“Elisa: The Innkeeper” is an upcoming visual novel series under development by Neoclassic Games. The games will be a romantic tale based on western fantasy with Italian inspiration, focusing on the lovely innkeeper Elisa and proposed courtships from knights, princes, and merchants. At the moment “Elisa: The Innkeeper Prequel” is available for free on Steam, which holds twenty percent of the first game to be released. It’s a good amount to introduce a visual novel, with a cliffhanger that ends with Elisa’s own thoughts on the events that were chosen.
There is no protagonist in “Elisa: The Innkeeper.” The player is there to choose the routes of the cast, giving the audience more of an interest in them. However, there are four central characters to be found in the game, and the story revolves around the game´s prequel. Nevertheless, the game starts with the Prince, who is having financial troubles, but still has high spirits and pride (unfortunately). Then the Merchant enters, a smug charismatic high roller who believes he can buy Elisa’s love. The last “potential lover” is the Knight, a fellow-man and bar companion who sees a relationship as a hindrance to his livelihood. Finally, we have Elisa, a cheerful lady who brings a warm smile to every man who visits her inn. While the “names” (in-game secrets according to the website) for the three men keep it simple, it takes away a dimension from characters that the player is supposed to be invested in.
This may read off as a typical anime romance story where each guy tries to win the love interest’s heart. This is not the case for each choice can have drastic impacts on the story, with every route having consequences that change future events.
The backgrounds are polished pictures that are designed to have actor images to interact with. The character designs are simple and easy to distinguished from each other, though the style strangely resembles that of “Pokémon Origins’.” Along the routes (which have their own cute chibi pictures) there are special images that can be unlocked for the gallery, which are nice pieces of art that can be enjoyed at any leisure (or used as wallpaper after taking a screenshot).
The prequel features a classy soundtrack to set the tone for the scenes. I can’t help but feel that some tracks sounds immensely similar to “Canon In D” but in hindsight, it makes sense. The tracks fade in and out between scenes, so there’s no audio whiplash during gameplay, but the player will have to brace themselves when loading a save state since the music will blast out of the speakers in an instant.
There really isn’t much to say about the controls. The player clicks to proceed with the scene and clicks on the choice for the character. No timer shenanigans like in Sakura Wars or Telltale games. There is something bound for the full game but as far as the prequel is concerned it’s a visual novel that´s accessible to everyone.
+ No protagonist to play as. Choose the fate for the characters as you see fit.
+ Simple and clean graphics with vibrant colors.
+ Subtle music that sets the mood for the scene.
– The male characters have one-dimensional names.
– Music blasts out of the audio output after loading a save without fading.
You know, even though “Elisa: The Innkeeper Prequel” is only twenty percent it’s a large chunk of the game already out (much like the shareware of the original “Doom”). As I mentioned in the intro, the prequel is out on Steam for free and will remain F2P after the full game release. So if you have the time before and after “Elisa: The Innkeeper’s” debut, then check out the introduction as soon as possible!
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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