pirated it, played it, cried twice over the ending, realized it was good enough to buy, bought it and it's soundtrack.
https://store.steampowered.com/app/1504 ... _Starsong/
"Narrative Puzzle Adventure" is what the game describes itself as and I heard at least one review call it a "visual novel" (one of the TWO negative reviews on it in English out of 100?ish) so I'm gonna clear it up right at the start that if you want to call it a "visual novel" you're wrong
VNs, for those unaware, are typically reading dialogue and making the occasional choice that, if the game is good, has some small amount of meaning to the overall story. Echo of Starsong, on the other hand, lets you do a hell of a lot more in terms of adventure/exploration/sidequests/etc than just clicking through dialogue boxes. Sure, there's a lot of dialogue and very heavy story to read, but it's not a VN. Not for people who can't stand sitting down and doing some reading though.
Anyway, with the first prelim out of the way, here comes the second preliminary: this game is an emotional roller coaster. (I cried about it) If you can't handle some sadness in your stories you'll have a hard time coping/seething with this game's ending - if you CAN handle some sadness in your stories you'll simply be crying about it too.
first two warnings out of the way and now I can shill the game
It's one of the best games, if not THE BEST game, that I've ever sunk 10-12 hours into due to it's lore, worldbuilding, and story alone. I appreciate games that have good worldbuilding behind them for something that's obviously not "set on earth during modern times lol", and this game delivers for a sci-fi with some fantasy elements mixed in. You've got an entire religion of this solar system to explore and dive into, as well as the factions inhabiting this system that's very heavily rich in a power/fuel/energy source called "Lumen", as well as how individual people interact with said religion/factions/outsiders/etc. The writing's really well-done, imo, and shows how the background and current goings-on of this system interact in a way that seems believable and genuinely interesting to look at. Varied viewpoints from people depending on what faction they're a part of allow you to really understand how the common person sitting by in a system that just got out of a war might tend to heavily dislike the Evil Megacorporation United Mining, who started that war in the first place over Lumen.
In terms of things that aren't just "background writing", the inter-character dynamics between the main characters you interact with in your ship of three are pretty fun as well. You're a disgraced noble from a place that is not space japan with a duty to find and claim asteroids rich in lumen to bring back to your emperor in order to raise the honor and rank of your clan, otherwise it'll get subsumed and disbanded since you kinda just lost the last few caves your clan had by speaking out of line. Your captain is a Witch, someone who can "hear" lumen through space and provide navigational data to the ship systems as well as produce "songs" to get through asteroids to the lumen which all happens to be hidden behind gates that definitely cannot be drilled through or around by industrial mining. Your ship navigational officer is a tiny gremlin who has your face pinned to a dartboard below-decks because she thinks you're going to steal away her waifu, the captain. (she hates you)
So you (Jun), your captain (Eda), and your navigational officer (Remi) go around finding asteroids that haven't been exploited yet in order to accomplish personal goals, such as yours of making fat bank for your clan back home, Eda's of "finding my old teacher", and Remi's of trying to throw you off the ship. There's obviously the humorous dynamic between you and Remi of Remi just hating you as you scratch your head and question why the gremlin who's barely neck-height to you keeps trying to punch you, but there's a lot more than just "haha funny love triangle gimmick lol" that I find hard to describe outside of "it's really damn good and there's actual subtleties to the writing". Backstories are not dumped upon you and rather slowly revealed both as you play and through random events and interactions at space stations, and you can learn a lot about characters by going out of your way to do things off the "main quest line".
There's conflicts between crewmembers and other people, (I can't believe I've been backstabbed by all these people) conflicts between crewmembers themselves, (There is fundamentally an issue with how Jun does at some point need to leave to do his clan duty and the growing relationship between Eda and Jun) and there's even conflicts between crewmembers and a big fucking rock (this is a spoiler) and all of these conflicts are written well with nice graphics and music to add to the emotion and general feeling.
Enough about story. It's good. I can't say it's good enough and I can't describe it well enough to do it justice.
So what else does the game have going for it? Why have you continued to read this far?
The game is literally called "echo of starsong", sound design can be expected to be a major part of the game and sound design IS a major part of the game. I have until now never heard a catwalk that I enjoyed walking across.
Opus: Echo of Starsong has most of its exploration set with "puzzles" in the asteroids you find which are solved by the tuning and amplification of a "starsong", generated by Eda for each individual asteroid that you set foot inside. (you can explore some asteroids from the outside, but the ones you actually step foot into need generated songs) Starsongs all sound actually nice, walking around and doing shit sounds nice, and the music in this game is fucking amazing. Audio puzzles can be hard sometimes but the way the game handles it is remarkably well, even for someone who's fucking braindead (like me!)
The music is excellent and hopefully this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjbQfxaO4eU track should be a good indicator. There is a better track than that one but I can't spoil that one for you as otherwise you won't cry like a little bitch when it plays.
Sound design is good.
Art and Gameplay
Low-poly art done well. Checking out the steam page should give you some indication of the artstyle, and the chick on the title card is Eda she's very cute please look at her. People who are supposed to be grungy look genuinely grungy, and people who are part of a megacorporation look spiffy in their dark grey robes that don't scream too loudly about how they backstabbed everyone in order to control oil fissile fuel "Lumen".
Gameplay is a mix of upgrading your ship, travelling to points and talking with people, and obviously the previously-mentioned exploring. Upgrading your ship and luck is important as there are some random encounters that require you to get a roll higher than the difficulty (upgrades provide a flat modifier on top of your roll, so high leveled parts can give you a guaranteed success) but the rolls are never really that harsh as this is a narrative story and not a particularly difficult RPG. Exploring is "fairly linear", but there's a lot of shit to look at and interact with on your way to the center of each asteroid to sample it's lumen and claim it as your own. Plants to pick that you can sell and a hell of a lot of lore of the deities in that system's religion.
I'd give it a 100/100 because I'm fucking shilling it here. It's really damn good.
At the very least, buy it, play it for under two hours, and use steam's Robust return policy if you don't like it after those two hours.
Get the game. Play it. It's 18 bucks on steam.