SIGONO is a developer and publisher not known in our latitudes. Based in Taipei, Taiwan, and operating mainly on mobile, he rose to prominence in 2016 with OPUS: The Day We Found Earth, a space adventure with sketchy graphics that offered us to accompany an unlikely trio in their search for the planet. The earth. Hailed by critics mainly for its narrative, this new license had attracted some interest and benefited from, among other things, the distinction of Google Play Editors’ Choice.
A year later, OPUS: Rocket of Whispers repeated the feat by putting us in the shoes of makeshift psychopomps asked to build a funeral rocket on a post-apocalyptic planet Earth hit by winter’s climate change. The feeling was there again with an improved graphic treatment and very inspired musical compositions. The game was once again awarded and even dubbed by Famitsu, a first for a Taiwanese game.
- A smile is so rare
Coming in 2021, OPUS: Echo of Starsong marks the return of the series, still in visual novel, but with gameplay focused on space exploration. A year later, with the benefit of re-recorded voices and under the name Full Bloom Edition, this third episode is finally released on our Xbox consoles. Immediately bury any hint of a French version. For the rest of us poor westerners who don’t have a master’s degree in oriental languages, we have to settle for the English localization of the lyrics, the voices that remain to be chosen, in Chinese or Japanese.
OPUS: Echo of Starsong – Full Bloom Edition is available in Xbox Game Pass since August 25 and can be purchased in the Xbox Store for €24.99.
Let fire and iron light up the stars
A ship lands on an isolated asteroid. A limping old man appears, ignoring the admonitions to return from an apparently senior figure via his comm system. Despite his staggering gait, barely supported by his cane, he moves inexorably into cyclopean ruins which gradually reveal a lush, luminous garden. A woman’s memories give her the strength to carry on, despite her obvious weakness. He sits down briefly, and we dive with him into his memories.
- The end is only the beginning
A few decades earlier, in a remote region of the Galactic Empire called the Thousand Peaks, the long war for control of the lumen, a resource with multiple and fantastic properties, was won by the mega military and religious corporation United Mining. After abusing its monopolistic position for several years, it is forced to open the exploitation of the lumen to the public. An era of exploration ensues, full of promises of fame and riches. In short, a gold rush in the space version, where the lure of profit can lead to fortune or to a premature end.
Great legends often begin with a series of unfortunate accidents
Merchant Transfer Station: Fortune 9, year 8533, five years after the end of the war.
Migrant Bazaar is like any other busy trading center in the Thousand Peaks. Behind strict rules, corruption reigns, and information can be bought as easily as goods, legal or not. Suddenly, an argument breaks out between a capybara informant and a fiery greenhorn, whose mannerisms and inexperience in space exploration clearly reveal his status as a freshly landed blue blood. The object of the dispute concerns a transaction on spatial coordinates, apparently useless. The tone rises and the situation quickly degenerates as the itinerant gunman’s bodyguard grabs the merchant to make him pay dearly for his disrespect to his master.
- A tough negotiation
Two young women suddenly intervene in the argument and quickly end the exchange in their favor before slipping away, leaving the two men distraught and bitter. After complaining about the peddler’s attitude to the local branch of the merchants’ guild, it turns out that he was rotten as hell, that the buyers were duped, and that they are ready to ambush him. In the name of the values he defends and despite his own safety, the young man convinces his comrade to rush to the rescue…
- The star map, full of destinations to explore
It’s not a moon, it’s a starbase
After a few adventures, we find ourselves at the controls of an ancient intergalactic nutshell with extremely limited capacity. The Red Chamber, our camper for the rest of the adventure, allows us to move between the various celestial bodies and other space stations. It’s important to keep it in good condition and ensure it’s always at its best by stocking it with fuel and armor, as well as research kits to harvest resources for sale during certain stages of our tours. A summary improvement tree of the various equipment completes the ship sheet.
- The Red Chamber, our Millennium Falcon
Space travel is far from a walk in the park, and it’s not uncommon to be intercepted by a United Mining patrol, boarded by pirates, or surprised by a solar flare. These incidents can most often be resolved by escape or trickery (How good it is to pretend to be a high-ranking officer!), sometimes at the cost of precious armor points, and it is in these situations that e understands the importance of pampering your ship.
Knowing how to lend a hand… and an ear
At each of our stops, one or more points of interest are available and allow us to learn more about the history, beliefs and geopolitics of the Thousand Peaks. Some put us in situations that force us to make a choice. These are relatively basic and mostly consist of accepting or refusing to help a person. In some cases, our choice is subject to a simulation of a roll of the dice depending on the difficulty of the action, knowing that the possession of certain objects allows us to change the draw in our favor or provide an additional solution option.
- Let’s try to lay low
Some major plot locations, sometimes unlocked after a mini-game based on sound, put us directly in control of the characters during freer exploration phases in horizontal scrolling. Only the collection of resources and collectibles briefly distracts us from a course that is ultimately very significant. The fantastical settings, both unsettling and mysterious, are characterized by massive portals that must be opened for progress thanks to recordings of songs, like audio keys that must be modulated to make them correspond to the indicated symbols. This resonant lock-picking exercise becomes more complex as the adventure progresses, but never gets too nebulous.
- Open Sesame!
Faith can be manipulated. Only knowledge is dangerous
The SIGONO teams know their classics and don’t hesitate to appropriate them with some brilliance to give substance to the Thousand Peaks universe. It is probably easy to see the progress in the universe of the Macross saga in the use of chants for military purposes. But the most obvious reference for the author of these lines is undoubtedly Frank Herbert’s Dune with, in the first place, the comparison between lumen and spice, universal wealth with different uses, measure of all desires. Moreover, how can we fail to notice certain analogies between the journey of the heroes of the Lee clan and the heroes of House Atreides, the complexity of political intrigues and power games on the spatial chessboard, which opposes United Mining and the Guild of Lumen, while the Emperor , too removed from the conflict, remains a terrifying but ultimately powerless figure on the other side of the galaxy?
- A sacred nest of snakes
And what of the caste of witches, often depicted wearing long hooded cloaks, who possess a unique attachment to the precious resource, both feared and hated for their stance in war, and whose voice guides ships through the stars? Cameo or coincidence, has Baron Harkonnen been reincarnated as a dubious information broker? Finally, the various beliefs very present in this part of the galaxy, personifying the local stars and also the original Earth, are inextricably linked to the struggles for influence and the sterile clashes between the various factions present and perfectly illustrate the quote “When law and duty is one under religion, no one is really aware. »
An epic space opera, but a little too conventional
Fortunately, all these influences are perfectly digested and integrated in the service of a coherent universe, perhaps too rich, and a plot that perfectly manages to lead us to the end of space, despite characters that are probably too predictable in their reactions. The crew of the Red Chamber is particularly endearing, appearing as a heterogeneous group of tortured idealists confronted by a completely amoral world. The plot tricks are often obvious, but the youthful openness of the main characters guarantees us all the possible emotions with a dynamic and even dramatic staging at certain critical moments.
- Honor is not an empty word for our hero
The musical compositions, most often classical, accompany each atmosphere perfectly, whether it is a discreet piano melody during the exploration of an old abandoned satellite or a symphonic explosion that emphasizes the intense stress of the unexpected crossing of a barrier of asteroids. The graphics are not to be outdone, depicting grandiose environments during the exploration phases and simultaneously insisting on the dull, dreary and stuffy interiors of the space stations. The puzzles using sound are quite well thought out and really deserved to be used a bit more.
- Sing like your life depended on it!
During the adventure’s ten hours, the game regularly tries to move us away from its perfectly mastered main plot by inviting us to look for additional story elements. Only relentless completionists or people drawn to the teachings of this OPUS: Echos of Starsong will be convinced to travel these cosmic crossroads to fill the generous codex of history. When the end credits are reached, it is possible to listen to some very short speeches from the project manager, who inform us about certain points in the universe, and to resume the adventure at the beginning of each of the chapters to explore the possibilities.
Tested on Xbox One and Xbox Series X