Adventure Corner ~ Harmony: The Fall of Reverie
Welcome to Adventure Corner, a column where members of the RPGamer staff can give their thoughts, impressions, and pseudo-reviews for various adventure titles that don’t come under our usual coverage. Adventure Corner is aimed at delivering opinions on a wide range of titles including visual novels, point-and-click adventures, investigative mysteries, and so forth.
In this edition of the column we take a look at DON’T NOD’s narrative adventure Harmony: The Fall of Reverie.
Harmony: The Fall of Reverie
The latest narrative adventure title — taking a primarily visual novel form — from the Paris-based studio, DON’T NOD’s Harmony: The Fall of Reverie puts players in the role of Polly after she returns to the near-future Mediterranean island of Atina to help search for her mother. However, this mission is immediately complicated when she discovers a pendant that allow her to be whisked away to the connected otherworldly realm of Reverie while granting her a level of clairvoyance. Boasting an emotional tale with an intriguing take on player choices, Harmony: The Fall of Reverie makes for a highly thoughtful experience worth its time.
Reverie is inhabited by the six Aspirations of Humanity — Glory, Bliss, Power, Chaos, Bond, and Truth — with its realm inextricably linked to that of the real world, known as Brittle. Like the real world, Reverie itself is currently at a crossroads, and the Aspirations need Polly, known to them as Harmony, to restore its balance. In the process Polly will cement which Aspiration gets to rule over it and is the largest influence over humanity. Polly’s actions in both Brittle and Reverie will ultimately decide the future for both worlds.
The fictional island of Atina provides an interesting setting. It has been largely taken over by the Mono Konzern (MK) corporation, which runs its utilities and much of its supply chain, in the process becoming its primary employer. Corporate greed has seen it continue to expand, encroaching into Reverie as a result of its investigations into the ancient Oxion culture that used to inhabit the island. Working as a juxtaposition to MK are Polly’s allies and friends in the community of Alma, with her being brought up with close associations to art and poetry, as well as a nurturing community and found family.
Harmony: The Fall of Reverie is structured to make it evident how Polly’s choices lead into subsequent events or how conversations play out. Practically, this is demonstrated through the weaving set of nodes of the Augural — which visually represents Polly’s new clairvoyance from her connection to Reverie — and players are able to use knowledge as to which paths might lead where to decide if there is a particular objective they wish to aim for. Each node can cover anything from a small part of one conversation to a major choice of action. Certain choices will block off or permit choices at future crossroads, while others are forced upon players if their conditions are met. Choices often align with the wishes of one of the Aspirations, and will grant or remove Aspiration crystals that are required to allow Polly to select other choices down the line as well as being crucial for determining its ending paths.
The system is effective in some ways, but won’t be entirely to everyone’s liking. It encourages players to plan ahead with specific targets and Aspirations in mind, though it also has some inherent pitfalls. It heavily restricts how far ahead players can plan, and the way the different threads all frequently link back together again — although understandable from realistic and practical standpoints — can make some of the choices feel unnecessary. There is also the mild annoyance when players are forced to load back into the Augural multiple times in quick succession, rather than just being able to see a conversation play out. I’m of two minds about whether seeing the restrictions of past choices, especially in the game’s final sections, feels like being railroaded by the past, or whether it gives a good “what if?” impetus to go back and follow different paths; however, I appreciate the experiment with visualising the choices available to players.
Either way, Harmony: The Fall of Reverie strikes good balances between its choices. Rarely does any choice feel outright wrong, even if it has an undesired consequence, and there’s always a good reason for going down any path whether it’s based on personal sensibilities or as a means to reach a particular goal. Players are able to restart a chapter if they misread some of the choices, which can happen in the more complicated chapters, though the game’s autosave system prevents them from going back any further, encouraging them to stay true to their previous selections and plans, with a single playthrough generally taking between ten and twelve hours.
Finding one’s place, grief, and loss make up some of the game’s primary themes, permeating its writing and presentation. The game’s cast does an excellent job of keeping players invested, regardless of the choices made. Polly is a bit of a malleable protagonist, but the rest of the cast is appreciably varied in their characters and motivations, and form a strong web of different relationships surrounding Polly. The Aspirations are also all notable and memorable characters in their own right, and the UK-based voice cast delivers excellent performances that help each of the characters stand out.
In conjunction with the great cast, Lena Raine’s musical score offers a thoughtful and often melancholy backing to everything going on, which works well with the game’s themes. The game’s visual designs also lends themselves to its overall character. Atina is full of vibrant locations and architecture, while Reverie has a great sense of fantasy blended with modern reality. The character designs are pleasantly brought to life with animations during the visual novel sections, plus some brief fully animated cutscenes scattered around.
Harmony: The Fall of Reverie is certainly on the thoughtful side of narrative adventures. It very much encourages players to think about what they see and appreciate in humanity, whether it be the bonds people form or the search for truth. It’s also nice to see the game taking a more nuanced approach to player choices, and have players guiding the flow rather than just leaping from pivot point to pivot point. Although at times melancholy, Harmony: The Fall of Reverie is well worth getting caught up in.
Disclosure: This article is based on a free copy of the game provided by the publisher.