Delving deep into an alternate timeline of what ifs, Arcade Spirits comes forth from the glut of visual novels that are all over Steam of late. The first game developed by Fiction Factory Games and published by PQube Limited, it tells a tale of a timeline in which arcades rose to fame and were considered the spot to be. You do your best to maneuver this neon landscape trying to find happiness for yourself, new friends and possibly love along the way. This is our review of Arcade Spirits.
Arcade Spirits starts off well by letting you customize the main character a little bit (something that you generally don’t see much of in visual novel type games). While it isn’t a deep dive, it allows for skin tones, your chosen pronoun and a few hairstyles. I would have liked a hat or two and some glasses, but they may just be me being picky. From there you are introduced into this alternate timeline where Arcades are still alive and well, home to both high flying dreams and mind crushing realities. You are unemployed and come to the Funplex to try to make sure next month’s rent is paid on time. From here you are introduced to the interesting characters that populate this world and how your choices can affect the ultimate end of the game.
The choices you can make in Arcade Spirits vary from deciding which problem to solve first when you can only solve a few, thus affecting your status and the reaction of those whom you decide to help. Along the way, you also make dialogue choices like in any other visual novel, but here each choice reflects a different personality trait. These traits range from the bold Gutsy to the thoughtful Kindly and the in-between of Basically to name a few. Over time the choices you make add up and reflects the personality of who you’re playing (these stats along with how well your relationship is with someone can be viewed on a separate screen). The more heavily you favor one trait over another can effect certain choice options. A unique individual asked me why he should help me, I was left with choices of revenge or for a dream because of high my Kindly and Gutsy traits were. While IRIS (the little AI on your phone that guides you along through the game) tells you that there are no wrong choices, what you say can make an impact on certain people in the game.
More often than not when you think of a visual novel type game, you think of the dating sim variety that has you playing to get the best possible outcome with certain characters to find true love (or something equivalent depending on what type of game you’re p[laying). In Arcade Spirits there are seven romanceable characters that range from loud and proud ProGamer QueenBee, to energetic and affable dancer Teo to Naomi the shy tinkerer of the arcade and more. Each of these characters has voiced lines and their own unique personality. While you could strive to make one of them your significant other, you can make them friends just as well. You get hints the more you interact with them that they all have their own secrets and life struggles which you can try to help them with. Beyond those seven, the world is also populated by interesting people you can interreact with as well like stupendous arcade game dealer Hamza.
Beyond all those things, Arcade Spirits has something else to it that you may not find elsewhere. Depending on your age there may be a bit of nostalgia involved (there was a chance to acquire a game that was a homage to Dragons Lair, I picked that without hesitation). But beyond the nostalgia lyes something else. The game explores various emotions and feelings of self-worth for the main character which in turn expresses them to you the player. Here perhaps is one of Arcade Spirits greatest strengths, it fosters not just a good game but a game that is about being happy and finding your way through the turbulent ride that life can often be.
A game key was given to GameSpace for purposes of review.