Romance is in the air with YangYang Mobile’s newest visual novel offering.

With yet another successful Kickstarter project, it is clear that the Filipino developers have been producing highly sought-after games. This time, they introduce a title that is different from their portfolio (the genres of The Letter and Love Esquire are horror and bishoujo, respectively). Perfect Gold: The Alchemy of Happiness is a coming-of-age yuri visual novel that highlights love and magic. Will you fall under this game’s spell? Read on to find out.

Story

Perfect Gold follows the relationship between the elementalist Marion LaRue and alchemist Audrey Cleary, two promising student mages from the LeFay Academy. Players watch their instant connection persevere despite the tension between their social standings and chosen professions.

The narrative jumps around periods of time, letting players piece together the whole story. Despite this non-linear approach, I did not get lost in the story. Instead, the narrative style helped reveal parts of the protagonists’ relationship piece by piece to the player. While it is a storytelling method that has been used before, Perfect Gold uses it to give perspective and momentum to the story effectively.

The writing for such a concise visual novel succeeds at something every few stories can – showing and not telling. Some details aren’t revealed outright to the player, such as Audrey’s affinity for different magic practices or Marion’s strained relationship with her sister, Simone. The narrative structure and character-based storytelling guide readers into putting pieces together, and it spins into a satisfying ending. However, I enjoyed the setting of the game so much there could have been more world-building to make the city of Castlecoast even more magical.

Even with the fantasy setting, the writing is grounded in the reality of two teenagers falling in love and how things managed to come apart. The dialogue would sometimes come off as a little corny, but that is only in the romance portion. Besides that, I enjoyed the writing of the two leads. I felt they were real teenage girls – experiencing the pains of growing up and discovering who they are, establishing themselves as likeable characters rather than just a gratuitous good-looking anime couple to look at.

Gameplay

YangYang Mobile has got the visual novel game down pat. The execution of each chapter and the elements within the story work well together. It is a great looking game that runs smooth.

There are a few options that players must make in order to advance the story. Your choices determine two different endings, but you can reach both of them easily within two playthroughs given the short and sweet playtime of the entire game.

The UI is simple and gets the job done without any unnecessary features to weigh it down. You can scroll to catch up with any dialogue you missed in text or voiced. The inclusion of auto-mode lets you sit back and enjoy the show, and the option to hide the UI lets you appreciate the art and special CGs.

The story has a runtime of about 2 hours for those going through the game regularly at a typical reading speed.

Audio and Visuals

Perfect Gold is a beautiful and bright game. From the backgrounds to the CGs, each visual scene enhances the narrative. The illustrations made the Academy and Castlecoast come alive. I even saw some easter eggs referencing other games under the studio’s belt.

This attention to detail is especially true of its cast. Every single character, even those secondary to the story, is rendered with care and love. The small animations and range of emotion portraits give so much personality to each character.

Another significant aspect of the game is the voice acting. Every line is delivered with emotion. I am incredibly impressed with how the two leads managed to pull off Audrey and Marion’s trait: stubbornness. You can feel the tension between the two characters, both unwilling to lose face in front of the other. The hesitation and the honesty that the VAs gave to the characters made the most emotional scenes even more transcendent.

I do wish that the internal thoughts of Audrey and Marion were also spoken lines. Some of the inner monologues had the best writing in the game, and I wonder how much more touching they would have become with the excellent work of the voice actors, Dani Chambers and Eileen Monty.

Saccharine sweet music accompanies the scenes playing out before the audience. The main theme is memorable and captures the age of innocence as the story is revealed. I like that they gave both Audrey and Marion their own distinct themes.

Summary

Perfect Gold will remind you of your first experience of young love – honest, unruly, painful, hopeful, and unforgettable. Why not experience the ups and downs of a fateful connection with a magical fantasy backdrop? This bite-sized visual novel might not be an epic romantic journey, but it is a treat that will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Perfect Gold is available for PC and Mac on Steam. This review is based on a free copy provided by the developer.

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