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Visual Novel / Sunrider

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Not pictured: Space Whales.

This story takes place as we live today. In a universe reminiscent but vastly different from our own...

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. A new revolutionary front called the People's Alliance for Common Treatment (PACT) 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, First Arrival and Mask Of Arcadius, are also on Steam here, and a novelization is available here. The 3rd chapter, Liberation Day, was released on March 4, 2016 and is available here. A DLC chapter called [RE]turn was added on May 24, 2016. Sunrider Veniczar, a prequel novel with heavy spoilers, can be read on their Patreon page by pledging at least $5. 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:

  • Absent Aliens: Aliens are never seen or mentioned outside the occasional reference to Space Whales, despite the first game starting with an exposition dump about how humans have "subjugated" all life and become the dominant species in the galaxy. A scene in Chigara's route in Sunrider Academy suggests that this is because humans exterminated aliens rather than subjugated them in the distant past.
  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: In Academy on Ava's route, this is inverted. It is revealed that no student council in the past 30 years has managed to even get a club budget passed, and that most student council presidents just use the position to get dates.
  • Abusive Precursors: The ancient Ryuvians were not nice people. Their empire ruled the entire galaxy for tens of thousands of years, their emperors were worshipped as gods because of their nearly-magical technology, and their royal court was a snake pit of intrigues and plots. They also had fleets of dreadnoughts whose main weapons could destroy everything within half a lightyear, and conceivably destroy reality itself if they all fired at once. Fortunately, they've long since forgotten the secrets of their technology and become a Vestigial Empire. Unfortunately, a time-travelling Ryuvian warlord has become trapped in the present day and plans to rebuild the Empire by conquering the galaxy.
  • A Commander Is You:
    • Ryuvian (Elitist): All of their ships have high health and deal massive damage but their number is very limited.
    • Alliance (Turtle): Their main policy is focused on defensive doctrine and all of their units have higher health than PACT's counterpart in Mask of Arcadius. Also, they can win a long term war against PACT due to their attrition advantage.
    • PACT (Ranger): They prefer to use lighter ship and long range engagement but they fall short in term of attrition war.
    • Pirate (Guerilla): Lackluster health and firepower since they need to use old and outdated weapons.
    • Sunrider (Unit Specialist): They are a mixture of many units for many different purposes. It requires you to use combined arm tactics due to their specialised nature.
    • Mining Union (Generalist): Although they only use lighter ships for escort, they are able to befriend multiple sides and own a large private army with different backgrounds. This makes them a Jack-of-All-Trades faction.
    • Cera (Pariah): Although they are a guerrilla army, they don't have a strong center leader like Cosette, and they are forced to either hide themselves or join the Pirate side.
    • Prototype (Gimmick): They don't have any ship but since they are able to send their own spy into all of the factions they are able to access units from different factions.
  • Action Girl: Most of the girls fit this, as they pilot Mecha into battle.
  • All There in the Manual: The official website has three lore articles covering topics that are important to the setting's history but are discussed only briefly in-game.
  • Alternate Universe: Sunrider Academy takes place in one. It's also chock full of references to the VN.
  • 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.
    • The Prototypes are a Hive Mind variant.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Veniczar Arcadius wants to force Princess Asaga of Ryuvia to marry him so he can gain access to the secrets of Ryuvia's Lost Technology; in return, he will spare her planet from a PACT invasion and guarantee its autonomy. Once the ceremony has concluded, he reneges on the deal, kills her father and annexed the planet anyway, though the party shows up just in time to crash the afterparty.
  • Antagonist Title: Mask of Arcadius refers to the masked main antagonist Veniczar Arcadius.
  • April Fools' Day: On April 1st, 2019, Love in Space announced a "tie-in" Live-Action Adaptation of the original 3 chapters of Sunrider with assistance from Netflix, with a teaser trailer developed with early footage (spoiler alert: it's all fake)
  • Apocalyptic Log: Parodied. The second half of Mask of Arcadius begins with Ava dictating a log entry about how the Sunrider's crew has been stranded for months on a desolate planet, how the chain of command is breaking down and how she's the only one left who can restore order... only for Asaga to interrupt, revealing that they're just on shore leave at a beach resort.
  • Arbitrary Maximum Range: The Vanguard Cannon has a maximum range of 7 tiles. It will strike everything in its path and then stop once it reaches the space you targeted, even if it should logically keep going to hit more enemies. Averted in Liberation Day, where the Vanguard Cannon now has unlimited range.
  • Armour Is Useless: Played with. All units have an Armor stat that mitigates damage taken from attacks, and the higher your Armor is the less damage you take. However, every time a unit gets hit their Armor stat goes down slightly, making it less and less effective as the fight drags on. Kinetic weapons in particular will tear through Armor like tissue paper. Deflector Shields work the same way, with the added bonus that they get stronger when multiple shields overlap, but they'll only protect you from laser and pulse weapons.
  • Attack of the Political Ad: Chapter 20 of the novelization features one for Admiral Grey.
    A montage of PACT ships firing on civilian vessels and stations, several Progress Party big wigs, and Arcadius's looming mask played while a serious voice narrated the images to grating music. "Division… Politics… Corruption… Deadlock… While the Veniczar has been conquering the galaxy, the Solar Alliance did nothing but play politics." A heroic image of Admiral Grey rose on the screen, blocking the fading image of Arcadius as a rippling Solar Alliance banner provided backdrop. The Solar Alliance's anthem played loudly. "Vote Admiral Grey and throw those crooks out of office! Honesty. Integrity. Courage. Only the Admiral can save us from the Veniczar! Not some politician!"
  • Bag of Spilling: Although you can import your save from Mask of Arcadius into Liberation Day, only your choices are saved, not your upgrades, purchases, and cash on hand. Your units are given a predetermined set of upgrades and some money to distribute as you like, but it's likely that some of your ryders will be downgraded. All purchases from the Mining Union are reset, including Chigara's near-essential Repair Booster.
  • 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.
  • Beach Episode: The second act of Mask of Arcadius begins with the Sunrider's crew taking some much-needed shore leave on a beach resort space station, with all of the hijinks that entails.
  • 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 on Cosette's apparent age. It will not end well.
  • Big Bad: Veniczar S. Arcadius is the leader of PACT who aims to conquer the galaxy. His first order of business is capturing and marrying the Princess of Ryuvia to gain access to it's secrets. His true identity is a Hive Mind of female Artificial Humans known as the Prototypes, led by three people: Alice Ashada, Alpha Prototype, and Claude Treillo.
  • 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 pirates 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.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: PACT were originally heroic rebels but have since become no different from the Empire they overthrew. The Alliance, however, is developing into a military dictatorship, and their ruthless Admiral Grey is willing to murder Alliance diplomats simply to manufacture a casus belli. Even Kayto often has to make hard choices between what's right and what will defeat PACT. And that's not even getting into the Prototypes, Claude, and Crow.
  • Bling of War: While the Sunrider's crew and the Alliance wear dressy but understated uniforms PACT commanders favour extremely fancy outfits reminiscent of Eropean aristrocracy in the 18th/19th centuries, an odd counterpoint their position as Commie Land.
  • Boss in Mook's Clothing: Nightmares are the toughest non-boss enemies in the series. These ancient Ryuvian Ryders have more health than the toughest PACT capital ships, maxed-out armour, maxed-out shields, and very high evasion, making them not only tough as nails but hard to hit as well. All of their attacks are highly accurate and highly damaging, and they usually come in groups of at least three, with Ryuvian cruisers to back them up. Fortunately, they can only be encountered in skippable side missions.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: The crew is forced to split up following the Liberation Day Massacre. Sola and Kayto are in hiding on Tydaria. Ava and Asaga have gone to Ryuvia Prime to gather military support and look for Lost Technology. Icari is getting in touch with her black market contacts to recruit mercenary backup. Kryska has returned to the Solar Alliance to explain how the Alliance military tried to destroy Cera and hopefully regain Alliance support for their cause. Chigara is battling Alice in the Prototype mindstream. Claude is amusing herself doing who knows what.
  • Broken Pedestal: Averted. Fontana turns on Arcadius not for this trope, but because the Prototypes who took up the name disgraced everything his idol stood for.
  • Captain's Log: Several scenes begin with Kayto dictating an entry for his log, usually to show that some time has passed since the previous scene and to bring the player up to speed on what's happened since then. He even prefaces them with the words "Captain's log", in a Shout-Out to Star Trek.
  • 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.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Each of the women aboard the Sunrider have unique hair colours (at least unique from any other girl on board, Sola shares a hair colour with Kayto) even Guest-Star Party Member Cosette, the only blonde. The ryders also all have unique colour schemes (many matching their pilot's hair colour).
    • Most factions also have a colour scheme they stick to; light red and white for Cera, dark red for PACT, green and white for the Alliance, blue for the Mining Union and, oddly enough, even the pirates despite not being a single faction all (except for Cosette's Havoc) show up in dark green. The exceptions are the automated Ryuvian vessels that can be silver, white or red depending on which unit type they are.
  • Commie Land: PACT has a very communist philosophy, though they are becoming increasingly as imperialistic as those they rebelled against.
  • 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, including Cossette.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Kayto holds this opinion of the plan Ava comes up with to finally take down the Legion.
    Kayto: So in other words, the only way to kill that thing is to fly right in front of its primary weapon and shove a Vanguard down its maw, huh. Absolutely insane. I approve of this plan.
  • 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.
  • Cute Is Evil: The Prototypes, when unmasked, are surprisingly adorable for a Hive Mind race that has sinister plans for humanity. Also Claude.
  • Dating Sim: Not the main game but the Sunrider Academy spin off.
  • Darkest Hour: By the end of Liberation Day, Admiral Grey is dead, Chigara is (physically) dead, the Sunrider has been destroyed, any hope of peace between the Alliance and PACT has been torn to shreds, the party is scattered across the galaxy and forced to go to ground, Chigara's spirit may or may not be going insane as she battles Alice for control of the Prototypes' mind stream, and to top it all off a time-displaced Ryuvian fleet has suddenly appeared in the Mnemosyne Abyss, ready to take over the galaxy and rebuild the Holy Ryuvian Empire. The whole goal of [RE]turn is averting this via Time Travel.
  • Dark Horse Victory: In Sunrider Academy any or all of the three "trouble clubs" can go from being on the edge of being disbanded to galactic champions within a year.
  • David vs. Goliath: If the player makes the right choices, the Sunrider can bring down the much larger Legion by firing the Vanguard Cannon straight down the barrel of the Legion's own Wave-Motion Gun at point-blank range.
  • Death of a Child: When Alliance marines rescue Kayto and Kryska from Cosette's forces on Ongess, a little girl that they met earlier named Kyoko picks up a knife to defend herself and is promptly gunned down by the marines.
  • Decadent Court: Sola describes the Ryuvian Empire of her time as this, with courtly intrigues more frightening to her than any battlefield where accidentally saying the wrong thing or snubbing the wrong person could get you marked for death.
    Sola: The Ryuvian court of my era was… a snake pit. Betrayals. Assassinations. Machinations. They were a part of the palace culture.
  • Decapitated Army: How Kayto defeats a PACT invasion force that outnumbers him six to one.
  • 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.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Standing your ground in a mission designed to overwhelm you with waves of enemies and force you to flee is extremely likely to bury your ryders under a swarm of Demonic Spiders, but if you manage to win, you'll have more money than you know what to do with. There are also optional missions where you can take on extremely powerful Ryuvian Lost Technology opponents. You can acquire the Wishall if you win.
  • Dirty Communists: Although their economic policies aren't much elaborated on, PACT seem to fit the bill pretty well. They started out as a popular revolution against the decadent and oppressive leadership of the New Empire. They're one of the galaxy's two big superpowers, in opposition to the more democratic Solar Alliance. Their ships and mechs are painted red, their officers and leaders wear red uniforms, and characters from outside the PACT even refer to them as Reds. To drive the point home, their leader Veniczar Arcadius rallies his troops with a speech denouncing capitalism and imperialists at one point before a major battle.
  • Doomed Home Town: The capital of Cera, the protagonist's home planet, gets nuked immediately following the first battle.
  • Doomsday Device:
    • Project 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.
  • The Dreaded:
    • The PACT flagship Legion is a three-kilometre long dreadnought that dwarfs every other ship in the setting, has enough firepower to take on entire fleets singlehandedly, and is so heavily armoured and shielded as to be almost invincible. When it first appears during the Battle of Cera, the Ceran admiralty knows right away that they're outmatched and urges the civilian government to issue an immediate surrender, not that it does them any good.
    • The Nightmare Ascendant, an ancient Ryuvian Ryder. Sola reacts with fear at its unexpected arrival during the Battle of Cera, and for good reason as it promptly devastates an Alliance fleet and No Sells a direct hit from the Vanguard Cannon. She mentions that in her time it was powerful enough to destroy a thousand strong Ryuvian fleet singlehandedly, and Arcadius/Alice gleefully talks it up as being much more powerful than even the Paradox Core.
  • The Empire: Has two historical empires in its backstory.
    • The Holy Ryuvian Empire was a theocratic stated ruled by a succession of God Emperors, and it controlled the entire galaxy for tens of thousands of years before it went into a sharp decline. By the present day it has become a Vestigial Empire consisting of a single backwater planet.
    • The New Empire was founded in the wake of the Ryuvian Empire's collapse, and its rulers saw themselves as successors to the Ryuvian God-Emperors. It was an oppressive place where the elite lived in luxury on the paradise planet of Eden Prime, while the rest of their citizens toiled in poverty. They tried to conquer the entire galaxy and were the dominant superpower for several hundred years, until the fledgling Solar Alliance defeated them in the Alliance-Imperial War and stopped their conquest cold in its tracks. Over the next century a revolution would sweep through its territories, causing the New Empire to collapse.
    • The People's Alliance for Common Treatment, or PACT, which is what the New Empire was reorganized into several years before the start of the game. They are the actual antagonists for the main story, and a commie version of this; several characters even refer to them as an empire.
  • Elite Mooks: The PACT Elite.
  • Enemy Civil War: PACT splits into two factions after Fontana exposes Arcadius' true nature and shoots her in the face at the end of Mask of Arcadius. One stays loyal to Arcadius, the other sides with Fontana.
  • Enemy Mine: Fontana's faction of PACT allies itself with Kayto and the Alliance in order to bring down Arcadius and the Prototypes once and for all.
  • Energy Weapon: Most of the mecha and ships seem to have some form of laser-based attack. Also see Shout-Out.
  • 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.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Cossette refuses to take part in human trafficking considering how she was used as a slave herself. She limits her piracy activities to aim against the wealthy, merchants and military ships.
    • Fontana is shaken over Grey's threat to nuke an impoverished planet of 40 billion people. He points this out as a good reason why PACT are more of good guys than the Alliance thinks.
      • Moreover, he has great concern over Arcadius when he become more and more unstable. He is also disheartened over PACT's willingness to slaughter civilians and inherited decadence by recruiting former Imperial Officers.
  • Experienced Protagonist: Kayto Shields is a trained Captain by the beginning of the story.
  • Explosive Instrumentation: Depending on the player's choices, Ava can be severely injured by an exploding console toward the end of Mask of Arcadius.
  • 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.
  • Final Exchange: After Fontana exposes the Prototypes controlling humanity from the shadows, the People's Alliance.
    Arcadius/Prototype: You Are Too Late...We already own everything.
    Fontana: No. (fires point blank in the head) You do not own PACT.
  • Final Speech: Kayto gives a lengthy one as he prepares to ram the Sunrider into the Machievelli Actual. Subverted, as he ends up surviving.
    Kayto: All hands, this is Captain Kayto Shields of the assault carrier Sunrider. Last surviving vessel of the Cera Space Force. We travelled the stars, finding allies across the galaxy, with the hope of liberating our home world. It was a long journey, filled with adventure. At times, we felt sorrow. At times, we celebrated our triumphs. Throughout, we were hopelessly outnumbered. Our mission was nothing but a long shot, a gamble against impossible odds. Finally, we are here, at our home's doorsteps. Let it be remembered. On this day, we did not abandon Cera to fend for herself! [Kayto begins crying] On this day, the Sunrider stood her ground! We did not run, but protected all those we hold dear until we fell into the black night! We did not falter in our defense of our family! Today, we perished to save our home! [an apparition of his dead sister Maray appears before him] THE SUNRIDER… AS HER FINAL ACT… WILL SAVE EVERYONE!!!! MARAY…!!!! I'M COMING HOME…!!!!
  • Freeware Game: The first game in the series, Mask of Arcadius, can be downloaded for free. Sunrider Academy and Sunrider Liberation Day are not free and must be bought.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: PACT may have started out as a populist revolution against the oppressive New Empire, but by the start of the game they've become just as bad as the government they overthrew. If nothing else the Empire was content to sit within its own borders, while PACT is aggressively expanding into the Neutral Rim and forcing planets to join by nuking their cities from orbit.
  • Fun with Acronyms: PACT - People's Alliance for Common Treatment.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The Legion's main gun is depicted as being able to destroy great chunks of its enemies' fleets with each blast, with only the most skilled pilots being able to avoid it. In the actual battle against the ship the blast is that powerful if it hits your units but its planned route is clearly marked the turn before it fires and simply moving one hex out of the way removes a unit from danger. Really it's more of an annoyance.
  • Generican Empire: The Solar Alliance, the People's Alliance for Common Treatment (PACT), and the defunct New Empire.
  • 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. Unfortunately, this winds up aiding the Prototypes' plan.
  • 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.
    • In Sunrider Academy getting onto a girl's route requires maxing out her affection for you and triggering certain events by going to certain places at certain times. The former is explained well enough in the tutorial and quite intiutive in its mechanics, the latter is not.
  • Harder Than Hard: Space Whale difficulty, which the creators freely admit within the game itself they haven't even really play-tested and aren't even sure if it is even possible to beat
  • Hard Light: The ancient Ryuvians possessed such tech. When encountered as a boss, the Seraphim creates two (actually three) holograms of itself which all prove to be just as solid and deadly as the real thing. Arcadius also possesses such tech, as his holographic projection was able to shoot and kill the King of Ryuvia.
  • Haunted Technology: Hinted at in [RE]turn. Alice implies that the consciousness of the Sharr that once flew the Nightmare Ascendant is somehow contained within it, possibly explaining why she is able to Awaken like Sola and Asaga despite lacking Ryuvvian royal blood but then seemingly cannot Awaken during the battle in the Sunrider reactor bay, outside of the ancient ryder.
  • <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.
  • High School A.U.: The Sunrider Academy spin off is this.
  • Hollywood Hacking: The Bianca, Liberty, and PACT Support units can disable defensive systems and even completely shut down enemy ships, making them easy pickings for their allies.
  • 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.
  • Idealist vs. Pragmatist:
    • The commander Shields can go either route depending on the choices he makes. One example is whether to rescue diplomats from PACT ships or allow them to be killed to further provoke the Solar Alliance. The former becomes more rewarding in this case as the Liberation Day expansion gives a bonus mission to escort hundreds of children who were brought with the diplomats back to their home planet for extra cash.
    • The crew for the Sunrider is also very divided. Asaga, Chigara, and Kryska are on the Idealist side. Asaga favors what is right with her sense of justice. Chigara is reluctant to kill, keeping Asaga's Blood Knight tendencies in check, and prefers using technology to help people. Kryska sees the Solar Alliance as a fair and just nation that wishes to liberate the Neutral Rim of PACT and pirate attacks. She even helps the Sunrider stop the Alliance military from destroying Cera and turns herself in to expose their abuses, believing the Alliance people would see no justification for such acts. Ava, Icari, and Sola are on the Pragmatist side. While Ava can comply with Kayto's Idealist choices, she does everything by the book and doesn't mind sharing how the pragmatic side of things work. Icari is a mercenary who has a complete distrust of authority and doesn't mind getting her hands dirty. Sola is a Shell-Shocked Veteran who shoots first and asks questions later on the battlefield. Claude has no preference for either side. However, she ends up on the Pragmatist side as she's trying to prevent a universe-breaking paradox from occurring.
    • Veniczar A. Fontana of PACT is the Idealist who treats political prisoners with the utmost respect, does not sacrifice lives pointlessly, and is concerned about PACT's state of affairs, let alone wishing to reform it after he overthrows the Prototypes. Admiral Grey is a Pragmatist who is willing to cover up war crimes to uphold the military's reputation and threaten to destroy a planet to stop PACT from winning a battle. It is fitting that his command fleet is titled Machiavelli Actual. On the other hand, a peace conference between the two could place them on either side. Gray wishes for the Solar Alliance to have complete control over the Neutral Rim's reconstruction efforts to prevent a humanitarian disaster. Fontana wants to keep the Alliance out, even if such a disaster occurs, to keep the Neutral Rim completely independent and prevent either nation from gaining too much power.
  • 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.
  • Immediate Sequel: Liberation Day picks up right after the end of Mask of Arcadius, with Fontana having just unmasked Arcadius as one of the Prototypes and Chigara freaking out upon realizing that the Prototypes look just like her.
  • 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!
  • The Internet Is for Porn:
    Claude(When debuffing an enemy):"Oh! I accidentally downloaded his entire porn collection!..."Space Whales"?"
  • The Juggernaut:
    • The Legion is a three-kilometre long dreadnought with enough firepower to destroy a planet's entire space fleet in one salvo, without using its Wave-Motion Gun. When fought as a boss it has maxed-out shields, maxed-out flak, extremely thick armor, and almost twice as many hit points as its entire escort fleet combined. Even the Sunrider's Vanguard Cannon will barely scratch it, and it takes Alliance battleships armed with powerful railguns to do any real damage to the Legion.
    • The Nightmare Ascendant is an ancient Ryuvian Ryder with just as much firepower as the Legion and even more health. Its first act is to devastate an Alliance fleet with a swarm of Attack Drones, and it No Sells a direct hit from the Vanguard Cannon. It ultimately takes the combined firepower of several Alliance and PACT fleets, plus another shot from the Vanguard Cannon, to bring the Nightmare Ascendant down.
  • 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.
  • Latex Space Suit: The ryder pilots wear "plug suits" which are...snug.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Liberation Day's opening cinematic gives away the fact that Asaga Oakrun's real name is Asaga di Ryuvia, and the fact that Chigara looks a lot like those two women standing in a sinister cloning facility. For that matter, the game's official website also spoils the fact that Asaga is a princess and that Veniczar Arcadius is a persona shared by hive-minded clones called the Prototypes.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Tons of it, especially in Academy.
  • Lighter and Softer: While the story does have its lighthearted moments and silly harem antics, at its core Sunrider is about a galactic war between two interstellar superpowers, and Kayto has to make hard decisions about whether to be moral or pragmatic in the course of liberating his home planet from PACT. Academy, meanwhile, is a Highschool AU Dating Sim where Kayto's two biggest concerns are keeping three of the school's clubs from being disbanded, and getting himself a girlfriend before the end of the year. Until Cerebus Syndrome kicks in each girl's route, especially Sola's.
    • The trope certainly holds true for the setting at large though, since with various factors being different in that universe the devastating conflict that the main series centres around simply doesn't happen.
  • 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 at least 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.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Veniczar Arcadius is a former revolutionary turned Galactic Conqueror. He is never seen without an expressionless metal elf mask, and given his penchant for nuking cities from orbit, massacring civilians, reneging on deals that would guarantee planets a measure of autonomy within his empire, and cackling maniacally while doing so, it's safe to say he's malevolent. Apart from intimidation, the mask's purpose is threefold: to hide the fact that he is not the original Arcadius but a successor; to hide the fact "he" is really a woman; and to hide the fact that the current Arcadius is not an individual but rather a collective of genetically-enhanced clones with a Hive Mind… all of whom just so happen to look like your ship's Chief Engineer, to her shock and horror.
  • Man Behind the Man: Starts out as a pretty straightforward war story, with PACT as the main antagonists and their megalomaniacal dictator Veniczar Arcadius as the Big Bad. Then it's revealed that Arcadius is just a persona adopted by the Prototypes, a collective of telepathic clones who are pulling PACT's strings and claim to be doing so for the Solar Alliance as well. The Prototypes in turn are subservient to their Hive Queen Alpha.
  • Mega-Corp: The Mining Union, which controls Tydaria. Sophita says they and the government are practically the same entity.
  • Mooks: The PACT Mook, obviously. The Pirate Grunt also qualifies.
  • 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.
  • Master of None: Unfortunately, the Sunrider has space only for 12 Ryders. The dialogue states that the standard PACT carrier can launch a hundred of them.
  • 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.
  • Morton's Fork: At one point the Sunrider comes out of warp to find itself surrounded by a PACT fleet led by Veniczar Cullen, who demands that Kayto hand over the Crown Jewel of Ryuvia. If Kayto refuses, Cullen's fleet will open fire. If Kayto agrees in order to protect his crew, Cullen still opens fire once he has the jewel. The only reason the Sunrider isn't destroyed then and there is because Asaga admits that she's the Princess of Ryuvia and gives herself up to Cullen.
  • Multiple Endings: [RE]turn has eighteen: seven bad endings, one "worst" ending, three normal endings, two "alternative" endings, four happy endings and one secret ending. The happy endings are effectively interchangeable, as they play out the same way and the only difference between them is which Love Interest Kayto ends up with.
    • Sunrider Academy has four good endings (one for eachLoveInterest) and a number of bad ends from failing to complete objectives.
  • The Multiverse: Sunrider Academy might seem like just a spin off project using some of the same characters but several things in the story especially Sola's route show it is an Alternate Universe with some level of connection to the universe of the main series.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Nightmares, especially the Nightmare Ascendant.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • Especially later in the game. Their spin-off game even opens with some jokes about it.
    • Liberation Day does not pull punches on difficulty, either. The game will punish bad decisions at the default difficulty.
  • 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.
  • No-Sell: The (more or less) final boss of Liberation Day the Nightmare Ascendant takes a reduced effect from most debuffs but is straight up immune to Chigara's "Disable" ability.
  • 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.
  • Not the Intended Use: Three missions in Mask of Arcadius involve the Sunrider racing to bring a unit to the far side of the map before being overrun by increasingly deadly waves of enemies. With aggressive tactics and more than a little luck, it's possible to complete those levels by destroying every enemy. Should you manage to survive, the funds earned from the battle will make the rest of the game significantly easier.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: In Mask Of Arcadius, the money earned after a battle is the sum of the value of all destroyed enemies minus a fraction of the damage remaining on your units, a repair fee. It's possible to end each level without paying a cent in repairs by destroying all the enemies but one, then repairing everyone with Chigara's ability before ending the level. In the sequel, the repair fee counts all damage taken, not just remaining damage, and repairing units before the end of the battle no longer reduces it.
  • Older Than They Look: 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.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Energy is generally the most important thing to level up on the Sunrider or any of its ryders, due to the fact that it allows the unit to take more actions in a single turn.
  • One-Word Title: Named after your ship.
  • On the Rebound: Kayto and Ava both speculate that his relationship with Chigara and its disastrous consequences came about because she turned him down when he wanted to rekindle their former affections. They don't come to a definite conclusion on the topic though taking Ava's route in [RE]turn pretty much confirms it.
  • Operation: [Blank]: Operation Wedding Crash.
  • Overnight Conquest: The PACT invasion of Cera along with other worlds in the Neutral Rim.
  • Peace Conference: Liberation Day sees Kayto sitting in on a session of peace talks between the Alliance and a moderate faction of PACT. While both sides sincerely want peace, neither side is willing to budge on their respective demands and so the talks don't go anywhere. Much later on, the titular Liberation Day ceremony is meant to serve as one of these. It fails horribly, leading into the Darkest Hour described above.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The People's Alliance for Common Treatment, or PACT, has shades of this. Its leader Veniczar Arcadius is a former anti-Imperial revolutionary turned megalomaniacal galaxy-conquering dictator with a cult of personality, and PACT itself is heavily implied to be a communist state with several parallels to Soviet Russia, 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 can be used to invoke this trope, and player upgrades can tip the balance in either direction.
  • Portmantitle: A fusion of "Sun" and "Rider".
  • Privateer: The explanation for earning cash by destroying enemy vessels. Just about everyone is an enemy of PACT, and Ava has a folder of letters of marque and bounties against PACT vessels, while Asaga has an anti-pirate contract with the Miners' Union, which provide the Sunrider with funding to continue operating despite the Cera Navy being defunct.
  • Railroading:
    • A common criticism of Liberation Day is that the story quickly went this way, stripping out player choices in favor of predetermined events. Somewhat infamously, this took the form of forcing a romantic relationship with Chigara and Asaga's resulting violent jealous breakdown, regardless of decisions made in previous games. A later patch extended the ending slightly to mitigate some of these criticisms, though without fully altering any existing content.
    • Hilariously lampshaded by Kayto in [RE]turn while trying to distract Claude's past self:
      "Where's my input, doc?! Lately I feel like I'm being railroaded down a certain path without any say in what I want! It's like all my choices have just up and vanished! Before this… I used to be a free man. I used to be able to make command decisions! I used to be able to rip up rulebooks! But right now… I just feel like I've been chained to the doghouse."
  • Ramming Always Works: With the Sunrider having just taken a crippling hit that knocked out all its weapons and the Alliance flagship Machiavelli Actual poised to obliterate his home planet Cera with a weapon of mass destruction, Kayto Shields gives his crew the order to abandon ship and rams the Sunrider into the Machiavelli. He lives, but both ships are destroyed.
  • Real Robot Genre: Silly harem shenanigans aside, the story centers around military space-fleet actions as two galactic powers squabble over strategic and resource nodes on the frontier, with mechs largely being used in place of space-fighters during larger engagements between capital ships. Furthermore, while the player's Ace Custom mecha are generally superior to the enemy's mass-produced models, it's still advisable to have juggled your resources well by the mid-game, or being overwhelmed by superior numbers will wreck all of them.
  • The Remnant: The Sunrider is a heroic example. After Cera's conquest by PACT, the Sunrider and other surviving ships were left without central command but with a grudge against PACT. Whether Kayto identifies the Sunrider primarily as this, or as a ship of Space Pirates and mercenaries, is up to him.
  • 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.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Liberation Day has an achievement literally called this for reaching the end of the game without using the Wishall.
  • 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.
  • Royal "We": Veniczar Arcadius talks this way foreshadowing their Hive Mind nature.
  • Samus Is a Girl: A villainous example with Veniczar Arcadius/Alice. Most of the galaxy assumes her to be male, between her androgynous figure, masculine clothing, and wearing a face-concealing mask that also alters her voice. It isn't until the very end of Mask Of Arcadius that she's unmasked as a woman, though her gender ends up being the least surprising aspect of that revelation. As for why she does this, Liberation Day reveals that the original Arcadius was a man, and the current Arcadius has been impersonating him ever since his death.
  • 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.
  • Sequel Hook: Tons in Liberation Day:
    • Alice and Chigara are still battling within the midstream, while Alpha fears it slowly being corrupted.
    • Claude is revealed to a time-travelling goddess. Her failed efforts to unite humanity through the Prototypes causes her to defect.
    • Fontana reinstates Veniscar A. Kuuschana as Fleet Admiral, either controlling the Legion or Assault Carriers to prepare against the Alliance invasion.
    • The Ebon Fleet, lead by Sola's uncle Crow, appears in the uncharted regions of space. He then declares war against the galaxy to rebuild the old empire.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Liberation Days [RE]turn mode revolves around this, with Claude sending Kayto three days into the past so he can try to prevent the Liberation Day massacre.
  • 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:
    • These lines of dialogue.
  • 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.
      Arcadius/Prototype:"What can you do? We already own everything!"
      Fontana shoots
      Fontana:"You do not own PACT."
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: Though she's not talking to the villain in Liberation Day, Claude catches a kill shot to her ryder while protecting Chigara from Asaga. Due to being a Physical God, she gets better, though.
  • Sink the Lifeboats: An example where the hero can do this. In an early mission, you take down a band of pirates engaged in selling kidnapped girls into slavery. After defeating them, you can either bind their survivors over for trial on a planet with an underfunded justice system, or you can jam their distress beacon and leave them to die.
  • 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.
  • 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 - is the only survivor of Ryuvian Civil War's final battle.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Naval terminology rules the day, with destroyed enemy craft even being refered to as being "sunk."
  • Space Opera: The plot involves the crew of a single ship getting embroiled in a galactic war between two interstellar superpowers as they try to liberate their home planet from a Galactic Conqueror. The only thing missing is the presence of aliens.
  • Space Pirates: Cosette and her gang.
  • Space Whale: Space Whales, which are never actually encountered in-game but are mentioned several times. Sunrider Academy has Kayto and Chigara walk into a holographic exhibit on the creatures during her route, where they learn more than they ever wanted to know about space whale mating habits.
  • Standard Scifi Fleet: The Solar Alliance and Pact have frigates, destroyers, cruisers, carriers, and extremely rare (and gigantic) super-dreadnoughts. Traditional space fighters are replaced by Humongous Mecha called Ryders which fulfill many of the same roles. The Sunrider itself is The Battlestar, and was a unique kind of ship at time of its creation, but by the end of Mask of Arcadius the PACT has begun mass-producing their own version of assault carriers. Liberation Day adds gunboats and fast cruisers to the mix.
  • 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: Was an encouraged strategy. Enemy units that yield in this situation used to grant more money than destroyed, until a later patch made them yield half of the regular amount instead.
  • Succession Crisis: One of these took place in the backstory. When the Ryuvian Infinite Emperor and his eldest son were assassinated, his two remaining sons—Sola's father and Crow Harbor, either of whom could have been behind the assassinations—went to war over the throne. Since that war happened two thousand years ago and the Ryuvian Empire has long since crumbled, nobody remembers who won.
  • Their First Time: Before Ava leaves for the military, she invites Kayto over to her apartment where they spend the night together.
  • The Stinger: The Ebon Fleet, the armada of the Holy Ryuvian Empire, appears in the present time from five thousand years into the future. Officers report that their time device malfunctioned and are unable to return to their timeline. The leader, Crow Harbor, then declares he'll rebuild the Holy Ryuvian Empire.
  • Trust Me, I'm a Doctor: Claude when she asks captain to take off his underwear during a "medical exam".
    Claude:"Now, now captain... Don't be shy. I'm just a trained professional doing her job."
  • Unstable Equilibrium: After every mission, the Sunrider earns funds equal to the value of the enemies destroyed minus a repair fee of the damage taken by friendly units. The less well you do, the less money you earn, and the less money you have to upgrade your units, making your odds worse going forward.
  • 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.
  • Villain Has a Point: Fontana points out that the Alliance is no better than past Empires and PACT as they are willing to use underhanded and morally questionable methods to get what they want. Examples are how the Alliance broke their treaty with Ryuvia over handing Far Port back for the sake of establishing a strategic point and taking advantage of Fontana's virtues by threatening to blow up a planet.
  • Wave-Motion Gun
    • The Sunrider's Vanguard Cannon, a spinal mount anti-capital weapon that can be fired only using special orders tab. Uniquely, it's the only weapon under Kayto's direct control - the Sunrider itself is under Ava's command.
    • Veniczar Arcadius' flagship, the Legion, comes equipped with an even bigger one.
  • Wedding Smashers: After Veniczar Cullen kidnaps Asaga and takes her off to Ryuvia Prime to be married to Arcadius, the Sunrider's crew launches Operation Wedding Crash—in which they use the Sunrider's modified warp engine to bypass the PACT fleet surrounding Ryuvia and come out of warp right above the space station where the wedding takes place—to get her back. They also try to assassinate Arcadius for good measure, but that part doesn't go so well.
  • We Have Reserves: PACT will just keep throwing more and more ships and ryders at the Sunrider no matter how many she and her ryders destroy. This is likely in part because "Arcadius" does care how many humans die.
  • 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.
  • Wham Episode:
  • Wham Line: From the end of the novelization, when Arcadius is unmasked:
    Kayto gaped as he stared into the face of a woman… with mauve hair and blue eyes. For a moment he wondered if he'd gone mad, if the insanity of the battle that raged around him had finally smashed his traumatized psyche to pieces, but the utter looks of shock on every other face in the CIC argued otherwise. Wordlessly, Kayto stared into a face he'd seen almost every day, one in which every ounce of kindness and warmth that ordinarily graced it had been replaced with twisted fury, arrogance, and madness. Chigara's face.
  • World of Technicolor Hair: Some of the characters have relatively normal hair colours but the rest are more exotic. Kayto Shields and his sister Maray both have naturally white hair, as does Sola. Chigara has periwinkle blue hair, as does Veniczar Arcadius. Kryska has indigo blue hair. Veniczar Fontana has dark purple hair. And Claude has bubble gum pink hair. Nobody comments on any of these hair colours.
  • Zerg Rush: PACT kicks off the Second Battle of Cera by throwing hundreds of thousands of ryders at the Alliance fleet in order to take out the shield cruisers protecting said fleet from PACT's long-range lasers.