Note: While this review does not contain 18+ content, Shikkoku no Sharnoth itself does.
This is the third game in the WAB Steampunk series released by Liar-soft in 2008. Yet again, the visuals, characters, music, and gameplay create an irresistible environment that will capture the imaginations of many. However, this time, that environment is more crucial to the game than it was in Sekien no Inganock. The biggest temptation there is for anyone reading a visual novel is to rush through to the end or try to read as quickly as possible and while that might be possible with Inganock if you’re paying enough attention, it definitely won’t with Shikkoku no Sharnoth.
More than a review, I’d like to post this advice for those considering reading this entry in the series: take your time. The big mysterious questions that drive you to want to know more are further in the background than they were in Inganock and the intention is that you enjoy the stories unfolding before you while also trying to figure out the answers to the mysteries. By the time you get to the end, if you’ve rushed through everything, you’ll be disappointed. But if you take your time and enjoy yourself, when you get to the end you’ll be excited by what you’ve managed to piece together.
In my personal experience, Inganock was easier to understand (so if Inganock was difficult for you then you’ll definitely want to take this one more slowly) and Sharnoth became a work that I’m very much looking forward to reading again. Not because there were no answers, as some people might claim, but because I feel like I’ve gained a foothold from which to discover even more if I go through everything again.
An additional tip is that you can speed through the minigame animations. I disliked the minigames when I thought they were painfully slow, but if you just hold CTRL they’re a ton of fun and really do add to the experience. The minigames should also be easily cleared with a reasonable number of attempts and I don’t think many people will truly struggle with them.
The only reason I gave this work a score of ‘Great’ rather than ‘Flawless’ was because it left me with the sense that I had to tell people ‘you need to enjoy this differently than Inganock’. Certain Visual Novels, usually of the slice-of-life genre, make it immediately obvious there’s no point in not taking your time. Sharnoth didn’t really do this for me, especially after the pacing of Inganock, and so I ended up wishing I had gone through it a little more slowly.
*Scoring: Flawless > Great > Good > Okay > Bad