Non twinkling vampires.
Fortune Arterial is a 2008 by August. It got a 2011 re-release with Windows 7 compatibility.
Kohei Hasekura transfers into Shuchikan Academy, a prestigious public school in the style of an English six-year school encompassing junior-high and high school students. The school is on an island named Tamatsu Island off-shore from mainland Japan, and the only way to get there is by boat. Soon after transferring, he discovers that Erika Sendo, one of the students in the class next to his, is in fact a type of vampire.[poor plot summary shamelessly stolen from vndb]
So in the common style of August, what we have here is another school chara-ge with a fantastical element most developed in the true route (in this case an alternate route of the main heroine), this time that element being vampires. This being Japan, these vampires don’t have a weakness for sunlight, or for anything really, nor are members of the undead (though they do not have lifespan). And one difference with, say, yoakena or daitosho, is that here that fantastical element is better exploited across the character routes, which are also less in number in the first place; the end result is that the plot density is overall greater.
Not *much* greater, though; two of the routes (the Yuuki sisters ones) are only tangentially (very tangentially) related to the main plot, and even though Shiro has an important role in the greater picture her route doesn’t really add much (her character is, plotwise, better exploited in the true route). And in the end, even though the vampire theme is better present all across the game, is still in the true route where is full exploited and solved. So this have my pet peeve of a true route that solves everything; probably the worst case of the three August school setting games I’ve played so far.
But that’s something about which I complain frequently but that nobody else seems to care about; if you are like that then there’s not much wrong with this game. The true route does have an interesting mystery component, and seeing the main characters solve it is neat. It also shows a lot of action from rest of the student council, good characters on their own (specially the president). I think the deal with the main antagonist was, in the end, solved too easily, all things considered; but besides that the ending is satisfying enough.
The character routes are also solid, be they related to the main plot or not. The developments feel natural, they don’t rush or drag (much), and there’s a good dose of drama without it becoming overbearing. And if there’s one thing August does well is the cast, and the Fortune Arterial one doesn’t disappoint, the characters being all diverse, amusing, and/or charming. Even if these routes are never mind-blowing, there shouldn’t be a lot of room to hate them. Even the usual “didn’t end with any heroine” end is not the usual Forever Alone ending, which is a nice touch and worth checking. If there’s a missed chance here is that the school setting gives little chance for Bekkankou to show his more fantastical designs. A fair number of nice vocal tracks gives this also a good score in the music department.
So if we compare this to the previous yoakena, the game structure shows an improvement: the common route is less painfully irrelevant (and considerably shorter), the routes less generic, and the plot better exploited. Personally I liked more the lost technology setting, and Feena more than Erika, and nothing here reaches the levels of Mai route, but it can be argued that this is a step up from yoakena.
But then there’s not much more else to say. It’s a fun read, and as a chara-ge it may be above average, but there’s nothing truly outstanding. If you played other August games you know what to expect.