While browsing though the Japanese site 4Gamer (via the miracles of Google Translate) I came across this nifty little title that was just announced by Nippon Ichi Software (NIS). htoL#NIQ (yes, that is the real title) looks like to be a beautiful game that uses new game mechanics as well as throwback ideas to create a side-scrolling adventure through a gothic, eerie environment.
In the game, you play as Hotaru, a firefly (and yes, “Hotaru” means “firefly” in Japanese, so . . . you’re playing a firefly named “Firefly”). You find a girl named Mion in the bottom of a cabin on the verge of collapsing, and, of course, she’s amnesiac. Your goal is to guide Mion to the outside world, but there’s a catch. You’re both a “shadow butterfly” and a “common firefly”, and you can switch between two worlds, a normal one, and a “shadow” one where there’s many perils. The world, and the two sides of Hotaru are linked together, and your actions in one world will affect the other. Needless to say you need to master this to get Mion out of her predicament. There is no button to engage this, you swipe the back touchscreen of the Vita to pull off the switch.
The beautiful artwork reminds me modern-day side-scrolling games like Odin Sphere, but in a sense, I feel that there’s a bit of Ico influence in this game as well, in that you have to serve as a guide through a gorgeous yet perilous landscape.
There is yet to be an official Stateside announcement, but the Japanese announcement will have two editions. The sole physical edition is $61 in US dollars or 6,264 yen. This is a premium edition and comes with the official soundtrack and an artbook. The only other way to purchase the game is through digital download, where it retails for 3,086 yen ($30 US). CERO, the Japanese version of the ESRB, has rated the game 17 and older, which hints at a darker storyline than what’s been revealed so far.
NIS has revealed a teaser site for the game. The front page allows you to play a brief, Flash-style version of the game in order to obtain some exclusive wallpaper.
The game ships June 19th, 2014 in Japan. No plans have yet been announced for a Western release at this time, but looking at the screenshots, hopefully it will happen before the end of this year.
I leave you with my three favorite screenshots from 4Gamer and the teaser site.