Sekien no Inganock ~What a Beautiful People~

inganock cover

Not furry.

Sekien no Inganock is a 2007 game by Liar-soft, and the second in the Steampunk series. It got a full voice remake in 2011, along by Souten no Celenaria.

vndb EGS EGS(FVR)

Story

Inganock, a city isolated from the outside, a city where everything is distorted, even the sun. It all started ten years ago, at a day called as ‘Revival’. Then residents of the city slowly changed into beings that are partially human and partially animal.

To this day, only a few still look fully human on the outside. One of these is Gii, a former medical student, now an illegal doctor that walks the city and cures the poor for free. He changed too, but only in the inside and his change enabled him a mysterious ability that he uses to heal people that keep mutating further every day.

He has a few ‘friends’ if you can call them that. One of them is a black steel cat girl called Ati. Another one is an old friend from his medical school that he just met again after ten years, Salem. And the games story really begins when he encounters a little girl with pink eyes named Kia…

[from vndb]

Stop. Hero time.

Stop. Hero time.

Review

Second installment in the Steampunk series, Sekien no Inganock preserves most strong points of its predecessor: a superb atmosphere and worldbuilding, epic music, good characters, and strong writing. If anything, they’re all even better here.

Though still ostensibly steampunk, the setting sometimes feels like deviating somewhat from the “steam” part, and being much more just “punk” (in parts it even becomes cyberpunk). Still, everything comes together to make the whole atmosphere of the game excellent. The music, for example, which even when not epic really sets the mood. And now also the art; the one from Celenaria wasn’t bad by any means, but Inganock’s artist (who would return for Hikari no Valusia) it’s probably my favorite artist ever. The character and monsters designs, and the backgrounds, are all truly particular, and really help make Inganock a unique piece in the VN world. And is also considerably darker and grimmer than the one in Celenaria; though that also applies for the whole game.

Not one of the grim and dark parts

Not one of the grim and dark parts

The main characters are a likeable bunch, and all are pretty interesting. It maybe doesn’t has as strong villains as Celenaria had, but because it doesn’t have villains in the same sense, or they appear later or less. This islinked to the story, which is less straightforward; while they were mysteries (some of which never are adequately explained), the protagonists or Celenaria had a clear goal from the beginning, and were moving towards it. Here there’s nothing like that, and it’s quite a while until you can get some idea of really where the story is even going. Instead, it has a Monster of the Week formula, including quite a bit of text repeated every time (which would become standard for the series). I didn’t particularly mind that; the text is good, and some bits I reread every time.

おお、素晴らしきかな。

おお、素晴らしきかな。

And the battles are intense (again with good help from the BGM), even if it’s actually a single battle, repeated each time. Though unlike Celenaria, where the Ulmensh had to face unsurmountable odds every time, here the MC is somewhat of a cheat and there aren’t really any chances of defeat. All of which doesn’t mean that they aren’t a blast each single time.

And there’s a point where there’s a vast improvement from Celenaria, which is the one of the H scenes. Unlike Celenaria, and basically every other VN ever, here the scenes are much less about the act and more about the feelings, and are one of the few cases where there are what I would call “tasteful” H scenes.

Every steampunk game has some kind of gimmick as gameplay; in Celenaria you had the exploration minigame, and here there’s the Inner Voices segment, when you listen to the relevant for the chapter characters’ thoughts and read bits about Inganock’s story and background. You have to read them in a special order, which makes the whole thing somewhat of a game (and if you miss some you don’t unlock the vital choice for progressing later), but they give crucial information, and is an interesting way of presenting the information without having the characters do the infodumps.

The plot itself, while as mentioned less straightforward, is really interesting, and the questions and answers come at a… somewhat slow, maybe, but still steady pace. Kind of a giant puzzle, you progress discovering pieces (especially in the Inner Voices segment) until in the end you get the full picture, after which it comes the climax, which even if bittersweet it’s truly beautiful. And unlike Celenaria, here everything clicks and makes perfect sense, and no important thing ends unexplained (there are several bits that end in mystery, but they can be considered more background than real plot). The explanations may be somewhat magical and vague, but even if the “hows” are not totally clear, the “whys” are all undisclosed.

What there’s here, then, is a well crafted story in a well crafted world, with a lot of interesting characters and excellent music and art. Everything that’s good about the steampunk series it’s seen here at its best. Mostly recommended.

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