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Visual Novel / Fading Hearts

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Fading Hearts is a Ren'Py-based ren'ai Visual 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.

In 2014 Fading Hearts was released on Steam.

Fading Hearts provides examples of:

  • A Friend in Need: The whole game revolves around this.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Claire and her Jerkass boyfriend.
    • 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.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Ryou acquires the sword handed down to the prince in Claire's Downer Ending. It magically appears before him and Ryou grabs onto it, teleporting him back in time to fix the mistakes he made with Claire.
  • Apologizes a Lot: Rina.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Rina loves Ryou because he is the only one who treats her like a normal person.
  • Betty and Veronica: Rina and Claire, respectively. There is even a Third-Option Love Interest that Ryou doesn't know about - until it's too late.
  • Be Yourself: Advice "The Player" gives Ryou via email.
  • Bromantic Foil: Averted since Alex gives advice to Ryou about relationships.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The manga and Sophia's earrings. If the player of the game pieces the clues together, they are the gift the prince gave to the prophet's daughter in Royal Guard Life.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Claire.
  • 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.
  • Domestic Abuse: Claire's Jerkass boyfriend. As Rina tells Ryou, she witnessed him verbally abusing Claire.
    • 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).
  • Final Battle: One scenario has Ryou and Mystica fight the source of the shadow monsters.
  • First Kiss: This happens with Rina right before she transforms back into Mystica and she and Ryou fight the source of the shadow monsters, and happens with Claire in her Happy Ending.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Mystica, Alice, and Mimi. Also Tracy, with her twin braids.
  • Guide Dang It!: Some endings and achievements are near-impossible to get without help. And even then, help is scarce.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Ryou and Rina are "Y2K orphans", whose parents died in the midst of explosions caused by programming errors, now living in a prison-like orphanage.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Claire's Jerkass boyfriend.
  • 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.
  • Improbable Age: Ryou made a deal with a start-up company... at twelve years old.
  • 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.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: At the beginning of the game if Ryou chooses not to date Rina, she will be disappointed but tells him she will support his choice. Claire also loves Ryou but tries anyway to pair him up with Rina.
  • 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.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Ryou's thoughts while having lunch with Rina at the beginning of the game.
    Ryou: If I were one of those heroes in those ren'ai games Alex keeps forcing on me, I'd be oblivious to her feelings. But I'm not, and that's the hardest part.
  • "Lesson of the Day" Speech: 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.
  • 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.
  • Love Triangle: Between Ryou, Claire, and Rina.
  • Magical Girl Warrior: Mystica in her Mini Dress Of Power with detached sleeves, who battles shadow monsters in the forest.
  • Comic Books Are Real: The magical spells that Ryou reads about in his manga can be used thanks to his growing powers. They also divulge more information about the past lives of the prince and other characters that he dreams about.
  • 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 Café 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.
  • My Future Self and Me: In the scenario where Mystica or Ryou has to kill Claire, Ryou is given the sword to go back in time to fix his mistakes. In future plays of the game, when Ryou goes to the park at night, "Meta-Ryou" introduces himself to himself. Meta-Ryou proves himself by telling Ryou information about Claire and Rina that only they would know and leaves a cut on Ryou's sleeve from the sword, leaving physical proof that Ryou is not dreaming. From then on, Meta-Ryou gives him advice whenever requested.
  • 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.
  • New Super Power: Ryou one night gains magical powers, and learns new spells through his manga. Also, Mystica acknowledges to Ryou her recent discovery of her powers.
  • Nice Guy: Ryou.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: If Ryou is killed by a shadow monster.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Rina, for a long time.
  • Oh, Crap!: There are quite a few:
    • Ryou literally exclaims this when a shadow monster breaks down his door and he sees a magical symbol over the city outside of his window during the Sole Survivor ending (below).
    • If Ryou is imprisoned in the cabin by Mystica, he realizes he will miss the fireworks festival with Rina.
    • When Ryou thinks he is going to be killed by Claire.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Ryou, who eventually gains skills in magical combat.
  • Otaku: Alex, who loves anime, manga, and games. He beats Ryou in a shooter in ten seconds.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: The shadow monsters.
  • Parental Abandonment: Ryou's and Rina's parents died during explosions caused by Y2K, and Claire's parents are never mentioned.
  • Part-Time Hero: When Ryou isn't at school, training, working, or hanging out, he's fighting monsters in the forest! ... unless that's all you choose for him to do.
  • The Promise: When Rina has Ryou and Claire all join hands with her and has them repeat a vow of eternal friendship and that they will always look out for each other.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Ryou's dreams/visions of himself and others in the magical world.
  • Reincarnation: Ryou seems to have been a prince with magical powers in a past life, as Ryou keeps having visions of him. In Claire's Downer Ending, Ryou is given another chance to save her by acquiring the sword he has seen the prince with, and goes back in time with it. The dreams/visions and manga also hints that some of the other characters are reincarnations as well. The complete list is as follows:
    • The Prince: Ryou (natch)
    • First Seed: Claire
    • Last Seed: Rina
    • Ai the Magic Researcher: Tracy
    • Prophet's Daughter: Sophia
  • The Reveal: There are several of these:
    • 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 Café, 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.
  • Secret Identity: Rina as Mystica. Keeping this from Ryou and Claire takes a toll on her; she feels increasingly isolated from the group, especially if Ryou doesn't spend time with her. Also, Tracy as "The Player."
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: After Claire's Downer Ending Ryou has a chance to acquire the prince's sword which sends him back to the past, giving him another chance to save Claire.
  • Shipper on Deck: Claire for Ryou and Rina.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Rina finds a date with Ryou much more scary than saving the world from the monsters.
  • 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.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Ryou in Claire's opinion.
  • Tournament Arc: Ryou has visions of the First and Last Seeds in magical tournaments.
  • Tsundere: Claire is a milder example of this with Ryou. This is actually a ruse on Claire's behalf in order to pair up Ryou with Rina, whom she initially believes he will be happier with.
  • Wingding Eyes: Alex, whenever he gets caught up in subjects relating to his hobbies.