Follow Will on a tumultuous weekend getaway with some friends in Starlight Shores, developed by TidalBlossoms.
VN Game Den received a free copy of the game to review.
The story starts with the protagonist, Will, as he begins his journey to a small cottage where he and a few friends will be staying for the weekend. This entire journey is an attempt at rekindling an old relationship with Will’s childhood friend, Theo, who has grown distant.
Characters have a lot of fun dialogue with each other as they drink their night away, and we quickly unravel a lot of the pent-up emotions some of the cast has been holding back from each other…and even themselves.
The issues arise when things become too convenient. For example, Theo asks Will what his deepest insecurity is as a means for the player to hear his backstory. Though considering the information he shares, there are much stronger ways to present it than simply throwing the information to the player seemingly out of nowhere. There is no buildup to impactful emotional scenes like this, leading them to feel shallow and misplaced.
There is nothing entirely compelling about the cast of characters in Starlight Shores. They adhere to the standards of common tropes seen in quite a few visual novels in the slice-of-life genre. Theo is the passive and kind childhood friend of Will’s who has a crush on him; Alec is the overly jerky best friend; Lena is the mysterious girl that everyone, including Will, seems to be drawn to; and there’s Erika, the loud and boisterous female support character.
The characters in Starlight Shores don’t seem to be anything more than what they appear to be, even though the writing tries to tell us otherwise with admissions from some of them about their pasts. Take Alec, for example…almost every single conversation that he and Will have is about how poorly Alec treats the women characters. There’s a reason hinted at, but not explored. Chances at getting to know the characters’ motivations more fully are simply walked over in favor of more superficial dialogue.
Because of the short length of the game, I’d say that the pacing of the story, for the most part, is done quite well, considering we’re only following the cast for a single night. The action is able to move along quite quickly because of a few drinking games that the group plays together.
A few of the story’s issues could be solved with a longer stay at the cottage. It would strengthen some relationships with characters like Lena, whom Will has just met.
The art in Starlight Shores is gorgeous and perhaps its biggest selling point. The sprites are drawn in a classic anime style. The backgrounds are highly detailed and match the sprites’ style perfectly. The GUI is also simple and minimalistic while also maintaining a nice aesthetic feel. There are a few CGs in the story as well as some chibi illustrations that do an awesome job of drawing the player in. Not to mention they’re absolutely stunning!
While the story of Starlight Shores isn’t revolutionary, it’s a fun little read if you have a few hours to spare. The artwork is absolutely beautiful and the character dialogue is really funny. It’s worth checking out if slice of life romance games with a male protagonist are your thing.