Fading Hearts is the first ren'aiVisual Novel release by the Canadian indie V/N group Sakura River Interactive, in 2009.The story revolves around Ryou, an Ordinary High-School Student, and his two best friends Claire and Rina, living in Trident City in Sorayama. It starts out in a classic Love Triangle scenario: Ryou likes Claire while Rina has feelings for Ryou; however they still manage to hang out together as usual friends would.The story involves Ryou doing anything he can to help his friends. He learns that Claire's new boyfriend is potentially verbally abusing her while Rina's behaviour becomes increasingly evasive, which leads Ryou to wonder what Rina is keeping from them. Through interactions with other characters, Ryou can gain more insight into not only his friends but other happenings in the city as well.All the while this is going on Ryou has been having dreams/visions of a past life as a prince with magical powers, living in a kingdom where magic exists and is used from everyday tasks to tournaments. The first scenario is a vision of the prince surrounded by his ex-servants, clutching to himself a sword passed down from his family for generations. Ryou eventually gains magical powers of his own and not only wonders what he should do with his newfound skills but how he should regard Mystica, a Magical Girl Warrior who constantly reminds Ryou of his priorities.
Unlike the usual examples of this trope, however, it is acknowledged in-universe that this is going very badly for Claire, and that this boyfriend is disastrous to Claire's well-being.
An Aesop — At the end of each game arc, Alice and Mimi go over your progress, recommending what you could do next time as well as divulging their own learning experiences from your choices. Often ends in a Broken Aesop depending on how much you put Ryou through.
Dark Magical Girl — Claire. In her Downer Ending, distraught by how the world treated her, she tries to kill Ryou with her magic. One of two things could happen: Mystica arrives just in time with a surprise attack against Claire, or Ryou can defend himself if he acquired the right spell earlier. Either way, Claire does not survive.
Sophia is also one; when Ryou and Mystica fight the source of the shadow beasts, the monster they are fighting drops its guise to reveal itself as Sophia all along. She cannot control her emotions and thus cannot control her powers. Ryou finishes her off, not before Sophia says that she knew him as the prince in the past (if the player of the game can fit the clues together, she is the reincarnation of the prophet's daughter in Royal Guard Life).
Did Not Get the Girl — There is an ending if Ryou chooses neither Claire nor Rina. This is lampshaded by Alice and Mimi, wondering if he had another choice in mind. If the players of the game pay attention to Sophia and read all of Royal Guard Life they will realize he did, and then this trope takes on a whole new meaning.
He might be guilty of financial exploitation, too, in addition to the verbal abuse. See Never Lend to a Friend trope below.
Don't Go In The Woods — Ryou going into the forest by the park has a high chance of running into a shadow monster. This is also advice Mystica continually gives Ryou, complaining that she cannot fight the shadow monsters and protect him at the same time.
Everybody's Dead Dave — In Rina's Downer Ending Ryou, Claire, and Alex go to Tokyo, Japan to a convention which they won free tickets to. On the way there Ryou receives a news alert via text message explaining how Trident City was destroyed by a massive explosion, leaving no survivors. Ryou notes that while there are still three in their group, the loss of Rina is keenly felt. In a different ending, Ryou is the Sole Survivor (below).
I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship — Ryou is aware that Rina stays quiet about her feelings for Ryou since she knows he likes Claire, thinking it will put a strain on their friendship if she confesses to him. Coincidentally, Ryou won't tell Claire the reason why he won't accept Rina when she presses the issue, since she is going out with someone else. Claire doesn't tell Ryou her feelings since she is aware of Rina's, and feels Rina is a better match for him due to their mutual past.
Ill Girl — The girl Ryou and Alex visit in the hospital, whom the Wings of Light tried to save from circumstances similar to Claire's.
Intelligence Equals Isolation — Rina. Claire and Ryou are her only real friends. Everyone else is either jealous of her or pretends to be nice to her to get help. She has to pretend to study to minimize the bullying.
Jerk Justifications — Claire falls into the Type 1 category word-for-word when she starts turning into a Dark Magical Girl in her Downer Ending. This is also why she is always so strict with Ryou: : she was scared that his kindness would always be taken advantage of and leave him broken, and wanted to toughen him up.
Level Grinding — Should the player choose, Ryou can endlessly fight shadow monsters thus gaining more Experience Points and raising their Character Level in spellcasting. This also applies in cardio, resistance training, and programming.
Love Confession — Rina does this with Ryou near the beginning of the game. Claire confesses near the end of the game, in both of her endings.
Matchmaker Crush — Claire admits near the end of her arc that, while she is in love with Ryou, she kept trying to set up Ryou and Rina together; Claire thought Ryou would be happier with Rina since they both have more in common with each other.
Meaningful Name: Guess what Mystica's powers are. For anyone who failed its magic.
Meido — Tracy, who works at the Cosplay Cafe Ryou and Alex hang out at. Ryou notes he still cannot get used to her calling him "Master."
Millennium Bug — In this universe, Sorayama was apparently the only country that did nothing to prevent the bug for some strange reason. This apparently led to a minor apocalypse with a massive death toll and even included such laughably inaccurate results as planes crashing. The game being made in 2009 makes this even more hilariously bad, since the game can't even fall back on the excuse of being made before 2000 and basing itself on the speculation of the time period.
Never Lend to a Friend — Claire bluntly asks Ryou if he could lend her one hundred dollars, which he eventually does. This is subverted since the money is never mentioned again but is likely meant to have the player of the game question if Claire's Jerkass boyfriend is involved with this.
In one scenario Ryou is magically battling against Mystica. Depending how he uses his spells ( hint: only use "Dispell") he can potentially have Mystica temporarily lose her powers, revealing her true identity as Rina.
In another scenario, Ryou hears of a car colliding with an unknown entity, killing the driver instantly. He later finds out the source: Claire. She eventually gave up hope on the world, thus establishing her status as a Dark Magical Girl. From Bad to Worse.
Alex eventually tells Ryou he is an ex-member of the Wings of Light.
"The Player" emailing Ryou advice on how to win over girls is Tracy, the Meido from the Cosplay Cafe, as revealed by Alex to Ryou.
While Ryou and Mystica are fighting the source of the shadow monsters, it is revealed to actually be Sophia as a Dark Magical Girl disguised as a high-level creature. She is the Reincarnation of the prophet's daughter whom the prince (Ryou) fell in love with, gifted the earrings to, and ran away with near the end of Royal Guard Life. See Dark Magical Girl above.
RPG Elements — The more manga Ryou reads the more magical spells he learns. Incidentally, the more shadow monsters he fights in the forest, the higher the skill level he attains in using his spells. In a more roundabout way this also applies to any acquired knowledge he gains from general reading, and how often he works for the companies contracting him for his programming services.
School Newspaper News Hound — Sophia, who tells him she works for Crystal Stream News. She drills Ryou about more information about himself, Claire, and Rina. It was Sophia who informed him that they comprise an exclusive group the student body refers to as the Big Three, due to their high grades. He also finds out more about a myriad of subjects from her, including the Wings of Light.
School Uniforms are the New Black — Sophia is never seen in street clothes. Subverted since 99% of the scenes with Sophia take place in school; however, the one time she is seen outside of school Sophia is still wearing her Sailor Fuku.
Sole Survivor — An ending where Ryou has an Oh Crap moment when a shadow monster breaks down his door and he sees a huge magical symbol hovering over Trident City. He flees the city, fighting shadow monsters along the way. When he escapes and looks down upon the city, it is now a flaming inferno.
The Teaser: Has one that's about an hour and a half long.