A visual novel for those of us who are only interested in painting beautiful women.
Reviewing a Visual Novel is a new challenge, and so I’ll start with my conclusion and try to work my way backwards: fault - StP - LIGHTKRAVTE is a story set in an interesting world, that it never quite puts to full use, and lacks the narrative power to make me invested in its story. It’s by no means bad in what it sets out to do, but I can’t recommend it to anyone but fans of visual novels and fantasy settings.
This is a pure visual novel. The only thing the Switch’s buttons do are advance the text, bring up the text logs, and open the menu. There’s no decisions to make, there’s paths, this is a short story. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m diminishing this form. I've enjoyed more than a few such visual novels, but I want to make sure the prospective audience understands what this is. If a roughly six-hour short story, accented with well-animated character art and charming music, isn’t of interest then there’s no reason for you to continue reading.
For those of you who remain, let’s talk about fault - StP - LIGHTKRAVTE. This is the first prequel to the fault series of visual novels. The StP sub-series is setting out to explore the backstory of the two protagonists of the previous fault titles. LIGHTKRAVTE is set in a peaceful and prosperous high-fantasy kingdom, where magic’s role in society is increasingly being replaced with technology. Still, the elite talents and noble bloodlines of this feudal society embrace a life of magic, called crafting, and are charged with progressing, governing, or defending society.
Having not read anything in the fault series, I wanted to test the marketing that claims LIGHTKRAVTE is a good starting point for the series. I largely agree that the addition of a robust dictionary, which explains the various elements of the world, makes LIGHTKRAVTE an acceptable starting point. However, not knowing that the larger series is about a generationally talented crafter Ritona and her charge, a sprightly and mysterious Princess Selphine, made me wonder why these two seemed to get all the spotlight moments instead of our protagonist. Even when he makes a life-altering and poignant decision, it’s largely framed by how those two perceived it.
It’s a shame because Khaji’s character suffers in what should have been his coming of age story. A young man who wants, above all else, to make his way in the world painting portraits of women, he is by sheer luck of bad genetics unable to paint. His goal, to find a way to permanently capture the radiance of those around him, actually serves as a good framing device to introduce the high fantasy and science fiction elements of the fault universe. And, given the high status of many of his subjects, provides hints of the series’ larger political context. The problem is he’s prone to whining, and it seems incongruent with his moments of personal strength.
He does have his moment. He does recognize what he needs to give up to achieve his goals. He does mature enough to recognize that those whom he envied each have their own challenges. He does persevere in ways that even he believed were beyond him. But even in his moment of personal growth, the focus falls back on the series’ true protagonists. Making him more central, more likable, and focusing on that rather than what at times felt like excessive world building, would have gone a long way.
fault - StP - LIGHTKRAVTE is an incredibly silly name, for what ultimately is an at-times interesting visual novel that just can’t strike the right balance of world building, character development, and filling the role of a prequel to content much of the audience may not have seen. I think the authors did Khaji dirty by making him such a complainer who seems eager to just give up. His actions show him to be a stronger person than his dialog presents. The world of fault seems to be interesting, and I’d be lying if I wasn’t interested in seeing more of it, but the focus on world building hurts narrative progression. I’m confident existing fans of the fault series will enjoy LIGHTKRAVTE, and people who enjoy reading stories about fantasy worlds may find the fault world to be interesting. However, I think the lack of a compelling protagonist really brings it down.