The fourth game in Alice in Dissonance’s fault series, Fault StP Lightkravte may raise a few eyebrows since it’s being released ahead of Milestone Two: Side Below, meaning that series fans have to wait a bit longer to continue the main story. (On Steam, the developers have said that staffing issues are behind the delay of the second Milestone Two game.) But don’t let that stop you from picking this up if you enjoy the characters and the series – although the focus is on Khaji, a sort of everyman character, Selphine and Ritona are very much present, and the game taking place in the Kingdom of Rughzenhaide when all was still well is an interesting element of the overall fault mythos; It’s also a pretty safe place to enter the franchise – although you won’t know who the two aforementioned characters are, the game does a good job of introducing their dynamic and the world in general. There’s also a fairly extensive glossary of in-world terminology that can be accessed at any point in the game, while the writing also allows for easy comprehension within the context of what’s happening in the story.
Part one of a planned two-part prequel spin-off (known collectively as “Silence the Pendant”), Lightkravte is a deceptively low-stakes story. Khaji at first gives off the impression of being somewhat like your average harem protagonist in a shounen series: he’s nice, a little bland, and has a definite pervy streak. He lives with his widowed father, who expresses gentle disappointment at his son’s disinclination to take over the family farm, but is wonderfully supportive nonetheless – he doesn’t love his choices, but he does love his son unconditionally. The Oberg family dynamic thus stands out among the other characters, with some never interacting with their parents, others orphaned, and a strong sense of found family all intertwining throughout the story. This makes it particularly interesting that Khaji, although supported by so many people, doesn’t seem to realize it, or even to fully understand what it means to have that support. In this respect he is a very typical teenager, wrapped up in his own wants without being able to truly look outside of himself and see what those wants might mean in the context of something greater than himself.
Although Khaji is not a member of the nobility – unlike his friend Flora, Selphine, or Ritona – he has an ineffable air of privilege that he can’t quite grasp. If there’s a specific theme to the piece, it might be Khaji coming to understand that the world isn’t exactly his oyster and that not every shellfish contains a pearl – those are formed through a long process. This doesn’t always make him a sympathetic character or the story an easy read; he can get very irritating at times and his naivete and unwillingness to break free from it, while important to the plot, aren’t always great to read about. But they do feel like a legitimate issue that he’s struggling to first acknowledge and then overcome, and that ultimately does make the game have a story worth reading to the end.
It’s also beautiful to look at. The backgrounds are the most immediately striking artistic feature of the game. There’s a bit of the storybook feel of Mhakna Gramura and Fairy Bell, with exquisite forest scenes and moving glimmers throughout each background. Whether rural or urban, the settings are detailed and compliment the action, and those small moving elements really do add to the overall experience. Speaking of moving, the characters do, too – facial expressions and arms are all animated, albeit in a somewhat limited way. Again, this really does add to the game, especially in sections where there aren’t any words; the characters’ body language and faces allow the story to avoid the sort of overwriting we can sometimes find in visual novels because we can see what their reactions are. While it can be overdone – the usual “breathing so hard my shoulders are moving constantly” issue that’s common to fighting games is present – it ultimately is an enhancement. The music is a little less of a revelation, but it is still the sort of pretty that works to back up the action without being too noticeable, which is something I tend to like in this style of game.
As with the other games in the series, Lightkravte‘s gameplay consists of clicking through dialogue. There are no branching paths or choices at all, so this really is like reading an animated novel. There are Steam achievements for finishing each chapter, as well as one for playing past the point where you can return the game, which I thought was amusing, although I could see it being a slap in the face if you’re a slower reader not loving the plot, which does take a bit to really kick in. The only real “extras” with the game are the glossary of in-world terms; No image gallery or music gallery are present, which is a major shame because the event CGs and the art in general are, as I’ve said, beautiful. The game is available in English, Japanese, and Chinese as of this writing. My playtime was nine hours, which seems to be about average, but as with all VNs, that’s very much subject to varying.
It may not be Side Belowbut Lightkravte is still a very nice entry into the fault series. The story is thoughtful (and has some nice representation of a type we don’t often see), the background details to Ritona’s and Selphine’s lives before the main story are interesting, and the additional animation really does make the game more immersive. Whether you’re curious about the franchise or already a fan, this is a nice way to spend some time.