Quintessence - The Blighted Venom
is a freeware RPG Maker game with a very high Story-to-Gameplay Ratio
. After a very cryptic Distant Finale
introduction the story joins Reivier Wirt, an ordinary resident of Korbin Village, as he begins what seems like a normal day. By the end of the day, however, circumstances have led him to discover that his wife, Serai Wirt, has been supplanted by a shape-shifting doppelganger named Lunair Naeryns, who tries to kill him. He is saved by one of the others in the village, who knows Lunair from her childhood, and the information he reveals incites her to strike a deal: in exchange for him and several others undertaking an adventure on her behalf, she will return home and secure the freedom and return of Serai. Distrusting, Reivier follows her, and the story follows the two from there.
The magic in this story consists almost entirely of voluntary shapeshifters
, of which there are many (whether they can shift into other people, animals
or powerful elemental forms
). All also have Super Senses
. Much if not most of the focus is on the characters themselves rather than the events, including (or possibly especially) those who would barely qualify as bit characters in an ordinary RPG. Combat (which is not turn-based, but rather a top-down
action system) and puzzles are sparse and dictated more by what the story calls for (or allows for) than a desire to keep the player active; there are no statistics to manage and you may not even notice the effect of your character level (largely because there are barely any battles at all).
The ongoing game currently has eleven out of a planned fourteen chapters released, and can be found at the author's website, Freebird Games
This game provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Duke Rayne considers Lunair nothing but a means to an end, and neither that end or the other means to get there are in anything resembling her best interests.
- Action Prologue
- All in a Row
- ...And That Little Girl Was Me: Kaire when telling the truth behind her identity - she wasn't really the Petal in the story she told, but instead Petal's friend. The real Petal was dead.
- An Ice Person: Agatha.
- Animorphism: A normal dose of the Quintessence just lets you transform into other people, but a special concentrated dose allows the Guarav Town thief, Lunair's mother and eventually Lunair herself to transform into animals. Just like people, they need a scrap of fur or similar from the animal before they can do it.
- Arranged Marriage: This is almost certainly the least of Lunair's problems upon returning home, except that it's clear that the marriage is intended to disadvantage and control her even further.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Vikon and Sal, many times. If only she could actually admit it to Vikon...
- Badass Adorable: Eshe.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Or more accurately, better to be killed by a friend than whatever the villain had in store.
- Big Damn Heroes: Lunair and the Guarav Town thief in chapter 10.
- Blessed with Suck/Cursed with Awesome: The Quintessence gives you the ability to transform into other humans with ease, Super Senses, and a powerful Healing Factor. It is also fatal within a time period that the characters suspect can be measured in months. Unsurprisingly, those who know about that detail would rather not have it.
- Blow You Away: Eshe.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Serai becomes this later on, to the surprise of many fans, though it's hard to blame her as the other woman did kidnap her.
- Cryptic Conversation: The big chapter 10 fight between the elementals, and much of the prologue, both because everyone involved already knows more than the player.
- Dark Reprise: "The Lurker".
- Defector from Decadence: Alden.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Lunair is a pretty classic example towards Reivier. She's still a bitch to almost everyone else, though, and retains a thin layer of ice towards Reivier as well, albeit a much thinner one than for everyone else except Kaire and Alden.
- Difficulty Levels: Almost every puzzle or fight prompts you with the option to go to easy mode before it starts, to make sure that virtually any player will be able to reach the end of the game if they want. Easy mode tends to be much easier.
- Distant Finale: Though Word of God is that the real finale will not be quite the same and thus not form a Stable Time Loop, events seem to be leading inexorably towards the conclusion shown in the prologue.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: What do you call people from Aeria? And what do they look like?
- Dramatic Ellipsis: Almost... every... sentence...
- Driven to Suicide: After Reivier fails to save his wife, he slits his wrists and is halfway through bleeding to death when his mind is changed for him.
- Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: Most normal battles are cake, but the bosses (even the very first one) are hard unless you play very tactically.
- Episodic Game: With each finished chapter, a new version of the game is released; not commercially, though.
- Evolving Credits: The credits are shown at the end of each arc as well as whatever the current last chapter is, so that you can appreciate this effect. The very first arc's credits still spoiled Lunair learning to transform into animals, if you don't count the prologue as having already done that.
- Exposition Break: Dear lord... Inverted, really. The breaks are those rare times when you are actually given control of your character; a break in the exposition.
- Eye Scream: It's not shown, but it's revealed after the fact that Reivier had one of his eyes cut out so it could be used to modify one of Lunair's into an early warning system. It regrew, of course.
- Faking the Dead: Huey.
- Gambit Roulette: Whatever Agatha's plotting, she's probably been plotting it since before the main characters were born.
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: There is exactly one of these in the entire game, guarding a piece of wood you need to use as a raft.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom/By the Lights of Their Eyes: Something with these is following the protagonists during the prologue. We still don't know what.
- Healing Factor: "Since they can only shift into people or animals they've come in contact with, shapeshifters can't transform their bodies into weapons, but they can transform into a fully healthy version of themselves or another, even if they were bleeding to death or severely maimed beforehand. Practically speaking, the only way to die is to get so overwhelmed that you don't even have time to "half shift" into yourself before being knocked unconscious.
- Heel-Face Turn: The Guarav Town thief, who is heavily implied to actually be Huey.
- Hidden Eyes: Frequently.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Reivier's reason for asking Dasha to send him back in time, so that he can avoid all of it. Too bad he can't seem to do that...
- Ill Girl: Kaire fits this to a T, slightly overlapping with Littlest Cancer Patient.
- Inferred Survival: Huey, the second time. It's so heavily implied that he is really the Guarav Town thief that most fans just refer to him by name, but it hasn't been officially revealed.
- Inspector Javert: Sheriff Douglas.
- In Spite of a Nail: Whatever Dasha did, it clearly wasn't enough.
- Interface Spoiler: Before unlocking an animal form, you already see its silhouette in the morphing menu, allowing you to anticipate what it is.
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: In chapter 11 Lunair gets to explore a place seemingly made up of her own memories, in order to be shown several key memories by the person who's trying to possess her. Almost all of the memories that make up the dreamscape are scenes of Lunair, Reivier and/or Serai, and a few Hueys, clearly implying something about what's most important to her.
- The amount of memories showing her and Reivier certainly makes some Ship Tease.
- Jumped at the Call: Used and possibly deconstructed. Reivier jumped at the call so hard that when someone else stole his first call to adventure, he ingested a long term but fatal poison with only a hypothetical cure just to get ahold of another one. But the prologue implies that he will come to regret his becoming involved more than anything in the world.
- Kick the Dog: General Dirk shooting Vikon at the end of chapter 10. Not thad he hadn't worse things before...
- Kleptomaniac Hero: Rather bizarre given everything else, but the player is likely to walk off carrying every last piece of food in Korbin Village. It's mostly phased out after that though.
- Leitmotif: Lunair has one (or more precisely, Lunair's feelings for Reivier have one), and there's another associated with memories of childhood promises (between Reivier and Serai and between Lunair and Huey).
- Lampshade Hanging: In a flashback cutscene of Reivier and Serai as children, they walk through a forest you already visited in-game, and as usual, the mushroom you are normally picking as healing items are growing everywhere. When you try to grab one, you get a surprising reaction:
R: "These are some giant mushrooms!"
S: "Leave it be, it's just sitting there having a good time."
R: "I wasn't even gonna do anything! What could I possibly do with a mushroom?"
S: "I dunno. . . Pick it up, maybe?"
R: "That's crazy talk, why would I possibly pick up a mushroom?"
- Lost Forever: If you don't get all the music boxes when you're let loose in the Aerian capital the first time, you're not ever getting them. Same with the other items in that segment (though the rest are not as interactive) and a few of Lunair's optional transformations.
- Love Potion: Duke Rayne convinces Heath to slip one of these to Lunair, but she sees it coming and doesn't drink it. Later it does get used on Reivier after Serai "dies"; it turned out to be the right thing to do at the time, but once Serai returned Lunair was unable to bring herself to give him the antidote. It should be noted that the potion is rather explicitly described by Lunair's mother as a poison of the mind that induces artificial "infatuation" rather than love, and was an experimental new version according to her father.
- Love Triangle
- Magic Pants: Your clothes also shift into those of anyone you transform into, possibly as a matter of convenience for the sake of spriting.
- Minigame Zone: The Winter Festival. Also arguably the arrival in the big Aerian city, though that's less minigames and more a number of stores and minor side quests with mostly cosmetic rewards.
- Money Spider: Entirely averted. In general you will spend most of the game with neither a penny in your inventory nor anywhere to spend it; money is given to you when you arrive in Aeria and when you go to the Winter Festival and is used exclusively within those areas for things which have no effect on your abilities in the rest of the game.
- The gameplay is actually not approximately finished yet; as the description of a "placeholder item" found underwater tells you, equipment will be added to the game one day.
- Never Found the Body: Not once but twice does a character find bloodstains in an empty cell where they expected to find a friend. Both times, that person was still alive.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Duke Rayne comments to Dirk that his daughter's actions led to far worse consequences than anything he's ever done as he flees the burning remains of his city while an attacking army slaughters every civilian they can find. And yes, it is entirely her fault. Though Eshe and her people would probably argue that Agatha caused even more deaths than that by messing up the Source. Just not as spectacularly, and not all at once.
- No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: Most of the game consists of hour-long cutscenes, broken up only by linear paths to the next plot events (whose locations are often marked by floating arrows, to top it.)
- Peek-a-Bangs: Agatha, even in flashbacks to her as a child.
- Leading to Eshe's hilarious insult: "Shut up and get a haircut!" Well played, Eshe.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Vikon lives this trope. Eshe also helps out, but for the first half of the story he's on his own.
- Pocket Protector: Vikon's letters to Sal, though he's still wounded badly.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Literally, in the backstory for Agatha and Shanti.
- The Promise: Reivier's and Serai's promise to rescue each other in need. It even has its own theme music.
- Purple Eyes: As long as someone has purple eyes, you know immediately that they are Aerian.
- Recurring Riff:
- To Realize, aka the title screen song, along with several Leitmotifs. This song also exists in-universe, as both Reivier and Lunair can play it on an ocarina and a piano respectively, both citing the fact that it's a relatively easy chord progression for learners.
- "Tone of Rain" and the battle theme are basically two arrangements of the same melody - one of them is a melancholic and dignified piano piece, while the other one is a more adventurous strings arrangement.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Reivier goes on this after seeing Serai's blood-stained prison cell.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong
- Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Serai was trapped in an animal form thanks to being expiremented on, but has now reverted back to her true form after stealing Lunair's cure. Also, Alden and Petal intentionally let this happen to them so they could "not look back".
- Solemn Ending Theme: "Drift" by Laura Shigihara.
- Stealth-Based Mission: Two types, in fact—a few normal sneaking missions, and ones where you rapidly switch between imitating different guards to avoid suspicion while walking (please ignore the fact that you'd have to be psychic to know which guards would recognize you in which forms).
- Story-to-Gameplay Ratio: Very, very high. There are some chapters which don't even contain a single use of the combat system (which aside from some puzzles and minigames is the only gameplay aspect).
- Super Senses: Anyone who's taken the Quintessence, even mode-locked Alden and Petal.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Lunair and Reivier start out as this, for obvious reasons. Over time, they upgrade to a kind of Fire-Forged Friends and may or may not be more than that. The fact that Lunair drugged Reivier with a Love Potion and the fact that Serai is still alive complicate matters however.
- There Is Only One Bed: Happens in Aeria, with the common reaction inverted: Lunair demands Reivier to sleep on the floor (instead of taking the floor herself), another example for her arrogance and egoism.
- Toxic Phlebotinum: Quintessence.
- Tsundere: Salory is a classic Type A towards Vikon.
- Under the Sea: Chapter 11 has a fairly long underwater level, relative to the other playable parts of the game.
- Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: Kaire towards Alden.
- Urban Segregation: The Aerian capital. You get a chance to explore all of them and talk to people, but the action mostly happens in the royal area.
- Visible Silence: Frequently.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Lots, in several varieties.
- Super Smoke: Users of "pure" Quintessence can shapeshift into fundamental elements of nature such as the wind, ice, or light. This is somewhat useful in combat as well. Normally, this would be a spoiler, but the prologue blatantly shows it off.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Lunair causes this reaction with quite a few of her actions, for example lighting a cat's tail on fire and killing her about-to-be husband, who could have become a pretty good Defector from Decadence. As well, though before her Heel-Face Turn induced by Alden, her abduction of Serai...
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Poor Huey. Though he may not have died after all.
- Most believe that he is the Guarav Town thief, due to it being heavily implied.
- Theme Tune Cameo: The opening song (To Realize) is not only played in-character, but exists in universe before hand, and has some plot significance. (Not much, though some.) And played by the main characters; one using an ocarina (Reivier) and one using a piano. (Lunair) Sadly not at the same time.
- Phlebotinum Pills: Non-pure Quintessence, like the kind the protagonists use, is in this form. Pure Quintessence comes in a liquid, apparently.