New studio Luci’s Triad Games used NaNoRenO to bring us the demo for their debut game Out of A-Line. Play as either Allen or Aledis as newcomers to a popular fashion house. Along the way, meet your fellow models and designers, pick your outfit, and build relationships with your new friends and coworkers while maintaining the ones you already have.
A review for this demo was requested through the VN Game Den review request form.
Even by demo standards, the play experience currently presented is very, very short. The content’s fairly limited, so it’s hard to say at this point whether it gives an accurate taste of what the full product will eventually be.
That being said, it definitely catches your attention with how visually striking it is. It has bold colors without being overwhelming. The backgrounds favor big, blocky forms that shape the scene without needing to be particularly detailed. This lets the characters stand out while still keeping everything stylistically coherent. The character design itself is varied and lush, with a lot of attention paid to creating a a diversity of body types and expression of gender. The costuming is wild. It pulls very clearly from high-street fashion and is highly detailed and fun. It may not be the most realistic for day-to-day wear, even in the fashion setting in which they’re working, but it’s easy to overlook because the whole aesthetic approach feels so “big” to begin with.
The ability to pick between a set of two protagonists is a very interesting approach. It provides a way to see the story and the characters from multiple angles and another vector of interpersonal relationships. It’s not just you and these other proposed love interests, it’s you and your fellow protagonist. It also seems like they’re using it as a way to gate some love interests based on gender. In a romance game, it feels like a strange choice to limit who can romance who when the pool of interests is already so small. I would want to see how that unfolds in the longer game. Even if you can’t romance a certain love interest as a certain protagonist, I could still see the appeal of a platonic route.
It has a very fast-paced intro that gets to the point fairly quickly and comes with a wonderful efficiency of storytelling. The writing does an excellent job of laying the initial groundwork extremely quickly and throwing you right into the first day of work for our would-be designers. Afterward that initial introduction, though, it keeps moving quickly, almost to its detriment.
Even considering that it’s still a demo, I feel like I don’t really have a good grasp on everyone and the environment they’re living in. I don’t really know the characters, and the game’s already asked me to choose whose number I’d prefer. I don’t know, because I don’t know them. I’m not exactly sure on the parameters of Aledis and Allen’s relationship. They strike me initially as really good friends, but then it feels like maybe there’s more there, then maybe not. It’s not totally clear. We also just don’t really spend a lot of time with the other side characters at first, and there are a lot of them to keep track of right at the start. I’m also a little unclear exactly what the company they work at actually is and what the nature of their job is going to be beyond “model” and “designer.” While it doesn’t need to go into the nitty-gritty details of their work, if they’re going to be spending large chunks of the game there, a little less confusion wouldn’t go amiss. Essentially I wish there was simply more to the demo without necessarily being further in the storyline. It would benefit from just being a little beefier in content.
What I love about Out of A-Line as it’s been presented, so far, is more outside the game and what I feel might be happening on the development side. It strikes me as a game being made by a team who wanted to see more of themselves in the games they were playing. They’re filling in a gap with unabashedly queer and non-white characters, and I think that’s fantastic. There’s a sense of care evident. Even if I’m wrong in my presumptions of motivation, I think it has the potential to be a really solid game with really fun, charming characters.
Download the demo now on itch.io, available in both English and Spanish.