Now that I’ve talked about visual novels in general, it’s time to focus on Aurora’s Nightmare in particular.
Aurora’s Nightmare takes place in the idyllic world of Lucerna, which is home to a race of winged humans known as Angellus. The main character, Ars, is a young man who works as a research scientist alongside his fiancé, Tristitia (Tia for short), and their childhood friend, Aurora. However, while Lucerna may seem like calm peaceful world on the outside, it harbors a number of mysteries and dark secrets. As for what truths will be uncovered and how the three friends will react to them, well that depends on what decisions the player makes.
Now, that’s only the barest summary of the plot, but I’ll be talking about the characters, setting, and other story elements in far more depth in future posts. I keep trying to assign a genre to Aurora’s Nightmare, but I’m never quite satisfied with my choice. The best I can come up with is fantasy/suspense. But it’s hardly a heavy fantasy setting (no swords, magic, dungeons, or dragons), and the level of technology could put it more in sci-fi territory. On the other hand, there’s no space travel, laser guns, or androids. In fact, there’s not all that much of a focus on technology in general, which is why I lean a bit more towards fantasy. As for the suspense… Well, I’ll discuss the specifics in the future. There was a point when I wanted to call AN a fantasy/horror story but, now that I have the full plot more or less planned out, I don’t think it goes far enough to be true horror (and horror isn’t really my style anyway). However, I do aim to create a rather tense and dark atmosphere throughout much of the story, which is why I settled on suspense. With all that said, as with many visual novels, romance and the relationships between the characters play a very important role as well. But that’s another thing we’ll talk about more in the future…
As for the general gameplay, visual novels vary quite a bit in terms of the number of decisions the player gets to make and how much of an impact they have on the plot. Some visual novels may only give the player one or two choices throughout the entire game, while others could have dozens. Of all the visual novels I’ve played, my favorite is Type Moon’s Fate/Stay Night (unfortunately, there’s no official English release, but there is a good translation patch available, and some of the adaptations and spin-offs have been released in the US). And it’s really the single biggest inspiration for Aurora’s Nightmare (though more from a structural standpoint than a story one). I could spend quite a while talking about what I like about Fate’s plot and characters, but another thing that really sticks out is how the story and decisions are structured. Fate gives the player a lot of choices, far more than in most visual novels. Some only affect a single scene, others change the story entirely. Sometimes the outcome of a choice is immediately obvious, others it may not be until much later that you realize just how important it was. Fate also has quite a lot of endings. There are five full endings and dozens of bad endings which the player runs into if his choices lead to the main character’s untimely death or an unrecoverable failure.
Similarly, Aurora’s Nightmare will feature three significantly different paths that the story can go down, depending on the player’s choices, each with a number of other decisions along the way. Each path will feature two main endings and a number of bad endings. Fortunately, there will be lots of available save files and a way to quickly skip over sections you’ve already read so you can quickly and easily go back and try different choices. All in all, I’m expecting Aurora’s Nightmare to require around 20 hours (for a non-speed reader, at least) to clear all three of the main story paths. But that’s just a rough estimate. Until the script is finished, it’s really hard to say for sure. It could really end up anywhere in the 15 – 40 range.