You’re lost. You’re tired. You’re hungry and you’re sick. You’re stumbling through a forest knowing that if you stop walking, someone will find you. Your life is in danger, be it from a misfortune, a mistake, or a vendetta. You call out to any god or spirit that might be listening to please have mercy and provide you refuge. That’s when you see it: a huge mansion in the woods. The House in Fata Morgana.
The House in Fata Morgana — or as I will call it from here on: Fata Morgana — is the visual novel debut by the group Novectacle, localized into English by Manga Gamer. It guides you by the hand with the help of The Maid as you learn the misfortunes of the people who lived in the mansion over a thousand years. There’s much more to it than that, but to say more would ruin the story for you. This VN is very hard to summarize and review without ruining things.
Fata Morgana, although written by a Japanese team, is a gothic story at it’s core about sin and forgiveness. It handles many themes of Christianity with thoughtfulness, tact, and a bit of the Japanese worldview mixed in. Fata Morgana stands on its own, without falling back on tropes and benchmarks like you often find in visual novels. Fata Morgana is like reading a book more than any visual novel I’ve read before.
If you’re interested, here’s a list of bullet point things that Fata Morgana does well, out of context to sell you on it without providing specific spoilers:
- Lack of communication ruining relationships.
- How not to cope with being a psychopath.
- Toxic masculinity destroying everything.
- Mistrust due to personal baggage.
- Recovering from trauma.
- Being a trans person in a shitty, shitty time.
- People making stupid fucking mistakes intrinsic to their character flaws that ruin other peoples’ lives.
I was waiting for things to fuss about over this story, but it is very well done. The narrative is tight. The localization is smooth as hell. The art is good. The music is good. Every character is a fully realized human. Some of the jokes were really dumb? So I guess there was that.
Fata Morgana had a perfect score on Steam by recommendation, and I believe it was well deserved.
Continue on for a summary just a little less careful about spoilers:
The House in Fata Morgana is a story about how you respond to being wronged. A small slight turns into a butterfly effect that might result in murder, or being reincarnated and reliving misery over and over again until the end of time. Fata Morgana wants you to tell people how you feel and communicate. It wants us to be aware and apologize when we hurt people. It wants us to look at the baggage we’ve inherited from people hurting us and try to put it away. If we don’t, we might lash out at people and perpetuate a cycle of harm. Fata Morgana asks us to love, and look on the struggles of other people with love. We don’t need to forgive those who have wronged us to move on. Forgiveness isn’t required to look forward to a better life.
Fata Morgana appears for the first four chapters to be a story about a bunch of people in a house. Spoilers: it’s actually literature about the cycles of revenge by people who have been wronged, and those people learning what they need to do to move on. Sometimes that means taking on the burden for someone else and saving their soul.
Yeah I’m going to need to think about this story a while longer before I can say much more about it.