Sci-Fi Visual Novel Review: Starlight Drifter
Written by Rastafoo69, edited by Otaku Apologist
Starlight Drifter, a sci-fi visual novel developed and published by Dharker Studio. Released on July 29, 2018. Download on Nutaku for $20.00. For PC Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. No voice acting.
Starlight Drifter is the tale of a small crew exploring space and falling in love. Enjoy a wide array of characters as you make your mark on the galaxy! Make the right sequence of random choices, and you’ll unlock one of many happy endings to your own forgettable space opera. Play this game as male or female.
Following a strange signal you discover a broken starship stranded in space. Before you know it, you have yourself a small crew of promiscuous people who want to fuck without caring for ethics.
The game does not have a real overall story. Mini-events occur in bite-sized episodes to cover small plot points. Because you can complete missions in any order you want, none of them can build off each other.
The beginning of the game is always the same. You discover an abandoned ship and are nearly killed by the ship’s systems going haywire. Luckily for you, a girl named Rana saves you and lands the ship at the Pluto Station. You have a one night stand with a generic tough guy and set off to explore the galaxy.
From the “galaxy menu” you can click planets to access events. Some events advance what can vaguely be called a “main story”. Each event in the “main story” brings new passengers to your ship.
Yuki is a scarlet-haired business woman. She’s more mature than the rest of the crew. But underneath her grown-up social mask hides a cute girl who likes fun.
Dr. Ronan Dex is the busybody of the ship. He serves as the chief scientist as well as the medical officer of the ship. It’s very tough to get his attention. You’ll have to work for it and earn it.
Alicia is the chief engineer of the ship. How does one person repair an entire interstellar space ship? Who knows! Alicia is just a kick-ass Mary Sue character who always gets the job done! She is very boring to talk to!
Besides these three, there are close to 20 total characters in this game. Most of them get little screen-time.
As the game is segmented into small disconnected events, it’s hard to describe the contents. But here’s a couple examples of the kinds of events you’re in for. Note, you usually get one branching choice per event.
For example, in one event you’re exploring a star system. Suddenly you come across two pirate vessels! Do you destroy them in a pre-emptive strike, or keep flying and hope for the best?
In another event, a group of hired mercenaries harass you for information. They are hunting for one of your crew members! You get beaten senseless, when suddenly a badass female character named Aurelia defeats them all! She’s a sniper who never misses, and another character you can romance.
The story is very flawed, and comes off as pandering communist propaganda directed at egotistical feminists who can’t accept that men are better at everything. The female characters are all super strong, lacking flaws, while the male characters are written as cut-and-dry hunks with personalities made of cardboard.
Also, where are the character-specific epilogues for your partner of choice? My character fell in love, yet the ending I unlocked didn’t even mention the relationship. Something is broken here.
Starlight Drifter is a visual novel. You click the screen to advance the story and make meaningless decisions every 20 minutes. Press ‘H’ to hide the dialogue box.
You are given command of your ship after about an hour of dialogue. Click a map marker to start a mission. You can choose the order in which you complete the self-contained mini-stories.
At the start of the game you can choose your character’s sex, and the difficulty level. Neither of these decisions make any difference whatsoever. Within five minutes of free roam mode, you have more money than you can ever spend in a playthrough. The only goods you can purchase in the game ship repairs, and missiles. But you rarely take damage, or fight. What’s the point?
Speak to people on your ship. Talk to them three times to unlock the romance option.
The game presents you with choices that barely impact the plot. Most choices affect nothing. Even moral problems you face, there are no consequences for bad choices, no stakes at play.
The game’s product page advertises multiple endings affected by your choices. I only managed one. Considering how half-assed the entire game is, I doubt there’s more than one ending.
While I am disappointed with the lack of sex in the game, the CG art is admittedly gorgeous. Each female character has a unique design with lots of personality. From their clothing to their hairstyles, everything has a significant amount of tender loving put into it. Rather than trying to mimic the typical Japanese anime style, the artist draws characters in their own unique way that looks attractive and personable.
The women are shapely, they wear gorgeous clothing. The lighting is detailed, and the corresponding shading of characters is downright magnificent. The overall graphics of the game are similar quality: Even the menus have animated interlocking metal doors which open and close. Each animation is fluid and professional quality.
The immersive background art has plenty of variety. As you travel to different alien worlds, you’re treated to some preposterous visages. Your space ship on the other hand looks ultra high-tech, with great lighting effects creating an intimate mood for a series of watered down romances.
SOUND EFFECTS AND VOICE ACTING (SFX)
Starlight Drifter has no voice acting. The sound effects are minimal and mediocre.
The music is your stereotypical sci-fi fodder. There are some electro pop beats made with a music program, but few real instruments. The only real-sounding instruments I heard were teh drums and bass, keeping the beat. Beyond that, you got a variety of beeps and chimes in the background giving a high-tech feel for the environment.
The track changes to a more upbeat melody on dramatic moments, but the underlying composition remains the same with the drums and electronic sounds. The songs are so similar to each other, it often feels like there’s only one song in the entire game, and it gets annoying really damn fast.
The game’s erotic content is ecchi in nature. The character art is gorgeous as hell and the women are sexy, but there is not a single scene where a body part touches someone’s genitals.
You can see bare breasts, kissing, petting, but nothing overtly sexual. Even during the one night stand with Russel at the beginning, all the goods are covered by blankets. Boring!
Even scenes of partial nudity do not come naturally. You must venture to the exact part of the ship where your target resides. If they’re in the mood for conversation, you can maybe yank an ecchi picture out of them. It’s so random, you can go the entire game without ever seeing a bare breast once.
Starlight Drifter is a gorgeous sci-fi visual novel that stands out among the rabble thanks to its amazing visuals. The premise had lots of potential for great porn, and the minor gameplay involving space battles was an interesting concept that never got explored. While Dharker Studio has made good games in the past, this time they didn’t. This company is still seemingly stuck making mediocre products that pander to the delusions of a young and naive customer base brainwashed into communist doctrine by their leftist media and academia, they are not showing respect by producing a quality product that would be more universally appealing.