Shikkoku no Sharnoth review

If inganock is about sin and redemption, then Sharnoth is about defiance and hope. In a world people continuously utter that they have given up, where the terror and despair are augmented by fantastic creatures crying blood, one girl was given a choice on whether or not to lose hope. Welcome to London, where the endless soot eternally blocks out the sun…

Premise:

It’s 1905 in a steam punk version of London. Engine technology have progressed rapidly (there are hints that Inganock technology have helped), so much so that while generations of people have been born who have never seen the blue sky or true sunlight. Mary Clarissa Christie is a history student at a prestigious college, and she thought that she would live a normal life, until her best friend, Charlotte Bronte, falls into a coma under mysterious circumstances. Eager to do anything, anything at all to make her friend wake up, Mary enters into a contract with a mysterious man, M. And so the girl runs through the dark city, slowly unravelling the mystery and her role behind it all.

Story:

This story is split into five two-part chapters, and each chapter mainly focuses on the circumstances of a few characters who have affected each other deeply.Let it be fortunately or unfortunately, half of these characters disappear from the story right after, are are then either only mentioned in passing or not mentioned at all. The story structure is further divided into certain sections, such as the scene of the engine corridor and the masked man, which repeat themselves every chapter.

Now, the main thing to understand is that this story is to be read for the characters. There isn’t much in terms of character development, per say, but rather large amounts of the narrative is devoted into revealing the motivations behind the characters, most of which are surprisingly similar to each other, despite the hugely varying methods used by the characters to achieve their own ends. The way that the characters, societies, and metaphysical concepts interact with each other are very complex, and even to the end most plot threads are never resolved (such as Mycroft, Mary’s mother, or what exactly is the golden eye and where it came from). That said, there is a very liberal dose of literary references, and most of the character’s motivations can be inferred from what’s given.

I was actually quite surprised at the similarities between Inganock and Sharnoth, not just in the mood and tone, but also plot points. A mysterious young girl, a king in a castle, a person who states that they’re artificial, a character going through severe mental trauma in a shower, a crazy-looking masked man who appears at the edge of the protagonist’s vision, etc etc. Some lines can also be drawn to Utena, and even Evangelion and chaos;head, especially concerning the sword of thorns. I won’t go into detail concerning some of the other parallels for spoiler reasons though.

One odd note is that I’m not sure if this is actually an eroge. I mean, arguments can definitely be made that it IS, but honestly speaking there isn’t an actual h-scene to be found anywhere.

Overall, I wish that there was more of a resolution (that epilogue certainly does not help), but it is an enjoyable read for what it’s worth.

Art:

I love love love love love it~

In typical liarsoft fashion, the character sprites appear on the right hand side of the screen, although sometimes a stoic pose appears of the left. The backgrounds have definitely improved since Inganock, and Akira’s art is just awesomesauce. Some of the character designs can be… a little strange, and I will never understand how Viola Baskerville manages to keep her hair the way it is, but overall it’s really pleasant, especially if you have been looking at moeges for too long.

Sound:

Liar-soft… WHY U NO FULLY VOICE YOUR GAMES?! Another fully voiced version was recently released, but the English patch doesn’t work with that one… Sigh…

The game’s music is rather nice, although they tend to play the same few tracks over and over again. The voices, while being mostly absent, is fantastic when it’s there. They also voice a few monologues, which is something that I absolutely love.

System:

Really, really basic. There isn’t a lot of stuff you can do to affect the settings, although it’s not like you really need any. The main thing that bothered me was the minigame though. They cut it out of the fully voiced version, and to be honest I don’t think that they should have been there in the first place. They can be somewhat challenging, but not in the right way, and so end up feeling like a complete waste of time. Eventually, I was annoyed enough to get a save file to skip them (you can skip the minigame after you have completed the game once). I recommend that others do the same if they don’t like tedious minigames.

Story:7/10

Art: 10/10

Music: 7/10

Programming: 7/10

Gut feelings: 7/10

It’s a good story, and one that seems to get better on hindsight, but the ending is rather unsatisfying and I think that it could have been better if the story was rearranged a bit. If you’re going to read it though, I highly recommend also looking at this list of terms/jargon (which really hammers home the difficulty that the translators must have had).

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13 thoughts on “Shikkoku no Sharnoth review

  1. I am going to claim this game’s artwork for my wallpaper folder.

    Maybe I will even read it if my backlog ever lightens up.

  2. For some reason I got lost cause I thought that the review is about an anime but going forward and checking it in Google It’s actually a game and then I lost interest…. Anyway great review! even though I thought that it’s an anime. It’s just that I have bad impressions of visual novels and it didn’t thrill me as a gamer. I thought that they’re boring cause you just have to choose options then the story goes…. Have they evolved now? like solving puzzles and do they have visual side scrollers?

    • That’s like asking have books evolved so that you don’t have to read any more. Visual novels are a medium of their own right, and their main function isn’t to thrill the gamer side of people (unless it’s things like the Baldr series, but that’s more of an exception than a rule). For the plot heavy games like Sharnoth, it’s better to treat it as a book with graphics and sound rather than a game.

    • There are some that are hybrids; in particular, visual novels seem to get crossed with strategy-RPGs quite a bit. In general, though, they’ve got more in common with books than games, and as such the best visual novels are those that you can enjoy alone or in discussion with other people regarding (like Umineko!)

  3. Can you tell me how to install the save file, can’t get it to work. I put it into the save folder but the game doesn’t register it or somthing.

  4. Pingback: Aniblog Stuff – Round 2 – Day 1

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