There are few visual novels that can really get you emotionally invested in its story and have you dwell on its conclusion for a long time after its completion. Cursed Sight is a mixed bag of emotions with a deep narrative accompanied by some occasional comic-relief and some truly heart-breaking moments. InvertMouse’s previous track record includes Without Within and Unhack. Crowdfunded through kickstarter Cursed Sight marks the developer’s biggest title yet boasting an impressive 45,000 word story.
Cursed Sight story revolves around the theme of being able to control fate. The world in which we enter sees a growing conflict between East and West Taria. The deciding factor that can grant either side victory rests within a young girl named Miyon. Through rituals she can use her power to change fate, ensuring every battle is a victory. However this immense power is also a curse to Miyon as she cannot gaze upon anyone without them dying a week later. We enter the story as a young slave named Gai forced to work within the temple in which Miyon resides to watch over her. After a reasonable slow start the pace starts to build and quickly hooks you in. The plot is mostly linear with very few points in which you have any input to changing the stories direction towards one of four endings.
A story is only as good as its characters and this game has some great character development. I won’t cover all characters here as I don’t want to spoil the story so instead I’ll cover our protagonist and two of the initial key characters you meet. Most visual novels have you control a mindless drone that you try to imprint a personality onto through conversational keys. However as previously stated this game has very few choices. This lack of choice means our protagonist actually has a personality of his own. We experience the game through the eyes of the 10 year old Gai, sold by his parents to East Taria’s temple to work as a slave. At the start you might find him to be very irritating, as he’s immature, indecisive and incredibly winey. But then this is what you’d expect from a ten year old, as we see him grow up thankfully so too does his personality. His main duties within in the game include looking after and tending to the needs of the temples greatest treasure, Miyon.
Miyon is the pivotal character in the game, cursed at a young age Miyon cannot look anyone in the eye without that person perishing within the space of a week. However this curse also means she can perform rituals to change fate and capture visions of the future. Miyon is your typical tsundere character, being very stuck up and cold around Gai ordering him around or just simply ignoring him. Sasa is the complete opposite being outgoing, strong and basically acting as an older sister to the lead characters pushing them towards becoming friends. Working as a bellstress within the palace Sasa is constantly cheery and very close to Miyon not fearing her cursed sight. In fact she’s the only character that Miyon really ever opens up to.
The story is very well written and for the most part plays out very well, Gai’s narration of the plot is fun to read and there’s a nice amount of comic relief injected even during the darker times. Transitions between scenes/chapters are one of the games major niggles as they are rather choppy and break players’ immersion occurring at random moments without any warning. Even the appearances of these switches are handled poorly consisting of previous scenes or chibi portraits of the characters accompanied by the games title logo. The story even sees us go through a ten year time skip which comes from nowhere and without any warning. On the subject of this time skip it’s a very nice touch for a visual novel starting your characters off as children before advancing them to their teenage years. It just helps to get you invested in the characters.
So let’s talk a little more about the endings, don’t worry I won’t give away spoilers here. There are four different endings in total but to view the “true” end you need to have viewed the others. Two of the ending scenarios are stunning. The first takes a drastically different path from the other giving a much darker outcome while the other offers a much more satisfying, tear-jerking conclusion. The other two are a little more forgettable and feel in a way like they had been rushed. The endings work so well as they really set off a lot of emotions and as you continue to play through other endings they get stronger as your attachment to the characters grows. In terms of length you’re looking at around 3 hours to see the story through to one of its conclusions with possibly an additional hour to view all of them.
The games artwork, while slightly limited, looks great, each CG image is very detailed and really compliment the story’s tones. Unfortunately the music isn’t up to the same quality. The audio does accompany the rest of the game and helps set the tone but it is unmemorable compared to the other elements. It would have also have been nice to have seen some voice acting thrown in to engage the player more, but it also doesn’t take away from the performance.
Cursed Sight is a great looking game with a surprisingly moving narrative that won’t satisfy you until you’ve seen the game through till the very end. Sure it has its flaws; the audio is somewhat forgettable, the chapter and scene transitions are handled rather poorly and it’s a tad on the short side but inevitably it’s the story that’ll drive you forward. Over the course of the game you form such a strong connection with the cast of characters that there’s a real desire to find out what’s in store for them.
This review is based off a review code of Cursed Sight provided by InvertMouse.
This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.