Back in December of 2014, Sekai Project brought fault milestone one to Steam. Unlike some of fancier visual novels on platform, this was effectively an indie title, coming from doujin circle ALICE IN DISSONANCE. As with many indie games that surpass expectations, players quickly found themselves drawn into the fantasy setting and wanted more. While the wait since then has been long and the updates have been far too sparse, it’s (partially) over as fault milestone two side:above is now available. This is the first half of the second chapter, with fault milestone two side:below still in the works with no set release date just yet. As such, it’s fair to say that this chapter is much more of a sample than full meal, which may annoy some.
Firstly, it requires mentioning that fault milestone two side:above is a direct sequel to fault milestone one and picks up right as the game concludes. That means you should absolutely expect spoilers from the first game to be present here and should read through that title first before proceeding onward. It’s possible to jump in fresh with the side:above due to the fact that it rehashes key points in case players forget — but it’s not recommended. Bearing that all in mind, this review will also contain spoilers for the first game as they are important to set the scene for what’s to come with the latest release. With that in mind, let’s get straight to the point and chat about how side:above stacks up to the first episode.
fault milestone one ended on an unusual note. After all the drama involved with the surprise attack on Selphine and Ritona’s homeland, they were effectively transported away from their problems into a “new” world. That journey wasn’t without its trouble as players will recall a huge storyline that unraveled during the course of their Kadia journey. By the end, everything worked itself out and the duo now had a newfound friend in Rune. As they left to continue their adventure to return home, it seemed everything was looking up. That is, until they are unceremoniously stopped by a strange woman named Melano which is right where fault milestone two side:above picks up.
Right at the start, we’re given a taste for what will become a huge issue for Selphine, Ritona, and Rune. It seems that, given the proper circumstances, Selphine actually loses control of herself. At this point she inherits the personality of her elders via something known as Emperor Syndrome. Sure, she has a long line of royalty to call upon, but the one which comes to inhabit her body this time is none other than “Rhegan the Bloodthirsty.” As the name implies, this is not the kind of personality the group wants dominating one of their members. Once things cool down, it seems that there is finally room for everyone to catch their breath. They have found a location in the Second-Pole which is rich in mana and therefore no longer must fear the effects of mana drain. With that huge barrier out of the way, it’s all smooth sailing from here… Not.
As with Selphine and Rintona’s jaunt through Kadia, this newest locale brings with it a plot diversion of its own. Only this time, it’s less overtly dramatic (no murders have taken place). With that said, the tale itself is still compelling enough to gain a bit of investment with the new characters. I say a bit because fault milestone two side:above is criminally short, meaning you just don’t get to spend nearly enough time learning about them. It took me a little under four hours to complete, and there’s no doubt that speedier readers could make their way through even sooner. The main dramatic tension feels almost muted as it’s on the cusp of something before the main crew takes their leave once again. There’s certainly a resolution, but it feels truncated. Given there are absolutely no choices to make in this visual novel, you also won’t find much reason to replay it after completion.
fault milestone two side:above still managed to inherit some of the best portions of its predecessor. The artwork is great as before, and gets amped up with even more CG scenes. There’s just something about the art which puts it slightly above the more standardized anime art of contemporaries. It’s worth noting that a series of CGs near the end appear very rough. I couldn’t tell if this was a purposeful design decision, meaning that if it was it may not have been the best move on ALICE ON DISSONANCE’s part.
Aside from that, the visuals are as gorgeous as ever and service the storyline well. The music is another high note, with a soundtrack full of standouts that effectively emphasize the storyline’s tone. It’s a shame that there was not even more music utilized during various scenes, as some simply utilize ambient sounds which aren’t nearly as engaging. At times, it even caused me to turn up my speakers believing somehow the music had just cut out.
When we left off with fault milestone one, it seemed the storyline could go anywhere as our group of protagonists began their long trek back to the Kingdom of Rughzenhaide. Instead of another high stakes storyline, side:above feels much more like a detour into something which won’t matter down the line. Why pad out a story like this? It gives a bit more insight into Ritona, Rune, and Selphine/Rhegan, but not enough to sustain the overarching storyline. Presumably the main plot will assert itself far more in side:below, but who knows how long we’ll have to wait for it to arrive. fault milestone two side:above teases fans with a taste of what’s to come but in the end doesn’t provide enough for long-term satisfaction.