Visual novels made with Ren’py occupy a very specific but loyal niche in the indie gaming scene, and the free game engine has served many popular and viral titles, with hits like Doki Doki Literature Club, Butterfly Soup, and Long Live the Queen. Current offerings from independent developers have a surprisingly high level of production quality.
Enter the Midheaven: Winds of Ambition Demo, a fantasy visual novel RPG on itch.io created by the Midheaven Team from Vietnam.
Midheaven reveals a fantasy land and a story laced with all the romance, drama, mythology, and court intrigue you could want. Moving through time by following the moon phases, the game promises a very immersive world – one where choices matter. With 4 routes and 20+ endings, there is a ton of replay value to be expected from this title.
In the demo, we step into the shoes of an ambitious court attendant, determined to marry into the Shuengol empire’s royal family – in fact, there are four realm-famous Regals to choose from. We enter the service of the court, following all the steps of achieving our goal: training in the courtly arts to level up our stats, interacting with the entire palace to increase our relationship meters, and unraveling the secrets of the world we have found ourselves in by following the story.
We also get to see the Favor System and Character Events. Players have the choice of who to interact with, and on certain occasions, how to respond to certain situations and conversations. Together with the stat training, these are typical RPG elements, and it is interesting to see how they have been used to deepen the gameplay and the aspirations of the player character, affecting their progress with the court and its various members.
The world that the developers have built is large in scope. One of the demo’s enjoyable aspects is how Midheaven handles its fantasy narrative, deeply entrenched in different races, deities, elemental affinities. The story is not afraid to touch on darker and mature themes, fleshing out the mystery of the game like other high fantasy franchises in popular culture. The poetic writing style makes players feel like they are reading a fantasy epic, while the conversations between characters feel relatable and natural. Overall, the writing and presentation of the narrative’s themes are well done, creating engaging characters in the entire royal assembly.
Perhaps the most striking thing about the game is its beautiful audiovisual presentation: from its gorgeous art sprites and background music to its clean menus and user interface. Every player will find their favorite characters in the crowd, owing to the cast’s character designs and distinct personalities. The art and music could rival major dating sim developers in the industry.
If this meaty and meticulous demo is a taste of what is to come, what the Midheaven Team is serving for avid fantasy visual novel fans could prove to be a feast. The developers plan to release a Kickstarter this year to fund the full game, which aims to feature 12+ unique endings, 3+ endings for each Regal, and 5+ death endings for the protagonist, among other additional content like new CGs and explorable locations.
We will be following the development of Midheaven: Winds of Ambition through its development and eventual release on itch.io and mobile. The updated demo is free to play on itch.io, where you can also support the developers.