Game: Bai Qu: Hundreds of Melodies
Genre: Simulation, Visual Novel, Adventure
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, PS4, PS5, and Xbox One)
Developer | Publisher: Ratalaika Games | Magenta Factory
Age Rating: US Teen | EU 12+
Price: US $9.99 | UK £9.99 | EU € 9,99
Release Date: July 9th, 2021
Review code used with many thanks to Ratalaika Games.
The deeply love visual novel Bai Qu is finally available on Nintendo Switch, and this game is just as tender, beautiful, and tragic as the original version. Get ready to be swept away in a story of love, loss, illness, family, death, loneliness, and friendship.
Bai Qu: Hundreds of Melodies is a Chinese visual novel by Magenta Factory and Ratalaika Games. This visual novel is a sequel to the well-known Shan Gui. Which is another Chinese visual novel game by the same company that has been well-received by the visual novel game community. Much like other visual novels, Bai Qu: Hundreds of Melodies is mostly reading subtitles as the story moves by, similar to reading a comic book. This unusual way of storytelling makes the novel come alive, and you become the main character as you move through the story.
Unlike some visual novels, the main character, Wei Qiuwu actually has some choices to make while moving through this delightful fairy tale. Players will have to make choices that will alter the ending of the story and change how he interacts with the other characters. There are several possible endings available to players, each with its own positive and negative repercussions.
Wei Qiuwu is visiting his father in the hospital during the last few days of his stay there. He is thankfully feeling better and will be released soon. As Wei Qiuwu goes to leave the hospital, he comes across a young girl playing a beautiful tune on an accordion. She is named Li Jiayun, and this first interaction opens to Wei Qiuwu a brand new world of friendships, twists, turns, and tragedies.
The characters are deeply moving in this game, each with their own personalities. As everyone is fully voice acted with the exception of the main character, players really can connect with each of the characters, learning who they are, what they like, and their individual hopes and fears.
Players will get to know not only Wei Qiuwu and Li Jiayun, but also their good friend He Jia. There is also the lovely nurse Yang Qin and a collection of other characters that come from a variety of different walks of life. In spite of the fact that they are all of various ages, they all somehow end up as close friends. While the story starts out cheerful, it quickly turns bittersweet as the player progresses through it.
The Pros of Bai Qu: Hundreds of Melodies
There is a lot of good things to say, not only about this game but also about this particular port. There is something really wonderful about the game being so easily portable on a Switch console. You can bring it on the train, to bed with you, or even to school or work to play during breaks. And you will want to drag it around with you too as you dive into the beautiful 8-10 hours of deeply emotional gameplay.
Unlike some visual novels that players may be familiar with, this one puts a lot of effort into making beautiful backgrounds and loads of unique character portraits. There are tons of backgrounds, different outfits and looks for the characters, and different poses and facial expressions for everyone that crosses the screen.
The music is charming and varied; while not available on the Switch to my knowledge, the OST is available on Steam, and I am definitely going to pick it up for myself. The music really does something to amp up the wow factor of this game, and that’s pretty impressive considering how great the rest of this game is!
If you like deep, interesting, beautiful, full-voice acted visual novels, you will absolutely adore Bai Qu.
The Cons of Bai Qu
One of the biggest cons of Bai Qu is the translation quality. It would have behoved Magenta Studios to hire an English-speaking writer to help clean up the text after it was translated. The game is available in 7 languages, and I can only speak for the English version. But some of the grammar and wording was so awful that it actually detracts from the story itself. I spent a longer time than usual on certain lines of text as I tried to figure out exactly what the character was trying to convey sometimes.
There isn’t much else to say negative about the game. If you are a fan of the visual novel genre, and you like slice-of-life style stories, Bai Qu is 100% for you. If you don’t like those things, however, this game will not appeal to you at all.
Overall, Bai Qu is everything it sets out to be. It’s deeply emotional, beautiful, story-rich, and charming. The music and the art are stunningly beautiful, and even simple things like the screen transitions are polished. There’s just not enough good things to say about this wonderful game. With a good English editor, this game could be the best visual novel I have ever played.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot.