Picture this: you’re in your happy place listening to your favourite song, drifting away from the stresses and chaos of the world, like you’re the only person who exists right now. Well, that feeling of being the only person listening is what Across the Grooves tries to, and successfully captures. It’s a visual novel with a heavy emphasis on music, occultism, and player choice.
Nova-Box has a history of developing interactive graphic novels that all include a specific art-style which really enhances the player experience, and Across the Grooves might just be their shiny new gem.
You play as Alice, an unfulfilled accountant and fiancé, about to head to work when a mysterious package arrives at her door. Upon opening it, she immediately recognizes the handwriting of her lost love, Ulysse. It turns out to be a vinyl record, leaving both you and Alice a choice: would you continue on your way to work or would you stop what you’re doing and give in to temptation? Which would you choose?
Upon listening to the album, time and space seem to melt together and all Alice can focus on is the music. When the song is over, she finds herself in an alternate timeline, feeling both scared and confused. Realizing the power of the record, she decides to track down Ulysse and figure out just what exactly has happened and why. Alice meets many engaging friends and companions, traveling to the past and future in search of the truth. Only you and Alice can decide what reality she will end up in.
Across the Grooves gives the player a lot of say in Alice’s decisions. The game does a really nice job of making you feel like the choices Alice makes have weight. It does such a good job that I was sweating while trying to decide what was best for Alice.
The game involves simple point and click mechanics to progress. However, depending on your choices, there are 4 different indicators at the top of the screen which give an idea of how that choice might affect the story. It’s a little vague exactly what effect these options have or how much they matter, but it was a nice sentiment.
This is most definitely where Across the Grooves shines. As a game centered around music and occultism, there is a ton of variety in the music the game plays and discusses in its story. In fact, I was so interested in the game’s music, I found myself more than once listening to the bands they talk about. What’s really incredible is that there is a cheat sheet of information in game to give you context on all the history and references mentioned.
They did a nice job of combining historical accuracy and creative freedom to create a must-play experience. YOU MUST PLAY THIS GAME WITH HEADPHONES! Ok, you don’t have to, but, if you don’t, you are truly robbing yourself of some incredible audio experiences. The natural sounds and atmosphere that they create at Nova-Box are very immersive.
The visuals of Across the Grooves are on par if not superior to the audio. Nova-Box has a wonderfully unique art style when it comes to their game/scene design. It’s not incredibly detailed, but what it is, is immersive. You really feel like you are in the world when playing this game. I can’t tell you how many screenshots I took for my desktop background. Nice execution y’all.
Across the Grooves overall thoughts
If you like music, art, and a good story, I implore you to give Across the Grooves a try. It has been a while since a game was able to take me somewhere the way this one does. I hope you find it to be the treasure that I know it to be.