If you've never heard of Aselia the Eternal, I wouldn't be altogether surprised -- but it's a genuinely fantastic game.
It's also a rather peculiarly-structured one -- it is both a strategy RPG and a visual novel, but integrates both of these elements together into a rather wordy, deep and meaningful experience that will consume a good 50+ hours of your life for a single playthrough; more if you decide to pursue the other endings.
I played Aselia the Eternal a while back and absolutely adored it, which is why I'm excited by the prospect of Yumina the Ethereal, a new game from a team made up of members who left Aselia developer Xuse in 2008, and officially localized into English by visual novel specialist JAST USA.
Yumina isn't a sequel to Aselia per se, but does share a few elements in common -- most notably the fact that it blends visual novel and RPG gameplay together into one coherent, story-driven experience.
In Yumina the Ethereal, you take on the role of Ayumu, laid-back dude and hot-and-cold sometime friend of the titular heroine. Yumina is a schoolgirl who is not all that bright, and due to various unfortunate circumstances finds herself at risk of being held back a year. In order to prevent this from happening, she decides to run for school council president, and it's up to Ayumu to help her realize this goal.
So far so mundane, you might think, but in the best tradition of Aselia's dimension-hopping narrative, all is not quite as simple as it appears.
In Yumina the Ethereal, the debates in the run-up to the council elections are represented as turn-based RPG battles with Super Robot Wars-style visuals, and training for said debates is represented through the exploration of 3D dungeons in a simulated fantasy world. Said fantasy world has its own characters and storyline to follow through, and you can probably count on something going horribly wrong somewhere in the whole process, since -- wouldn't you know it? -- Yumina is apparently also destined to save the universe. According to Ayumu's eccentric father, anyway.
Like many of JAST's previous titles -- and unlike Aselia, interestingly, which was brought to the West in its "all-ages" form -- Yumina the Ethereal is an uncensored adults-only title, featuring three main routes through the storyline and eight romanceable ladies to canoodle with. That "adults-only" bit means you're unlikely to see it on services like Steam any time soon, incidentally -- you'll have to order direct from JAST or one of its distributors, though a digital version will be available alongside the physical copies.
Yumina the Ethereal is expected to release around the start of August.
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