Don’t Nod announces release date of Harmony: The Fall of Reverie
Don’t Nod, French developer behind Life is Strange, has announced the release date of its forthcoming narrative adventure Harmony: The Fall of Reverie.
The game is set for release on 8th June across PC and Switch, with a PlayStation 5 and Xbox release following on 22nd June.
A demo for the game will also be available on Steam until 21st May if you’re keen to try it out. Check out the latest trailer below for more.
I’ve been able to play the demo ahead of the game’s release, so allow me to fill you in on how it plays.
Players take the role of Polly, a young woman who returns to her hometown after her mother goes missing to investigate her disappearance. Soon after, she’s transported into the alternate world of Reverie and greeted by the Aspirations – “representations of the fallible, malleable human psyche”. Here she takes the role of Harmony.
What follows is a parallel narrative between the real world and the world of Reverie, with Polly’s actions in one world having consequences for the other.
This all plays out as a choice-based visual novel, with some colourful character art of its diverse – and queer – cast. Celeste and Chicory composer Lena Raine provides the score: evocative atmospheres and wistful, mysterious melodies.
What sets the game apart, though, is how it gamifies conversations. Polly, you see, is an empath with the power of foresight, meaning she can see the outcomes of conversations in advance. This takes the form of a branching chart called the Augural filled with possibilities.
This doesn’t just outlay conversational consequences, but consists of varying nodes. For instance, locked nodes must be unlocked with key nodes found through gaining specific pieces of information; inevitable nodes must be completed to further the story; timed nodes only lift after others are complete; and revelatory nodes open up new paths, among others.
Many of the choices cause Polly to either gain or lose crystals that relate to the personified Aspirations: Power, Bliss, Truth, Bond, Chaos. Side with one of these and you’ll often gain the equivalent crystal which will unlock new plot pathways relevant to that emotion, but could lock you out of others. Ultimately, Polly will choose one over the others to become the new heart of humanity.
And those Aspirations are like a squabbling group of Greek gods, though there are some intriguing choices to be made that avoid binary good and bad choices. Can Bliss provide happiness to characters or are they better off ignorant? Truth is important, but it might be considered prying – what lengths will Polly go to acquire it? And while Chaos can be unpredictable, it can also empower Polly to ask difficult questions.
If all of this seems a bit complicated, it’s just a fancy structure placed atop conversations. It’s perfectly possible to just enjoy the story and make whichever story choices feel right in the moment. Alternatively, you can scroll ahead and choose to side with specific characters for specific outcomes.
I did find gameplay flitted between conversations and the Augural rapidly, making conversations feel a little fragmented. But there was just enough mystery to pull me into the plot of family trauma and an obviously evil megacorporation, and the characters – particularly the Aspirations – are full of personality.
In short, it’s a typical Don’t Nod game: supernatural abilities, choice-based gameplay, and a melodramatic – if predictable – story. At least here that predictability is baked right into the gameplay.