The House in Fata Morgana – Dreams of the Revenants Edition – Review

“And fear not — I merely entreat you not to let go of my hand.”

The House in Fata Morgana is a visual novel that seems distinctly different from what one might expect from the genre upon first glance. The gothic overtones are a far cry from the anime art of traditional VNs and while it is a love story, it has far more in common with Shakespearan tragedies than dating simulators. The story begins with the player waking up in a dilapidated mansion with no memories or concept of self as they encounter a maid with jade green eyes. She invites the player to journey through the mansion’s halls in order to experience the countless tragedies that have befallen its residents over the course of several centuries. As the player steps through the doors to witness the tragic events, perhaps they will awaken traces of themselves.

The premise of The House in Fata Morgana is intriguing but the initial pull of the game is a result of the carefully crafted atmosphere it sets. Upon first playing the game, players encounter the maid in a dimly lit room with a crackling fireplace. The eerie tone is only amplified by the subtle piano refrain that plays quietly in the background as she leads us to the first door. From the beginning, The House in Fata Morgana lays down the foundation of what makes its story so compelling. The character art, background visuals, and music are absolutely captivating in how they portray each of the tragedies.

As the first door transports us to the Renaissance-era of art and theater, the backgrounds take on a dreamy, colorful texture that reflects the elegance of aristocracy. The soundtrack is bright and cheerful on the surface with its circus-esque vocals that nevertheless seem to hide something sinister beneath. By the time the second door has rolled around though, the mansion is in ruins while a terrifying beast dwells within its halls. The striking atmosphere change is reflected in the beast’s deep growls and the unnerving music that has taken on an industrial sound with haunting bell chimes. The third door takes place in Industrial-era America with yet another tonal shift for the hustle and bustle of a city coupled with lounge-jazz-influenced tracks. The atmospheres that The House in Fata Morgana weaves together is nothing short of incredible as the varying art and musical palettes set up the tone for each of the tragedies that befall the characters. With this foundation that The House in Fata Morgana sets, the characters begin to feel alive as they move and breathe with the visual and sound design.

The House in Fata Morgana focuses on a lot of themes over the course of the narrative but the most recurring one is forgiveness. However, the game doesn’t examine forgiveness through the lens of culpability as one might expect. Many of the characters in this game aren’t good people despite the perspective changes and backstories that make them more sympathetic for the player. Instead, The House in Fata Morgana asks us to examine how even the best intentions can slowly become distorted into abuse, neglect, and hate. At the same time, the game also ensures that forgiveness only ever lies in the sole hands of the victim. There are no empty platitudes about how forgiveness will end a cycle of hatred or how forgiveness is the way for a victim to move on. As players, we understand that these characters have made unforgivable mistakes and although their situations might be sympathetic, they nonetheless made a conscious decision to harm someone. As we are not judge nor jury, forgiveness is only for the victim to decide, and understandably, many of the characters are only ever pardoned rather than outright forgiven.

The characters in The House in Fata Morgana are one of the key reasons that its story manages to reinforce its central themes so well. They are deeply complex, tragic, and realistic despite the magnitude of their sins. As players experience their backstories and motivations through the doors, they come to understand the characters’ decisions even if they are ultimately the wrong ones. The latter half of the story is far more compelling thanks to the relationship of the two protagonists as it touches upon themes of gender identity, love, abuse, forgiveness, and fate. Although it’s difficult to talk about the pair without spoiling the story, it’s engaging because of their imperfections and strength to forgive one another for the mistakes they make along the way. Much like the other doors, their story is one of tragedy but their romance never feels contrived and remains the one shining light amongst the sea of despair.

There are some problems with The House in Fata Morgana of course, as no game is ever perfect. The pacing of the first few doors can slow to a crawl at times and despite the narrative twists, the tragedies become a little predictable once players get a feel for the game. Nevertheless, the slow burn is essential in setting up the latter half of the story as each of the doors will continue to play a role until the payoff at the very end. There are also moments where the tragedy feels really heavy-handed especially in the context of the intersex and gender identity themes. At the same time though, The House in Fata Morgana navigates these storylines respectfully and its core message affirms them in a way few other games are willing to do. Imperfections are a fundamental aspect of the story as it encourages us to look beyond the fairy tale ending that we often project onto stories. To that end, The House in Fata Morgana takes its imperfections in stride to create a narrative that never claims to be perfect but grounds itself in the realistic depictions of the human condition.

The Dreams of the Revenants edition is the definitive way to play the game on the Nintendo Switch as it includes the main storyline together with the prequel, A Requiem for Innocence. Originally developed as a companion to The House in Fata Morgana, the prequel sheds light on the origins of the curse as well as the backstories for some of the characters. It’s meant to be played after the main storyline and takes around 10-15 hours to complete. There’s also a small sequel titled Reincarnation which features the cast members in a modern, alternate timeline as well as a collection of side stories and epilogues to tie up loose ends. With all of the games and story collections now available in one place, there’s no excuse for not playing one of the greatest visual novels ever made. The House in Fata Morgana is sublime, haunting, and a visceral experience that sticks with you long after the final curtain falls. Although it’s certainly not a game for everyone, the glimpses of beauty within the depths of tragedy and despair are utterly moving and unforgettable. The House in Fata Morgana is a masterpiece in every sense of the word and pushes the boundaries of the visual novel genre as an art form.

“Until our souls cross paths once more in this boundless sphere of fate.”


About the Author


I turned my incoherent ramblings on music, anime, and video games into an entire blog.

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