The House in Fata Morgana

Posted on Updated on

I seem to be writing more and more of these short review things but THIS WAS TOO GOOD OF A STORY NOT TO TALK ABOUT!! It also has romantic elements in it so… I’m still keeping to my blog’s theme of otome games, right? LOL. Seriously though, I have to write my thoughts down to find release and I hope in doing so I can convince some people to try this game out. I’m going to try my best not to spoil anything (this game is best when going into it blind) but some analogies and references I make might hint at things so proceed past the read more at your own risk.

First though I’m going to talk about my general thoughts about The House in Fata Morgana. I found it to be a story that nails the delicate balance between despair and hope. You’re given happiness and then it’s ripped away, but when you’re in despair you’re given a reprieve in hope and happiness. Fata Morgana is a story about how humans and the unshakable principles that make each person unique can lead to tragedy; but it’s also a story about how every human has the capacity for resilience, hope, and forgiveness, and how those can make a difference. I think, ultimately, it’s a story about humans in all their messy and glorious humanity and the connections – and influence – we can have on each other (and it’s also a story about how perspective is everything).

TL;DR: Fata Morgana takes you to the terrifying depths that humans can fall into but it will also lift you up with displays of the human capacity to connect and support each other. It’s a very well-done story with despair and hope that ends on a beautiful and uplifting note (which is what these kind of stories need, imo, otherwise you’d just crush your readers with all the tragedy LOL).

I do have some criticisms though. The pacing can be a bit off at times such as giving massive backstory on characters when, at that point, you have no idea why you should care or what you should even take away from it. Also, I don’t know if this was a localization issue or not but on a technical standpoint the writing can be a bit bland for a gothic suspense/horror/romance story. HOWEVER, the craft and entirety of the story is masterful. Everything is placed in the game for a reason (the game answers everything) and it’s amazing how many layers this story has. At one point you end up reading the same scene three times but this happens after you gain additional knowledge each time which warps your perspective of that scene and it just. blew. my. mind.

Borrowing the style that Manga Gamer used…

SUMMARY:

“You” come to awareness in an eerie mansion where a Maid (or more like The Maid) informs you that you are the “Master” of this house and that she has been awaiting your return. “You” don’t have any memories or concept of self though and so she decides to take you through some doors – which hold memories of people who have passed through the mansion – in the hopes that it will help you regain memories of who “you” are.

First Door. 1603. This is a tale about cowardice. It talks about two aristocrat siblings, Mell and Nellie Rhodes, and their blissful lives together in the mansion, which was named Rose Manor at the time. On the surface their lives appear peaceful and happy but things start to… deteriorate, especially after a mysterious stranger shows up.

Second Door. 1707. This is a tale about a beast. It talks about a beast who, having suffered beastly (hehe) treatment from humans, went on a bloody rampage; however, this beast yearns to be human and to achieve peace and serenity, and nearly does so with the help of a familiar stranger. But can a beast, whose very nature is violence, ever become a human?

Third Door. 1869. This is a tale about ambition. It talks about a business man, Jacopo Bearzatti, and his hunger for wealth and power. But the more he continues to grasp at power to expand his sphere of influence the more he starts to lose, especially when his personality of keeping his cards close to his chest leads him to neglecting and mistreating his wife, a very familiar character. Like Icarus who came too close to the sun, Jacopo’s ambition exacts a price from him.

Fourth Door. 1099. This is a tale about love. It talks about an albino, Michel Bollinger, who resides alone in the mansion due to a curse placed on him that kills anything he touches. But when a White-Haired Girl shows up on his doorstep seeking sanctuary, having been chased here on accusations of being a witch and thus branded for death, he ends up allowing her to stay. At first he tries to scare her off by telling her about a tale of a witch from an old legend and claiming that he is this witch of misfortune. But when she refuses to leave they slowly become close to one another and ultimately fall in love. A tragic fate awaits these two lovers though when it becomes known that there is a witch residing in this mansion.

But actually these four doors only make up 1/4 of the game, if not even that. And while they may seem like isolated stories at first (except for one commonality) they are actually all interlinked and the game spends the rest of the time peeling back its layers one at a time, uncovering secrets and shaking your perspective with each revelation you unearth. What is this mansion? Who is The Maid? Who is the White-Haired Girl? Whose memories are these? And why are these memories/tales in the mansion? Is there any truth behind old legends?

MY THOUGHTS:

First, I want to point out that I am aware the writers have given their own labels to the first two or three tales in the extra sections of the game (once you finish everything) but I wanted to give them my own labels because I’m going to connect them to my thoughts below. This is the place to really beware of spoilers and to turn back now if you want to avoid knowing anything about the game.

I mentioned above in my general thoughts about how Fata Morgana is a story about humanity in all its terrible and messy glory which reminds me of two other favorite stories, Cloud Atlas (a movie directed by Tom Tykwer and The Wachowskis, though originally a book) and Sense8 (a show directed by J. Michael Straczynski and The Wachowskis). Both these shows deal with a diverse cast of humans, their quirks and faults, and how they all affect the world around them and consequently their influence on each other, aka. humans in their terrible and messy humanity.

Cloud Atlas is especially similar to Fata Morgana though with souls going through reincarnation (in this game it’s reconstruction) and how someone can actually change their fate. I don’t… uh, actually have a particular reason as to why I brought this up other than to say that I’ve always loved stories about reincarnation and this idea of humans being connected and having chances to meet again in this boundless sphere of fate. It wouldn’t surprise me if both Fata Morgana and Cloud Atlas were working off the concept of yuanfen.

Moving onto the three tales, the reason why I decided to give each tale those labels is because, while each of those three tales had their main character (the male) exemplify that trait, we can find these traits appearing in all humans. The desire to be loved which leads to averting one’s eyes from conflict and just hoping that the world will be kind to you if you are kind to it. The intruding thoughts – the beast – that we humans keep restrained within ourselves; we all have dark and vicious thoughts about people but know not to act on them. Ambition or desires that can mislead us to neglecting or pushing away things; miscommunication or the inability to express ourselves, our thoughts, and our feelings clearly to connect with another human. And, ultimately, we have boundaries and an unshakable principle (or principles) that define who we are and make each of us unique beings.

I also feel like the tale behind the Seventh Door embodies all of these traits in slightly different forms: the painter who turned his eye away from things and was reluctant to bear the burden of being the head of the house (cowardice), the proud knight who ended up breaking underneath his obligations (ambition), and the rest of the family and the world’s reaction to one of the characters (beasts). So, basically, this game repeats these themes again and again throughout its stories (the details of being human).

On a side note I didn’t cry as much as I thought this game would make me cry, oops. I think it’s because while the tales were tragic they were also… understandable? Like you can see how each character’s actions and tragic fault led them to that end so while it’s sad it also had a sense of inevitability. The parts that made me cry were the ones where the tragedy was external or happened outside of their control. For example, there was a part where one character believed in his family and I ended up believing blindly too because the alternative was just too devastating to consider but when a certain scene happened to stomp on that belief… I cried. I cried so much.

Honestly, Fata Morgana is a very heavy game and at times I felt so heavy and burned out at how terrible humans could be, SO MANY PEOPLE ARE JUST SO AWFUL, so I’m really glad that the game ended on an uplifting note. While I joke around about liking tragic stories, I don’t actually want them to end on a tragic and terrible note because that’s no fun. I want to be made to believe in humanity and that hope, forgiveness, and happiness is also something we should strive to have and to keep.

TL;DR: I’M GONNA BE THAT OBNOXIOUS PERSON RECOMMENDING EVERYONE TO READ THIS NOW! It’s definitely gone onto the list for my top visual novels and I’m shook with the knowledge that Suwabe Junichi voices Jacopo and Sakurai Takahiro voices Michel Bollinger (in the PSVita port and drama CDs). I’m also a sucker for star-crossed lovers overcoming their fate and returning to each other through ridiculous odds. MICHEL AND GISELLE’S BOND TO EACH OTHER. I’M SCREAMING. Seriously, Fata Morgana and how it ultimately had everyone ingrain morals onto their souls and overcome their faults through mutual support, open communication, and confronting themselves is such a great message to end on. I shed so many tears in the last chapter as we struggled and crawled our way to the light beyond the door.

10 thoughts on “The House in Fata Morgana

    Yume said:
    October 24, 2016 at 01:35

    I just read everything you wrote because I was curious. w I am intrigued but I don’t think I can play this anytime soon because all the past few titles I’ve been playing have been plot-heavy and all. Shall need to take a break from this trend first. www Thanks for the review!

      Ilinox responded:
      November 17, 2016 at 20:39

      You’re welcome! Oh, I hope I didn’t spoil anything for you though or gave you some hints/expectations of what to expect since this game really is best played completely blind. Haha, I totally understand wanting to break away from a genre that you’ve been stuck in for a while though! Hopefully the time away will make you forget about what you read here n_n I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this game. Everyone I’ve spoken to so far has seemed to really enjoy it! (And from what I know of your tastes, I think you will too!)

    Allison said:
    October 6, 2016 at 16:44

    Uwah, you finished this so quickly!! It’s nice that we were playing it at roughly the same time, and I’m glad you enjoyed it (๑→ܫ←๑)

    I never really thought about the Seventh Door that way (I think I spent the most time brooding over the Third Door, maybe? All my screenshots are Jacopo screenshots lmao) but it’s an interesting point!

    I say I like stories where the beginning/middle are sad but there’s a happy ending (I like the despair, but I want everyone to be happy! Everyone!) but actually…it probably just depends on the story? Sometimes it’s okay if it’s just a “neutral” ending, where things didn’t exactly work out in their favor, but they’re not unhappy either.

    I was expecting to cry a bunch more too…I kept waiting for it since everyone was like, “Prepare a tissue box!” but I think it happened maybe once or twice…? And generally at happy points, not sad ones. (Like when Michel rescued Giselle from the darkness and her theme started playing…I think in general I just yell at my best friend over DM when I’m going through tragic parts of games/anime www “DO YOU SEE THIS??? HOW DARE.”)

    Out of curiosity, do you have a favorite character/song? :o Or do you like everything/everyone about equally?

      Ilinox responded:
      October 8, 2016 at 15:42

      Once you start learning about the mysteries behind the mansion it’s so hard to stop |D but yeah!! It’s always fun to play something everyone else is too~ it’s been a while since I saw my TL interested in the same things (MM especially, haha).

      That’s true! It doesn’t have to be a purely happy ending for me either, and I don’t think Fata Morgana ended on one because everyone’s fate is still up in the air, they only showed how everyone was still connected in the sphere of fate but not what life has in store for them, although hopefully they’ve all learned lessons. BUT THIS STILL MAKES ME SO CONCERNED ABOUT JACOPO. WILL HE BE OKAY? WILL HE BE HAPPY? T__T.

      I think the Best End for Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly is another good example too, because I really really loved that ending. The one where everyone acknowledges the pain and hurt they have but they’ve overcome it and are ready to move on together.

      Haha, channel all the things you feel during the tragic parts to outrage at how it could happen |D!

      OH MAN it’d be so hard to pick a favorite song because the entire soundtrack just BLEW my mind. I have favorites from every door ghjkgh but overall I think my favorite would be the ones primarily for Morgana and Michel like “This Mutilated Body” and “The March of Time”! But I’m always listening to “Cicio” and “Giselle” as well, haha. For the more creepy songs I loved “Tarantula”, “Labirintia”, and “Fecha Me”.

      Fata Morgana is so tightly written that whenever I think about it I actually always think about it as a whole, haha, so I think overall yeah I did like everything and everyone. BUT I did like a few characters over the others, heehee. Jacopo is definitely one because Icarus-type men always get me. I love Morgana too because her snark is amazing LOL. I like Michel and Giselle’s relationship more than I like them as individual characters, oops. The way they supported each other and helped each other grow was so nice ;w; STAR-CROSSED LOVERS (which is another favorite trope of mine)!!

      How about you? It sounds like you really liked Jacopo if all you have are his screenshots |D.

        Allison said:
        October 10, 2016 at 22:01

        Yeah, that’s true! I like to think that it’ll be okay (even if they don’t remember specifics, maybe they’ll get some kind of feeling that it’s something they shouldn’t be doing…) but you never really know…even if the game, there are times where you’re like, “Oh, everything’s okay now!” and it wasn’t :’D There are some small nicer things at the end though! Like Nelly and Mell seem like they both have friends this time? So maybe their friends can give them some advice if things start to go badly again…

        I feel like I liked the songs from the last half the best too /o\ I started out liking “This Mutilated Body” the most at first, but now I like “Portrait of White” a lot too…I can’t really pick between one of them o(–< Since I like jazz/swing, I liked the Third Door music a lot too. (The lyrics to some of these songs though…like "Dammi una Sigaretta"…)

        I think more than liking Jacopo, it's like 1/2 feeling sorry for him (especially in the extras w) and 1/2 me thinking about 7KPP and staring into the abyss w (My main is a high-ambition court lady, so she's not very keen on exposing "weaknesses"…and every time I try an ambition-focused run, things just go really badly for her…) All my screenshots are sad ones where he's reflecting on what he did/why, or someone else is talking about it :') I agree with what someone else on TL said about him being charming sometimes, but then I remember one of the things from the Third Door and just feel very bitter ;; (He did plenty of other things, of course, but that time was a bit personal…so it's harder to just say, "I hope you've learned your lesson." and move on)

        The writing for Fata Morgana is so good; I do feel like I like everyone to some extent! But probably I'm most attached to Michelle and the Rhodes siblings…in Michelle's case, it's just because she's nice and pretty (basic, basic reasons) but in the siblings' case I probably…just relate to them the most…_(┐「ε:)_ (Maybe like 1/8 Pauline, 1/4 Jacopo, 5/8 Rhodes siblings) I did think Nelly's bossiness was kind of cute too though…and Mell's concept was kind of like, "……oh." (I never really thought of it while I was playing, but when you think about it and then think about his actions…it makes me a bit sad…)

        Allison said:
        October 11, 2016 at 17:24

        EDIT: It occurs to me that “relate” could be interpreted weirdly with those two (esp. since I’m not an only child) SO what I mean is:

        1) Nelly’s habit of saying how amazing Mell is without really criticizing him (It’s a bit different than Pauline’s, “Well, I’m sure they’re not a bad person…” IMO, because Pauline will say that about everyone and Nelly feels like she just gushes about people she’s fond of)
        2) Sheltered………..
        3) Mell trying to be the person Nelly says he is (at least around her) instead of being honest (not telling her about his problems etc.) (It’s….probably pretty similar motivation too)
        4) I think not wanting to admit to this similarity is its own bullet here (Though Fata Morgana characters in general are….yeah. Even if you were going to list Michelle as the character who you were most similar to…she still ends up having problems BECAUSE she’s so good)

        Ilinox responded:
        October 11, 2016 at 21:50

        Oh man, I feel like a lot of music for Fata Morgana has you start off thinking “this is such a nice tune and the lyrics sound so soft and sweet” but when you look at the actual translation it’s like “… oh”. Have you seen the lyrics for “Cicio”? WAS NOT WHAT I EXPECTED. But ooh yeah I think the 3rd door’s jazz songs were my favorite out of all the doors if we’re not talking specific tracks.

        JACOPO IN THE EXTRAS WAS SO SAD!! He melts so much and becomes like a puppy, all bark and no bite and just soulfully staring at Morgana, haha. Oops, for me the Rhodes siblings were my least favorite because Nelly kept on annoying me even though it was a mask she was putting up. Mell’s concept made me wince because while his concept felt so very human (that kind of timidity and belief that things will be fine and good things will come to you because you’re a good person) reminds me too much of The Nice Guy™ attitude.

        Oh, haha, no worries I knew what you meant when you used the word “relate” |D! I was thinking about it after reading your comments but, huh, I don’t think I can relate much to any of the characters. It’s funny because Fata Morgana writes their characters so realistically and you can see all the good and bad in them and yet… I can’t think of any that I would closely relate to ;;;;.

    Sena said:
    October 3, 2016 at 11:00

    Oh, you wrote something here! I was thinking about it because I also wanted some release but I ended up feeling better from getting other people to play it so you don’t need to worry about being that person that screams at everyone to play the game. (I’m actually really excited to see both of those people today to see how far they got in the games).

    I think I’m in the same boat as you in terms of liking stories with tragedy but not wanting them to end on that note because if that were the case then you really aren’t left in a good place hahaha.I liked the way you described the game by the way. I can really see your skill as a writer when you do these description/more analytical posts since like you said, there’s no fun if you tell people what this game is about. It’s actually one of the only games I was able to successfully get through without a guide and not feel lost without it.

    I GOT SUPER EXCITED WHEN I SAW WHO VOICED JACOPO AND MICHEL TOO. At least for the Vita port. I didn’t realized there would be drama CDs? In any case, we can talk about more spoilery stuff on Twitter so we don’t ruin the fun for anyone.

      Ilinox responded:
      October 5, 2016 at 20:51

      Heehee, I’ve gotten two people to give it a shot too though they haven’t started yet.

      Aw, thank you so much T_T I don’t normally do these because I don’t think I write very good editorials with opinions, haha, I’d rather just translate or try to be objective and summarize things.

      Forgot if I mentioned this on Twitter but the drama CDs are already out if you want to hear Jacopo and Michel :’) I DON’T KNOW IF I CAN BEAR GOING THROUGH THEIR STORY AGAIN… Fata is one of those games where I have a hard time touching it again because everyone is content at the end. (STARING AT MYSTIC MESSENGER FOR THE OTHER ONE BECAUSE AFTER YOU LEARN THE SECRETS…)

        Sena said:
        October 17, 2016 at 14:21

        I could’ve sworn I replied to this. What is going on….actually, I must’ve read this and mentally replied and never got to the actual typing of that response. So sorry!

        I like your editorials! If your style wasn’t the translation type I’d tell you to write more of them. I like your reviews as they are though, so there’s no reason to change unless you personally want to change.

        I think you did mention it on Twitter! Since I’m slowly (very, very slowly) replaying Fata to try and see the changes in the first three doors (and no way am I going to stop there so I might as well replay the whole game so I can have the right feeling at the end), I don’t know if I could handle listening to the drama CDs now as much as I want to hear Jacopo and Michel. I probably will at some point though because…Sakurai and Suwabe yo.

        Playing MM in a different order (or at least not saving Seven for last) really makes it a different experience since you have all this knowledge of what’s going on. In a way, I kind of like it. It’s like a different type of despair because instead of trying to figure out what’s going on you already know so you’re sitting there going “Oh no.” You know what’s happening but no one else knows in the game and it’s just…sometimes I look at those “I don’t trust V” or “what is V doing” responses you can choose and I’m like…NO. STOP. NO.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s