Visual Novel: Sunrider

Not pictured: Space Whales.

In an alternate universe to our own, humanity has subjugated all other life in the galaxy and spread throughout the stars. However, peace is a forgotten state of existence. PACT, a revolutionary front, has toppled the once mighty New Empire and is spreading throughout the galaxy. Led by the mysterious Veniczar S. Arcadius and his cult of personality, PACT appears intent on dominating every human being in the galaxy.

You are Captain Kayto Shields of the starship Sunrider. Hailing from the neutral world of Cera, you are thrown onto the galactic stage when your world is invaded by PACT. Your mission: To find allies from across the galaxy and stop the PACT menace once and for all.

Sunrider is a hybrid Turn-Based Tactics game / Visual Novel created by Love in Space. Funded successfully on Kickstarter, reaching over fourteen times the required amount.

Has an official website here, with a public beta version available here. The first 2 chapters are also on Steam here, with the 3rd chapter, 'Liberation Day' being released as a separate title some time in the indefinite future ("when it's done"). Sunrider Academy, a Dating Sim set in an Alternate Universe where the main cast are still in high school, was released on April 15, 2015.

Sunrider contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Most of the girls fit this, as they pilot Mecha into battle.
  • All There in the Manual: The main website has two pieces of Sunrider lore, found here and here. More are expected to come up as the game progresses in development.
  • Amazon Brigade: The player's main force is an all-female Mecha squadron. Lampshaded by Ava when she mentions that part of the male sleeping quarters had to be repurposed to deal with the fact.
  • Alternate Universe: Sunrider Academy takes place in one. It's also chock full of references to the VN.
  • The Battlestar: The Sunrider is not only armed with Trinity lasers, missile launchers, and a pair of powerful kinetic cannon turrets, it also contains a hangar bay for "Ryder" Mecha.
    • Master of None: However Sunrider has space only for 20 Ryders. The dialogue states that standard PACT carrier can launch a hundred of them.
  • Beam Spam: The general tendency of enemy fleets in most battles (especially ryder-heavy ones). With the appropriate upgrades and a full complement of mercenary units, the player can also use this to good effect.
  • Berserk Button: Don't comment of Cosette's apparent age. It will not end well.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In the second mission, The Sunrider is up against a small but dangerous pirate force, with the crew still shaken up by the defeat of Cera in the beginning of the game. So while the pirate's are attacking, their leader is attacked by the Black Jack and Asaga, who announces herself as a "Hero of Justice".
  • BFG: The Sunrider has a capital ship weapon strapped onto its frame. It costs 2,500 command points to use, but anything hit by it (up to and including space stations) are in for a world of hurt. Alliance battleships also mount a very powerful spinal kinetic cannon.
  • Chainsaw Good: Cossete's ryder, the Havoc, mounts a chainsaw half as long as it is tall.
  • Cold Sniper: Sola is this, both inside and outside her ryder. The only difference is that the Seraphim uses a sniper rifle so large it can threaten capital ships.
  • Crapsack World: Ongress is an immensely valuable planet due to ongressite, a rare resource found only there that can be refined into high-grade fuel and munitions. Unsurprisingly, the planet has changed hands a LOT throughout history, first by the ancient Ryuvians, then by the New Empire, then by PACT and finally by the Alliance, but regardless of who holds it, the poor schmucks living there have been underpaid and over-exploited at best, and outright enslaved at worst. Thus you have millions of people living in habitats designed for tens of thousands, the air is noxious due to malfunctioning or outright absent air purifiers and most drinkable water is polluted with industrial runoff which causes many to sport deformities, mutations and severe health problems. It comes to no surprise that it's also a breeding ground for pirates, cutthroats, and slavers.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The prologue consists in Kaito's homeworld Cera being conquered after Legion's single, devastating attack. Again at the end of Chapter 4, the Legion starts delivering one to the entire Alliance fleet, to the point where they have to resort to taking cover behind enemy ships to take them down as well.
  • Dead Little Sister: Maray, Kayto's younger sister, is in Cera City when PACT destroys it. In Sunrider Academy, Maray's "ghost" appears to Kayto whenever he has a chance to ask a girl out, and Kayto naturally wonders why that's happening, seeing as his sister is not dead in that continuity. Even Totally Not a Ghost Maray can't stand Asaga's siscon tendencies, however.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: For enemies (except some plot-important Ryders) and the Sunrider, but not for your own Ryders. Justified, since your Ryders retreat back to the hangar when critically damaged, while the Sunrider itself has nowhere to hide.
  • Dirty Communists: Although their economic policies aren't much elaborated on, PACT seem to fit the bill pretty well. Most of their units are even painted red and their leader delivers a speech about unscrupulous capitalists at a point.
  • Doomed Home Town: The capital of Cera, the protagonist's home planet, gets nuked immediately following the first battle.
  • Doomsday Device: Proyect Paradox is a huge installation capable of crushing an entire solar system into an artificial black hole.
    • The Sharr'lac is an ancient Ryuvian superweapon capable of obliterating entire fleets and, if used en masse, plunge the universe into a singularity. How did the ancient Ryuvians limit it's use? They designed it so that it was powered by the life force of Ryuvian female royalty so, if the king wants to use his awesome superweapon, he has to sacrifice his daughter in the process. Unfortunately, Sola proves there are ways of cheating the system.
  • Escort Mission: Two levels (though both are technically optional), which generally require knowledge of the obscure "hate" mechanic to beat and are quite hard even then. The second one has a number of conversations with heavy Lampshade Hanging, especially if the first has been played.
  • Experienced Protagonist: Kayto Shields is a trained Captain by the beginning of the story.
  • The Federation: The Alliance, despite its name. However, there are hints that the Alliance is not all sunshine and daisies either...
  • Fighting for a Homeland: The crew of the Sunrider, after the invasion of Cera.
  • Five Girl Band: Though the six ryders (and to an extent their pilots) are Charlie's Angels to the Sunrider, they each cover a role within the squadron:
    • The Hero: Asaga goes so far as to call herself a "hero of justice" and, with the Black Jack armed to the teeth for almost any situation, she'll most likely be at the vanguard of your formation. Bonus point for her being the queen of Ryuvia.
    • The Lancer: Sola is the complete opposite of Asaga, mainly due to her rather unique circumstances, but she acts as her counterbalance and eventual mentor when it's revealed that they're both Ryuvian royalty. Similarly, while the Black Jack is in the thick of the fray, the Seraphim stays in the back lines sniping enemy ships.
    • The Big Girl: Lieutenant Kryska is a career soldier, a spec ops operative, and a lot stronger than she looks, and her ryder, the Paladin, has the health, armor and ordnance of a full sized cruiser but it's by far the slowest ryder in the game.
    • The Smart Girl: Though technically suspended for malpractice, Claude IS a doctor (and even gets her license back during the game) although she's a bit of a a ditz and extremely aggressive in pursuing her crush on the captain. Bianca is more straightforward in the role, being a support ryder capable of buffing your ships damage, lowering enemy accuracy or removing enemy debuffs. She also has a gravity gun to mess with enemy formations and a giant shotgun for good measure, as well as a shield projector that can cover several ships at once.
    • The Chick: Being a genius scientist and engineer and the creator of both hers and Asaga's ryders, Chigara overlaps with the Smart Girl, but she is also the heart of the team, caring and considerate and ends up as a crucial emotional anchor for Kayto. Her ryder, the Liberty, is armed only with a light laser cannon, but it can repair other ships on the field, improve their accuracy, or mess with the enemy by disabling their flak, their shields or shutting down a single ship altogether, all of which make her pretty much essential to any battleplan. Like Bianca, it also has a shield projector that actually stacks with Bianca's and the Sunrider's, which can make an almost impenetrable anti-laser cover.
    • The Sixth Ranger: Icari is a cold and calculating assassin and, depending on your choices, can actually start out as an antagonist. Her ryder, the Phoenix is by far the fastest ryder but it's only effective against other ryders or unarmored ships, so she'll probably skirt the formation taking out targets of opportunity.
  • Freeware Game: Although Kickstarter backers get much more frequent updates during the beta period.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Most of the mecha and ships seem to have some form of laser-based attack. Also see Shout-Out.
  • Genre Savvy: The Sunrider crew display this at times, like when they set up Chigara's attempted confession to Kayto. Asaga lampshades the fact that scenes like this often get interrupted, only for Icari and the others to point out that they've taken every possible countermeasure to ensure they aren't interrupted by anything, including the use of communication jammers.
  • Great Offscreen War: The Solar Alliance-New Empire war, which led to the rise of PACT.
  • Guide Dang It: A key part of winning several levels is the "hate" mechanic, which is currently explained nowhere in the game.
  • <Hero> Must Survive: While other units are expendable and only reduce money gain when lost, the destruction of Sunrider means Game Over. Justified, since while the Ryders retreat when critically damaged (back to Sunrider hangar bays) instead of exploding, the Sunrider itself has nowhere to run to and is destroyed if sustaining too much damage.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Depending on the player's choice, Ava will sacrifice herself so the Legion can be destroyed.
  • Humongous Mecha: Called Ryders here. They make up most of your team during battle.
  • I Am Legion: Arcadius always speaks using "we" and "us". Cue many of him appearing later on.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: When the Bianca shoots, Claude may shout "Dang it, Captain! I'm a doctor, not a fighter!" Based on the accuracy of her ryder's only weapon, she's telling the truth.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Asaga shows this by partially awakening her Ryuvian royalty abilities and flying across to Chigara to deflect a sniper shot.
    Icari: A-are you kidding me? T-that bullet was travelling at 150 percent the speed of light!
  • Infant Immortality: Averted, and rather graphically in the second part of the novel.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The Phoenix and the Nightmares are mounted with gigantic katanas to slice enemy ryders in melee. The Phoenix even mounts a giant wakizashi on the left arm for authenticity.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Justified in the setting. While fleets have traditionally fought by squaring off and blasting away at each other with lasers, shielding technology has progressed to the point where it's fairly easy for a fleet to achieve overlapping coverage that completely negates incoming energy fire. More forward-looking admirals have taken note of this, and are designing new ships (like the Sunrider itself) designed to close in and engage with kinetics. Ingame, kinetics also have the advantage of being much more powerful, although beams have greater accuracy and range.
  • La Résistance: The player character, Kayto Shields, is the leader of the only survivors of the Cera Space Force.
  • Laser Blade: The Blackjack can dive into melee with one of these, as well as a conventional (for a giant robot anyways) blade on the other arm for good measure.
  • Mooks: The PACT Mook, obviously. The Pirate Grunt also qualifies.
  • Lost Technology: The Ryuvian Empire's technology was far superior to the current technology, but was lost after the empire crumbled due to internal strife. Case in point: Sola's Seraphim, a 2000 years old ryder, is as powerful as the current ryders, despite being merely a scout unit that has suffered severe degradation of its systems due to lack of maintenance.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Expect to be hit by one of these at the very start in many levels. Later in the game as more missile-capable units are added (and missile storage upgrades purchased), players can also do this.
  • Meaningful Name: Sola is the only survivor of a battle that happened two thousand years ago. Everyone she ever knew and loved is long dead, buried and forgotten, so it's only apt that her name means "alone" in Spanish.
  • Mile-Long Ship: The Pact super dreadnought Legion, which is three kilometers long.
  • Nintendo Hard: Especially later in the game. Their spin-off game even opens with some jokes about it.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Black Jack is, in fact, red and white. On the other hand, like its pilot, it's about as subtle as a blow to the head.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Your Ryders, when sustaining critical damage, instead of exploding, retreat back to Sunrider. With a (rather expensive) order, you can even bring them back into the battle. The Sunrider itself, though, will be destroyed if roughed up too badly, resulting in a game over.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Ava is not distracted in the slightest by captain Shields not wearing pants (or underwear). She easily maintains her professional self and even salutes after finishing her report.
  • Older Than She Looks: Cosette is the leader of the pirate gang hounding the Sunrider throughout much of the game. She's murderous, ruthless, borderline psychotic and looks like a little kid. Kayto at first thinks she's a child soldier, but it turns out the ongressite runoff polluting her planet stunted her growth past eleven and, according to her, she's one of the lucky ones.
  • One-Hit Polykill: Lining up the Vanguard Cannon well can take down a considerable portion of an enemy fleet before you've even had to move.
  • Operation Blank: Operation Wedding Crash
  • Overnight Conquest: The PACT invasion of Cera along with other worlds in the Neutral Rim.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: PACT has shades of that, especially with its crimson theme for warships and how Veniczar Arcadius talks about capitalist corruption when facing the Alliance.
  • Player Mooks: ships manned by faceless crew are available for hire starting from chapter 5.
  • Point Defenseless: Generally averted with regular missiles, but rockets will often breeze through most flak. A special ability be used to invoke this trope, and player upgrades can tip the balance in either direction.
  • Roboteching: Laser weapons on almost every ship, from the Sunrider's Trinities to the Legion's batteries, arc when firing for no apparent reason. The only laser weapons that fire remotely realistically are those mounted on ryders (and the pirate destroyer), which fire in a straight line.
    • Missiles work like modern real-life cruise missiles, firing in an upward angle, traversing the space to the target, and finally striking in a downward angle.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying!: After a good hard battle, there's nothing quite like a relaxing trip to the beach to boost morale. Kayto employs this after the successful defense of Far Port much to the delight of his (mostly) fun-loving crew.
  • Shoot the Mage First: PACT Carriers and Support ryders are heavy on this trope, the former due to its continuously spawning new ryders and the latter because of ability to inflict very nasty debuffs on the player.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: At the battle for the Paradox Core, Arcadius starts boasting of his immortality when Sola interrupts him with a killing shot to his ryder.
    Sola: "Even in this era, their speeches run too long."
    • Fontana also kills another boisterous Arcadius once she unmasks.
    Prototype Arcadius:"What can you do? We already own everything!"
    Fontana shoots
    Fontana:"You don't own PACT."
  • Smart People Build Robots: Chigara, who tells Kayto that she built the Black Jack and the Liberty from scratch. Also applies to all the other ryders and the Sunrider itself, as she is in charge of the R&D department. She also finds herself building small machines without thinking at times.
    Chigara: Ummm... I actually made this little contraption in my sleep yesterday night...I was really confused when I woke up and saw a power converter on my bed, but I think it should work perfectly for your ship.
    Kayto: Well, I'll be damned. Not only does it work, but the efficiency's been increased by 20 percent.
  • Space Opera
  • Space Pirates: Cosette and her gang.
  • Sole Survivor: Seems to be a running theme.
    • So far, the Sunrider is the only ship in the Cera Space Force that managed to escape PACT's invasion of Cera.
    • Chigara is the only person who survived the Diode Catastrophe.
    • Icari is the only member of her family to survive the encounter with PACT troops.
    • Sola - despite her Heroic Sacrifice - she's the only survivor of Ryuvian Civil War's final battle.
  • Story Difficulty Setting: The lowest difficulty setting, "Visual Novel Mode," is explicitly described as being for people who only want to enjoy the story without having to worry about the challenge / hassle of combat.
  • Straight for the Commander: Encouraged strategy. Enemy units that yield in this situation used to grant more money than destroyed, until a recent patch made them yield half of the regular amount instead.
  • The Internet Is for Porn:
    Claude(When debuffing an enemy):"Oh! I accidentally downloaded his entire porn collection!..."Space Whales"?"
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: PACT started as a liberation group to overthrow the tyrannical New Empire, but by the time the game starts they're "liberating" neutral planets by aggressively ordering them to join or, should they refuse, blowing them up until they surrender unconditionally. The game's opening shows PACT's flagship, the Legion, warping in and blowing out Cera's capital city without a word.
  • Their First Time: Before Ava leaves for the military, she invites Kayto over to her apartment where they spend the night together.
  • Trust Me, I'm a Doctor: Claude when she asks captain to take off his underwear during "medical exam".
    Claude:"Now, now captain... Don't be shy. I'm just a trained professional doing her job."
  • Vestigial Empire: Ryuvia used to rule a mighty empire that controlled most of known space, and has such a long history that many speculate that it's humanity's cradle. Now, thousands of years later, they only control their former capital planet.
  • Wave Motion Gun
    • The Sunrider's Vanguard Cannon, a spinal mount anti-capital weapon that can be fired only using special orders tab.
    • Veniczar Arcadius' flagship, the Legion, comes equipped with even bigger one.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Each character has a number of different lines, a few for each of various circumstances. These circumstances include selecting the character's Ryder or ship, ordering them to attack with a given weapon, hitting with anything, missing with anything, being hit, and various types of special abilities. They only have a few for each, however, and given the length of typical battles it's not uncommon for some phrases to be repeated a couple dozen times over the course of a single battle, let alone the entire game.
    • It gets worse for the damage messages, since there appears to only be one per unit for each "tier" of damage. For Ryders, it might not be obvious, but the Sunrider's high hit points means that you might be hearing that sections 32, 16, and 2 have been heavily damaged several times in a row.
  • Your Other Left: Subverted. In one particular instance of Sunrider being fired upon following the wedding crash and rescue of Asaga, Shields shouts "Hard to port!", but the ship instead veers starboard.