ファタモルガーナの館 -Another Episodes-
The house in Fata Morgana -Another Episodes-
Fata Morgana no Yakata -Another Episodes- is a fandisc (FD) to the original highly praised doujin game, Fata Morgana no Yakata by Novectacle. Another Episodes includes the main episode, The House in Fata Morgana -Requiem for The Innocence-, and sub stories such as Assento dele -His Dark Chair-, The Destroyed Story, and After Happy End. Since this is a fandisc, there are a few common spoilers, so proceed at your own risk.
Another Episodes was announced back in 2013, and was released in late August 2015 at Comiket 88. As I saw the announcement for a fandisc, I was pleased, ecstatic, and grinning like a fool, because I can finally play Fata Morgana no Yakata again, but this time, through the true history. If you haven’t read my review of the original game yet, you can read it here.
To those who are going to play Another Episodes, remember to install the patch here before playing.
The House in Fata Morgana -Requiem for The Innocence-
Requiem for The Innocence is the main episode of the game, which focuses on the real history, or the reverse story, before the protagonist intervened. The main episode is around 5 to 6 hours long.
Here’s a brief summary of the main episode, Requiem for The Innocence:
The vicinity befell with death–the grass and trees, butterflies and cats, the poor, the nobles, the clergymen, every single thing died.
But what the people don’t know was that, once, there was a witch who was not a witch, once, there was a young man brimming with hope, and once, there were good days.
Now, let’s relive the story once again.
How dreams and hope crumbled—
In short, the main episode is about Jacopo, a young man with a strong sense of justice, and Morgana, a kind girl who finds happiness little by little. As the gears move, the young man dyes his hand in blood, and the kind girl who’s wrongfully recognized as a witch turns mad, both of them soon to become corrupt. The young man with earnest feelings continuously seeks for repentance as he faces discord and isolation while the obstinate witch who once knew of happiness continues walking a path that cannot be recovered.
Requiem for The Innocence delved into much deeper detail of the relationship between Jacopo and Morgana that the original game briefly explained. The main episode also has more scenes with Maria, and I can better understand why she behaves the way she does in the original game. Not only does the main episode include these original characters, we are also introduced to four new characters: Gratien, Ceren, the Load Barnier (I’ll call him Lord Barnier instead), and Odilon. Aside from the new sprites, these characters aren’t particularly new from what we see in the original game during Jacopo’s flashback–they just weren’t named or detailed, but in Requiem for The Innocence, we get to see their side of the story and how they’re part of Fata Morgana no Yakata.
The focus of Requiem for The Innocence is mainly to see a wider world. Jacopo constantly tells Morgana that someday, he’ll show her a wide world, where she frankly tells him he likes that phrase a lot, and refutes with, “A wide world isn’t need, because our—“ and abruptly ends there. “Seeing a wide world” phrase isn’t new, for in Fata Morgana during the third door and flashback, Jacopo intermittently talks of seeing a wider world. In an interview, when asked if him and Morgana were to go on a date, where would he bring her, he responded with, “Well, let’s see… she doesn’t seem to like crowded places…. Something like the ocean is fine…it’s wide.” At first, I paid little heed to the phrase, but after completing Another Episodes, I was in awe—it was a simple phrase with tremendous significance and impact.
Now, let’s talk about the main characters, Jacopo and Morgana. Jacopo’s a slave in his youth and is still suave, arrogant, cynical, and is easily tempered, but this time, he seems more friendly, determined, and has silly face sprites, almost the opposite of what he was in the original game. I knew he was somewhat affectionate, but I’m still dumbfounded to see Jacopo like this since I didn’t quite expect it of him. Morgana’s a straight-laced, insensitive adolescent toward Jacopo, and a mature, quiet, and shy girl toward the others. She doesn’t take in the kindness of others easily, but gradually opens up. In Fata Morgana, I slightly saw what kind of personality she had, and in the FD, she is a bit more expressive. I like how as time elapse, we see her character grow as she opens up toward others and accept their kindness, which greatly affects her in the original game, especially with Michel.
What I really like about these two is their chemistry together, and they make quite an adorable pair. Morgana frequently calls Jacopo blasphemous and to go to hell, and often calls him insulting names, only him and none other. As for Jacopo, he is blunt, offensive, makes insulting remarks, and mocks others, but toward Morgana, he is kindhearted and sympathetic even as he grumbles. Novectacle heavily presented their personalities in the original game and other media, but they’re more developed here where we can see them shine in all of their glory.
Maria is a friend of Jacopo for over ten years and also gained a sense of justice. At first I didn’t like Maria in the original game, but eventually my feelings for her is neutral afterward. After the FD though, I’ve grown to like her more—she’s a great ally who cares about others and does whatever it takes for justice.
As for the new characters, all of them have a bit of a story of their own. Gratien, who’s all about friendship, is a muscular and buff rebel and who soon make acquaintances with Jacopo to defeat the Lord Barnier from his tyranny. I feel like Gratien need more scenes for I didn’t really see his true colors and was just another sub character that comes and goes in the story. It’d be great if we can see his past a bit more, and why he is such a rebel beside the emancipation of slaves. The game gives small details about him, but that’s all we really know which is a shame, because I wanted to see Jacopo and him build their friendship more. Ceren, on the other hand, got quite a bit of a backstory. She is a very bouncy, naïve, happy-go-lucky young girl who likes to give people nicknames, and is basically comic relief, same with Gratien. Even if she is comic relief, the FD delved greatly into her past, forming the character she is now. Ceren can be annoying at times, but other than that, she’s a likeable sub character and becomes a good friend of Morgana’s. The Lord Barnier is evil just from looking at his sprite, but even so, the game explains why he’s such a character, and we get to see his outlook on things. Although the original game barely mentioned him, after playing the FD, even if he is a sub character, he plays a big role in Fata Morgana no Yakata, a really, really big crucial role. Nefarious at first glance, and soon a trusty comrade of Jacopo, Odilion is a wise man filled with knowledge and does things orderly for the greater good. He doesn’t appear in game often and has a small role in the story, but he still had impact. We don’t know much about him, but I can’t help but like him in the end, he’s a surprisingly good supporting character. I thought all the new sub characters weren’t going to be that important, so I’m grateful Novectacle turned most of them into likable and impactful characters in a short period of time.
I feared I wasn’t going to understand the main episode for I haven’t played the original game since 2013, so I’m surprised I didn’t have to replay it to understand the FD; Novectacle basically helps you remember what happened. The same lines in the original game during the flashback are used in the FD, but this time, we see sprites with text rather than just the text itself. Also, Morgana manifested signs of severe physical and mental suffering was greatly shown in the FD compared to Fata Morgana, so it looks like Novectacle planned the FD well for I can see the connection between the two games and I could understand the characters’ reasoning.
I took my time playing the main episode, immersing myself, and I’m glad Novectacle used a similar format for the story in the FD, just without the doors. Since the main episode is quite short, there’s no drag, the scenes and transitions flowed well, and every scene counted. The story is engrossing, consistent, well paced and constructed, and thoroughly thought-out. The main episode is relatively more comedic, but still with its tragedies, and this series will probably always have some sort of tragedy. The FD kept the dark atmosphere that was apparent in the original game as the story is still poignant and ominous. There is the normal amount of horror and suspense in the main episode, and the original characters’ lament, pain, and regret are more visible to me this time. Besides the tragedies, which are also well done, I really liked the comedic scenes, for they are refreshing after all the gloom the game presented. I greatly enjoyed this chapter, Requiem for The Innocence—it is an impactful yet emotional story that can get disturbing and tragic, and the build up on the characters and their relationship is remarkable. And once again, I got goose bump at the end.
Assento dele -His Dark Chair-
Even though Assento dele is around one to two hours long, the story is compelling and touching. I got goose bump after the main episode, but man, I didn’t expect to get the same feeling after completing this short chapter. Assento dele is about sadness, future, dreams and friendship.
We are introduced to Imeon, a cynical guy who forces his way into living in the mansion with Michel and wishes to see the witch. Imeon befriends Michel, but they are friends who could never be, and who don’t know each other, but yet know each other. Imeon is a surprisingly entertaining character, which is rare in the cursed mansion. We see Michel’s bored and bothered expressions when Imeon jokes around and when he talks of adventure, Michel actually thought about dreams and the future, which he doesn’t normally do. We see a slight spark between the two characters even if it’s for a moment.
And now, some background information on Assento dele.
Assento dele was the short story in the preview book, The Archives, in the winter of 2011. The Archives was an original work that detailed Fata Morgana no Yakata before the actual game came out. Assento dele was also originally the prototype main story of Fata Morgana, but was turned into a side story instead. It’d be great if Imeon were part of the original game, so it’s a shame he was a side character and was removed. Imeon also had a role in Seventh Coat and appeared in the SS, Tír na nÓg , and the side SS of Mujou no Erasmus – The Erasmus two-faced stories, but wasn’t in contact with Michel there. Back a year or two ago, Novectacle said, “Now that we’ve finally given Imeon sprites, he may appear again, so please wait patiently,” so I guess this chapter is what they meant by that. Assento dele is also the name of the track composed by Gao in Fata Morgana no Yakata and is often played in the mansion, especially scenes that include Michel.
Here’s Gao’s comment on the track, Assento dele:
Assento dele means “his chair,” in other words, a place to stay or settle down. Not just at Michel’s place, it also means a place after he ran away. When Hanada Keika (the writer for the Fata Morgana series) first introduced this protagonist to me, I was troubled. Possibly because he’s the type of person who would hide and conceal oneself, and the type who would talk to a dog when he first sees one, which puzzled me. And then, I felt anguish. My image of this song consisted of sounds like a door and floor creaking, feet dragging as it continues walking down a corridor, and cane sounds. There were no plans to include singing, but Hanada suggested the addition of vocals, so I contemplated and added verses in the end. Recitals were included and used during chapter one’s climax, “Labirintia,” when one day we were together, Hanada said, “Um, I want recitals in this…” I was greatly dismayed. “Eh—! R-recitals?!,” I balked while at the same time I said I’ll try, and after that, I was pleased with the outcome. My inspiration for the verse is Chūya Nakahara’s “The Pup’s Poem.” In the dark of the night, alone in the meadows, Michel silently suffering from pain and distress gives off the impression that hitting a stone will create a star, that’s what I believe.
The Destroyed Story
Without being spun,
Basked in the footlight,
The story that continues to be destroyed
Onto the next chapter, The Destroyed Story, which consist of three segments of short stories.
1. Eventual Death From Poison
This short story reveals the events after door one in Fata Morgana no Yakata. We see Nellie’s fiancé, Arthur Boldwin, witnessing the fall of the Rhodes family from his perspective. He is discontent with an unpleasant feeling as rumors spread about Nellie.
2. Defective Pair
The Man goes out to sea, and as the ship approaches shore, he keeps someone company.
3. The Painting’s Soliloquy
The Painting’s Soliloquy is sad, but satisfying. This short story is about George’s life after Michel absconded, and I find it the best one in this collection of short stories. Even though it’s maybe only 10 minutes long, it’s splendid and has its moments. This chapter actually answered a few questions I had after the previous game. My thoughts on this are basically: FUCK YEAH GEORGE! I’ve been waiting for this! If you played the original game, you’re going to love this. I’ve always liked his character so I’m glad there’s more backstory to him. Who knew Novectacle could create such a spine-tingling story in such a short chapter.
After Happy End
As you can tell from the title of this chapter, it’s an after happy end. Michel drastically changes from a NEET to a riajuu. He goes on a date and it gets really flirtatious in this chapter, but even so, it’s fun seeing him being a dork. Expect humorous scenes, choices, and silly sprites. After finishing this last chapter, I feel empty inside; I don’t want the series to end yet.
Once I completed all of the previous chapters, it opened up the Gift area, where we are provided with a “backstage” option. We basically see the cast in the main episode all together, retelling Fata Morgana no Yakata and the events in Requiem for The Innocence. Backstage include lots of comedic scene and everything is fun and games here. They reintroduce each other, what happened to them in some scenes and they joke about it, and previewed the new characters’ full sprites from head to toe. All of the characters in the Fata Morgana series meet up and chitchat, it makes me want to miss these guys even more.
That’s all for the chapters and now, about the game itself. Another Episodes uses the same game format as Fata Morgana no Yakata—same settings, same screen resolution (800×600), and way fewer choices. I didn’t have to save often at all since the main episode is short, so the absence of quick save or quick load doesn’t bother me in the FD. The textbox used in the main episode is the same as the one used in the flashback of the original game. Assento dele is the only chapter that has new a textbox though; Imeon has a crescent moon while Michel has a broken branch with leaves. There is no eyecatch in the FD and the backgrounds are still photographs with more images of Paris. The art definitely improved over the past years and Moyataro, the illustrator, still draws gruesome and heart warming CGs with 13 CGs in total, excluding variations. I am curious as to why one CG with Ceren that was shown in the video isn’t in the Gift area after completion, and I doubt I missed anything since the game is short, or they didn’t put it in there for some reason. I’m also kind of disappointed Gratien and Odilion didn’t have any CGs, at least they have sprites. Moyataro could work on Morgana’s young face sprite as it looked white like chalk unlike the promotional images where her face is ceramic white. Even though that is the case, I do notice he does change her face color and texture often in other images before the FD. It’d be nice if I could hear Morgana’s mellifluous singing voice, but then I remembered this game is non-voiced.
Since the main episode is based on happier times to a certain extent, the music isn’t as eerie and is somewhat more cheerful and pleasing. Novectacle got a new composer, Mashima Cocoro, to compose the music for the main episode, which are all tuneful piano tracks. There are several other new composers too. Adrien Byrne (Yusuke Tsutsumi under a different alias) composed the main song, Requiem for The Innocence, and is sung by Gao. Série de Fragmento was instrumental in the original game, but in the FD, it has English lyrics. There are several new vocal tracks composed and sung by Gao with English lyrics too, and hey, that’s a change because in Fata Morgana (excluding the other side series), almost all of the lyrics are in Portuguese. A few tracks of Yusuke Tsutsumi’s are slightly remixed, and the youth choir in He Called Hex that was only in the official soundtrack is now added. Some tracks composed by Takaki Moriya and Razuna Aikawa returns, but there are no tracks by Mellok’n, none of his music is used in Another Episodes. I wonder why Mellok’n who composed the beginning tracks in the original game isn’t here anymore, and I find it strange, because both Mellok’n and Gao are the only composers who are in-house members of Novectacle, and they both work together as they have (had?) their own circle. Some years ago, Gao did say something about Mellok’n being absent midway during the production of a song and Yusuke Tsutsumi took over from there, so I wonder what happened to Mellok’n after the live concert.
MACHINIMASOUND composes 7 tracks that are feisty, aggressive, battle-like, and heroic. The music is quite different from the bgm in the overall series and it feels like I’m listening to music from an action movie or a first-person shooter. I do have to say, Battle of Kings sounds valorous. Antony Raijekov and Smilingcynic both composed one track and both include pianos that played repetitive notes consecutively. I didn’t really feel the music in those two tracks, there’s slight passion and minimal intensity, and they just didn’t bring it to life. Onlymeith also composed one track, a cacophony of distorted and warped chime-like sounds that may hurt your ears in the beginning, but becomes more saint in the middle, still accompanied with the distorted sound, and later followed by drums and a cello. The cello solo at the end doesn’t sound natural, or I can tell the cello was played with a keyboard and some of the keys sounded like it was played unevenly. If Onlymeith wanted to create a confused, distressed, and uneasy kind of feeling when composing this song, then, it sure got me. Of course, I have to take into consideration where this track was used, which was in disturbing and tormenting scenes, so this track does blend in.
Last song on the list is Lacrimosa composed by none other than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, taken from Classic Masterpieces Sound Library. ‘Tis one part of Dies Irae in the Requiem mass and ‘twas his final composition before he died to illness. What can I say about this piece? It’s hauntingly beautiful, sublime, grandeur, passionate, Mozart at his finest; I can feel the destruction and hopelessness of humanity as it helplessly yearns for a savior. I can go on and on about this wonderful piece but I’ll stop here.
Overall, the music is decent, I still like Gao’s songs and vocals, Adrien Byrne’s (Yusuke Tsutsumi) main theme song, and some of Mashima Cocoro’s tracks, but I think the new composers could have done a better job. I also think this fault is also on Novectacle’s part too as they probably wanted to add new tracks rather than reuse most of the ones in Fata Morgana. I’m glad there are new tracks, but some of them didn’t fit in with the series’ usual music and atmosphere; the tracks didn’t feel as resonant and memorable as it did in Fata Morgana. I did say I prefer Fata Morgana to be non-voiced as the amazing music would cover it in my Fata Morgana no Yakata review, but in the FD, since the music wasn’t as powerful and distinct, somehow the thought of adding voices surfaced in my head. I still prefer the game to be non-voiced and I know Novectacle’s main focus was the music, but the new music here doesn’t cut it, and this time I felt it was lacking. Although I would still value the story first, then character, and music, I would give the music a lower rating compared to Fata Morgana. Maybe if Mellok’n came back and composed some new tracks, I may change my mind, but as for now, I think the music can be improved.
Before I conclude this review, I want to talk about the track used in the main game screen, Série de Fragmento.
Série de Fragmento was the track that played in the beginning of Jacopo’s short flashback in the original game, and that flashback is essentially the main episode of this FD. Also as stated, this piece was originally just instrumental, but gained vocals in the FD.
Here’s Gao’s comment on Série de Fragmento some years ago when it was just instrumental:
Série de Fragmento is the last song I composed for “Fata Morgana no Yakata.” The timing for this was after I handed in the song “Bad End,” and just before the complete package was manufactured. Regarding the schedule at that time, I thought composing and inserting this piece was considerably tough, but Hanada spoke the magical words that stopped me on my tracks.
Instantaneously, I said, “Not bad.” Until now, I probably haven’t touched my midi keyboard this gracefully—the sound was almost like it was both audible and inaudible. In fact, ever since composing with this midi keyboard, I haven’t thought of making such a resonating sound, so I thought this would be my chance, and because of that, although this piece is monotonous and quiet, it filled my senses. “Série” means “series.” “Fragment of Human Connection” is somewhat like a one-piece—even as one continues to gather many fragments, fragments that may never join together, it’s the journey to finding oneself, that’s my view on it. Everybody, let’s all say the magical word, “Jacopo Bearzatti.”
After completing the main episode, the sub episodes, after happy end, and the backstage portion in the gift area, guess what’s the final chapter of them all. Fragment.
Fata Morgana no Yakata -Another Episodes- is a great addition to the series and is still a great game even if it’s comparably shorter to the original, around 7 to 8 hours long in total. The story is amazing and really well done, it kept intact the things the original game left behind and continued branching from there. I’m glad Novectacle didn’t leave its fans in the dark, and really, the original series has so much potential, and even though they made the game to its fullest, there was even more to expand on—Morgana and Jacopo’s side of the story. I did wonder what really happened between Morgana and Jacopo in that short flashback, so I’m thrilled Novectacle was able to deliver with this FD. The characters are very likable, new and old. I’m in awe how everything in Another Episodes was concluded and flawlessly connected together. Novectacle continues to put in a lot of effort into making the Fata Morgana series greater by the day. I’ll look forward to their next work and I would like to thank Novectacle for showing me that wider world.
After completing Another Episodes, check out the SS that goes further into the after story here.
Also, to see the extras after completing the game, go here.
Two days ago, Novectacle implemented a new character poll ranking. The previous top three were Michel, Morgana, and Jacopo, respectively. I believe Jacopo may be the winner after Another Episodes.