score, solid voiceover work and, while not always needed, accurate sound effects. Musically, I was surprised that Fatal Twelve brought so much to the table for its soundtrack, but often kept itself silent in some scenes to emphasize suspense during heavy acts of mystery. The score, composed of multitudes of instrumental styles mixed together, was one of those elements I can say was a hit or miss with me, as some pieces were very fitting to the scenes in question but others felt like they were trying to match a specific mood yet were off by just enough to feel out of place. I definitely want to give credit to the voice actors on this one though, as I felt the voice work used was top-notch and really emphasized the scenes it was used in with emotion.
Overall, after taking in the scope of a mystery novel like Fatal Twelve, I found it was a pleasant surprise to see a novel with the emotional depth, large-scale story and character development, as well as some of the most beautifully drawn art and voice acting that came from it, though it is not perfect in all forms. The deep and heavy mystery story, strong character development, systems that allow the player to look back on prior events, exquisitely drawn artwork as a whole, a nicely rounded, but through soundtrack to fit the bulk of the story, and the top-notch voice acting sets this novel up as one of my favorite mystery reads to date.
- The deep and heavily crafted mystery themed story
- The strong character development throughout
- A diary system to let players review prior events
- The beautiful and exquisite artwork used throughout the novel
- The nicely rounded soundtrack
- Amazing voice acting
- Random character jumps that pull the reader out of the story
- Some art that tends to look similar in a few places
DarkLunarDude gives Fatal Twelve a Drastik Measure 8.2 out of 10.0 (82)
For the price of $19.99 on Steam, I can highly recommend Fatal Twelve to someone looking for a mystery visual novel, as this is one of those novels where the multiple choices you make can add hours of playtime with the deep story to match!