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Spoiler-Free Review: Departed Away — Pixel Art & Chaos

I’m finally back to writing reviews, and this time, I’ve looked at a recent release! I received a key from the developer, and I’m excited to talk about the game. Departed Away is the first visual novel released by Turkish developer Alperen Torun, also known as Nooarth.

This is a spoiler-free review, since I haven’t done a completionist run of the game. I’ll discuss the reason for that later.

Hmm… It’s kind of hard to explain all the details, but I was forced to start at this new school.
It wasn’t by choice; my parents practically pushed me into it.
A workaholic mother and a creepy father—my family is far from ordinary.
But let’s not get sidetracked. In this school, all I wanted was to make a few friends, but… Well, you know how that turned out.
Did you manage to contact my advocate? I have a feeling I’m going to need one.


When I first saw this VN, the pixel-art cover piqued my interest. And the game was tagged as… horror? “Count me in,” I said. (That said, I didn’t love the different art for the alternative covers and banners.)

I love independent developers who try to make something more spooky, so I’ll always give them a chance!

Writing — 3/10

While I loved some aspects of Departed Away, I found that the game’s writing was its weakest element.
The translation of the text was mediocre, and the prose was choppy enough that I felt I was playing a parody or a shitpost game. There are special effects added to the prose, such as rainbow-colored or jumping text. These effects don’t do anything except distract and annoy the reader, in my opinion.

I’m not sure if it’s because it was poorly translated or if the original Turkish text is equally plagued with issues, but the game’s story didn’t grab my attention. If it weren’t for the appealing art (and the fact that I received a key to review the game), I would have stopped playing rather quickly.

The direct and casual prose made the game seem more fast-paced, but it also made it feel shallow. As a result, I often felt little emotional impact.

However, Departed Away‘s prose does have a few strengths. It’s clear from the beginning that the story is told from the protagonist’s POV, and the horror elements are very well implemented, creating an appropriately creepy atmosphere.

Plot — 7/10

There are multiple endings to this story, and they somewhat complement each other. I have only gone through two of them for this review, so please keep that in mind.

At the beginning, Departed Away‘s storyline goes all over the place, and I couldn’t find a clear indication of each “route.” For some readers, this might be a good thing. However, I’m more likely to invest my time into an organized story, one which makes it easier for a reader to find a specific ending instead of requiring that they fish for one from among multiple choices.

As the years pass and I get further and further away from high school life, I’ve found it harder to relate to stories told within Departed Away‘s type of setting. But the developer doesn’t dwell on the setting. Different aspects of school life are shown, but as I mentioned before, everything felt very rushed. Honestly, I would have loved to see this become a story about the teachers and the adult world.

I’ll get the negatives out of the way first: it’s clear that this game was deeply inspired by both Doki Doki Literature Club (check our review!) and Undertale. To avoid spoiling both titles, I won’t mention the similarities, but they are very clear references. I felt that they cheapened the story, because in order to reach the “good stuff”, scenes were rushed. It would have been better to give the reader more time to grow attached to the cast (the protagonist included) so that when the conflict begins, the reader is emotionally invested.

But there are still several things that were done right. I mostly talked about it in the Writing section, but the manner in which Departed Away‘s prose enhances the horror elements and overall atmosphere is very satisfying. It makes the game appealing, despite the poor writing. That said, I didn’t finish the game because of technical barriers that simply don’t fly in this day and age.

The main theme of the game is loneliness, and how it affects our perception of the world. In this story, that is taken to the extreme here. If you enjoy the denpa genre, this counts as a denpa story, in my opinion.

The minor themes include an exploration of how societal expectations can shape our goals and self-image, living with bullying, and a fascinating portrayal of the yandere trope.

I would love to see fully realized heroine routes in which each character grows beyond her associated trope.

Characters — 6/10

As one can expect from a visual novel set in a high school, the cast is full of cute girls. The characters are fairly diverse, although they sometimes regress into their archetypes.

Unfortunately, the story’s breakneck pacing does them no justice. The girls behave so melodramatically that it managed to break my immersion.

While the girls possess some emotional complexity, the protagonist is a fairly flat character, even after it becomes clear that he isn’t as one-dimensional as he seems at first. This is probably a result of the rushed pace. If not for that, the protagonist could have received more development.

Speaking of the protagonist, we don’t see much about his family. I’m only mentioning this because part of the mystery is related to them—and especially to his father. It’s possible that this is only a complaint because I haven’t reached all the endings, but the game left that mystery unanswered. The other plot points received sufficient attention in each of the routes, but not this one.

Art — 8/10

Departed Away‘s art style is what first attracted me to the game. It’s rare to find pixel-art visual novels nowadays, and I think it’s a style full of potential. It reminds me of older games, which makes the genre shift even better.

However, the background art was neglected. This becomes more apparent when the characters are on screen, since the sprite art is fantastic. In comparison, the backgrounds look like scribbles. I don’t know if this was an intentional choice, but it strengthened my initial poor impression of the game, which doesn’t do it justice at all.

Soundtrack & Atmosphere — 8/10

Departed Away‘s soundtrack is one thing that stuck with me for all the right reasons. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any audio samples to include in my review.

Some of the tracks were rather chaotic, but all of them fit the game’s atmosphere. I particularly loved the tense melodies that played during horror-heavy scenes.

Mechanics & Gameplay — 2/10

This is where the game took a turn for the worse. In fact, it’s the reason I didn’t go for all the endings.

During my first read-through, the only issue I had was with the text speed. I couldn’t fast click through it, but that shouldn’t be too much of a bother.

The bigger problem is the way in which saves are handled. Instead of allowing the player to save at will, the game only saves at the beginning of each chapter, forcing the player to restart the chapter when a save file is loaded.

Several minigames and interactions are included within the story. Some of them serve as an alternative to traditional text choices, while others are puzzles.

More issues arise once the player has finished the game and tries to replay. For some reason, it’s impossible to skip text (not even text that has been read) and you can’t fast click through it either, as previously mentioned. As a result, reaching other points of the story becomes very annoying, especially since many of the routes diverge early on.


Overall, Departed Away is a short, fast-paced adventure full of creepy and tense moments. The story is very wacky at times, but it also addresses the topic of mental health by utilizing popular character tropes.

If you enjoy denpa and are interested in otaku culture, you should consider giving Departed Away a try. I say this often, but the game is so short that you don’t have to worry about investing too much of your time, even if you end up disliking it.

I look forward to reading more from Nooarth in the future!
This game gets 3 stars—it’s all right, but can definitely be improved.


Weird little gremlin who likes all the fucked up stuff; if a story doesn't leave you in shambles, what's even the point? Functional fujoshi, at your service.

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