"Milestone One of Fault is an interesting story, but it fails as a first episode: it doesn't properly set up the main characters, villains or setting. As a standalone story it's actually quite compelling, but it fails as part of a larger tale."
Editor's Note: Fault contains a couple of moments of extreme violence (one of animal cruelty). They are brief, but jarring and confronting enough that I felt it worth mentioning.
Fault is puzzling. It plays as though it's caught between trying to do two entirely different things, and not succeeding particularly well at either. Described as a "Science Fantasy" visual novel, Fault puts players in the world of both medieval fantasy and a sort of steampunk sci-fi. The story begins with the kingdom of Rughzenahdie in flames and under assault from powerful, sadistic group of young girls whose goal is... not explained in this first episode. The kingdom's princess, Selphine, is whisked away to safety by her young bodyguard Ritona using the magical power of manakravte, though they end up in an unknown location.
At first, it appears that Fault will be a road-trip-style story as the two girls rally reinforcements on their way home to Rughzenahdie, but Fault quickly sidesteps this. Instead, they find themselves caught up in the events of an entirely different continent where magic doesn't exist and science rules. Though they may be the main characters, Selphine and Ritona are largely irrelevant to the primary story of Milestone One, which is that of Rune and her brother Rudo. It's difficult to give an overview of their story without spoilers, but it's a sci-fi tale filled with artificial life and strange medical conditions. It's quite a touching story, but largely predictable if you've played other visual novels or watched anime in a similar genre.
The characters suffer from similar genre clichés, though this could be a positive for some players. Selphine is your typical airhead happy-go-lucky princess, Ritona is a stick-in-the-mud, and Rune is cheerful but clearing hiding something. Rudo, head of a massive corporation, is a more interesting character who I felt had realistic motivations based on the trauma he had experienced during his lifetime. The real villains are cheated out of any real screen time, so it's hard to feel any real antagonism towards them; Fault doesn't take enough time to make players hate them.
The world and setting are just as poorly explained. At times, Selphine refers to the people of the Outer-Pole (the location she and Ritona arrive in) as servants of Rughzenahdie, but it's an entirely different continent who seem to know nothing about mana or magic. Likewise, the Outer-Pole is discussed as being distant, but it's never clear just how far the two girls are from home. And, with the huge scientific prowess of the Outer-Pole, how is there so little communication between them and other continents? The move from swords and sorcery to medicine and robotics is simply too jarring and not explained well enough to be believable. Many of the uses of magic in the game are original, such as the "Path-Down" where memories are passed to a descendant, but Fault also has a tendency to throw far too much jargon at players; I was often referring to the in-game encyclopaedia to remember what everything was. Not to mention that they're impossible to pronounce.
Sekai Project have done an amiable job of translating the game, and the script is largely free of errors. It does read somewhat awkwardly at times though, and dialogue often sounds unnatural. There is no voice acting, and the sound and visuals on the whole look budget. Character designs are exceptional in quality, but backgrounds are still and lifeless, as is the music that goes with them. There is only a single choice to make in this otherwise linear story, and it has no affect other than the following few lines of dialogue. It feels like a pointless addition; almost a tease for players wishing they had more control over the events in the story.
Milestone One of Fault is an interesting story, but it fails as a first episode: it doesn't properly set up the main characters, villains or setting. As a standalone story it's actually quite compelling, but it fails as part of a larger tale. Perhaps this will be addressed and remedied in Milestone Two but, for now, I'd recommend waiting for more content and not investing your time in the series just yet.