Even in the busiest of seasons, smaller games deserve some attention. In that spirit, welcome to Month of Coverage Club. Come back each day in November for a full-length impressions piece based on a hidden gem you've probably never heard of.
I rarely play visual novels so approached Seers Isle with a fresh face. For better or worse, I can't compare Seers Isle to several other visual novels, because I can't reference them. All I can do is write about this specific title and what I thought of it.
The game begins and proceeds with choice moments wherein you decide the outcome of a group of pilgrims. They've traveled to an island and seek the magic of the titular Seers, mythological creatures. You click through dialogue boxes to progress each scene and make choices throughout to affect the story’s direction. Key moments include prompting a character to speak or to take action, to remain silent and do nothing, or choosing who goes with whom when the travelers split up. As you guide the journey, you will experience life and death situations, romance, and other drama. An enchanting soundtrack and artwork enhance the story.
You are playing as a silent force among the characters, guiding their actions. The characters even reference that they feel they are being influenced by a force, explicitly so in a climactic moment. The tale begins with a storm-swept ship coming near the island of the Seers. Right here at the start, you encounter a nerve-wracking decision. As the waves and wind batter the ship, you must select whether to lower the sails or keep them up and force passage onto the island. Soon after this crisis, you must then choose whether to have someone join another on a walk.
Here and for the rest of the game, you see the diverse backgrounds of each person and how their differences clash. Connor, the “city boy,” can stroll with Arlyn, who grew up in a rural village. She and others question Connor's motivation since most city folks don't believe in the Seers. Shortly after this, you can nudge Freya, the wise warrior, into helping along the weaker Duncan.
As you journey with these characters, you learn more about what drives them: personal honor, religious conviction, or curiosity. They have their own reasons for pursuing the Seers and their own dark pasts. The path each character veered onto surprised me as the game proceeded into its middle and later chapters. On the in-game achievement page, the game's endings are previewed with pictures of the character they would feature. This inspires me to replay and witness each one, precisely so I can see the full development of each of the people I've spent a few hours with - I want to know where they end up. As is, I know only the fate of one, Arlyn, whose ending was surprising and memorable.
There are seven chapters in total, and during the third and fourth the story takes a sudden shift in focus. After enjoying early stages that just followed the characters as they walked the island and encountered hardships, the change was disappointing. I missed this as the story changed focus and tone to reveal more of your own player-character and throw a conspiratorial themed flip at you.Some of the story twists were a bit sudden for me, and I hadn’t felt like I had full control over them, despite the choices I had made. You get your key decisions, but you are also taken for a ride much of the time. Nonetheless, the story hooked me enough to bring me to its conclusion. I finished with one of four possible endings and nine achievements, but the rest of the forty achievements remain locked. Clearly, there is much more to see.
The game's artistic themes take inspiration from Norse mythology. The characters, particularly Erik and Freya, are clearly of Norse descent, as is the art and the music. The background instruments and rhythms are similar to those you may have heard in The Witcher III and Skyrim. The character models are straight out of Saturday morning action cartoons. The landscapes have fantastic, windswept looks to them. If you are at all interested in “things like Skyrim,” you will find everything here familiar and aesthetically pleasing.
Characters are the most important part of these kinds of games. I recommend Seers Isle to you because I became invested with its cast and want to see each one's story. Keep in mind I hardly ever play visual novels, so even if you're not into them you may like this game similarly as I did. Additionally, check out the promotional work for the game, and if the art interests you, you'll enjoy that piece of the experience for certain.
TechRaptor covered Seers Isle on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.