The Moon’s Cherished Flower by Sabitah Studio tasks the player with solving the mystery of twelve-year-old Selene’s disappearance. With her journals in hand, can you make sense of the message she leaves?
This review was requested through the VN Game Den review request form.
The Moon’s Cherished Flower is headed by a nameless protagonist. We are introduced to them and the conflict of the story through a phone call they are having with their spouse. The two talk about the death of the protagonist’s sister and brother-in-law as well as the disappearance of their niece, Selene.
In an attempt to find out more, the protagonist visits the place the family had lived, commenting on various different things. I’d argue this little section takes the reader away from the juiciest part of the story—Selene’s journals.
Once the protagonist finds a box of Selene’s old journals, the story’s pace begins to pick up. From this point on, we’re told the story through Selene’s writing accompanied by the protagonist’s reaction. It is an absolutely fascinating way to weave a mystery. As you flip through Selene’s journal, you find out about the things she wants to do in the future, the things she holds most dear to her, and the things that she wishes she had.
The narrative is potent—having Selene’s story told to you in her own juvenile words. Because of this, it is a very raw and compelling tale that pulls at the heartstrings.
One thing I had found a bit rattling was that the narration of Selene’s text didn’t seem to match up exactly to what she had written in her diary. The diary had more grammatical mistakes—customary of a child’s writing skill—and I felt like that was a much more immersive experience.
Throughout the short game you meet several characters, though none more intriguing than Selene herself. The missing twelve-year-old girl is never truly seen on screen, yet we end up learning more about her than any of the other characters. She is begging to be heard, and you understand that feeling quite well as you read her scribbled handwriting and look at her doodles.
I found myself playing through the game multiple times to get all of the endings, each one offering a differing perspective based upon how you decide to look at Selene’s writings. This works out so well because the protagonist is almost a blank slate. The opinions on Selene’s diary entries become your own, and that shapes the ending you get. Do you believe in Selene’s words, or are you a skeptic?
The downfall of this narrative approach is that the protagonist sometimes gets in the way of Selene’s story. There were times that I felt like I was being yanked out of Selene’s world by something the protagonist had drawn attention to. Not everything Selene mentioned needs to be commented on. Finding a balance between the protagonist’s thoughts and Selene’s story would help tighten the tale.
The art in Selene’s journal is done wonderfully. The shaky handwriting and youthful drawings help immerse the player.
The backgrounds used when the game is not focusing on the journal resemble painted-over stock images. With no sprite art, this is actually quite charming and further adds a level of reality to the story. I will admit that the transition from these backgrounds to the more stylized journal is a bit jarring at first.
The rounded font and dulled navy textbox are soothing. They don’t overpower the screen and allow us to focus on the pictures in Selene’s diary. Overall, I’d say the GUI isn’t too intrusive and matches the game’s aesthetic quite well.
The Moon’s Cherished Flower is a short game that was made in 13 days for the “Shoot for the Stars” game jam. For the amount of time the developers had to create the game, The Moon’s Cherished Flower is very well done. I only wish the team had more time to tell us an even bigger tale.
You can download the game on itch.io for free.