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Review: The Invisible Star — A Map of the Stars

The Invisible Star (Mienai Nitousei) is a kinetic visual novel that was released in June 2022 by indie group D10RAMA. It has been unofficially translated into English by Shinzou Translations. The game is available in English on Shinzou Translations’s website.

At the beginning of their high school careers, our protagonist Hokuto and his childhood friend Minami are looking for certain clubs to join. After some deliberation, they decide to join the light music club (K-On, anyone?) after observing how much its members enjoyed themselves during a school performance.

A few weeks after joining the club, Hokuto and Minami are walking home from school when they spot a strange old man by the riverside. He’s using a telescope. Although Minami wants to leave the old man alone, Hokuto is curious about what he’s doing and asks for more information.

The old man, Takamura, explains that he’s looking for an invisible star in the wide sea of the night sky. An enthralled Hokuto decides that he wants to help Takamura look for the star on weekends.

The Invisible Star‘s plot is excellent overall, with a truly well-written and emotional ending. However, I felt that the game didn’t focus enough on the main storyline until the later half of the game.

Given the storyline, this game also teaches readers some basic information about a few constellations. Everything is presented in a compelling way using multiple starry backgrounds.

The Invisible Star was written in TyranoScript, so its interface is simple. The settings include controls for audio, voice, and sound effect volume, as well as the ability to adjust text. However, I found the text to be too large at times. Unfortunately, there isn’t an option to automatically adjust the font size depending on the amount of text displayed.

One thing I really like about this game is the music, especially the title theme. It’s beautifully composed and fits the story well.

For some reason, the audio quality for Takamura’s voice is noticeably worse than that of other characters. I also noticed that the graphical style for his sprite isn’t consistent.

As mentioned before, The Invisible Star was translated into English by the fan translation group Shinzou Translations. Interestingly, D10RAMA, the game’s developer, actually provided assistance by optimizing various elements to improve the English-language experience. Therefore, the fan translation has been tacitly endorsed by the developers of the game.

It comes as a a pleasant surprise to learn of a Japanese VN developer that supports the fan translations of its games. This is an attitude very much welcomed by the fan translation community, which has grown accustomed to receiving cease-and-desist letters despite the fact that fan translation groups just want to make their favorite games more accessible to the English-speaking world.

Now, I’ve called this section “Translation” for a reason. The translation for The Invisible Star is just that: a translation from Japanese. That means that nothing about the text has been localized or adapted for Western audiences.

Because the translator’s stated intention was to remain faithful to the Japanese text, some sentences are awkward to read and definitely need restructuring. However, I think that given one person translated the entire game, the quality is good enough.

As mentioned before, The Invisible Star is free to play. I would recommend the game to anyone. Its length is short, so it probably won’t take too much of your time. A fun bonus is made accessible to players after completing the game.

See you all next time!

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