Over the past few years, there's been a real trend toward updating classic myths with a science fiction twist. It started with well-recognized fairy tales and has since grown to encompass the stories and legends of antiquity. Norse myths have largely been left out of this, at least as far as video games are concerned. Perhaps it's the lingering memory of the ill-fated 2008 game Too Human, or maybe it's yet another side effect of Disney and Marvel swallowing our culture whole. In any case, Thor hasn't been making a lot of appearances in cyberpunk salons as of late.
Enter Gods of the Twilight, a visual novel (VN) set in a near-future Iceland on the brink of Ragnarok. The blend of myth and futurism should be something new for VN fans.
New Reykjavik, city of the future. As the oceans have risen, low-lying coastal cities have had to take extreme precautions to stay above the tide. Iceland's capital has become a true marvel - a high-tech city that rides the waves, moving where it wants to go. Futuristic as it is, New Reykjavik is a city riddled with age-old problems - crime, street gangs, and the proliferation of powerful weapons.
Within this city dwell two young people who seem to have nothing in common. Farkas is a reformed gang member who, by chance, finds himself dear friends with the scion of a wealthy industrialist. Althea is a Greek-Indian scholar endowed with strange gifts. There is one thing that unites them: both have been marked for death by a Nordic gang clad in military-grade power armor, and neither knows why.
As they try to survive, their paths cross, and they learn of a secret underpinning their world. What looks like a mere crime problem is tied into something far more ancient - Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods. Whether or not they want it, Farkas and Althea have a role to play in holding back the apocalypse.
Gods of the Twilight has all the accouterments one would expect from a VN, but there's a twist in the storytelling. The player sees the story from the perspective of both protagonists, with the story switching back and forth between them in alternate chapters. Initially, these are wholly different stories, but they come together after three mini-chapters with each character.
From this point, each character's personality (when not controlled by the player) is based on how the player controlled them in the previous chapters. Start with Farkas, and Althea will be friendly or distant depending on her responses; meanwhile, Althea will see Farkas either as defiant or easygoing depending on his responses.
Beyond that, relationships are a key element of the game. It's natural to assume that Farkas and Althea will end up a couple, but that depends entirely on player input. Both of them can cozy up to - and flirt with - just about anyone, and their feelings toward each other are also greatly variable. One can easily roleplay them as distrustful of each other and end up with mutual scorn, an outcome that makes every bit as much narrative sense as having them end up together.
Overall, Gods of the Twilight isn't going to convert anyone who's not a fan of this style of game, but it has some nice twists and turns for VN aficionados.
Gods of the Twilight is available for PC via Steam. A review copy was provided by the developer.
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