Argent Games gave me a review key for their debut title, Requiescence, back in August, but I’ve been so busy this semester managing an RSO and writing 50+ pages of essays that I haven’t been able to update in a while. The least I can do is get this out by Christmas and catch any last-minute yaoi shoppers, so without further ado, let’s review this game!
Requiescence is a boys’ love visual novel about four handsome adventurers exploring an ancient magical site — known simply as the Cathedral. Since the death of its last monarch three hundred years ago, their kingdom, Rephidim, has fallen into chaos, beset by an ever-growing darkness which turns green fields to deserts and honest men into thieves. The player character is an ice mage called Kymil, freshly
legal 19 years old, drawn to the Cathedral after the mysterious death of his uncle Gideon, who wrote about the place in his travels.
What began in fall of 2015 as a one-man side project of IU game design student Dovah evolved into a crowdfunded, fully commercial effort by December of the same year, led by the newly formed development team Argent Games. After meeting a modest funding goal, Argent Games, comprising writer Dovah and manager/editor Gamma K, contracted a number of creatives to aid in visual and audio design, and released their first complete game in August 2016.
Argent Games lists the game’s playtime as about 10-15 hours. I’m not sure if Requiescence quite hits that mark, but then again, not everyone is as talented as me in reading their native language real fast-like (don’t hate me cuz u ain’t me). The first playthrough is certainly the longest, because of the extensive introductory sequence which serves to establish the game’s tone and setting. Requiescence takes place entirely in the dark, endless maze of the Cathedral, but since the magic used to build the place is weakening, the gloomy indoor spaces and dusty libraries are interspersed with lava fields and illusory forest scenery. The fact the setting was endless and yet magically bound, dark, mysterious, and fire-warmed made it kind of cozy to me, though I guess that’s not a typical reaction to a labyrinthine stone deathtrap.
The background images appear to be, to my untrained eye, artistically filtered creative commons photos, but it works since the portraits aren’t overly bright and cartoonish.
Requiescence is partially voiced, with some lines read aloud and a lot of incidentals, to the point where skip mode is accompanied by a hilarious chorus of rapid-fire hmmphs and hurrahs. There are some leveling issues which require frequent readjustment of volume, and one doesn’t get the impression the actors have quite mastered that lower, masculine register for the characters who need it, but it’s not for want of acting ability or enthusiasm.
The soundtrack has about fourteen songs. While the actual compositions are fairly generic in the way of high fantasy fare, the instrument quality is surprisingly nice for a game that brought in just under $2000 on Kickstarter. The prerequisite mystical choirs and cinematic toms sound great.
Of course, the most important part of a bro-tome game isn’t the caliber of its art assets — it’s the attractiveness of the boys you get to flirt with!
Depending on whom he chooses to explore the branching passageways with, Kymil can bond with one of three magical hunks. Someone should pay me to write DVD blurbs.
First, there’s Damian, the swashbuckling and swanky duelist and former knight from Sidon. Damian is quick to get in squabbles and call everyone he dislikes a bastard (or in special cases a “psychopath of a bastard”), but he’s a capable fighter and loyal to his friends, and you can buy him on a mug. He’s the fellow with the straight, long, well-kempt and starlight-blonde hair, of which there is always one in games with pretty boys.
Next is Carrault, a caustic adventurer leading his merry band of thieves on a quest for treasure. Carrault was an outsider growing up in Nahor, and doesn’t get along well with others, but don’t let his resentment and bloodlust for mages make you think he doesn’t have a soft side. He also comes with his own collar and leash, pre-installed, for some reason which is never explained but no less intriguing for it.
Finally, Kaul is the mature scholar whose experience with high-level magic helps the crew navigate the dangers of the Cathedral. Though he is blind, Kaul’s mastery of fire allows him to locate objects by the heat they generate, which means he can always keep a figurative eye on Kymil’s choice ass.
Kaul and Damian are pretty similar in aesthetic and personality, so the choices don’t exactly run the gamut of Boys’ Love archetypes. Of course, since Requiescence isn’t a dating game phone app where your preferred love interest is a permanent decision as well as a financial investment, there are no wrong choices here and you can of course try them all.
In addition to the main love interests, there are a variety of side characters joining our hero on his quest, including three antagonists — Jucal, Monk, and Absalom — whom you can score a romance(?!) with by making bad choices in the respective good guy routes, like giving up friendship for ultimate power. We’ve all done it at least once. These three serve to keep up the sexual tension, as quasi-magical entities are able to smell a potential bottom from up to five miles away, and waste no time indicating their desire to fondle him and/or turn him into a sex slave. Requiescence is apparently Nitro+CHiRAL inspired, an influence which manifests as several ambiguously rapey bad-end epilogues, which move along the track of, “I think we’re in love, but also I don’t remember what free will is.”
Requiescence reads more like a fantasy novel than a choice-driven game, and dedicates more time to characterization, description, and world-building than to branching paths and story “customization.” Despite the fact we get only a quick glimpse into the lives of Kymil et al., I grew decently attached to them, though even more so to the handful of named characters in Carrault’s troop, like his childhood best friend Seere.
The game comes in two flavors, R-18 and PG-13, depending on whether you want the characters to engage in explicit, illustrated gay sex or (heavens!) chaste kissing. I played the former… obviously… and would recommend it over the non-sex version, which for the most part omits explicit scenes and CGs, rather than censoring them and keeping the total amount of content the same. Plus I’m not wasting the efforts of a CG artist who obviously worked hard to draw Kymil’s penis.
Speaking of Kymil’s penis, for whatever reason, his voice actor is the only one who participates in the sex scenes. He does a fine job, but it’s unusual to see two characters in the CG going at it with only one of them making any sound, as though secretly we are meant to believe Kymil is merely imagining these encounters. Is there something you’re not telling us, Kymil?
You can get Requiescence on Steam for $9.99 or Itch.io for $10 if charm pricing scares you. Paying for the game on either platform will get you a download key for both, but the R-18 version is not available on Steam, because while they can handle gratuitous violence, sexuality in a game will ruin America’s children.
The team is planning to release Steam cards and achievements if they can reach 80 and 150 total ratings and reviews of the game on Itch.io and Steam, so if you get Requiescence, be sure to leave your thoughts on one of those sites. If you want to get a better feel for the game before possibly spending the money you painstakingly saved for pizza, try the Requiescence demo.