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Played in 2023
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Had to take a few days to settle my thoughts on this game into something I could put to paper, but finally able to write out this review: what an incredibly compelling, confident, and striking visual novel. From moment one, Misericorde drew me in with its gorgeous art direction and killer soundtrack, setting me in for such a strong atmosphere to accompany such an investing story and characters. The lushly dithered backgrounds provide such striking composition for scenes of community, tension, and terror, with the various stylings of the soundtrack bouncing from genres like rock and triphop feeling like it was gripping me tightly by the shoulders to draw me into each scene (highly recommend you play this with headphones!). For anyone interested in murder mysteries intertwined with discussions, reflections, and interrogations of one's faith, body, and identity in the context of an isolated 15th century English convent, this game is sure to be a memorable venture for you.
XEECEE's writing and design pulls all of these threads together into a fantastic cast of characters, all delightfully charming and unique even when they're being terrible people (especially when they're being terrible people). There's a complex humanity that's skillfully portrayed in this cast, even in this first volume, that gives a really compelling depth to everyone, including the protagonist herself. Misericorde's nuns are all characters with their own interiority, ideology, and worldviews that influence the way they treat each other and react to the world around them that truly sells me on their portrayals (even if sometimes it turns into a slap in the face when a new facet of a character I thought I knew was revealed). While it's easy to come away with favorites (Darcy, Eustace, and Katherine are currently mine), the whole cast is so strong that I am drawn to just about everyone here, and am absolutely in anguish wanting to see more of them.
For the first entry in a planned series, Misericorde: Volume One easily situates itself as one of my favorite visual novels, and I truly hope that my review can convince someone out there to give this game a chance, because it really sinks its hooks into you. I cannot wait to see XEECEE's follow-ups in the future.