- System PC & PS2
- Release Date December 17, 2004
- Developer Navel
- Publisher (Japan) Interchannel & Navel
The game plays on a space station. Soul Link has survival element which is a plus if you love to read something thrilling. And please note that this visual novel has some mature scenes, although that won’t get evaluated in this review.
Below is the game opening.
In AD 2045, a group of military cadets attending the Central Military Academy boarding a space station named Aries for zero-g training. Their training is interrupted when emergency alarm alerts them to the abnormal proximity of an unpredicted object. A terrorist group called “Hallarax” hijack the station. While the military successfully evacuates the civilians on board the station, main protagonist and his group are trapped.
The boarding assault has left most of the military personnel dead, effectively leaving the cadets on their own. The situation turned worse when an unexpected twist occurs, a mysterious virus is released within the station, which turns those infected into mindless creatures. This forces everyone, friend and foe alike, to work together to find a way to come back safely to Earth.
What I like the most from this visual novel is the story. Although there are some senseless joke and rather complicated conversation. The overall story is promising and gives this unique feeling that can absorb you to the story.
Like any other visual novels, the game is mostly spent reading. After some time the game will stop to let players choose an option from multiple choices. After that, the plot will branch.
At certain point, the game will let you prioritize where you want to go first as you can see in the picture. Just point it to a certain place and click.
However, many choices lead to a bad ending and it really isn’t obvious at all. So make sure you always make a save before making a critical choice. This visual novel has many slots to make save (total 100 slots) so you won’t need to worry about save space. Also, there is quick load/save to consider.
The story will be divided into several chapters, also comes with different perspective. First and last chapters will be from third person POV (Point of View), second and third chapters will be told from first person view (from different protagonist).
Voiced by Koike Takezou
A third-year cadet. Ryota does not excel in any single subject, scoring slightly above average in most fields, unlike his older brother, Shuhei. He is timid, hesitating so much, rely on others, behaviours that don’t befit a military cadet. Even showed it when Shuhei wants to hand over him an important task. But he is also kind even though he himself didn’t even realize it. As the story progress, he feels like he isn’t as great as his brother, but still accomplished leading everyone and become more like a leader.
Voiced by Herushii Tarou
Ryota’s older brother, a second-year cadet of Central Military Academy. Shuhei is a brilliant and talented soldier, the first one to skip two years since the academy was founded. He and Ryota both are the main male protagonists in this game, players will select choice while controlling them. Throughout the game, he keeps going strong and true to his reputation. And he’s showing this by making clever and wise decision & thinking. And he also encouraging the timid Ryota several times.
Voiced by Goutokuji Aiko
A third-year cadet, the childhood friend of Ryota Aizawa. She’s your typical protagonist’s childhood friend in any game and has a crush to the protagonist. Throughout the story, when something goes wrong around her, she is often blaming herself. And also often thinking and worried about her best friend. She showed a strong feeling about wanting to save her best friend.
Voiced by Nagasawa Hitomi
Shuhei’s girlfriend. She is a medical student at the Academy. She’s caring, passionate and very kind to everyone throughout the story.
Voiced by Mizuki Shuu
A brilliant computer specialist and hacker. He develops a rivalry with both Aizawa brothers, though he does have a high respect for Shuhei.
Voiced by Oono Marina
First-year cadet at Central Military Preparatory Academy. Kazuhiko Nitta’s younger sister, she is even more adept at computer hacking than he is. The siblings tend to argue whenever they see each other. She even showed a rude side to Shuhei before she knows the famous Shuhei. And she can frankly speak her mind.
Voiced by Midori
A woman pretending to be a civilian on the Aries Station. Her character is quiet and gives the feeling of mysterious. And later in the game, she was revealed that she’s not just ordinary civilian.
Voiced by Iwama Nobuko
An instructor on the Aries Station. She’s from the USA. She teach English, Mechanics, and Special Maneuvers to cadets at the Central Military Preparatory Academy. She appears to be very caring towards her students but after the story progressed, she’s showing the unexpected side of hers.
Voiced by Okada Kouji
Leader of the terrorist faction that boards the Aries Station. He’s giving off this tough and strong look. Throughout the story, he’s also showing his short tempered behaviour but still lead a great leadership to his men and thought of a great tactic.
Voiced by Nagano Isamu
A steward on the Aries Station. He takes care of all civilian passengers and acts as the general manager. Personally, he looks calm, gentle, polite, and easygoing, I feel his presence kinda like a butler. And he’s also hiding a secret.
Voiced by Maki Izumi
A strange and young girl found on the Aries Station. She always looks like a cheerful and innocent kid, even has her own soundtrack theme. And also later showing her superb intellect even when she had a devastating lack of knowledge.
Overall, the character development is balanced. Because they all have varied personality that keeps the character interaction throughout the game interesting. And the one who showed character development the most are the character who turned out to be the unexpected antagonist and the main protagonist Ryota Aizawa.
Graphic & Sound
Even though it’s 2004 game, personally, the graphic and the sound are still good. Top notch in terms of vocal acting. This game has many soundtracks with different mood and suitable for each scene. Players can also change the text colour in this visual novel to their liking. Soul Link has visual effects too, for example when something collides, the screen will shake.
No additional replay. However, after the visual novel has been completed at least once, gallery and scene playback will pop up on title menu, players can view CG (computer graphics) they have seen and listens to the soundtrack from the gallery. Meanwhile, from scene playback, players can see all the mature scenes and endings they have seen so far.
It has a quite high replay value, primarily because of many choices lead to the bad ending. Although the main story is still the same, after around half of the story (protagonist will also change). Unfortunately, players can’t get different heroine’s ending before they finished one heroine’s ending (you could say this is because of protagonist’s one true love). Players can make a save and then after getting the true ending, players can save some time by replaying from there.
+ Space Theme
+ Great Soundtrack & Voice Acting
+ Nice Graphic
+ Survival Element
+ Unexpected Plot Twists
+ Multiple Endings
– Unpredictable Number of Choices (Too Many Blind Routes)
– High Amount of Bad Endings
– Has Bad Mature Scenes (Some Players might Dislike Them)
– Several Unnecessary Fanservice Moments
– Vulgar Words
Final Score: 3.7/5
Graphic & Sound: 5
Additional Appeal: 1
Replay Value: 3
From the Visual Novel Database website rating, Soul Link gets average 6.71 out of 10 from 756 total votes (when this review was being written).
If you like stories with space setting or bored with typical visual novels, I highly recommend this visual novel for you. Regardless of the several bad mature scenes, Soul Link has romance moments, thrilling moments, and life and death choice. Even when it has a bunch of intense moments, sometimes it also has a certain relax and cheerful atmospheres. Also, several unexpected plot twists which will blow your mind. This visual novel might also appeal to players who loves to explore many multiple choice.