My re-entry into the visual novel world continues with another beautifully designed and narrative-driven story from Lunaris Games. This time, the player must dive into the 1950s and explore an eldritch-horror-infested world soaked in dark magic, mystery, and romance.
Players take the role of either a human or a Skia (half
As The Skia, your story began long before you came into this world when your relatives escaped the watery grip of Styx through unknown means to The Surface. The call of the Shadows, however, is inescapable for a half-blood. It swells in you like a deafening melody, calling you home. Like The Human, you too work with Penny and too will need to find answers to the questions.
Thrown into the middle of a brewing fight between the Shadows and the Light; two ancient, otherworldly entities embroiled in a centuries-long battle for power, the story begins on a night where everyone can feel something significant has happened. As the human player, you feel the quake, see a vision of a stranger covered in blood, oh and the city is whispering to you.
Just another day ending in y!
Do days end in y in Styx? I’m not even sure, but the bigger issue is that you must find the blood-soaked man while holding down your job as an employee at the Styx Journal. Working with Penelope (Penny) Sinclair, the single-minded and intense editor is definitely going to be a time and a half, if you don’t fall for her first! Or any one of the diverse romanceable characters. In fact, Call Me Under like many recent and upcoming LGBTQ visual novels includes polyamorous options and you can bypass the romance entirely making this game truly accessible to all players.
Personally I wanna smooch everyone!
Like any city, Styx’s heart is its most ancient place. Neighborhoods sprawling outward from that ‘heart’ have gradually taken on more modern, reassuringly mundane appearances, but the abyss where its most ancient lives once began is a dark, deep, and ruined place. Beautifully illustrated backgrounds along with a superb soundtrack set the perfect uneasy atmosphere for players as they attempt to figure out just what is going on in Styx.
What makes Call Me Under even more fun is with two different playable characters, you’ve also got two different guides. As The Human, Blue Kastor will help (or hinder?) your path and as The Skia, Adrien Navarre is around to do the same.
Throughout the game you’ll make decisions about which dialogue tree to follow, decide who you visit, and interact with various areas. However! You won’t be able to pick everything so a thoughtful approach is needed while exploring.
The biggest problem at least at the start is the sheer number of missing person’s cases that begin to pile up as you progress through the story. Fortunately, this game has an interactive case board to help keep track of the information that you clean through interactions with people and locations.
Another very cool and immersive addition is the codex which includes sections for stories, lore, and audio logs which further assist you in your investigation! In my opinion a truly successful (and accessible) visual novel can stand on its own without needing voiced characters and while I am definitely ready to listen to all these amazing characters portrayed by talented actors, the dialogue is wonderful on its own!
Of course as I mentioned earlier, you’ll have to decide whether you want to romance one or more characters, or romance anyone at all. If you choose romance, you’re provided a special page for that person(s) on whether or not they trust you and how you’re doing. Like all the best visual novels, there are numerous endings, ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on how you look at it, and you get to choose whether you’re on the side of “good” or “evil”.
Lastly, but I’m certain there are more surprises to come, items that you gather along the game stay with you but you’ll decide if they become evidence or keepsakes, adding another interactive level to the game.
Both demos for Call Me Under were engaging, gorgeous, and immediately left an impression on me, the highest praise anyone can really give a game. I cannot wait to play the full game and enter the Lunaris Games world more permanently!
Call Me Under Team
Producer, Narrative Designer & Lead Writer: Kris Wise
Writer: Khanh Nguyen
Art Direction, Sprites & Key Art: Anna Tsagada
Additional Art: Nadine Lawton
Editor & Diversity Consult: Toiya Kristen Finley
Background Art: Bailey Cooper
Voice Direction & Casting: Souha Al-Samkari (Truant Pixel)
Music: Dorrell Ettienne
Programming: Jude White & Kris Wise
UI/UX: Edd Coates
Images courtesy of Lunaris Games
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