Since this isn’t a review, I personally believe that there is a need to keep spoilers to a minimum as much as possible. However, due to the rather epic nature of Baldr Sky’s story, the best I can do is to provide a spoiler free summary and some analogies to explain the exact nature of the plot. I hope people don’t mind if it sounds a little... meta.
Below is the synopsis/summary from VNDB:
One day, Kou wakes up in a virtual battlefield. He, who is a special Simulacrum (robot) user, soon remembers that he was chasing someone with Rain, his partner.
Kou and Rain try to investigate the accident that destroyed all his peaceful school life and friends called “Gray Christmas”, but various mysteries appear in front of them. As time passes, he gradually gains back his lost memories and finds his friends as well.
When all of the mysteries congregate, the door of truth opens...
As mentioned by the above excerpt and my earlier blog post, you play as Kadakura Kou, a mercenary-for-hire (second lieutenant) who has lost his memories while attempting to investigate the truth behind the ‘Gray Christmas’ incident. There are 6 Arcs in total beginning with Rain Kirishima, Wakakusa Nanoha, and Nagisa Chinatsu [Baldr Sky Dive 1: Lost Memory]; Nishino Aki, Minazuki Makoto and finally the Last Story [Baldr Sky Dive 2: Recordare]. In order to truly complete an Arc you must obtain the Good Ending, so theoretically you need 5 Good Endings to reach the True Ending.
Now things are going to read a bit abstract. Let’s say that each Arc, each character’s storyline is like a piece of the pie. As you complete Rain’s Arc for example, you fit a pie to the bigger picture and thus unlocking the next pie/Arc to play through, Wakakusa Nanoha’s, so on and so on.
With each pie fitted into the bigger picture, so does Kadakura Kou’s memory become more and more complete. I should probably explain this better: When you complete Rain Kirishima’s Arc, whatever information/memory Kou has recovered during that Arc would have already existed in the next Arc. If we say that Kou has lost 100% of his memory in Rain’s story and recovered 20% by the end of it, then it is like he carried that 20% over to Wakakusa Nanoha’s Arc, and has lost only 80% of his memory. So what happens now that you already know this piece of information beforehand? How will it affect the future? Cool, isn’t it? It makes you want to explore the story more and more.
By turning every character Arc into a piece of the puzzle; the keys that are needed to unlock the truth, every female cast becomes absolutely relevant to the story. This is amazing and seldom seen in any game, especially with Visual Novels where there are either 1 or 2 obvious ‘true loves’ in the story, or everybody’s just plain generic.
Baldr Sky Dive also uses classic plot device (yes, losing your memories is a classic) very smartly. For Kou, losing his memories is a blessing in disguise because his mercenary life has turned him cold and merciless. This provides the motivation for him to to interact with people from his past life (which of course for the player, the chance to understand the characters and the setting of Baldr Sky), whom he would avoid before either because he is ashamed of what he has become, or for more realistic, potentially life threatening reasons.
There is also this rare sense of togetherness between the player and the MC. Many games nowadays features an obvious disconnection between the player and the character (for example, in a puzzle game, you are the player solving the puzzles, but very likely your character won’t enjoy ‘solving’ them and just want to escape whatever danger or complications they’re facing as quickly as possible), but Baldr Sky is different. You are the player, investigating and fighting to lift the fog behind the Gray Christmas mystery as well as learn what has happened, happening, and will happen to the people around Kou. You are also Kou, who strives to do the exact same thing but with the added motivation of defending all of his loved ones, and that love too will grow on you too as you learn more and more about the world.
But that isn’t all. You might think that through the lens of 5 character Arcs you would be able to understand all of Baldr Sky Dive’s story, but Kadakura Kou is as human as any of us and thus has his own ‘alone time’ that can’t be narrated in anyone’s story without it sounding awkward. This is remedied by an Interlude Story of sorts, which will fill in the final gaps and truly complete the final picture.
Using the pie analogy from earlier, you put 5 split pieces of the pie back together to form a perfect circle, but there are in fact cracks in between that needs to be sealed before it can truly come together. This Interlude Story is your chocolate sauce (or vanilla, or strawberry, whatever you prefer to call it) not only to join the pies together into one, but also make it smell really, really good. There is full story and the absolute, complete truth to the mystery behind Baldr Sky. For the players and even Kou himself, it would seem that there is nothing left for you to discover, nothing to realize and right the wrongs about.
And then the pie gets flipped over, and the charred, black side of things stare you dead in the eye. You think this is over? You think you’ve gotten your happy ending? Well guess what - THE FIGHT HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN.
Man, I love Baldr Sky so. Damn. Much.
Honestly, I don’t want to spend too much time talking about this because quite literally everyone is interesting in their own way. Instead, I’ll just pick a minor character and narrate a little bit about his story.
This is Isao. For spoiler reasons I won’t reveal his surname, but the smart ones can probably guess that he shares a connection with someone in the main cast. The rest can be derived from this slightly adjusted excerpt:
An officer in the counter-AI organisation GOAT (Global-union Observation Artificial-intelligence Team), and leader of the Asian division. His rank is Major General.
He was dispatched to Suzushiro City along with a contingent of GOAT troops to quell the growing unrest in the city. His personality is strict and obstinate, with a dignified and intimidating aura that befits a genuine military man. As a member of GOAT, he could be said to harbor anti-AI thoughts, and it would not be a stretch to say that he hated them.
In short, he is a dick and one of the heels of this story. Being a terribly hard headed man who lost his beloved to the Gray Christmas incident, he harbors an extreme suspicion, if not downright hatred for bio-AIs because the military’s investigations reveal that they are directly responsible for it. At the same time, he is also estranged from his only child because their ideals simply do not align, and he basically becomes the Gordon of the Gotham universe, except with a lot more power to back it up. Throughout the story - in fact, he is the main antagonist in Baldr Sky Dive 1 - Kadukura Kou and Isao will butt heads again and again not only because of their stance (Isao is basically the law and Kou the rogue), and at the 3rd Arc of Baldr Sky Dive 1 the tension practically explodes into anall out war because Kou’s beloved is directly threatened by him. He is driven and he is relentless, and he will not stop until all threats have been neutralized and peace is finally restored to the world.
But then you realize, after failure after failure (caused directly by YOUR hands) to execute the justice he always believes, after sin after sin crushing down on his back until he can no longer bear them, you realize that... he is just human. As a younger man, there was a young woman he loved with all his heart, but lost her when she chose another person. As an adult, he failed to protect her and lost her life, and it indirectly causes the tragedy that would be known as Gray Christmas. All that is left for him them is his hatred for the cause (he believes that it is theBio-AIs) of all these pain, and the belief that he MUST make things right again and serve the justice he believes in - even if he has to do things that he knows to be wrong. Even if he has to make inhuman decisions and become a monster himself. Isao is a man who refuses to doubt himself, because he knows he won’t be able to continue the moment he begins to. The people he killed won’t come back again. The terrible decisions he has made cannot be undone. Something good must come out of all this after all the things he was forced to do, right?
And then his child left him because they can no longer stand his methods. It won’t be until much later than he finally realized that he has also failed as a father, but all the same. The man you meet in Baldr Sky is already half broken, and it needs but that one straw on the camel’s back to break it completely.
And there are so many.
This is the end of Part 2. Part 3 will be posted soon (because I can never keep to a schedule, so I won’t give one at all HAHAHA DON’T SHOOT). If you’re interested, please leave a comment below!