I’ve been under the weather lately thanks to a Mysterious Ailment(tm), so I’ve had a lot of time at home. I foolishly tried to shake it with just a few days off, but that didn’t work out, so I finally went to the doctor and a few days and antibiotics later, I’m feeling better. Not great, but better.
So with that much time off, even Minecraft has gotten boring. Digging through Steam for something new, I ended up in the Indie games section, where I ran across Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius. When I went to learn more, Steam asked me for DOB verification — the game was rated mature. Now that intrigued me…
Sure enough, it’s harem/seinen/mecha VN game, where you alternate flirting with your all-female crew and fighting a war of galactic freedom. And yes, there’s the occasional panty-flash, nude scene, risque` situation, and romance/sex (though I haven’t gotten to that point). It’s very anime-influenced, but it’s not a purely hentai game — the plot is pretty decent, and I’ve been blindsided by some of the twists. The best part is that the game is absolutely free. No pay-for-extras, no subscriptions, nada. It was funded through Kickstarter, and they don’t even put in obnoxious requests for donations. Or any such requests at all.
Yeah, weird, I know. You get the idea that maybe they really just wanted to make a nice game to entertain folks.
By and large, they’ve succeeded. There are a few bugs and negative points, so I’ll get those out of the way first. First off, the voice actors (this is a native-English production) are decent, but not outstanding. The voice actor for your character (Kayto) comes across flat sometimes, especially when firing the Vanguard Cannon. The girls are pretty good, but the sexpot’s is a turn-off because of her voice. The anime influence extended to getting girls that sound like, well, girls, not women, and she’s the worst. The battle snippets are somewhat repetitive, though I got used to it. As for actual bugs, I’ve experienced one major crash, and movement on the tactical screen has gotten a bit squirrelly at times. The autosave is constantly at work though, so you will never lose more than a minute or two, even if it does happen. Some of the scripts needed to be screened better, as Claude’s battle snippets refer to Chigara before they’ve met, and Icari’s are heavily tsundere before it’s apparent that she’s falling for him.
Combat is pretty simple, yet complex, as your units all have different capabilities. Missions range from simple survival to escort, to destruction of specific targets. You’re essentially a gun for hire in some ways, so you have to earn money from missions to pay for upgrades and recruit crew/pilots. Of course, all of them happen to be female… The mecha do not steal the show, but each has its strength and weaknesses, ranging from close combat to support/EW. The music tracks, both background and battle, are excellent.
The plot and the tropes are pretty straightforward. The Sunrider is the last capital ship of your homeworld, Cera. While the People’s Basketball is a peaceful planet (major kudos to anyone who can name the reference), the PACT have been aggressively conquering Neutral planets on the rim. As captain, you’ve barely boarded the incomplete ship and commenced her launch when a surprise attack defeats your planet and forces a surrender after the capital is nuked. You escape, but the ship’s not complete — the Vanguard Cannon isn’t working, shields aren’t installed, there’s no doctor or engineer, and no pilots or Ryders (mechs).
But not all is lost. The galactic mining guild and other mercenary worlds will help support your ship and pay bounties on destroyed PACT or pirate ships. There’s freelancers with their own Ryders you can recruit. And most importantly, if you can slow PACT down enough, the Alliance may have time to get its political act together and enter the war.
But who cares about all that? It’s about the girls, right? Well, thankfully, there’s a handy-dandy beach episode with swimsuits to take screenshots from…
Asaga: Half-genki, half-chunni. The first pilot recruited, and probably the most hilarious. Her combat snippets often have me chuckling, though I wish she had more of them. Friends with Chigara – though the accounts of how they met differ a bit. Her mech is the most well-rounded and she is a natural pilot. Somewhat conflicted, she’s cheering for her friend Chigara, but wants the captain herself.
Chigara: Somewhat frail, she comes along with Asaga. Genius inventor, she splits time between Engineering and piloting her EW Ryder. Her origin is pretty tragic, as her parents died in a research accident, of which she was the only survivor. Insecure, especially about her breast size. Seriously crushing on the captain, but thinks she doesn’t have a chance.
Ava: She’s the first officer, straight-laced and the only haremette that’s not a pilot. She’s also the childhood friend; and was student council president to Captain Kayto’s (your character’s) vice president. Serious to a fault, she had to be ordered into a swimsuit. Often exasperated by the oddballs she has to supervise. Deep inside, where she won’t admit it exists, she’s still carrying a torch.
Kryska: Liaison/spy for the Alliance. The Sunrider was a radical advancement and meant to be the first of a revolutionary new class of cruiser/carrier, so she tries to ferret out its secrets for her superior, Admiral Grey. She isn’t particularly crushing on the captain (at this point) although she respects him. Strong rivalry with Icari. Her mech is heavily armored and can take a lot of punishment.
Icari: Freelancer with a bitter grudge against Pact and she’s got her own way of doing things. Seriously tsundere (denial type), she and Kryska are always feuding over something, and Icari’s habit of referring to Kryska as a boy to ridicule her chest. In fact, their pictures here are from an argument over kills. Her lightly-armored Ryder is fast and deadly in close-combat, but lacks defenses.
Sola: Illegitimate princess of Ryuvia from 2,000 years in the past. She was supposed to have died by activating a great super-weapon, but instead, it put her into suspended animation until the Sunrider showed up. Although her homeworld has gone from being ruler of the galaxy to being a forgotten backwater, she decides to take up the burden of defending it once again. Unsurprisingly, she’s the emotionless girl. Her scout mech is deadly at long range.
Claude: Ah, Claude. The completely unprincipled sexpot of the harem. Sees the captain as a hunky bishie-boy, and her outrageous attempts at seducing him are comedy gold. (I’m never going to look at medical exams the same way. Pity they couldn’t animate that scene!) She also becomes the ship’s doctor… after she gets her license reinstated, that is. Another freelancer; her Ryder is mostly EW-focused. The only think I don’t like is that her VA is an atrocious example of “little girl-ish”
Other characters (not shown):
Veniczar Porkchops – Actually, Cullen is his name, but Captain Kayto has a wicked sense of sarcasm at times, and calls him this to his fat face. He’s a fleet Commander for PACT.
Veniczar Arcadius – meglomaniacal leader of PACT, he espouses marxist rationales alongside his desire to rule the galaxy, and obtain immortality through lost Ryuvian technology. May not be the original revolutionary who defeated the oppressive Empire.
Admiral Gray – Military leader -and candidate for president – of the Alliance, the galaxy’s only multi-system democracy. But is he (or the Alliance) all they’re cracked up to be? Is the galaxy potentially trading one dictator for another?
Collete Cosmos – There’s some hints she might become a late-game haremette but I hope not. She’s Axe Crazy, and frankly, nuts. Leader of a pirate faction, she looks like an 11-year old, as her body stopped maturing due to toxic waste caused by mining/refining a rare mineral on her home world. Capitan Kayto keeps handing her (skinny little) ass to her. Her backstory is also tragic, but it’s hard to cheer for a self-admitted matricide. Even if the bitch deserved it.
Veniczar Fontana: Troubled #2 to Arcadius, and much more competent than Porkchops. More principled than Admiral Gray, if you ask me.
And now, having spent entirely too much time on writing about this game, I’m going to resume playing it. (I know, I’ve said nothing about the tactics/battles. Maybe later, if I can tear myself away long enough.)
Edit: fixed typos and added another character.