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Review: Dual Chroma (Demo) — An Awe-Inspiring Fantasy

The Kickstarter for Dual Chroma is now live! (15.August 2023)

Fantasy is one of the genres that I grew up loving. When you write fantasy, you’re granted the ability to do pretty much anything you want with your world and its characters — and those unlimited possibilities are what allow unique stories to be born.

Enter Dual Chroma, an upcoming dark fantasy visual novel that launchs today, August 15th, 2023, on Kickstarter. It’s being developed by Galen Games, the same studio that made Snow Angel and Deliver Us From Evil. I went ahead and tried the demo out myself, and I must say, I’m thoroughly impressed with what I’ve seen so far!

For more details and updates, you can follow Galen Games on Twitter. Dual Chroma will be available on Steam, so you can wishlist there!

Dual Chroma, the main character

You play as Lady Ceres Astia, a capable scholar and mage who is the newest advisor to Keldran, the second prince of the Galatean Empire. The job should be simple, but such positions never quite turn out the way you’d expect—indeed, before Lady Astia even has the chance to begin her new position, she receives an ominous vision of a white-haired man with golden eyes who speaks of a dark future wherein the empire is brought to an end. The man appears to know her, but she knows nothing about him.

If that isn’t bad enough, soon after your vision, unintelligible creatures called Ashen start attacking the empire. These creatures shouldn’t exist, and yet here they are, wreaking havoc regardless. Where did they come from, and how did they get onto imperial lands? And, more importantly, why are they here at all?

As a strange chain of events plays out before Lady Astia, she can’t help but wonder: Is this all connected to the mysterious man from my vision? And beyond that, is there someone within the kingdom who is trying to destroy it from the inside?

By the time the demo was over, I had so many questions! It does an excellent job at building intrigue and mystery, and I’m dying to know more and see what happens next!

Dual Chroma is visual novel/RPG hybrid. Along with the visual novel portions, you’ll have the option of participating in turn-based battles where you’ll have to fight enemies while carefully thinking out your next moves.

The battle system revolves around magic attacks and physical attacks. Physical attacks can be used at any point, whereas magic attacks have to be used more sparingly, since your powers build up over time. Personally, I liked the combat well enough, but I do think there could be a couple improvements.

One issue I encountered was that if you decided to attack your enemy (rather than other options like talk or defend) you were locked into that option. I would’ve appreciated the ability to go back to the combat menu and change my mind. Additionally, I think a quick, optional tutorial on how combat worked that explained things like how magic points are built up over time, would prove useful to new players.

This being said, combat in Dual Chroma is optional. At the start of the game, you have the ability to choose between two different ways to experience the game: Normal Mode and Story Mode. Normal Mode will give you the full-fledged experience, meaning that you’ll be playing through both the visual novel and turn-based battle sections of the game. Story Mode, as implied, focuses purely on the narrative aspect and skips battles.

I think having the option to opt in or out of combat is a great decision—that way, you aren’t driving off the portion of the visual novel community who only want to read the game’s story, and would otherwise be driven off by the stress of having to deal with combat and strategy. Personally, I loved the fact that the option was included, even though I played in Normal Mode myself (and plan to in the full release as well). It makes it so no one is alienated, and it doesn’t penalize you for simply wanting to enjoy a good story.

Turn-based combat isn’t the only mechanic within Dual Chroma though—there’s also a interesting mechanic behind the game’s choices. Basically, whenever you make a choice in the game, you’ll be awarded a point in a particular personality stat. If you’re more upfront about your feelings, for example, you’ll gain points towards Boldness, whereas keeping your thoughts to yourself will yield you points in Pensive. Beyond the personality stats, you’ll also be awarded points based on your relationships with particular characters, like Keldran (this is a romance visual novel, after all).

In general I was a fan of the stat mechanics, but I would have loved to have the option to glance at a stat screen so I could keep track of what I’d been awarded. Perhaps something similar to in Demonheart, where you were able to view your character’s alignment?

Dual Chroma Keldran

Dual Chroma has some of the best art I’ve seen in recent memory. Both the backgrounds and characters have a soft, detailed look to them, and the overall style is reminiscent of many great fantasy book covers. Accompanying the beautiful aesthetic is the game’s cast of characters, each of them equal parts charming and mysterious. You can tell that there’s more to all of them than what meets the eye.

Even though I don’t usually fall for the flirty types, I must admit that I was charmed by Keldran! He’s fun, flirty, but also capable, something that I love in a man. My only nitpick is that I wish I could hide the UI and see the art in its full glory! When you try to hide the UI, the entire screen goes black. I hope that in the full release, it’ll be possible to hide the UI without that happening.

Dual Chroma is a promising fantasy game full of intrigue, beauty, and amazing worldbuilding that left me wanting more. If you’re looking for a fantasy game to get lost in, then I strongly recommend checking out Dual Chroma and the game’s Kickstarter. The developer plans on adding more to the game if stretch goals are hit, such as adding in another gender for the main character! So if you want to see this robust game get even more content, be sure to pledge to the Kickstarter!

Also, if you’re interested in reading about another story set in the Dual Chroma universe, check out our review of Dual Chroma: Haereticus, included in the article below!

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