“Do not be fooled, child, for a monster chained is still a monster.”
- You have lived in Ziya all your life, sheltered and clothed by your aunt and uncle who have been giving you the best life possible after tragedy struck your immediate family.
- On the cusp of your 18th birthday, you are preparing to complete the pact that was created by your uncle and the ruling Shah, as your aunt buys your first slave.
- However, on the day of your wedding something terrible happens that has you and Ran running away from the only city that you’ve ever known.
★ ☆ ✰ Rating: 9/10
This review will go a bit deeper into the game in regards to story and character dynamics, so there might be spoilers. To read my initial thoughts about the game, check out my first review talking about the demo.
After playing the demo, I was really exited to play the full version of the first story and I was not disappointed. The art, in terms of both character and background designs, is done really well and the music is nice and adds a lot to some of the scenes, especially the romantic ones. However, the story and character development are what really make the game.
Like in Aloners, the main character’s personality is largely left to the decisions of the player. While, she is just turning 18, the player gets to pick how she interacts with her aunt and Bahadur — she can either a spoiled brat or caring if not a bit naive girl. However, that doesn’t change the fact that she is still apprehensive about marrying the Shah and seems to have a better relationship with her uncle than with her aunt. At the same time with either personality, she doesn’t know how to interact with Ran and it often leads to some type of conflict. Regardless, of what she thinks she might know of the world and how excited (since she seems to read a lot about things in regards to the outside world) she might be of seeing what is outside of Ziya, she is in for a rude awakening as she struggles to do things that she has never done before — how that impacts her depends on the player’s choices. However, she seems to take everything with stride and continues to move forward on this journey, it shows that she has a stubborn streak especially with how she interacts with Ran. Personally, I enjoyed playing the game as a “spoiled brat” because it adds a little extra to the ingrained character development that she goes through in the story.
The story begins with the main character on the eve of her 18th birthday and getting ready for her arranged marriage to the most powerful man in Ziya — the Shah. However, the happy occasion quickly turns grim as the Shah is found murdered and Ran is the prime suspect. Together, they run out of Ziya as they search for a safe place — the main character makes the assumption that should be Umar. Ran isn’t very happy with their current situation and they get into a lot of fights, but they have to put all that aside in order to survive the journey. On their various mini-adventures, Ran and the main character band together in order to make it out alive, while there might be sparks flying, Ran finds it hard to trust the main character. Though, he might be right in his distrust, as she comes to realize that she must lie in order for him to truly gain freedom.
Ran is an albino djinn, which he is hunted for like a prized animal, as seen in certain scenes within the story, because of rumors of their magical abilities and relation to the Old Gods. Due to his slave status and what has happened to him in the past, he is extremely distrustful of humans and the status quo to the point that he constantly makes fun of the main character’s former status. While, he might be considered “wild” and a “monster”, he is surprisingly well-read and his sarcasm along with his personality tends to butt heads with the main character early on. Slowly, Ran comes to place some type of trust on her, but never enough but he does become comfortable enough to flirt back with her during certain scenes within story. Throughout the journey, Ran seems to slowly comes to tolerate her and even wants to believe in her, but he finds it extremely hard to do so. This is due to his past and that every time he is given a moment of happiness, he is meet with an equally awful betrayal from the humans than he comes to trust and love.
Personally, what I really enjoyed about the story was the pacing and character development. It takes a really long time for Ran to trust the main character, something that she is extremely aware of when she makes her final decision within the game, but she continues because the overall goal will hand Ran his freedom. Unlike before, she seems willing to do something for someone else and seems okay with the consequences of her lies when she sees Ran again. It makes sense that Ran will be angry at first, but he seems to go through different stages of disbelief for what she has done and depending on the player’s previous choices, he might see himself as a “monster” and it really drives an emotional, bitter ending. It really falls onto the player’s hands whether the main character and Ran learn something new or they continues to believe in their old ways. While, there are some mysteries that are left unexplained, it does a good job in piquing the interest for the upcoming stories, especially since we only see two of the next love interests within this story.
The story also does a good job in letting the player decide whether they want to go into the “steamy” scenes, but it also gives the romance a good pace without those scenes as well. While, there are minor supporting characters here and there, Bahadur really stands out with how far he is willing to go for the main character, even dealing with Ran, so that she is able to get out of Ziya. There seems to be something else to his devotion towards the main character and it is does a good job in setting up for the next story. The overall theme of the story seems to be centered around growing up. This is easily shown with the main character and her growth out of being a sheltered maiden, while with Ran it is shown more subtly in how he comes to trust and love once more.
Ran’s Story is a solid start to Wilder in terms of storytelling and character development, it makes me look forward to the next installment! So consider checking it out!