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Visual Novel / An Octave Higher

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A Visual Novel created by Kidalang, An Octave Higher tells a story of magic, industrial revolution and social upheaval.

Magic is a fact of life in the kingdom of Overture. Any person can cast magic, provided he or she has access to Mana, and every single machine depends on magic to function. It can be used for many things, from brewing tea to producing drinkable water for water fountains to treating people’s injuries. There is one thing it cannot do, however: healing magic cannot be used on inanimate objects. Franz knows this, and yet he must prove that it can be done if he is to defend his thesis and graduate from the prestigious Conservatoire. When an attempt to secure grant funding from an aristocrat’s son backfires, he finds himself in the right place at the right time to meet Elise, a cheerful factory worker who wants nothing more than to fix a broken piano lying out in the factory yard. And despite his initial skepticism, Franz soon becomes convinced that she holds the key to unlocking the mystery.


Together with Frederic, the aristocrat’s son, they find themselves embroiled on the adventure of a lifetime. Can they succeed at this seemingly impossible task? Can Franz defend his thesis and graduate? Can Elise find an escape from the toil and drudgery of a factory worker’s life? And can Frederic swallow his pride enough to become their friend, or will his arrogance and short temper bring trouble down upon their heads?

Even as tensions flare between them, the shadow of revolution looms over Overture. Aristocrats and the bourgeoisie have unrestricted access to magic, but the proletariat are only given enough Mana to do their jobs and nothing more. And in the face of poverty, starvation and poor living conditions, an extremist group called Libertad, led by the mysterious Amadeus, prepares to overthrow the government and put Mana in the hands of the people.


And when our three heroes cross paths with these would-be revolutionaries, nothing will ever be the same again…

It also has a Prequel, following the early life of Janis Woolf, titled One Small Fire at a Time.

This game provides examples of:

  • Awesome, but Impractical: Gesang's Luminaire spell is ultimately this. Elise notes that it is by far the most powerful magic she has ever witnessed, and despite using all the elements Gesang is able to use it (which can't be said of any other combo magic requiring more than two elements - mages are limited by how many hands they have, after all) but that's where the benefits end. It has a clear 'danger zone' anyone can see once the spell has been cast that will kill anyone caught within it (besides Gesang); Gesang doesn't seem capable of actually moving himself or the zone once he's started casting; the enemy is given plenty of time to hide, take cover, or simply move away given the long time it takes to cast the spell; and perhaps most crucially, it only kills people, meaning that it's easily avoided by getting behind cover, since it won't collapse cover or do any collateral damage at all. And afterwards, Gesang is winded long enough for Aretha to get into a lengthy discussion about casting Blizzard on him, talk Elise into helping, and cast the spell, ultimately beating Gesang.
  • Elemental Baggage: Addressed in-game. When a magician casts a spell, the substance he creates is actually being summoned from somewhere else in the world and will eventually return there; nothing is gained and nothing is lost, so the conservation of matter and energy is maintained.
  • Elemental Powers: Most magic takes the form of elemental spells that correspond to different personality Traits. They are:
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Overture is based on 19th-century Europe. Dvipantara, one of Overture's colonies, is one for Indonesia.
  • Fictional Sport: Sorcer, a game played mainly by aristocrats. It involves two players (called Sorcerers) in a hexagonal arena, with a crystal at each of the corners; each player has three of these crystals, and the goal is to shatter any two of the other player's crystals.
  • Flying Car: Taxi carriages and omnibuses, accomplished with a combination of Nullified gravity to lift off the ground, and wind magic for steering and propulsion.
  • Happy Ending Override: Multiple instances of this bite Amadeus and Libertad hard in the 'So Beautiful and Lost' ending. The Libertans have seized the means of production and effectively taken over Overture. However, Magical Mechanical is none the worse for wear; as Janis reveals in the true ending, ever since MM went public, Joff Godwin has only owned a small part of the company. He's just the face, and killing him doesn't mean MM suddenly goes away. What's more, while all the proles being armed with magic means they can overwhelm the police force, Overture is the capital of an entire empire in addition to being a city-state, and the King is easily able to call in favors with other nations under Overture's umbrella to wipe out the rebellion. No matter what kind of tactics Amadeus can employ, he can't face an entire army with a comparatively small volunteer force of mages whose only tricks rely on them ganging up on small groups at a time. In addition, with the city ruined and unrest filling the streets, the volunteer force is morally exhausted. After Amadeus had hyped up killing Joff Godwin as being the answer to everyone's problems, the fact that it really isn't means the volunteers are understandably upset and not sure they can pull off a win against entire armies.
  • Land of One City: Overture is a technologically-advanced nation with colonies all over the world, but the country itself consists of just the city of Overture.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Much time is spent explaining the rules of how magic works in the setting. Every person is born gifted with two out of five Traits (Courage, Willpower, Faith, Intelligence and Compassion), and those Traits determine what sort of magic they can use. There are four basic kinds of spells: Summon (produces the corresponding element), Amplify (produces a stronger effect than the basic Summon), Nullify (produces an inverted effect, such as negating gravity for Willpower or cooling hot objects for Courage), and Transform. Spells of different Traits can also be combined to produce more complicated spells, such as combining Water (or Summon(Intelligence)) with Freeze (or Nullify(Courage)) to cast Ice.
  • Magical Gesture: An essential component of every magic spell in this universe. A person who can't make gestures can't cast spells, and people who have lost their hands cannot use magic at all, condemning them to a life of poverty and begging.
  • Magitek: Magic machines are everywhere in the city of Overture, and they all require magic to function. You can't even take a shower if you don't have Mana because the water that comes out is produced by magic.
  • Mana: Explicitly called such in-game, though its scientific name is curcuma zanthorrhiza. Mana is a substance imported from Dvipantara that, when drunk, allows humans to cast magic spells. It is called temulawak in Dvipantaran.
  • Mana Potion: A key plot element. Aristocrats, the bourgeoisie and certain corporations and learning institutions have more or less unrestricted access to Mana potions, but they are strictly regulated for proles. A factory worker like Elise is only given two potions each day, which provides just enough Mana to work the morning and afternoon shifts. Members of Libertad also attack upper class people to steal their Mana, and after the time skip they ransack the Conservatoire to distribute its potion stockpiles to the proletariat.
  • Mega-Corp: Magical Mechanical Ltd, or just MM, is the largest magic machine manufacturer in Overture (and possibly the entire world), owns many of the city's factories and employs the vast majority of its working class.
  • Multiple Endings: Six, though only five of them grant achievements on Steam. Three of them are fairly lighthearted, the other two... are not, to put it mildly. The common thread in all of them is that Frederic is rescued from Libertad, and they fail to fix the piano.
    • Your afternoon tea, my Lord: After Franz fails to prove his thesis, Elise starts working for Frederic as one of his maids.
    • Egregia cum laude: Despite failing to prove that Compassion magic can be used on machines, Franz and Aretha both graduate with honors and will soon be working together at Magical Mechanical.
    • Whatever I know about magic: Franz manages to bullshit his way through defending his thesis and starts working at the Conservatoire as a researcher. Elise stays on as his assistant.
    • So beautiful and lost: After being rescued from Libertad, Frederic challenges Franz to a fight to see which of them is the better mage; when it becomes clear that Franz is going to win, Frederic cuts his hands off with a cleaver. Following a five-year Time Skip, Elise—now a successful pianist and a member of the bourgeoisie—joins Libertad when she is approached by its new leader, Amadeus. She is present when they attack the Conservatoire to take Joff Godwin hostage, and helps Aretha to escape from the campus. Frederic storms in to try and rescue his father, but is easily subdued. Amadeus then has Joff Godwin publicly executed; a week later the city is ravaged, the proles are growing dispirited, and there is talk of the king bringing in armies from other nations to restore order.
    • Why not?: The true ending. Elise does not join Libertad and goes to Lord Godwin and the police. Amadeus expects her treachery, however, and ambushes the police's ambush; when Elise tries to chase after him she is fatally wounded by Gesang, only for Frederic to sacrifice himself to save her life, an act which redeems him in her eyes. When Libertad and their army of proles storm the Conservatoire several days later to take Joff Godwin hostage, she breaks in, finds Aretha, and together they take down Jude and Gesang before convincing Amadeus to see the error of his ways. He tells his followers to stand down, telling them they don't need magic to live happy lives, then tricks the cops into killing him by pretending to cast a powerful magic spell. As Elise, Jude and Aretha weep over his lifeless body, Elise tries to revive Amadeus using the same spell she'd been using to fix the piano. Elsewhere, that same piano makes a sound when a child accidentally touches its keys, implying that she succeeded.
  • Musical Theme Naming: The title contains a musical term (octave), the city's name (Overture) is a reference to a musical term, and many of the characters share names after famous composers, musicians or songs.
  • Not Quite Flight: Mages who are gifted with Willpower, like Frederic, can Nullify gravity to send themselves or others rising high into the air. Similarly mages gifted with Faith, like Franz, can create strong air currents to lift themselves off the ground. Combining these two effects through magic machines is what allows carriages and omnibuses to fly.
  • Police Are Useless: Averted; in a city where anyone and everyone can cast spells, the police need to be extremely powerful and competent mages themselves to keep law and order. Played straight if you happen to be a prole, in which case they tend to be less than helpful and after the time skip, when the Libertans start using superior tactics to take them down.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Libertans aren't above attacking upper class people on the street to steal their Mana potions if they think they can get away with it. They only get worse after the time skip.
  • Running Gag: People pissing Frederic off by not referring to him as Lord Frederic or Godwin.
  • Shout-Out: Everything about Gesang's Luminaire spell - the name itself, the pose he makes as he's casting it, and the dome of light expanding around him - suggests that the move is pretty much the spell of the same name used by Crono from Chrono Trigger.
    • There's also mention of dementors, though it's mostly just part of a role play between a prostitute and an old man.
  • Storming the Castle: Elise, Franz and Aretha end up storming the Maison de Bouvoire alongside Janis Woolf and the police in order to rescue Frederic from Libertad. Happens again in the true ending, when Elise must break into the Libertad-occupied Conservatoire to rescue Aretha and stop Amadeus from executing Joff Godwin.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Magic is treated as a science in its own right, and the Conservatoire has departments for both magical science and magical engineering. Magic spells are written out as pseudo-mathematical equations, and magic machines are described as magic systems, complete with flow charts and system diagrams.
  • Theme Naming: In addition to the Musical Theme Naming listed above, most characters share surnames with 19th and early 20th century writers.
  • Time Skip: Three of the five possible endings take place a few months after the raid on Maison de Bouvoire. The second act of the true story path begins five years after the raid, instead.
  • Urban Segregation: The center of Overture where the upper classes live is a clean, orderly and beautiful Shining City, while the outlying proletariat districts are cramped, squalid slums without even the most basic utilities.
  • Wizard Duel: Nearly every fight in the entire game is one of these, given that just about everyone in Overture can cast magic. The number of times that people don't attack each other with magic can be counted on one hand:
    • The first time it happens is during the police raid on the Maison de Bouvoire, when a Mook runs out of Mana and resorts to attacking Frederic with a meat cleaver. Frederic, who still has plenty of Mana left, takes him out effortlessly.
    • The second time takes place during the Time Skip, when a crippled Franz defends himself from a hostile aristocrat using a water hose.
  • Wizarding School: The Conservatoire.
  • Worf Barrage: Zig-zagged. The Dragoon Unit are ultimately brought up to be the ultimate spellcasters in Overture, if not the world, with their commander Janis Woolf being stronger than even that, shortly before she leads a police raid meant to take out Amadeus. When it turns out to be an ambush, the Dragoons are unable to beat the Libertad members who attack them...because there are only six Dragoon officers (counting Janis) and at least twenty Libertad members fighting each one. However, while the Dragoon officers aren't able to win, they effectively and easily create a stalemate where lesser cops would have failed because despite all of Libertad's fancy teamwork tactics, they are still the absolute best mages in Overture. In fact, once Gesang is forced to retreat to protect Amadeus from Frederic and Elise, Janis Woolf is able to easily swing things even more in the Dragoon unit's favor, with the implication that if the fighting had continued much longer, the Dragoons would have fully regrouped and won.