Changeling-Demo Review

Changeling is an upcoming commercial GxB supernatural romance visual novel and the debut title of indie English game developers Steamberry Studios. The game follows a high school girl, whose normal life is turned upside down when she finds out that she isn’t exactly human. Meet other supernaturals, learn their secrets, and unravel the mystery surrounding Nora and an incident from her past in this intriguing upcoming VN! Upon its release the game will be available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The demo covers three chapters of the common route, which is roughly an hour of gameplay.

I can’t believe it took me so long to write this review, but I’ve been swamped with various projects and then I went to Katsucon and that threw a wrench in all of my plans! Things are still kind of hectic right now, but I was so impressed with this demo that I just had to make sure I got it out to you guys!

Nora Lewis is an adventurous, inquisitive senior at Stone Circle Academy. A self-reliant girl who rarely finds herself at a loss in any situation, her life is upended after she joins a club at school and discovers a secret world of paranormal creatures she didn’t know existed.
Nora learns that her best friend is a Witch and her other club mates are a mixture of Vampires, Werewolves, and Wizards. When the others reveal that she’s not a normal human either Nora feels she’s been thrown down a rabbit hole with little hope of finding her way out again.
While working to uncover the mystery behind several incidents in her past that may be connected to her supernatural origins, Nora begins to realize the secret of her identity may be darker than she thought. But if she can solve her own mysteries, she may be able to salvage a crumbling relationship with her increasingly angry and paranoid twin brother. First, though, she has to stay alive in a paranormal society teeming with danger – with the help of one of six guys, each of whom has his own unique problems to deal with.

Synopsis (Steamberry Studios

The design of the demo is a welcome change from the typical anime styled visual novels I have played in the past.  Even though the town of Pine Hollow is a contemporary setting, it has a distinct earthy feel, with the rich forested backgrounds and  warm autumn colors. The naturalistic style when coupled with the relaxing musical accompaniment definitely helps ground the story in reality, despite the supernatural elements of the game.

Now, this isn’t a complaint, but a suggestion, while I love the sprites, it would be nice to see some alternating poses. The best example being Corvin, his pose has him holding out his scarf, literally every time I see the guy I think, “Man his arm must be tired”… But, other than that, the visuals are top notch!!

Then there are the characters themselves, each design is unique from one another and while each of the main love interests are supernatural they don’t give off an inherently magical vibe. Okay, there are a few subtle design details (pointy ears, and enlarged canines), but for the most part each of the guys look like normal high school students. Since this is one of the longer demos, we get to spend a good bit of time with each of the potential love interests and supporting cast.

everyonefull.png
L to Right: Elliot, William, Corvin, Nora (MC), Marc, Ewan, and Danny

The demo doesn’t specifically state the what types of supernatural beings each of the characters are, you can kind of guess what they are based on their interactions with Nora… Though, I’m not gonna lie, I had to confirm with the dev on some of them, because I was completely off with Marc and I never would have guessed with Ewan and William.

Out of all the guys, I do have my favorites… Elliot, Nora’s next-door neighbor, is adorkable and with that cute blush of his, I can’t help but want to tease him a bit. Then there’s Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome, *fans self* Danny definitely caught my eye and the dev informed me that he’s also Samoan-American! And ya’ll know how I feel about POCs in my game, so homeboy definitely earned bonus points for that!! Corvin had to grow on me a bit, and I didn’t spend enough time with Ewan to feel one way or another about the guy, but, Marc…  -_- Marc, definitely rubbed me the wrong way. However, I suspect that my opinion of him will change after I spend more time with him in the final version of the game.

While I don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone, not that it’s really a surprise, the character bios on Tumblr tell you exactly what kind of supernatural each of the guys are… But, I will say that Elliot and Marc are both vampires, however there’s a difference in how they became vamps and I’m interested to see how that effects the course of their individual routes later on.

And of course I didn’t forget our leading lady, Nora Lewis (name changeable)! I love, love, LOVE, when visual novels have strong female leads, it just makes for a much more enjoyable gaming experience, when I can personally relate to the heroine. Nora isn’t just a proxy for the player, she has her own defined personality traits, though your choices throughout the game will determine how she interacts with the other characters in the game. I definitely found myself laughing out loud at her internal commentary, though I will admit that she can be a bit blunt… though, she’s in high school, so I can forgive her that. While we know that Nora is a supernatural being, it’s unknown what she is, but it’s hinted that it might be much darker than anyone could have ever guessed.

Some events from her past may shed some light on the situation, but by uncovering the truth Nora’s life will change forever… It might also explain why her twin brother Spencer is such a jerk to her. I’m sorry, but that guy was a grade A asshole from start to finish! I wanted to punch him in the face every time he opened his mouth, but bitter feeling aside, I’m curious to know what turned him into such a monster, but I guess that’s just one of the many mysteries that will be explored in the final version of the game!

The mark of a great demo is its ability to introduce the player to the premise and characters while still leaving them longing for more. Well, this demo did that and more! After I finished playing it I was left with so many unanswered questions and a whole host of theories… I need to know what happens next! 

final thoughts

High school supernatural romances are a dime a dozen, it seems like you can’t take two steps without stumbling over a new “fresh” take on the genre. So, when my buddy Bishie (check out her LP of the demo, HERE) suggested I play the demo, let’s just say I wasn’t expecting anything extraordinary, boy was I wrong!

Changeling is a delightful game that promises to breathe new life into the high school supernatural romance genre. I can’t believe this is Steamberry’s first ever game, because they definitely put some veteran developers to shame! It didn’t take me long to get sucked in by the expressive writing, the dynamic characters, and the gorgeous artwork. Of course since this is a demo, a lot of the features are just placeholders, but from what I’ve seen so far, this promises to be one of the better games set for release this year!

The development is going full steam ahead, with the team making regular updates on their Twitter and Tumblr accounts! There are also currently plans for a Kickstarter campaign for the game in the works for the near future, so keep an eye out for that soon! You can also contact Steamberry Studios on Social Media through the following channels:

Are you as hyped for the game as I am? Let me know what you think of Changelings and the demo in the comments section. Don’t forget to let the developer know what you think about the game as well! As always THANK YOU for reading!!!

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