When looking for video recommendations or highlighting new releases, sometimes you come across a title you’re incredibly happy to have discovered. For me, Kortia is a great example of this.
Kortia is a browser-based visual novel in an isekai style — but with husbandos that look as beautiful as this I can’t be the only one who is waiting with bated breath to romance their socks off. (Waifus ain’t bad, either – Ed.)
From indie company Dulcet Games
Kortia is the most recent game release for Dulcet Games, with its first episode releasing on September 28 of last year. The company are best-known for their first game Sweet Elite, which originally released in 2018 and has Chapter 11 at the time of writing, and the team are passionate in building a community around their own visual novel game engine — they are keen to help both independent writers and artists create the work that they envision, and have been doing so since 2016. The company’s three games currently available are playable for free in your browser, needing just a sign-up to kickstart your chosen adventure.
Dulcet Games’ titles are all episodic, with the two newer releases Kortia and Black Tarot only just starting out: at the time of writing Kortia has three episodes while Black Tarot has two. So far I’ve only dipped my toe in Kortia, which is why I am recommending this title specifically, but I wanted to highlight the company as a whole since their platform seems deserving of much more attention and engagement.
While the games are free to play, they offer an in-game currency called Diamonds that you can put towards keys that unlock the chapters. You can play completely for free using daily gifts, which award you up to five keys each day, but Diamonds are always available for purchase if you cannot wait long enough to accumulate the necessary amount of keys to advance.
With only three chapters currently available for Kortia it proves to be an ideal set-up to take in the title at a leisurely pace. The first two chapters can be completed within a couple of days using the keys from the daily gifts, and this makes for a decent “trial period” to determine if you’re willing to commit to the slowly building but intriguing story.
The promising world of Kortia
I would like to take a moment to mention those putting in all the effort and attention to detail in this promising indie title. This is especially important since I must mention how exquisite the artwork is, provided by dorito_meatbag, whose incredible character sprites and CGs are the reason my eyes were drawn to the game. The pleasantly clean backgrounds are provided by Lim ChinYang, and the very promising plot is penned by main writer ZENO, ably assisted by co-writer animegenork, after many years of developing lore for the world and characters.
As an isekai visual novel, our main character is as out of the loop as we are when we suddenly find ourselves transported to this unfamiliar world. This narrative choice makes it easy to put ourselves in our main character’s shoes quite literally, with the Adventurer (as the protagonist is known) often asking valid questions and learning about Kortia at the same time we are. With a fully customisable main character, with options ranging from different hairstyles to your preferred pronouns, it makes the self insertion all the more fulfilling, and deserves applause for being as inclusive as other indie visual novel efforts such as the excellent Arcade Spirits.
The title also offers a very interesting plot that anyone and everyone can get into, even if you’re not interested in any potential lover — the story can be played through without romancing anyone, resulting in the Adventurer remaining single. You can instead rank up friendship points with love interests as well as side characters, and there appear to be choices that shape your character into being a hero, villain or neutral.
Your stance can even be affected as you grow closer to a love interest or friend, depending on their own ideals and goals. For a visual novel, choices really do matter in this one. This is most obvioulsy seen in Chapter 3, where one single selection will branch the story to a different outcome of the story path, so we will have to wait and see where this takes us in the upcoming fourth chapter.
With well-written dialogue that gives each character their own particular idiosyncrasies, such as Byrus’ humorous and thick accent, we get the distinct feeling that this new world and its characters are most certainly different and eccentric. It’s the small, creative details like this that adds to Kortia’s charms.
Additionally, there’s plenty of comedy to be enjoyed and taken in within each chapter, plus effective and original worldbuilding being established through the narrative. From three capital cities approaching war with one another to the wide array of different types of people we expect from isekai fiction — including the obligatory cat and lizard people — we’ve got a long way to go before we see all of Kortia’s mysteries and secrets revealed.
Of course this hasn’t stopped theories already popping up by fans of the title, as we’re all excited to see the world continue to expand with each chapter. Perhaps the most interesting interesting narrative thread involves the “monsters of the night” called Dires; these had terrorised the humans of this world (known as “Vallaurians”) for thousands of years, until a group of seven magic wielding heroes whittled their numbers down within one of the world’s last known cities. This opened the door to the use of magic by those who proved themselves capable — such as the very intriguing Gerald.
Those beautiful love interests
Speaking of Gerald, this is an appropriate time to gush about those wonderfully designed love interests. Our thief and merchant is a Vallaurian in search of a better life away from his homeland. He speaks rudely and is appalling at communicating with others, seeing it as a waste of time. That won’t stop me hanging around him as much as possible though. As a person who is more fond of talking towards animals and is undeniably adorable because of his hidden considerate nature, he’s an instant attention grabber — even if he might deny it.
On the other hand, Dyclos is a egotistical, ruthless and arrogant fighter who has made a name for himself, and is feared for his talents in battle; he is one of the rare few in the world who can wield both magic and blessings. He seems pretty calculating and is potentially the most risky love interest, since hot and scary is a dangerous mix.
Another great love interest is Kor, a capable fighter with an appealing and charming personality. He is confident enough to stand off with Dyclos despite knowing his background, but has an immediately laid-back and friendly attitude towards the Adventurer.
The masked Vallaurian Knight Zeno, meanwhile, falls short to Dyclos’ fame and notoriety, but is loved by the public and does his everything to support Vallaurians — bless him. He’s also very entertaining and expressive despite being masked, but I am grateful we’ve already had the opportunity to see his face, since he should not be hiding what God has gifted him!
Of course there are also female love interests who both male and female Adventurers can romance, from the sharply dressed and sharply tongued maid Luna, to the always smiling and chipper cat girl Alexis, heiress to the Summerset Dutchy (who may, of course, have a hidden side to her)
Best girl is undoubtedly the elf Princess Varcia, heiress of the Kortia Empire, who is strong in both brains and muscle and possesses an even stronger sense of justice and righteousness.
The interactions between all the characters are engaging, and they sets up many different dynamics and interesting dialogues. This makes me extremely excited to see how they will connect with the world’s events and work towards their own goals and intentions.
And I just really want to see more of Gerald and Kor. You have done wonders for us all, dorito_meatbag. (That is not a sentence I ever thought I would be editing when I got up this morning – Ed.)
The links you need
- What makes Karneval an enthralling manga - March 5, 2021
- The timeless classic of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - March 4, 2021
- What on Earth was the Dot Kareshi ~We’re 8bit Lovers~ trilogy? - March 3, 2021