There is an ancient play written by the Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus called Casina. It tells the story of a girl named Casina who was raised as a servant by Lysidamus and Cleosatra, who are now in conflict over who she will wed. Casina: A Visual Novel set in Ancient Greece seeks to adapt the play into a visual novel format, and a free demo is currently available. From the start of the story available in the demo, it appears to follow the play faithfully, although it takes an odd approach of keeping the play’s style of language while modernizing some of the lines, leading to occasional moments that feel out of place with the rest of the text.
Most lines in the demo have voice acting, although there seem to be a handful of unvoiced moments as well. The character sprites are also animated to some degree. While they mostly remain static, there are small animated details such as their mouths moving when they speak. Meanwhile, the art style itself is very fitting for the story. It’s a brightly colored depiction of this world that might not be realistic (I’m sure Cleosatra isn’t normally shown with blue hair), but gives a sense of its ancient Greek setting nevertheless. I also liked the CGs, of which there are a surprising number considering the demo’s short length.
Since many of the lines reference concepts and ideas specific to the setting, there are occasional explanatory notes for players who might not be familiar with them. This is a nice feature, although there were times when I disliked it taking me out of the demo to explain something I could pick up from context clues. Since the demo doesn’t have all of the features that will be in the full game, I can’t help but hope this is changed to something more like an encyclopedia system, where the player can choose whether or not to read the note when it pops up. However, it does help ensure that the story will be accessible even if you aren’t familiar with the source material or its setting.
The story does a good job of setting up the basic premise and the conflict between the major characters. It probably could use a few more details to help get the player invested in the characters’ motivations beyond an unhappy couple arguing over who their servant is going to marry, because right now it’s a little hard to really feel compelled to root for any of the characters. This is something that might develop further as the story progresses, but it might simply be because of the story’s original progression. On one hand, its faithfulness to the play is nice; on the other hand, it might be interesting to see how a visual novel adaptation could further explore the story and its characters.
According to the description, the full visual novel will include multiple endings and dialogue choices, which suggests that it will deviate from the source material for the sake of the branching paths. I like the idea of an adaptation that allows for “what if” scenarios. There is a single dialogue choice in the demo, but strangely, I wasn’t able to go back and see if the other option would have resulted in anything different. My attempts to replay the demo simply kept my first dialogue choice without giving me the option, even when I picked the “reset progress” option from the menu before starting over. I can only assume this is a bug, so hopefully it will be fixed for the full release.
Right now, Casina: A Visual Novel set in Ancient Greece feels a little bland, but it has potential, especially if you’re a fan of the original play or just want to try a visual novel with an unusual setting for the genre.