Released on Halloween 2016 by Visual-Wordplay, Once Upon a Hallow’s Eve is a visual novel about a girl who goes away with friends on Halloween. On the way, a minor landslide knocks her out and when she wakes up, she finds her way to a mansion and meets three brothers with a secret.
Once Upon a Hallow’s Eve is a short story set on Halloween with only four characters: Cara Lee, our female protagonist that gets lost and finds her way to the mansion and the three brothers: eldest Viktor, middle Vonn and youngest Vern. While at first reluctant to take her in, they all lost track of time as she stays at the mansion while she recovers from the injuries caused by the landslide and trekking through the forest. Cara feels odd that the brothers, particularly Vonn is so against her presence. She also eventually realizes that they are hiding the fact as to why the mysterious events from the constant rainstorm outside to the voices in the house that she hears and the lack of desire to take her back to the village. They hold secrets and Cara needs to find a way through the choices available to get the answers.
For those not familiar with what visual novels entails, they are a more interactive reading experience. There are pictures and animations along with music to build the story and ambiance. Many like Once Upon a Hallow’s Eve will also let the readers guide the story by giving them choices along the way. These choices will determine which ending you wind up with. For the most dedicated and immersed experiences, it will encourage the player to go back and try to get the other endings. Our playthrough of Once Upon a Hallow’s Eve yielded a not so good ending near the beginning but the final result was the “Good Ending”. The variety of ending adds to the story, making the choices matter. In this case, the story was simple but still gave the ending reveal enough to make us go through a few options in our mind before getting the answer.
The story here may not offer anything too innovative. The characters are a little hit and miss. Cara is our main protagonist and we play as her and make decisions for her. However, she is also a rather self-centered character that doesn’t make for pleasant feelings as we read her dialogue. She’s rather full of herself commenting on her beauty and attraction, for example. There are characters with quiet personalities that really can’t shine through who they really are rather than attributing to the fact that they are shy. Other characters, such as Vonn, creates the slight obstacle and Viktor is none other than the nice guy. Perhaps, our version reaped that from our choices. We also don’t know how many endings we could end up with. This story is quick and to the point, perhaps a little too rushed that it could benefit from a little more meat.
Visual novel adventures are plentiful on all platforms. Visual Wordplay has put out quite a few of them on mobile and PC. This is our first time venturing into one of their works. While there are flaws in this visual novel and it does suffer a little from being rushed and not giving some events a little more attention, it still holds a charm. Our choices do matter and the wrong choices can have consequences. That already builds a stronger connection from the player to the story. Plus, the art is also quite appealing. There is some fun and merit here despite having a character that makes it a little hard to like at the beginning.
Once Upon a Hallow’s Eve is available for free on itch.io and Android.