|Educating the Native Americans on the important aspects of Christianity I see...|
- Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
- Developer: WarGirl Games
- Publisher: WarGirl Games
- Release Date: 17 Sep 2015
- Time played: 1.9 hours
What is itThere's not much info about the studio WarGirl Games; in fact, the main developer doesn't even go by their real name and instead goes by the moniker, "DesertFox". All I can tell you is that WarGirl Games are currently working on a somewhat controversial game called My Little Dictator which was successfully funded on Kickstarter back in 2014 (I say "controversial" since you can date the female version of Adolf Hitler in it – she's called "Adorofia Hitora", is a vegetarian and likes cute animals… I'm not even joking).
Anyway, that game is still in development, but WarGirl Games did manage to release a visual novel in 2015 called Over The Hills And Far Away. The game is set during the War of 1812 and has you playing the role of William Aubrey, a British soldier who is in the process of deserting the army. Upon discovering a seemingly abandoned barn, he meets a young Native American girl and this is where the story starts in earnest.
Over The Hills And Far Away rated fairly well on Steam as it currently holds a Steam Rating of "Very Positive" (i.e. 85% of the game's 167 Steam User Reviews are rated as positive).
How I got it
I only played this game recently thanks to the recent Steam Spring Cleaning Event. As part of the event, Steam encourages users to "clear the backlog" by suggesting games for them to play that they own but haven't started playing yet. Over the Hills and Far Away was one such game and it seemed the most appealing out of all the suggestions.
Oh, and how did I end up with the game in the first place? Well, it was on sale when I got it back in 2016 and I don't mind giving visual novels a try, especially when it appears that they break the mould.
What I like:
Unique settingThis has to be the first game I've ever played that's set during the War of 1812. I can't think of many games out there in general that are set during this time period, unless you include board games or table top games. The game refers to actual people and events during the war which helps immerse you in the time period.
MusicI was blown away by how good the music is in this game. Usually, music in indie visual novels are serviceable at best but this isn't the case with Over The Hills And Far Away thanks to Yuang Chen, Takumi Nishimura and the Seycara Orchestra.
EducationalNot only does the game refer to some of the actual events during the War of 1812 (such as the Battle of the Thames where a Shawnee chief called Tecumseh was defeated) but it also teaches you a little bit about Shawnee language and culture.
Although, I'm not quite sure how useful it is to know that the main female character's name (Makkitotosimew) actually means "she has large breasts" – probably the developer trolling the players, perhaps?
Steam Achievements and Trading CardsThe game comes with 8 Steam Achievements which are easy to acquire (just play the game to completion). There are also 5 Steam Trading Cards you can collect.
|Wow, the protagonist is a bit of a jerk.|
What I dislike:
PredictableIt's quite predictable who the game's antagonist ends up being and what will more or less happen during the game's climax, not to mention the characters occasionally feel two-dimensional. However, there is an unexpected turn of events right at the very end of the game, so it's not necessarily all bad.
Kinetic novelNot only is the game a visual novel (standard visual novels usually offer you some choices that changes the narrative) but it's a certain type of visual novel called a "kinetic novel". Kinetic novels are completely linear so it's basically like watching a slideshow or a comic with music and sound effects. While I don't actually mind this, since I like reading books and I treat visual novels as such, I'm just warning those of you that are expecting a certain level of interactivity in their games.
Unlikeable protagonistOne problem with games where you have no control over your player's actions and it's spoken from the first-person perspective (i.e. kinetic novels) is that you really start to associate with the player character on a deeper level. This can be a good or bad thing: good if you feel like the character's thoughts and actions mimic your own or promote values you aspire to, but bad if you think the character is being a jerk. I felt like the latter was applicable many times in this game and it just made me cynical and a bit creeped out. I understand, the game is set over 200 years ago so who knows, maybe more people thought like the player character back in the day, but it still doesn't mean I'm going to like it. At least he's not as bad as the protagonist in WORLD END ECONOMiCA who threatens to post revenge porn.
ShortIt takes just under 2 hours to complete the game and while I think its duration is probably the right length, it might be too short for others.
No ducksI was half expecting there to be some ducks in the game, considering its title. Pity.
Score – 7/10 (Good)Not a bad kinetic novel if you're into rarely covered historical settings, such as the War of 1812. The game also has a beautiful soundtrack to boot. However, the game is linear, short and has a mostly predictable plot with an unlikeable protagonist.
Is the game worth $8.50 AUD?: Yes. While it might seem a bit pricey for what is essentially an indie kinetic novel, this is one of the highest quality visual novels I've played with respect to art, sound and music.
If you like this game, you might like…
- Go! Go! Nippon! ~My First Trip to Japan~ (2011)
- WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.01 (2014)
- The Ghost of Joe Papp (2017)
[ LINK: Official Over the Hills and Far Away Website ]