Game Info:

Lotus Reverie: First Nexus
Developed By: Keinart Lobre
Published By: Keinart Lobre
Released: January 14, 2021
Available On: Linux, macOS, Windows
Genre: Visual Novel; Strategy
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Number of Players: Single player
Price: $14.99

Thank you Keinart Lobre for providing us with a review code.

Lotus Reverie: First Nexus asks the player and its characters many questions. What would you do if you were part of the last remaining people on the planet? If you are the few who still live in this world, is there even a reason to follow rules and regulations? This visual novel created by Keinart Lobre goes through a slew of emotions—from lighthearted playfulness to unfortunate tragedy.

On a day like any other, the Incident happened. More than half the living people in the city of Maya suddenly vanished, and a giant black monolith was seen in the middle of the city. Through the subconscious of some people’s minds, tulpas came into existence and are paired with their human. No one knows what causes the appearance of a tulpa or why tulpas even exist, but tulpas look and feel just like any human. All that is certain is that a human and his or her tulpa must face another pair in a battle to the death. This fate and conflict are unavoidable as it is stated on the monolith “Only one human and their tulpa will survive.”

The main character, Cinque (hey, that’s also my name!) finds herself in a hospital bed with amnesia. She has no recollection as to why or how she got there in the first place. The only things she remembers are a woman in a white robe, and the phrase “do not forget.” After escaping the hospital with the assistance of an equally mysterious girl in a purple sundress, she suddenly finds herself in front of a castle, where a group of six others live in. After a vote, the six accept her in and now begins Cinque’s new life.

Cinque’s six new companions are as followed:
Thistle: The figurative and literal leader of the castle. As a former teacher and the oldest of the group, the others tend to look to him for guidance, although he spends a lot of his time making jokes or being annoyingly cryptic.
Violet: She tends to be the “mother” of the group, caring and looking after all the others. With a very feminine and gracious appearance, the others appreciate her caring nature—that doesn’t stop her from playing a prank or jump in on the teasing.
Helio: A young man with a burning passion for becoming a hero. Easily embarrassed around any pretty face, he still has a long way before becoming a full-fledged hero. Before the Incident, he participated in many nerdy hobbies such as professional gaming and building model kits.
Rosemary: A very smart woman who is in charge of nearly all of the electronics within the castle. A former scientist and very good with magic, she is as hardworking as she is arrogant in her abilities. She also has a mischievous side as well, and possibly the least affected by the Incident than the others.
Rue: With a stoic, deadpan demeanor, and a monotone face, it’s quite a surprise that he has such a massive sweet tooth. A former detective, although that would be hard to guess due to his don’t care attitude and lack of initiative. He’d rather stuff his face with tons of sweets.
Columbine: A spooky girl with unkempt bed hair. An introvert who tends to talk about creepy, dark, and depressing things. Although, when Cinque showed up, she takes an unhealthy liking towards her.

Lotus Reverie: First Nexus

Strong Points: Colorful art style; thought-provoking narrative with funny and dramatic moments
Weak Points: Lazy ending; some inconsistencies in art
Moral Warnings: Descriptive violence with bloody imagery; fanservice-y moments; toilet humor; magic based on alchemy; language such as “d*mn”, “A**hole”, “b*st*rd” and “bullsh*t”; blasphemous language such as “godd*mn”; a few revealing outfits

Cinque acts as the "straight woman" of the group, having a sarcastic bite, and dry wit to match her mostly androgynous appearance. She sports a black robe that covers the majority of her body. Despite her serious personality, she tends to get herself wrapped up in the many antics of her companions, whether it's board games, capture the flag, sharing stories, or simply getting to know each other better. She always questions why they would rather goof off and mess around when they all know what soon awaits them. They all insist that within the castle that they will enjoy their lives to the best of their abilities, to have no regrets—even with that massive elephant in the room—and with each passing day it becomes harder to ignore for they all know they must eventually kill each other to stay alive.

The art style of Lotus Reverie is very animesque. Bright, colorful, with the human characters sporting big round eyes and sometimes unnatural hair colors. The character designs are very well done to the point where one could even mistake it as something from Japan if no other context is given. Each character has many expressions that display a bundle of emotions from the characters. The backgrounds and scenery are equally as impressive showing off detailed city buildings in a nice perspective and lush fields of wilderness. There are some inconsistencies with some of the scenes as many people worked on the art instead of one or two.

The music, given the tone of the game, ranges from playful and soothing, to dramatic and tense wherever it is appropriate. In most musical pieces, the main instrument is the piano. Unfortunately, this visual novel has no voice-over, not even in its original language, that being Spanish. A bit disappointing, but understandable as voice acting can quickly get expensive.

In Lotus Reverie, there are two segments to the gameplay. There is the selection progress where Cinque chooses through many options. There are the main events that sometimes either improve your relationship with a character, progress the story, or send you into battle. (Main events that are battles are typically noted with an exclamation point.) The side events give more insight into the characters and sometimes unlock more main events. Exploring the castle or area can unlock skills or weapons for Cinque to use in battle. Training field and arena are there to customize your loadout as well as potentially gain more slots to outfit your style. Only three of these actions can be performed in one day. At the end of the day, the tension bar rises and when that bar gets full, a game over happens. A game over can also be achieved if you choose the wrong answer in certain main events so make sure you save often and have multiple save files. The tension bar is pretty lenient so unless you mess around a lot, a game over via tension should never happen.

Multiple times throughout, the choice between three game modes is given. There is the novel mode, where all battles are described in detail instead of played out so that only the story needs to be focused on. Novel mode also makes the tension bar rise faster but you’re still in little danger of getting a game over by it. Battle mode skips the descriptive duels and has you play them out as Cinque and her partner. Mixed mode includes both, so you get to play out the duel as well as see the “canon” version of it.

Lotus Reverie: First Nexus
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 80%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 56%
Violence - 5/10
Language - 3/10
Sexual Content - 8/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 6.5/10

Unlike the majority of visual novels, there is a combat system tied to it. It is completely optional. The only thing a player will miss out on by skipping it is a few achievements. The battle system is of the simultaneous turn-based strategy variety where Cinque and her partner face off against another pair. All characters move at once after the decisions are made. Battles take place on a grid where Cinque and her partner can move up to three spaces at a time, or up to six if using the boost feature. Both characters share a life bar but have a separate stamina bar. The stamina bar is used to do actions such as move, attack and use magic. Exhausting the stamina bar leaves the character in a "Punished" state, unable to move and taking increased damage. There are also attitudes that can be assigned to a character such as being aggressive or avoidant, following or moving away from the selected opposing character. The simultaneous turns are an interesting change of pace that few strategy games use, although it can be at times unfair since if both teams lose all their health in the same turn, it counts as your loss. Cinque must end the turn with an adequate amount of health despite the opposing side losing all of theirs as they still perform their actions. What I like about Lotus Reverie's combat is that the strategy actually begins before the battles take place as the characters' personalities will give insight on whether they will act aggressive or passive towards Cinque or her partner, as well as what weapons or spells are good or bad against them.

There are quite a bit of moral warnings to be mindful of. As stated before, the characters are forced to kill each other to survive, and some of the violence can be pretty descriptive with an accompanying background of blood splatters. The use of magic is ever-present as every character is capable of their own form of magic. Most of it is based on alchemy and some are based on simple fantasy magic. Language can range from mild such as “d*mn”, “a*s”, and “h*ll”, to harsher language such as “A**hole”, “b*st*rd”, and “bullsh*t”, to blasphemous language such as “godd*mn”. There are a few somewhat revealing outfits from the characters, namely Columbine and the Woman in White. Columbine shows off some cleavage in her normal outfit, and the Woman in White has one outfit that shows off much more cleavage. Somewhat sexual dialogue can be seen throughout, mostly of Rosemary commenting on how she has a "sex bomb" body. Most of the cast end up getting a couple of fanservice-filled moments whether it is a wardrobe malfunction or soaked from head-to-toe, revealing undergarments and brassiere. Rolling back to Columbine, her obsession with Cinque gets pretty perverted to the point where she is stealing Cinque’s underwear and sleeping in her bed. Toilet humor is also present, with Rue making a few jokes about peeing on the toilet seat, to Helio’s disgust. There is also one side event where the cast partakes in drinking alcohol and half of them get visibly intoxicated. It is even heavily hinted that Violet sneaks alcohol in her morning “tea.”

I will admit that I did pick up Lotus Reverie for two reasons only. One, I rarely have the moment where I share the name of the main character in a piece of media, and two, wouldn’t it feel disingenuous for the guy named Cinque to not review the game where the main character is named Cinque? I’m glad my intuition didn’t lead me astray as I enjoyed Lotus Reverie with its quirky cast of characters, plenty of laughs, and heartbreaking moments. The story is well written with how its twists unfold and make sense, and how many of the characters' motivations are relatable or empathetic. I wish I could say the same about the ending as it felt like a punch to the gut as it is very abrupt and quite lazy. It doesn't help that the after-credits makes fun of the fact that it is an abrupt end. It soured my experience, but not to the point where I regretted playing. It’s not very long as a visual novel, only taking around 10-12 hours to finish if going through novel mode, and an extra 3-6 hours if you partake in the duels and aim for the secret ending. Keinart Lobre on his website states that his game is meant for a teenage to a young adult audience and given the tone and morality of it, I’d say he mostly hit the mark on that assumption. If you like visual novels, Lotus Reverie is something to consider—just keep your expectations for a satisfying ending on the low.

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Cinque Pierre

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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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