The House in Fata Morgana review for PS Vita, PS4, PC

Platform: PS Vita
Also on: PC, PS4
Publisher: Mighty Rabbit Studios
Developer: Novectacle
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

After several years of playing all kinds of different visual novels — an unintended byproduct of being a Vita enthusiast — I?ve come to expect that the genre tends to produce some pretty dark, bleak stuff. Whether we?re talking Steins;Gate, Danganronpa, Muv-Luv, whatever — the common thread running through all of them is that they?ve got ridiculously high body counts, and that everyone involved usually undergoes significant emotional and physical pain and trauma.

Still, even by those standards, The House in Fata Morgana seems particularly bleak. How bleak? Let me out it this way: there are a bunch of different intersecting stories here, and the least disturbing one is the one that involves incest, extreme jealousy, and revenge. No one is explicitly murdered, however, so by the standards of this game, it?s light, fluffy fare.

After all, from there, the story bounces around between centuries, and at various times it includes murder, insanity, more murder, rape, mental and physical torture, slavery, brothels, even more murder, intersex babies, mutilation, and still more murder. I probably missed a few killings in there — and to be fair, the ending is kinda-sorta-almost uplifting, as these things go — but you get the gist: this is a dark, bloody game.

With so much tragedy, you?d expect some dark, gothic graphics…and you?d be right. However, even if it?s about as clich?d as you?d expect, that doesn?t make it any less nice to look at. There are some really striking visuals here, from an inhuman beast ripping into someone (with blood splattering across the screen), to characters the camera zooming in on individual characters during scenes of heightened drama, to simple nature scenes. For the most part, of course, the game is mainly just characters sliding on and off the screen, as is standard for the genre, but even then, they still look interesting, like works of art come to (sort-of) life.

On top of that, the writing and characterization here are relatively solid. Given that translation so often seems like an afterthought in localized visual novels, it?s impressive to see a game where there was actually care and attention put into what you?re reading.

Of course, not even gorgeous graphics and decent writing are enough to distract from the fact that this whole game is basically one gut punch after another. And that?s what makes it so hard to assess The House in Fata Morgana. If you like visual novels, there?s every reason to believe you?ll like this one — but be aware going in that you?re going to have to put up with a lot of very, very heavy stuff in the process.

Mighty Rabbit Studios provided us with a House in Fata Morgana PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: A-