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Of School, Magic and Zombies: A Look into the Valentyne Stories Necromancy Demo

Mésange Arts is a team from France comprised of RaquelLoli (code), Wanini (art), SallyNyan (writing) and Styria (English translation). You may have seen some of Wanini’s fanarts if you are into Fire Emblem.

Their game, Valentyne Stories Necromancy, is set to be released at the end of 2019 or beginning of 2020. VSN’s Kickstarter campaign is set to launch in May, but for the time being you can grab their demo on itch.io. VSN’s demo is on the longer side: around 36,000 words, which means more than 3 hours of play if you try out all the choices and read the in-game encyclopedia, as well as 9 CGs and a dozen backgrounds.

Anyway, I finally took the time to test the demo and liked what I saw well enough to write a lengthy review about it. Enjoy!

— Story —

The story is set in Arcan, a country covered in snow all year long where some people are born with “elemental” magic: fire, water and wind. That power can be traded for an unpredictable, “unusual” magic that can be either more useful or, at worst, completely useless.

And because there is no Necromancy without zombies, in Arcan you can also meet rising deads, people who died from causes other than old age or sickness who will roam aimlessly around the country, try to eat the living and occasionally plow the snow if they were raised well enough. (bad pun intended)

You play as Rave Rabier, a farm boy who moves to the capital of Arcan in order to attend the mage academy after an event awakens his latent magical powers. 


—  Characters —


Rave Rabier a.k.a the Protagonist

A humble village boy, Rave’s wind powers only awakened three months ago during a traumatic event, which prompted his parents to send him to the capital so he could study magic and become a son they can be proud of.

He’s kind and friendly, but also won’t put up with anyone’s bullshit. He is also very lost.


Kary Djedi a.k.a “Tan Guy”

An exchange student from the kingdom of Anukaï, Kary is an easygoing fellow who is easy to please and doesn’t hold grudges. His room is extremely warm to make up for the chilly Arcan weather he has to face every day.

Kary uses fire magic.


Renan Leroy a.k.a “The Runt”

A snotty mage from an extremely wealthy family, Renan never fails to remind Rave of their difference in social standing. Should Rave choose to share his room, expect a rocky start in their relationship.

Renan is nevertheless very studious and a skilled water mage.


Hyde Fisher a.k.a “Rapunzel”

An aloof student who also comes from a humble background, Hyde understands Rave’s struggle as a late bloomer thrown into a new world better than anyone else.

Unlike his classmates, he wields an unusual kind of magic: the power of invisibility.


Ilyes – a.k.a “Pale Man”

The academy’s chief guard and first potential love interest that Rave meets upon arriving at the academy. Ilyes is a calm and collected man who doesn’t need to raise his voice to make himself heard.

He’s actually a vampire: a higher type of undead who needs human blood to keep his body from decaying.


Fenrir Valence a.k.a “Professor”

Rave’s very hot first teacher. Mr. Valence appears quite patient towards his new student’s lack of learned etiquette and magical prowess, but won’t pull any punch towards the rest of his class, whom he has great expectations of.

Red eyes, take warning. Mr. Valence wields another unusual kind of magic: Necromancy.


The academy guards a.k.a “Bearded Man N°1 and 2″

Two of the guards under Ilyes’ command who are less than pleased to have to let a stinky peasant like Rave enter the academy.

Unfortunately for him, he is likely to see them a lot during his next three years here.


—  Art direction —

Probably the game’s biggest selling point. Not many artists can make good CGs, character portraits and backgrounds all on their own but that’s apparently what Wanini did. I am especially fond of VSN’s backgrounds. Clearly they didn’t have to go that hard, for example, on that academy door you can see behind the guards but they did and I like nice and detailed backgrounds, alright?


— Writing and Characterization —

VSN’s demo contains barely if any hint at romance aside from a few lines towards the end. That’s not a bad thing though: the game focuses on the plot and the world surrounding its cast as much as the characters themselves, who including Rave have all their own distinct personalities and quirks that go beyond one or two gimmicks.

For example, Hyde isn’t just the “silent but caring” type, he would rather not have baby Rave through his school life and certainly won’t do it unless obliged to, yet he can relate to Rave’s struggles and is mature enough not to make a big deal out of it should he be forced to share his room. Renan is a bratty asshole but he doesn’t seem to wish Rave or anyone else any harm and it doesn’t take much for him to back off if called out in the right way.

I can’t say we’ve seen that much of the game’s actual plot and what will happen when “Rave happens to be in a bad place, at the wrongest time.” like mentioned in the official summary, but the rather morbid couple scenes Rave witnesses before entering the academy hint at a rather dark plot related to zombies, death and necromancy and make me hopeful for the rest of the game.

The game features an in-game journal that fills up as you play and receive new bits of information from the characters Rave meets. While I think the text formatting could use a little polishing, it’s worth a read and you may miss on some important details by skipping it.

VSN’s common route and first 3 paths (Kary, Renan, Hyde) are predicted to total whopping 300,000 words, more than twice the average length of our current BL EVNs and will take more than 30 hours to complete. Fenrir and Ilyes’ routes will come later in an update and will probably add a few more hours of play. All in all, VSN will most likely take its time setting up the story and characters before you get to date any of Rave’s five love interests, which, I hope, will make their blooming romance all the sweeter.

Note that the English demo was translated by a single native French speaker and may contain some typos or sentences that could be better worded. Should their upcoming Kickstarter meet its goal, they will hire a professional translator to take care of that and offer you a quality English translation.


— Sound and Music —

Composed by Tai Reflexions, VSN’s soundtracks and main theme are -perhaps purposely- reminiscent of the Fire Emblem soundtracks. I wouldn’t put any of the tracks in my playlist, but they’re nice to the ear.

Sounds effects overall complete the music nicely. Just one minor nitpick is the abundance of the “punching” sound effect every time characters are quarreling. While I don’t find the sound itself irritating, it doesn’t feel necessary to put so many of them. This, again, a minor nitpick though.


— Overall —

Valentyne Stories Necromancy makes you come for the art and then stay for the solid storytelling. I didn’t feel bored one bit and each character including the unnamed guards were fun to read in their own ways. The demo is not perfect and some hiccups can be found here and there in the French or English text, but all in all the writing, programming and art directions are some of the better I’ve seen so far and I have high hopes for the Kickstarter and the complete game.

If I were to pick a favourite character now, it would be a tie between Hyde and Fenrir. I guess have a thing for aloof characters and hot teachers, and there is something in their eyes that just draw me in.

VSN’s Kickstarter is set to launch in May, so stay tuned for Mésange’s announcements and consider supporting them by backing VSN and sharing it!


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Thanks for reading! <3

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Fable

An nonbinary BL enthusiast from France. Sharing BL game news since 2013, I also translate games in French during my spare time.

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