Séance: Spectral Noise is an upcoming supernatural visual novel that has a free demo available now. The demo gives players a chance to play through the first chapter of the game, in which a group of friends meet with the mysterious medium Zarah in order to contact the spirit of their recently deceased friend Elise in search of closure and the truth behind her death.
Feelings toward the séance are mixed. Some of the characters firmly believe they’ll be able to contact Elise’s spirit, while others are less sure. One blames himself for her death and thinks her answers will confirm that it was all his fault. And then there is Tessa, a skeptic who believes the entire thing is a fraud and seeks to poke holes in the answers they receive to prove that Zarah is a charlatan. While Tessa’s skepticism causes friction in the group, she can be considered the main viewpoint character, as she updates her journal at regular points with helpful notes about the characters and situation that provide some additional details for the player.
However, the player also watches the proceedings from another critical point of view—that of the spirit herself. Once the séance begins, Zarah has the characters ask specific questions so that the spirit can use her “spell cards” to answer them. That is where a slight gameplay element comes into play. You are given a series of letters, and you must spell out your answer to the question using cards adjacent to one another. You have a bit of freedom here, although you’ll need to try again if your answer is completely wrong. Moving around the table to see different characters’ thoughts can also provide a clue as to what letters you should be looking for.
I have mixed feelings about this aspect of the gameplay. On the one hand, it’s an entertaining puzzle that requires you to think through the mystery and its possible solutions yourself. There’s another point in the demo where the spirit is shown a picture and you must point out the significant element, which makes it feel even more like a mystery investigation. On the other hand, turning it into a puzzle feels illogical if you really are the spirit they’re contacting. You should already know the answers, not need to guess them based on clues and hope for the best. Unless there is a plot twist in the main game regarding the nature of the spirits responding, this element might feel narratively jarring.
Anyway, as they continue to ask Elise questions, we learn more about the characters and their relationship with her, until finally the line of questioning reveals an unexpected answer that brings an end to the séance. After that, Zarah seeks out Tessa once again to tell her something important, which hints at the direction the full game will take as well as an overarching story about something sinister at work in their town. While the core story of the demo didn’t get me too invested beyond enjoying the game mechanics, the ending left me intrigued about the full story and interested in seeing where it will go.
I also want to highlight the visual novel’s style. While much of it is shown in a typical visual novel format, there are some neat stylistic touches that make it stand out, such as a spinning spell card when you open the journal or menu and a starry background during key moments of the séance. Overall, Séance: Spectral Noise is shaping up to be a solid experience, and I look forward to seeing the full visual novel once it’s complete.
You can download the demo for Séance: Spectral Noise from itch.io.