“Astoria: Fate’s Kiss” has a new Pride edition with more queer storylines and sex

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Once again, I am back with a report from the odd (and oddly compelling) world of Voltage’s “romantic visual novels,” the part-game, part-love story confections which allow readers/players to fall in love with spies, gangsters, monsters, and demigods. Most recently, I brought you news from Gangsters in Love, which introduced a passionate and destructive love affair with an alcoholic card shark (it’s more charming than it sounds).

This week, I have two updates from Astoria: Fate’s Kiss, the game in which your choice of lovers includes Medusa, the monster with a dark past, and Alex Cyprin, your boss and longtime friend.

Firstly, the Medusa update gives us a Season 3, in which you and the gang leader turned bookstore owner are engaged to be married. It starts out all dress shopping and cake tasting, but your idyllic engagement is thrown into disarray when Medusa is called upon to become Queen of Monsters and retake her place as head of her gang.

And I gotta admit: it’s about damn time. The Medusa story was fun when it was the forbidden love of Season 1, but lost some of its power as the story ran out of obstacles for you to face together. And at a certain point, if you’re dating a gorgon crime lord, you want to see her commit some crimes and turn some bitches to stone.

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This season provides that appealing dose of darkness and also unleashes a very sexually aggressive version of Medusa, which is pretty damn delightful.

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Will the two of you make it to your wedding day? (IDK, will Dory be found?)

But while I have no complaints about the Medusa storyline (or none not related to the horrible outfits they make her wear), I am much more excited to tell you about your chance to romance Alex Cyprin, your non-binary boss.

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The first and most exciting aspect of this storyline, obviously, is the simple opportunity to fall in love with someone whose preferred pronoun is “they.” And that aspect of the story is handled with laudable grace and tact. No one in Alex’s life takes any issue with their gender identity, speculates as to their anatomy, or calls them any names other than “dashing” behind their back. If anything, the overwhelming acceptance Alex enjoys makes me even more curious about their coming out story, but I have reason to hope that it will be addressed in future seasons.

Other than some endearing awkwardness during the love scene, Alex’s gender identity is really a non-issue when compared to the fact they are your boss and therefore off limits. (Honestly, one of my favorite things about the Alex storyline as opposed to Medusa is that with Alex you’re always having to rush off to work and with Medusa you’re always calling in heartbroken. I can’t approve of such irresponsible behavior, and it really takes me out of the game.)

Aside from the two new seasons, Voltage has also introduced special Pride Month storylines for both characters, with feature minimal plot, moderate parades, and maximal sex. They are glorious, and I highly recommend both of them.

But there remains one issue left to be addressed, which is the uncomfortable feeling this game occasionally gives me. (No, not the one of being slightly turned on while staring at my phone in public; I kind of enjoy that). No, I refer to the unease of feeling as though I am cheating on one character with the other.

astoria4I CHOOSE BOTH OF YOU AND NEITHER OF YOUR SHIRTS.

When you pair with Alex, Medusa is still a mysterious figure hovering at the outskirts, and when you choose Medusa, Alex harbors a serious crush on you. It’s a mark of how good the writing is that I felt genuinely conflicted loyalties between the two of them. But even though Alex is perhaps less fiery than the typical romance novel hero, that character and relationship is still the one that feels more believable, and not just because they kind of look like my girlfriend.

astoria5YEP, SHE HAS THAT SWEATSHIRT.

Speaking of my girlfriend, the intensity of emotion sparked by this game did give her slight cause for concern. One of the most delightful facets of all Voltage products is the emails they send to your personal address, which are crafted like the love letters you’ve been waiting for your whole life. Here’s a sample.

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I shared this correspondence with my girlfriend, which had the desired effect of making her jealous as hell. (Reading over my shoulder, she just nodded and said, “People should be warned.”)

So moral (or warning) of the story: Astoria will make you fall quite hard for a monster and a demigod, and will make your inbox (ahem) a more exciting place to be.

Astoria: Fate’s Kiss features storylines for Alex Cyprin and Medusa, as well as Pride specials for both characters, and is currently available for Android and iOS.

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