VN Game Den received a review copy of Sol Dorado Heist.
Alex Thorn has a big problem. She wakes up in Las Vegas with amnesia, but a fragmented memory tells her something very important about her past—that she was helping an unknown accomplice rob a casino. Soon she learns that the gossip on everyone’s lips is about the mysterious criminal known only as the Silent Ace, who has robbed a string of casinos and is expected to target the Sol Dorado next. Knowing that she’s linked to him, and wanting to find him and learn the truth before the police do, Alex sets out to investigate the mystery and find the Silent Ace.
This premise puts an interesting twist on the usual sort of mystery story. Not only does Alex have amnesia, so she doesn’t know who she can trust around her or what people expect her to already know, but she’s also afraid to give away too much information since she herself was involved in the crimes. It isn’t long before she crosses paths with a police detective also trying to stop the upcoming heist, and a constant worry in her mind is that if the police capture the criminal, he might name her as his accomplice.
While there isn’t much specific investigation-based gameplay, since it’s strictly a visual novel rather than an adventure game, you do get to guide Alex’s search for the truth. As she investigates the Sol Dorado and the various people connected to it, you get a number of choices to make. Some only change a few lines of dialogue, while others lead to new scenes and influence which of the game’s multiple endings you’ll receive. For example, you can name someone as your current suspect or choose whether or not to go with a character when they ask you to. The branching isn’t too major, but it’s worth replaying to see different options and endings. Most of the endings resolve the core mystery, but you’ll want to see them all to answer the other questions that come up along the way.
Sol Dorado Heist does a good job of providing enough small questions to leave you uncertain who you can trust. The writing isn’t perfect; there are a number of typos and awkward sentences, as well as some lines that feel out of place with the mood. While it is a comedy with over-the-top characters, enough of the main plot is serious that it’s jarring when a situation feels contrived or hurried. It’s also a fairly short story, taking only a few hours to complete, which might contribute to that sense as well. However, it makes the most of the time it has to introduce the major players in the story and their situations. Every major character has their own personal mysteries that can easily lead you to be suspicious of them, with certain endings explaining what’s really going on.
The art style is nice, with numerous CGs for key moments in the story, and the music fits the tone well. There is no voice acting outside of a few characteristic lines each major character will occasionally say, unrelated to their actual dialogue. I’ve never been a big fan of that in games, although I see its place in a game where you choose to interact with a character and hear their line in response when their dialogue begins. In a visual novel like this, however, it feels a bit strange. Meanwhile, while I did like the art, the use of Alex’s sprite beside her dialogue box looks out of place alongside the regular character sprites.
Overall, Sol Dorado Heist is an entertaining visual novel with a mystery that should keep you guessing, and some humorous moments to make you smile. It’s not the most compelling mystery in the world, but the twist due to Alex’s role and amnesia makes it an interesting journey.
Sol Dorado Heist will be available to purchase from Steam on April 23.