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Visual Novel / Changeling (Otome)

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Main character Nora Lewis and her love interests. From left to right: Corvin, Danny, Marc, Nora, Elliot, Ewan, and William.

''Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild with a faery, hand in hand, for the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

W.B. Yeats

Changeling is a Romance Game Visual Novel by Steamberry Studio, released on January 30, 2019. After funding a successful Kickstarter, the game was released on both Steam and

After years of living in a city she detests, Nora Lewis finds herself returning to Pine Hollow, the town she grew up in. While she is more than thrilled to come back to the place she treasures so much, fate seems to have plans for her. Everything she ever believed to be true is shattered by a single event and so, she is forced to confront a new reality where not everything is what it seems, and that includes herself. In this new world, Nora will embark on a journey to solve the mysteries of her past all while attempting to repair the broken relationship with her twin brother and maybe, even find love along the way...

The visual novel contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adults Are Useless: Zigzagged.
    • Courtney and Sean are completely unaware that their daughter sleepwalking into the very forest they warn her to be careful of.
    • Guess' attempts to protect William backfire—once he is motivated to spend time with Nora, he disobeys her orders.
    • Grant Mitchell makes Spencer's paranoia worse.
    • Averted with Vilos, who is usually pretty useful when he is informed of a situation.
  • Alien Among Us:
    • The premise of the game is that Cryptics live amongst us without our knowledge. This is underscored by the large number of Cryptics in the student body (about sixty), most of the staff being Cryptics, and even popular local places like the coffee shop and bakery being run by Cryptics.
    • Spencer suspects this is the case with Nora.
  • All Myths Are True: A lot of the myths such as Fae and vampires do exist in this world.
  • Anyone Can Die: Each route has several endings where Nora, her love interest, or other characters can die or otherwise have something terrible happen to them.
  • Big Sister Instinct:
    • Despite Spencer's cruelty towards Nora, she still seeks to protect him and can ask for lenience on his behalf when he gets grounded. This turns out to be pretty deeply rooted, since she saved him from the Faerie Hill when they were seven by offering herself in his place.
    • Brenna is belligerent, tempermental, and unpredictable. However, she has a soft spot for Elliot because he sheltered her from a storm, thinking she was just a stray cat. As a result, she spends a lot of time with him and, if on his route, helps Nora as a favor to him. She also asks Nora to let Elliot go if she is at all unsure about him, because it will only hurt him worse to be rejected later.
    • Guess calls William her protoge and is extremely protective of him. She frequently comforts him and guides him in the safe usage of his powers. Nora often notes that their interactions are very sibling-like, and William trusts her and looks to her for guidance in return. When she is forced to consider ending his life when he becomes a danger to the world, she is in tears.
  • Blessed with Suck: William is easily the strongest among the love interests, and possibly the world or at least the largest threat. However, this means he is always accompanied by his Chorus—his entourage of haunts that cling to him. They are jealous and will lash out at anyone mean to him, as well as play (sometimes deadly) pranks on those who even interact with him too much.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Fae steal human children to revitalize their bloodline, something they feel perfectly justified in doing, especially if they feel the children already belong to them, such as those with Fae heritage already. When questioned on it, Brenna claims that anyone would do the same to survive.
    • The Ancient in the Slaughter mines feels entitled to William because it wants to walk the Earth once more.
  • Cain and Abel: Spencer is extremely hostile towards Nora and can get belligerent if their relationship worsens, and even ends up killing or seriously injuring her in some routes. However, he doesn't think she's the real Nora through most of this, and once he learns the truth of her situation their relationship immediately begins to improve.
  • Changeling Tale: Faeries are known for switching out human children with their own, and it's eventually revealed that they do this to strengthen their bloodlines as faerie life forces are naturally much weaker than that of humans. Nora comes to suspect she may be a Changeling herself once she researches her condition. It's revealed Faeries have started doing an unusual variant of this, where the human child's soul is moved into the body of the Changeling Faerie (with a glamour on to look like the child in question) while their body stays behind with the Fae. This is so that, among other things, they'll behave normally and not arouse human suspicions, with the Faerie taking control of the body while the child sleeps. This ends up explaining how Nora can both be a Changeling Faerie and the real Nora Lewis.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Corvin is extraordinarily clumsy, constantly running into people and tripping over furniture. He has to be reminded to pay attention at work and actually take customers' orders.
    • On Elliot's route, he accidentally interrupts one of Elliot's attempted confessions to ask Nora how she is enjoying the coffee Elliot got her and to steal a sip—then leaves as if he is doing Elliot a favor despite having unintentionally ruined the moment.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: In Danny's route, Ewan points out that if they'd just asked him, he could have confirmed immediately that Nora is a Fae, which would have cut down on a significant chunk of Nora's subplot in this and several other routes.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: William lives an isolated life due to his Chorus, who terrorize anyone who tries to get close to him. Guess, his mentor, could technically banish or even kill his Chorus, but cannot practically do so. It turns out that the Chorus protects William from worse things, and besides, many of them have been with him for years.
  • Day Walking Vampire: The vampires in this setting can be in sunlight, but it tends to hurt their eyes to the point that they wear sunglasses outside all the time.
  • Dhampyr: Elliot was "mugged"—actually attacked by a vampire—on his way home around the age of 15. He starts experiencing a loss of appetite, changes in sleeping patterns, photosensitivity, and weight loss with no explanation. Because he didn't realize what was happening, he ended up with weaker vampire abilities and minor health issues due to malnourishment.
  • Downer Ending: The bad endings where Nora dies or is lost to one of the dangerous elements of the supernatural community. Some particular bad endings have Spencer killing Nora in a misguided attempt to get his sister back.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: William's route in particular; William's life is slowly revealed to have been one long Trauma Conga Line, and unlike the other Love Interests, for much of the route it's a bad thing that he and Nora are so close and everyone else in the club wants her to stay away from himnote  Nora for her part is still suffering from the events of her past and trying to figure out what happened that caused Spencer to hate her; this isn't getting into the many times she almost dies during this route. Then there's William being horrifically possessed by the Ancient under the mines and almost causing the apocalypse. By the end, though, through one method or another, William finally can live a normal life with friends. He also now knows his mother loved him after all and that she's at peace. For her part, Nora's undone her Changeling contract and repaired her relationship with her brother. As well, in the best ending, they can finally be together unimpeded.
  • Eldritch Location: Pine Hollow.
    • The surrounding forest is full of Faerie Gates and Ghost Roads, which transport anyone unlucky enough to stumble into them into a different dimension.
    • If you aren't killed by the normal wildlife, you might be eaten by a werewolf or a Feral Vampire.
    • The Slaughter Mines house an Ancient One who would like to destroy the world.
  • The Fair Folk: The game deals heavily with faeries, and one of the love interests is even a faerie.
  • Fantastic Racism: Vampires are treated differently than other kinds of Cryptic. They have far more restrictions on them, which includes restrictions on where, when, and how much they can eat. Then they have hoops to jump through for personal relationships, and if one vampire messes up, the entire race is punished.
  • Fur Against Fang: Nora briefly wonders if vampires and werewolves are natural-born enemies in Danny's route after an altercation between the werewolves Derek and Sean and vampires Marc and Elliot. Danny clarifies that, in general, the two groups have no natural grudges against each other.
  • Grand Theft Me: Nora suspects her sleepwalking is this.
  • Harmful to Minors: William's mother was an Esper as well, but a weaker one than him. She hated dealing with spirits, and when William was born a level 15 Esper, she was unable to handle the number of haunts flooding the house. Making it worse, the haunts that latched onto her son were so jealous that they didn't even want to her to touch him. Being a powerful Esper essentially isolates William for the rest of his life.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The heroine's default name is Nora Lewis, but you can change it to whatever you want.
  • Horror Hunger: Downplayed; infected vampires are typically much better at controlling themselves than natural-born vampires since humans are raised to have some self control when it comes to their desires. Even natural-born vampires are decent at controlling their desire to feed, but a point is made of how many vampire Cryptics have extremely limited access to food due to the many restrictions on them, which makes it harder for them to control themselves. This becomes a plot point in Marc's route.
  • Interspecies Romance: Romancing the love interests counts, as they run the range from vampires, faeries, and werewolves to humans with powers, while Nora for her part is unclear on whether she's a human or a Faerie for most of the route.
  • Invisible to Normals: A lot of the creatures such as Fae and spirits are invisible to people who aren't supernatural.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: Deconstructed.
    • Marc, as a natural vampire, isn't even aware of the trope that leads people to believe that Vampire bites are erotic. As a result, he is disgusted by the idea and compares drinking straight from humans to attempting to eat a live cow because you're hungry. When he drinks from Nora's wrist to beat Adrien, the experience is painful for the bitee and mortifying for him. Afterwards he makes it clear that it was a one-time occurance under extenuating circumstances.
    • Elliot's route dives deeper, since he actually thought it would be romantic. However, after seeing the aftermath of a bad Vampire bite, he comes to realize that it is not.
      Elliot: There's a pretty big part of me that still thinks that would be...romantic. But a bigger part of me says that treating someone like food or using them for my convenience isn't romantic at all. And that's the part I think I should listen to.
  • Land of Faerie: The Seelie and Unseelie Courts.
  • Masquerade: The supernatural world has to be hidden from normal humans.
  • Mirror Scare: Nora's appearance occasionally changes, sometimes dramatically, when she looks in the mirror. Other members of the Mysteries Club suggest that she is using a glamor unconsciously.
  • Missing Child: Child abduction. Nora and Spencer go missing three times as young children in relation to playing with faeries. They usually return home unscathed after a few days, but unable to remember anything. It's gotten to the point that even as teenagers, their mother frequently reminds them to be careful in the woods.
  • Most Writers Are Adults: Notably averted. The teenagers of Changeling act in a remarkably age-appropriate fashion.
    • Nora is snarky and clever, frequently quoting Shakespear. However, some of her jokes and quips fall flat, or even come off as cruel or inappropriate. She also occasionally struggles with sensitivity and communicates her feelings in ways that are hurtful or unproductive.
    • Elliot frequently stumbles over his words and often struggles with boundaries, despite being very kind.
    • Marc is intelligent and well-spoken, but as grown-up as he may sound, he has plenty of moments of childishness.
    • William desperately seeks adult guidance and yearns for his mother's approval.
  • Multiple Endings: Each route has an ending where Nora and her love interest become a couple, an ending where they remain just friends for whatever reason, and multiple bad endings.
  • Odd Friendship: Marc and William.
  • Older Than They Look: Brenna and Logan look to be in their late teens/early twenties, but are actually very old.
    • Subverted with Marc, who is immortal, but still only 18 years old (as Nora is shocked to find out.)
  • Our Vampires Are Different: There are born vampires and infected vampires. Additionally, of the natural born vampires, there are at least two types—"Sanguines," who drink blood, and the more powerful "Vitae" who drain someone's life force from skin-to-skin contact.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • Spencer is convinced that Nora is a Changeling who stole his sister. As a result, he hates her, and his feelings toward her bounce between fear and anger. Being vocal about these feelings led to two years of therapy and a lot of bullying for being crazy. Except he's half right.
    • Invoked. Spencer suspects that the Mysteries Club is hiding something. All the members are weird, most people—like James—who deliberately seek out joining the club are rebuffed until they give up, and everyone agrees there is something off about the club room. When he walks by it during what is supposed to be club hours, no one is there. Nora, who knows he's right, is forced to [[Gaslighting throw him off the trail]] until they are sure whether he's a Cryptic and allowed to know.
  • Psychic Radar: Vampires tend to be aware of other Vampires in their proximity.
  • Relationship Upgrade: A possible ending in each route.
    • Two routes, Marc's and Ewan's, can actually experience a downgrade, since they become a couple with Nora BEFORE the final chapter. How the player handles their major crises plays a factor in whether they stay together.
      • Prior to the climax, Ally refers to Ewan as Nora's boyfriend, and they blush and don't correct her.
      • Before the third-act relationship drama, Marc comes to pick up Nora from the club room from lunch. When Adrien asks if they are "together together," Marc confirms it. Ally then refers to him as Nora's boyfriend, which she doesn't deny.
  • Running Gag: The heroine referring to both vampire love interests as cannibals.
  • Security Cling: Nora does this occasionally, particularly to Marc, to his annoyance. Depending on the route, this can be for comedic effect or out of genuine fear.
    Nora: I wasn't the type to cling to people, but Marc was twice my size and a Vampire, the perfect meat shield.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Between the heroine and her twin brother, to an extreme level.
  • Sleepwalking: Nora sleepwalks out of her house and into the woods several times a week. This always happens after her parents have gone to bed and she returns before they wake up, none the wiser. Considering that the Nonstandard Game Over involves her dying in the woods after a sleepwalking episode, the number of times she might not have come home would ensure they never slept again.
  • The Snark Knight: Nora and Marc.
  • Soulless Shell: Because of a miasma infection, Nora's soul has to be ripped away from Reul's. When she returns, she is left catatonic.
  • There Are No Therapists: Discussed. There technically are therapists, since one works at the school, and both Spencer and Nora have seen several. However, there aren't very many Cryptic therapists and regular ones aren't equipped to deal with supernatural weirdness, so even with the best of intentions they can cause more harm than good.
  • Urban Fantasy: The game takes place in the modern day world.
  • Villain Respect: In William's route, if Nora chooses to bargain with Reul to break the Changeling contract and return her to her own body in exchange for both of them surviving the miasma infection. Her determination to not be taken advantage of again impresses Reul, who notes that she "grew up well" before accepting the deal.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Several of the routes bring this trope up, namely William, Elliot, and Marc's.
    • Marc's route deals with the complex issues surrounding human-vampire relations. Marc points out that for Vampires, the rules are oppressive: the NRAP tells what and when to eat, how and how much he can have, and where he can eat it. For Vampire students, there is little room to learn to handle their abilities without getting in trouble since even slight slip-ups tend to engender overwhelming response. While the school can't allow Vampires to consume their fellow classmates, the harsh restrictions still keep most of the Vampire students on the brink of starvation. This backfires horribly.
    • Elliot's route also addresses drama in the Vampire community. The Vampires as a whole are suspected of involvement in a series of murders. To Marc and Elliot's frustration, all help offered by the community to catch what they believe is a Feral Vampire is rebuffed. Instead, they are placed under curfew and Elliot's internship is revoked. Specifically, it's mentioned the agency distrusts Vampires as a general rule and doesn't allow any into their ranks, with the exception of Elliot.
    • William and Nora discuss whether noncorporeal entities are people and conclude that they are. However, when something starts killing haunts, Vilos and Guess aren't overly concerned, beyond annoyance that the bigger, more dangerous haunts are being left alone.

Alternative Title(s): Changeling