Siren’s Call: Escape Velocity Review by Abubis



Siren's Call: Escape Velocity is an emotionally charged psychological visual novel about a teenager struggling to say his goodbyes. On this unique, enjoyable journey, can you reach escape velocity?

You follow Oliver as he prepares to leave for college, saying goodbye to his friends as his final step to getting the "hell" out of Florida. However, there is more to Siren's Call than meets the eye. There is a mystery. Maybe not one to be solved - but one for the reader to piece together and understand while the characters deal with the aftermath. Yet something isn't right, as you come to understand that it was not just an ordinary summer for them. As we progress, we see our main character struggling with internal thoughts. Negativity and doubt plague their mind. Yet it is clear Oliver is to be sorely missed by his close friends, who have quite the history that we shall discover over time.

But what is this history? Playing through the first chapter of the game, I found myself confused yet intrigued. Something was going on in the background. This was not just about a college send-off, but what was it? Hints are being thrown at me but nothing is made clear. Not for a while. While progressing through the game you start to "recall" some very handy journal entries. From my experience and what I was recommended, I'd suggest reading the newly unlocked journal entries as you start the next chapter. By doing so you will unlock a lot of context on what happened at Siren's call before the game. It's almost like you're reading through the notes of a prequel; the journal is full of interesting lore. Florida is a scary place, haven't you heard?

There's a big part of Siren's call that I have yet to touch on. The other characters in the story are just as significant as Oliver after all.

  • We have Violet, Oliver's girlfriend. He's staying with her and her mother, Miss Lawrence in Florida. To escape her struggles with epilepsy, Violet often spends her time painting in peace at the beach.
  • Judith is a sweet character and a lovely baker, a friend of Oliver's who is riddled with worry as he prepares to leave. She's also the twin sister of Andi. In a way, their personalities are quite different. Shy and nervous is Judith. Andi, however, is much more confident, with a passion for her fitness and strength.
  • Ashton is another friend of Oliver's. He's much more of the delinquent type who expresses his worries too, like how his life would have gone if he hadn't entered the group. The friendship he had found was just as important for his life since he seems much more determined to make it as good as he can, knowing what waits for him otherwise.
  • Finally, Emil. Presented as a rather smart character, he enjoys reading with Oliver and is much more organised, knowing of the mysteries we're discovering and how tracks need to be covered, to keep it unknown to the world.

It's hard to tell you more about the story without spoiling details that are better to find out from experience.

Yet I can talk to you about a very specific part of the game that caught my eye: it covers a lot of sensitive topics. For example: autism, epilepsy, depression, and abuse are some that are touched upon by this game. It is interesting to see there is a lot of coverage of this in the game. A lot of the characters have been exposed to difficult things, and often their parents are the ones with said struggles. I found Siren's Call uses these topics in a good way for the story, and it makes the conflicts hard to hate the character for.

Saying your goodbyes to your friends in Siren's Call feels a lot easier than one may expect for Oliver. While his friends felt emotions over the ordeal, our protagonist had little to say but the choices that were given. Yes, this does become plot-relevant because who wouldn't be an emotional mess as they leave behind everything and everyone they cared for? It gives you something to think about, maybe he is just overwhelmed? …But with what? The summer wasn't an easy one after all.

At the very start of the game, Oliver is dealing with negative inner thoughts. I'm given Doki Doki Literature Club vibes quite early on, as I'm often flashed with uncomfortable imagery and some worrying words. The protagonist does not feel safe or even comfortable where he is, and there's something deeper to the plot than simply saying goodbye to your friends. Is what he's feeling literal, or is his mind playing tricks on him? Or better yet, is the game playing tricks on us?

As you progress through the chapters, the game presents you with things that get your mind going. There are moments where characters act very unnaturally - even the game openly acknowledges this and how odd it is. But the hard part is figuring out why.

I enjoyed the moments of calm the game brought, giving you a chance at peace while you explore the world of Siren's Call. You get to know more about all of the characters and what they have been through in the past and present. It's a very wholesome twist and I enjoyed being able to just sit and talk with Oliver's friends. This doesn't quite last forever, so enjoy the quiet before the storm. The game is also a little forgiving, so feel free to explore and try out options to maximise your experience.

As someone who has played a lot of Visual Novels, I find it important for there to be characters I enjoy to give me reasons to come back. One such character for me in Siren's call was Judith. She's a very lovely and caring character and despite knowing her for only an hour, I felt the most bad for her when it came to Oliver leaving. I also found myself rooting for Oliver and Violet the whole way - the future of the pair being a big incentive for me to keep playing. But as mentioned before, there are a range of characters in Siren's Call and there are plenty of chances for you to find one you enjoy and come back for!

Game play:
There are a few things I have to credit this game for. One mechanic I like is related to choices. As with most visual novels you are given dialogue options, and as you play through Siren's Call - after getting the response for a choice, you can "regress" and explore the other options. Once you have chosen the option you prefer the most you can simply continue. As always, choices matter. So choose carefully as the story unwinds. Dialogue choices are also not the only options. Oliver can also choose things to do at some points, such as choosing who to visit. Make sure you consider your time, as you have hours before you leave! The main story follows up with "after story" content which is still very important, and I would deeply recommend the player keep going. Overall when it came to the ending, I will admit I did not love the conclusion. That's just me, though. The writing and whatnot was great, and at the very least I'm glad I didn't finish this game with an overwhelming amount of questions. You'll also unlock some great side stories with your completion that I'd recommend reading for a little smile.

As you play through Siren's Call, there are a few things to consider. First off, this is something the game immediately warns you of. At certain parts of the story, your saves will be wiped, so you won't be able to consistently go back very far. Some choices are also locked into the files, so you can't just start the chapter again to undo some things. The game does a great job of making some choices permanent, so genuinely think about your choices even if they feel irrelevant and like something you can reload and fix. Another thing to keep in mind if you play the game in multiple sittings is the "Continue" button starts you at the beginning of the chapter, not your newest save. On the topic of choices, the game also 'rewards' you for making specific choices, interacting with different things, and exploring as much of the world as you can, giving you special unlocks in the gallery. I found the sprites and artwork to be very pretty. I enjoyed the art style of the game, especially the oil painting style backgrounds in many scenes. The CGs have slight animations to them, which I thought was a great little touch - and not something I see often in visual novels! The sounds were alright, I enjoyed some tracks but for me, nothing stood out. There are some seagull background sounds which, as someone who lives in a coastal area, did have me verbally asking the game to shut up. Whoops. There was also some music downtime where nothing was playing which left scenes feeling a little empty. Also, we have two different types of borders for the game's textbox, both of which are rather fitting to the theme, "Old Friends" I preferred this due to the colours feeling softer and cleaner.

Overall Experience:

Overall, I enjoyed the experience of Siren's Call. It took a little bit for the game to pick up my interest, but by the end of the first chapter, I was intrigued and wanted to know more. Through all the mystery and darkness of the game, our main character is just trying to say goodbye to his friends. The story seems rather linear with two endings available, yet it has some length to it. I had moments of sadness and almost frustration for the characters sometimes. Embark on a mystery with Oliver and his friends as they try to recover from the aftermath of the summer. At the end of the day Siren's Call: Escape Velocity is a rather wholesome adventure about the group's relationships and their internal struggles.

Can you reach Escape Velocity?

Otome Lovers wishes to thank ThePenSword for providing a free review copy for this game.

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