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Context VisualNovel / ZodiacAxis

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1[[quoteright:350:]] ˛ [[caption-width-right:350: Don't run, little human. If you do... I just might have to chase you.]]˛˛Upon graduating from Lunar City University with a degree in journalism, Alison Harte is desperately looking for an entry-level job to gain her a foothold in the field. One day, she receives a phone call from a person that introduces themselves only as 'Pathfinder', allegedly the founder of the infamous online tabloid Supernature, for whom no story is too outlandish to be published, as long as supernatural events are involved. After a bizarre (and bizarrely short) interview, Alison is hired to investigate six apparently unrelated individuals that Pathfinder claims house the 'Spirits of the Zodiac' and thus wield mysterious powers connecting them to the ancient founders of Lunar City. ˛˛Alison accepts the nonsensical job - after all, there is no way something this far-fetched could be real. All of the subjects appear to be perfectly ordinary people leading average lives: mild-mannered diner owner [[TeamDad Beckett Armistice]], gruff delivery man [[SugarAndIcePersonality Halten Augustine]], bubbly singer-songwriter [[ThePollyanna July Regale]], paranoid sound engineer [[TheParanoiac Leaf Lewis]], pragmatic businesswoman [[SugarAndIcePersonality Marin Teller]], and laid-back primary school teacher [[CoolTeacher Zaxary Harvenfest]]. And, huge ad revenues and her mysterious, voice-changer using boss aside, Supernature is nothing but a bunch of hokey conspiracy theories... right?˛˛''Zodiac Axis'' is a visual novel that blends suspense, romance, and Asian-inspired fantasy elements using charming characters and a lush worldlore. Alison has to balance her job at the tabloid (and, indeed, writing good articles is part of the game), her growing relationships with the people she is investigating, and [[BreadEggsMilkSquick a slew of attempts on her life as part of a tangled web of lies and mysteries surrounding the Zodiacs and Lunar City as a whole.]] A demo version is currently available for free. ˛˛Unfortunately, [[ active development on the game was halted]] in January 2020 due to a combination of technical issues setting progress back by 6 months to a year and creative burnout from the dev team. As of 2021, the game is in development "in the background," with no official release date.˛˛˛----˛˛!!This visual novel contains examples of:˛˛* ActionGirl: [[spoiler: Subverted, for the time being: Marin, who sports a glaive in her Zodiac form, has yet to fight with it on-screen. July, with no combat training, fights Rhys with her dual fans shortly after she becomes an activated Zodiac, and does well. Alison starts training to become one in Beckett's route, getting initial training with a sword, though in order to survive against an ambush of trained fighters, she needs to use her wits instead, subverting the trope.]]˛* ActionSurvivor: Alison is not quite yet an ActionGirl, but she definitely qualifies for this.˛* AllLoveIsUnrequited: Implied to be the case with July for Leaf. The latter is aware of it, but neither of them want to ruin the friendship they have, so the former stays silent. The ship is potentially sunk if Alison chooses Leaf's route.˛* AnguishedDeclarationOfLove: [[spoiler: Beckett, as part of stopping Alison from getting herself killed trying to bargain with the Cat.]]˛-->[[spoiler:'''Beckett''': You are worth more than the moon and the sea and the stars combined! You are worth more than anything I could describe - no, anything I could imagine! I love you with all my heart and soul and '''you are an absolute moron!''']]˛* AloofDarkhairedGirl: Marin.˛* AristocratsAreEvil: Lord Pemberly, who puts on an air of TheDandy initially, drops the act quickly once it becomes clear he and Alison are alone. Even his friends are shocked at how far this goes.˛* TheBigDamnKiss ˛* BunnyEarsLawyer: Very fittingly, considering he's part of Leaf's story - [[spoiler: Councillor Theodore Lewis, one of the 12 members of the highest governing body of the country]] is highly competent at his job, has a stellar reputation as a political mastermind, and loves goofing around and making jokes more than anyone in his downtime.˛* BreakTheCutie: [[spoiler: When July figures out the source of her powers and how she gained them. Alison goes through this on a regular basis.]]˛** Really, all the Zodiacs started out as innocent children who were gradually hardened by circumstances and then broken by either their upbringing or their sudden powers.˛* BreakingTheFellowship: [[spoiler: Gradually, the group begins falling apart, until they completely separate due to Zax's split personality rearing its head at the end of the Common Route, with homicidal tendencies.]]˛* CampStraight: The Cat is essentially an evil Music/DavidBowie at his campest in a kimono and a cat mask, not above indulging in an evil giggle or two. He also shows a strange and creepy interest in Alison. This trope does not make him any less terrifying.˛* {{Catchphrase}}: a few:˛-->'''Beckett''': (after suggesting something very archaic or outlandish) Isn't it normal? ˛-->'''Halt''': (after sharing a random fact with surprising insight) Had a job once. You don't need to know.˛* CharacterAlignment: The journal notes identify Beckett as LawfulGood, Leaf as ChaoticNeutral, and Marin as LawfulEvil.˛* CheerfulChild: Jeffrey, Beckett's nephew.˛* TheChick: July fills this role among the Zodiacs.˛* ContraltoOfDanger: Marin has a much deeper voice than July, showing her as the more mature and older woman.˛** Amelia Renegade counts too.˛* CoolOldGuy: Halt acts like one, though he looks just as young as the other Zodiacs. [[spoiler: Based on available historical documents, he's at least several decades older than the rest of them.]]˛* CoolOldLady / OneeSama: Marin fits both tropes, acting as Alison and Leaf's older sister at various points of the story.˛* CoolTeacher: Zax.˛* CrapsackWorld: The Lower, home to the gangs of Lunar City.˛* CuteKitten: Marin gets one in Leaf's route. She aims to have 5 and use them to take over the world.˛* DaChief: Amelia Renegade, Police Commissioner [[spoiler: and head of the Zodiac-monitoring police unit.]]˛* DamselOutOfDistress: [[spoiler: Alison tries when attacked by the Cat's minion in the Lower.]]˛* DanceOfRomance: Averted - you'd think someone would dance with Alison at the Lunar Waltz, but all the Zodiacs excuse themselves for various reasons.˛** Also averted in Beckett's route, where the village festival ribbon dance, which he has to open as head of the community, generally means the start of new couples. The village expects him to dance with a highly compatible girl that had been selected for him since childhood, but he refuses to dance with anyone since he can't dance with Alison without essentially committing them to one another.˛** Subverted on Leaf's route. He and Alison take dance lessons to prepare them for a grand ball, but Alison is too insecure to go as his date and goes as his aide instead. Due to circumstances and the social difference between them due to her assistant status, they have no opportunity to dance.˛* DatingSim: Though the dating seems to be almost incidental, as the game features an extensive story aside from romance.˛* DecadentCourt: Canton Archis is the height of genteel society, where a single polite phrase out of place or a dance with the wrong person can lead to reputations ruined, at best, and people disgraced or killed, at worst.˛* DealWithTheDevil: [[spoiler: Alison attempts to strike one with The Cat in Beckett's route. Beckett puts a stop to this the moment he realises what's going on, knowing it has to end badly.]]˛* DrFeelgood: Blackeye, Halt's underworld contact, has access to a stash of drugs ranging from ones that can calm a hysterical person to supremely addictive ones.˛* TheDulcineaEffect: [[spoiler: Beckett himself lampshades that he's only known Alison for three weeks, yet they are engaged at the end of his route. This is justified in-universe, as she's the only person to ever support him, show him kindness, and care about him for him, not what he represents.]]˛* EatingTheEyeCandy: A very subdued version - there's a tiny note in Beckett's journal entry from Alison: "he's kinda hot though, lmao".˛* ElegantClassicalMusician: Leaf is an expert pianist. In his route, Alison can say she played the flute in marching band in high school, but is a little rusty. The soundtrack album art portrays her in an elegant dress, playing the flute.˛* EmbarrassingMiddleName: Though perhaps more unusual than embarrassing, as no one comments on this at all. As seems to be tradition, Beckett's family members have middle names that are the various breeds of dogs: Beckett's own is "Labrador", symbolising his steadfast, protective nature, and his nephew Jeffrey's is "Corgi", symbolising that he's a small, excitable boy.˛* EvilPhone: [[spoiler: Once the Cat figures out Alison's phone number, he calls her to cheerfully inform her he's sent a thug to kill her. He also seems to have bugged it, as he can identify per precise location based on her making a single call.]]˛* FairCop: Rebecca Armistice, Beckett's sister.˛* FamilyBusiness: Mutt's Morsels Diner, which has been in the Armistice family for a very long time. [[spoiler: This is partly because the Dog family serves as a centrepoint for the Zodiacs and they needed a place to hold meetings if necessary.]]˛* FauxAffablyEvil: The Cat acts this way towards Alison and, partly, [[spoiler: Dexter, though they seem to have some sort of deal going on.]]˛* FeminineWomenCanCook: July, though absolutely sweet, is a disaster at cooking. She thinks broth is hot water and Leaf thinks she can burn salad.˛* ForbiddenZone: Lunar City is situated on the only liveable continent of the world. The other continents have toxic environments (or so the government claims).˛* GeniusBruiser: Halt is by far framed as the most dangerous fighter of the Zodiacs and [[spoiler: is the first to figure out Alison is a journalist for Supernature without needing to read her mind.]]˛* GoodIsNotNice: [[spoiler: The Zodiacs are generally nice people, but calling them good is a bit difficult. With the exception of July, all accept the necessity of collateral damage to protect their secret. Beckett, Marin, and Halt in particular dispassionately advocate letting innocents die when their powers could have saved them easily. They also consider killing Alison a viable possibility once she encounters them in their activated forms. Leaf and Zax have some moral issues with this, but until push comes to shove and killing Alison is a real option, they suppress these thoughts.]]˛* HairOfGoldHeartOfGold: Alison and Zax [[spoiler: though not Zax's split personality Rhys.]]˛* HeroicBSOD: [[spoiler: Alison goes through several as the Cat's psychological torture intensifies and she goes through multiple attempts on her life. Beckett has a strong one near the end of his route when the pressure of always being perfect and never being rewarded gets too much and he snaps.]]˛* HiddenInPlainSight: The Zodiacs all lead very normal, everyday lives. [[spoiler: This is part of the reason the government has had them under observation for the past 20 years.]]˛* HospitalHottie: [[spoiler: Dinah Lewis, Leaf's mother, is an accomplished doctor.]]˛* ICannotSelfTerminate: A Zodiac cannot commit suicide, nor can they be killed by another Zodiac. That means that, should one Zodiac torture another, even to the point of dismembering their body, [[BodyHorror the tortured Zodiac will always recover, given enough time, no matter how damaged their body is.]] ˛* IllegalGamblingDen: Halt apparently used to run a fighting ring in the Lower and Marin would go there to bet.˛* ImmortalityBeginsAtTwenty: [[spoiler: For the Zodiacs.]]˛* InsecureLoveInterest: [[spoiler: Beckett, whose self-esteem is very low due to always being berated for not being perfect by the village. He even asks Alison not to feel she owes him something or pity him when she expresses interest in him, which she gives him an earful for.]]˛* IntrepidReporter: Alison herself.˛* IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: This is a key aspect of Beckett's route, as he feels Alison, as an [[CityMouse urban Canton Silo girl]], will feel unhappy and out of place in the rural, tradition-bound Canton Westex.˛* IJustWantToBeSpecial: [[spoiler: Alison has deep insecurities about being, at the end of the day, a very ordinary person with no special talents to speak of, especially as she becomes surrounded by superhumans. In his route, Beckett repeatedly assures her that she's far from useless, as she provides strong emotional support, conflict management skills, and instigates what comes close to a cultural revolution in Canton Westex by showing the villagers just how far they strayed from their claimed values of compassion and loyalty.]]˛* LightsOffSomebodyDies: Alison is left alone at the music store so Leaf can go investigate a messenger that brought her white flowers. The lights go out. The Cat appears. [[spoiler: Alison survives, but being terrorised psychologically on a regular basis adds to her trauma.]]˛* LongingLook: If the [[TheMatchmaker seamstress of the village]] is to be believed, Beckett constantly looks at Alison with these when she isn't looking.˛* LoveAtFirstPunch: Leaf's parents met like this. She was a young doctor at the hospital that his dad owned. He was the spoiled son who always got everything he ever wanted. He flirted with her aggressively and couldn't understand why she wasn't falling for him instantly, to the point of following her into an operation room without scrubs. She proceeded to break a clipboard over his head. Things got better from then on.˛* LoveIsAWeakness: [[spoiler: Wyatt, Beckett's brother, holds this belief.]]˛* LoveRuinsTheRealm: [[spoiler: Wyatt is afraid of this happening, because he thinks Alison just sees Beckett as a chance to write a great story.]]˛* MadScientist: [[spoiler: The Cat, whose entire interest in the Zodiacs is an experiment. Justified, as his father was part of the original researchers trying to unlock Zodiac powers for all people.]]˛* MasterSwordsman: Beckett, who has been trained since early childhood to be a worthy successor to his grandfather. [[spoiler: This is because the Dog is meant to be the protector of the Zodiac.]] He tends to carry his sword with him almost at all times, which can unnerve Alison.˛* MaybeEverAfter: [[spoiler: On Leaf's route, while it becomes clear that Alison and Leaf care for each other greatly, there's no grand romantic finale or even a kiss... just the implication that a RelationshipUpgrade may well be on its way very soon.]]˛* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: The Cat's powers appear supernatural to bystanders when he saves innocents from a fire, but can actually be a result of his [[GadgeteerGenius research.]]˛* MysteriousEmployer: Pathfinder, the founder of Supernature, uses a voice changer, sometimes indulges in an EvilLaugh, and just seems like your stock insane supervillain in a world without superpowers. [[spoiler: This is all just a persona adopted by Dexter Ardent as part of the police's investigation into the Zodiac powers.]]˛* MysticalWhiteHair: Halt sports it.˛* TheNicknamer: July has one for every other Zodiac: Beckett is Pip, Leaf is Twitchy, Marin is Mars, Zax is Rhys (which makes him somewhat uncomfortable due to it [[spoiler: being the name of his violent, split personality]]), and Halt is Uncle or Gramps. Alison tends to be Honey Nugget.˛** Rebecca Armistice nicknames her siblings The Beckster and Wy-guy. Alison just tends to be Harte.˛* NightmareSequence: Alison has a particularly disturbing one about being murdered by the Zodiacs and being swallowed up by the ground.˛* ObfuscatingInsanity: Alison can try this at the beginning to escape an awkward situation when Beckett finds her hidden among a pile of boxes at his diner. [[spoiler: She can do this again as a means to keep the Zodiacs a secret shortly after finding that out about them. This time, it leads to a BadEnding.]]˛* OlderThanTheyLook: [[spoiler: Out of the known Zodiacs, only July is confirmed to be 23. Zax might be mid-twenties due to the fact that his grandmother died 17 years ago when he was a child. Out of the others: Leaf is clearly stated to be 30, Beckett mentions being 30 and his younger brother has primary-school aged children, Marin is 79, having gained her powers at age 24, and Halt is at least 60 given that he was part of gang life in The Lower 30 years ago. Records also exist of someone with his surname being an explorer of other continents at least 100 years ago and the portrait of the original Tiger used in the Founder's Day play looks suspiciously like him, which could mean he's potentially thousands of years old.]]˛* PimpedOutDress: Alison wears one in Beckett and Leaf's routes, either a traditional Astrali gown or a high-society Canton Archis dress. Marin also wears one to formal occasions.˛* PoliceAreUseless: Averted, as the police arrive on the scene shortly after [[spoiler: Alison and Beckett are attacked at the theatre and attempt to arrest them.]] Beckett's sister Rebecca from the Violent Crimes Unit is also quite effective, [[spoiler: as is Dexter Ardent and his secret, Zodiac-observing secret unit.]]˛* PrisonersDilemma: Used in Leaf's story.˛* ProperlyParanoid: Seeing Alison receive a bouquet of 11 white flowers, Leaf immediately deduces this to be a death threat. [[spoiler: He's right.]]˛* TheQuietOne: Leaf.˛* RageBreakingPoint: [[spoiler: Leaf has two: his childhood friend pretending to be friendly to his face despite Leaf having heard him complain at how boring he finds him, and Alison getting abused by Pemberly and his goons. Both result in major physical violence.]]˛* Really700YearsOld: [[spoiler: Hansen Irvine,]] the previous Rabbit, died at age 400.˛* RealMenCook: Beckett is not just a diner manager, he's also a great cook. [[spoiler: Cooking is part of how Dogs show love for others, and he cooks for Alison daily when she stays with him.]]˛* RedEyesTakeWarning: A subtle sign Beckett isn't as harmless as he appears.˛* RescueRomance: A crucial moment in Leaf's story is when he saves Alison [[spoiler: from being raped or killed by a very off-the-rails socialite.]]˛* SheCleansUpNicely: Alison is generally described by people as "moderately attractive" (though their sincerity is doubtful on that). When she dresses up in traditional Lunar City clothes in Canton Westex, [[LuminescentBlush Beckett is stunned speechless.]]˛* SignificantGreenEyedRedhead: July.˛* TheSnarkKnight: Rebecca Armistice, Beckett's sister.˛* TheSociopath: The Cat.˛* StepfordSmiler: [[spoiler: Beckett, who feels he must always appear calm and in control in order to lead the Zodiacs. His route is all about breaking past this and properly dealing with his grief and anger.]] ˛* SueDonym: Leaf Lewis used to go by Lee Wryn, which sounds like li'Wryn, the Astrali word for the Rabbit. [[spoiler: Ironically, this was before he became the Rabbit.]]˛* SugarAndIcePersonality: Marin Teller is very direct, keeps people at arm's length, and values logic above feeling in everything. She also develops into a good friend for Alison [[spoiler: especially after she earns Marin's trust after Marin learns her secrets via mind-reading. Marin also despairs at being unable to keep the Zodiacs together when the revelation of Alison's profession triggers Rhys.]] In Leaf's route, Alison gets much more insight into Marin's personality. [[spoiler: The Teller family valued achievement above all else and treated their children more like assets than people. As a result, Marin learned that family, friends, and love were all lies, and became the highest achiever of her siblings, capable of manipulation, ruthlessness under a mask of perfect politeness, and advancing her cause at any cost. Her youngest brother, Maxton, couldn't do the same due to being a sensitive child and continued psychological abuse by the family led him to commit suicide on his 16th birthday. Marin blames herself for this, as she never reached out to him to support him until said 16th birthday, which she had almost forgotten. In light of this, she treats Leaf as her surrogate brother, from creating Audias Music just so that he can have a fulfilling career to supporting him in Canton Archis.]]˛* SuicideNotMurder and SuicideAttack: [[spoiler: The former Rat dies by essentially shoving a dagger into Marin's hand and running into it, as Marin had apparently ruined her life due to destroying her business. Either result could be disasterous for Marin: the event took place during a court hearing between them, at the court bathroom. Should the police arrest her, she'd be branded a murderer. Should she manage to convince them of her innocence - and she does - the Zodiac powers are very clearly framed as a mixed blessing.]]˛* SupernaturalGoldEyes: Halt sports them, as befitting the Tiger of the Zodiac.˛* SuperSoldier: [[spoiler: The secret police branch monitoring the Zodiacs exists to prevent another Zodiac War and its destructive effects. After the first Zodiac sighting, the police decided that the best way to deal with the threat was to give every person Zodiac powers. To this effect, they managed to get their hands on two Zodiacs - the Ram and the Snake - and attempted to understand their powers. However, somehow, the testing made the Zodiacs go insane and destroy the entire facility. The idea was quickly given up and hushed up.]]˛* TeamDad: Beckett. Even his journal entry asks if he was destined to become this.˛* TranquilFury: [[spoiler: Leaf is absolutely terrifying when beating down Pemberly and his goons for abusing Alison.]]˛* TheVoice: Pathfinder.˛* ThroughHisStomach: If Alison successfully makes handmade dumplings for dinner, Beckett is hugely impressed and comments that he didn't think it was possible for her to be more appealing.˛* VisualNovel˛* WasItAllALie: [[spoiler: Hansen Irvine, the former Rabbit, befriends Leaf Lewis at the point when he's trying to die. He eventually figures out that the young man is his way out of his existence as a Zodiac and, just before Leaf leaves for university, asks him to kill him. As a way of convincing him to do so, he claims their whole friendship was a lie leading to this point.]]˛* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: The Cat in Beckett and Leaf's stories. References are made to him, but we don't find out his ultimate fate, as this is saved for the True Route.˛** [[spoiler: So... where are the Ram and the Snake now, after having gone insane due to the government's testing? Are they alive? Did they escape? Will we see them?]]˛* WhoWantsToLiveForever: As the story advances, the Zodiac powers are increasingly viewed as more of a burden than a gift. Past Zodiacs such as [[spoiler: Beckett's grandfather Emmett and Leaf's friend Hansen Irvine]] are clearly fatigued of their long lives, having been bound by duty to act as protectors of communities or seen everyone they love die while they remain eternally young.˛˛˛----


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