Game Info:

Autumn's Journey
Developed by Apple Cider
Published by Ratalaika Games
Released on December 11, 2020 (Switch)
Available on Linux, MacOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
Genre: Visual Novel
ESRB Rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence
Number of Players: Singleplayer
Price: $4.99 

Thank you Ratalaika Games for sending us this game to review!

Autumn’s Journey is a visual novel developed by Apple Cider and ported to Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch by Ratalaika Games. It stars an aspiring knight by the name of Auralee Bayard, who finds herself hiking in the forest one day when she discovers two dragons that are in a human form. She then embarks on a journey with them which allows her to get to know them for the people they really are inside.

In the world of the game, there are two predominant races. The first is the dragonkind, which has existed on the setting’s world for many years. The second is heavenkind, which is basically humans, that have only began existing recently. Many of the funniest moments are based around the cultural differences that the two species have. Much of the storyline is taken up by explaining these differences, but it does so at a pace that helps the plot along instead of dragging down the reader.

Autumn's Journey

Strong Points: Cute art with no obvious flaws; launches right into the plot; cute and fitting music; nice characterization
Weak Points: Endings are not vastly different; only lasts an hour per session
Moral Warnings: Described violence; some scenes are designed to imply sexual tension that is later revealed to never actually have been there; references messing with the dead; fantasy magic; rebellion against human norms is scripted; kissing (both romantically and platonically)

The gameplay is very simple, and this is because of the genre. I was able to tap the Switch’s touch screen to continue to the next piece of text, or press the A button if I preferred. All the button combinations for the other functions are indicated next to that function on the text bar at the bottom of the screen. Everything is simple, leaving no frustration or confusion on how the game operates. The only complaint I have is the fact that the skip function runs quite slow at times, which is something that confuses me. My best guess is that it is a bug.

The music in Autumn’s Journey is simple, but fitting. It blends with the theme very well, and emphasizes the emotion in the scene when it is theatrically necessary. There is partial voice acting, which is a pleasant surprise for an indie game. It was very well done, and captures the emotions of the characters in a realistic manner. There are very few sound effects other than these, but they are present in the battle scenes that are described throughout the game.

The graphics are quite pleasant and well done, especially for an indie game. The art is very cute and expressive, and has no (obvious) anatomical flaws. The coloring and shading are well done as well, and the backgrounds are immersive in nature. There is a forest background that is reused for two very different locations, but other than that, I have no gripes.

Autumn's Journey
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 79%
Violence – 7.5/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 8/10
Occult/Supernatural – 8.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical – 7.5/10

I particularly enjoyed the characterization in this story. There were not many people present that were notable to the plot, but for a story of this length, it wasn’t necessary. There were only four character sprites (the protagonist, Auralee, her two companions, and her mother). The small cast allowed for more time to be spent on developing the personalities and backgrounds of the existing members, and I felt a bit like I’d befriended them myself. A small detail that I appreciated was the way that the story took place in and progressed through the season of autumn. It heightened the story’s environment by connecting back to the title, and I felt a little more immersed in the world of the story as a result. There are 3 endings, but they are not vastly different from each other. There are differing cutscenes, but the overall nature of the ending is the same. The game itself is short, which is a shame because I wanted to spend a lot more time getting to know these characters and the world they live in.

Morally, there are a few issues. There is one use of h*ll, in the context of “what the h*ll.” There are also a few scenes that imply an awkward brand of sexual tension, and as the story progresses, said tension is revealed to never have truly existed in the first place. There are also scenes of described violence, where the characters are engaged in battle, and a major part of the plot deals with the mishandling of (dragon) corpses. There are also several references that Auralee’s companions make to going to altars and talking to dragons, using fantasy magic to do so. Near the end (which I am not going to spoil), the protagonist has to rebel against the human norms for her world for the sake of her companions. There is also described kissing, both in heavily implied romantic feelings, and in a platonic sense for one of the characters, who is merely attempting to wrap their head around the concept. No romantic endeavors go farther than this.

Overall, Autumn’s Journey is a short, sweet, and charming tale for those who want a good, quick story to occupy an hour of their day. I would recommend this story for those who are a little older, as there is minor swearing and some references to things that adults are geared to understand.

- Kittycathead

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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