Harmony: The Fall of Reverie, coming out in June, is quite the departure for Don’t Nod.
The studio, best known for Life is Strange, seems to be going through something of an identity shift. It’s now Don’t Nod, for one, instead of Dontnod. And while it seems to still want to focus on storytelling, its latest wave of games are completely different from the likes of Life is Strange and Tell Me Why. It’s next release, Harmony: The Fall of Reverie, coming next month, is better described as a visual novel than a narrative adventure.
Harmony: The Fall of Reverie casts players as Polly. She’s just returned home after being away for a few years, only to find everything has changed. A huge company is taking over her hometown, putting her community in danger. But more pressing for Polly is the disappearance of her mother. She’s got to find her before she can think about anything else.
But this isn’t a straightforward coming-of-age story about returning home after time away. Polly has a power that can connect her to the “Realm of the Aspirations of Humanity”. In that realm, Polly is known as Harmony, and she’s a powerful goddess who can restore the balance of the world.
It’s a lot to unpack, granted. And getting settled into Harmony: The Fall of Reverie‘s far-flung narrative can take some time. But it’s made much easier to digest thanks to its absolutely sumptuous visuals and excellent voice acting. Every character you meet is fully-voiced, with only Polly’s inner thoughts being left as text only. Despite its visual novel presentation, then, the characters of Harmony feel real and 3D – and some of them, like the technicolour Bliss, larger than life itself.
It’s almost a shame you don’t get to use your own agency to explore the world of Harmony: The Fall of Reverie. There’s a huge amount of detail poured into every scene, with locations such as Polly’s house absolutely teeming with life. We’re itching to nose around it, pick stuff up, root through drawers and shelves, Life is Strange style. But it’s not that type of game. We get to simply admire the artwork while experiencing the story unfold.
Of course, it’s not a completely passively experience. A large part of Harmony: The Fall of Reverie is shaping the story as you play. Polly’s been granted the gift of foresight, and with this power she can see time mapped out in front of her. Except, it’s not exactly linear. Branching paths and alternate nodes will change fate for both the real world and the Realm of the Aspirations. And that’s where you come in: you’ll need to choose which path to take. Maybe your decisions will be random, or maybe you’ll use some degree of strategy in order to map out your journey.
There are a lot of different outcomes in Harmony, then, and it’s going to be a game worth playing through multiple times just to feel the weight of your decisions. It’s an exciting prospect, but nothing truly revolutionary: the map of your decisions may be a little more tangible than other choice-led games, but the process of choosing is hardly out of the ordinary.
Still, with its gorgeous artwork, intriguing world and characters we can’t wait to learn more about, Harmony: The Fall of Reverie is undoubtedly a tantalising prospect for those who enjoy story-led experiences. If you’re expecting something akin to Life is Strange, you’re going to be disappointed. But keep an open mind, and Harmony might well just suck you in to its mysterious world.
Harmony: The Fall of Reverie is coming to PC and Switch on 9th June, with PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions following on 22nd June. A demo is available right now on Steam.