A downloadable game for Windows, macOS, and Linux

Zodiac Axis is a mystery visual novel (story-based game with choices) that blends suspense, romance, and Asian-inspired fantasy elements using charming characters and a lush worldlore.

Check out the official site here: http://zodiacaxis.com

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INTRIGUE, MAYBE

Play as Alison Hart, a fresh-out-of-college journalism graduate who is shortly employed at an infamous online tabloid. At first, you're not worried—even when you're assigned to investigate six people who are rumored to carry the Spirits of the Zodiacs. It's just a nonsensical tabloid job. Right?

CHOICES, CHOICES

Make a myriad of entertaining choices and discover four branching routes that unlock one true path.

DEEPER SECRETS

Uncover what's behind the veil by meeting strange characters, each with a different story to tell.

A LUSH WORLD

Discover a captivating city with history and flavor, rendered with beautiful hand-painted backgrounds, and enhanced with lush, organic music. Hear the characters come to life with partial phrases of English voice acting.


FAQ

When will the full game be released?

We're currently aiming for a Q2 2020 release.

How much will Zodiac Axis cost?

We're currently planning on launching the game at $30.

Is this an otome?

While there's romance, a female protagonist, and branching routes, we steer away from using otome terminology due to Zodiac Axis's unusual structure and narrative focus. Frankly speaking, fans of the otome genre will be disappointed.

I liked the demo! I want to play more!

Our Kickstarter is closed, but you can still support us by pledging for beta access on our shop! This provides access to the routes as they are produced.

Download demo

Download
Zodiac Axis Demo - Windows 204 MB
Download
Zodiac Axis Demo - Mac 203 MB
Download
Zodiac Axis Demo - Linux 207 MB

Development log

Comments

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Heyyyyy I went on a VN spree and oh my god. Wow! VN's are usually pretty hit or miss with me, but this one? wow. wow.

anyway, so what caught my attention at first was the UI.  it's so....funky...like the style matches the aesthetic of the actual backgrounds and even the credits.

also, the backgrounds???? yes god??? i know a lot of people like to put photos through a filter, which is pretty reasonable, but these backgrounds were so well done. the colors really popped.

now i just want to talk about the atmosphere, because wow again...it's very aesthetically pleasing, and the effects (such as the cyclic blurring when you see the Cat) were such nice touches, and they didn't feel overbearing at all. the aesthetic doesn't just function as something pretty (although i can appreciate that, haha), but it really helps set the tone as well. the art and and the storybook thing for the play and the sound effects + definitions (and words in red...) come to mind. also the dramatic character portraits with chromatic aberration (so cool). anyway, i like that the aesthetic functions as a tool and not an accessory.

the writing was pretty nice too. i can't think of many other examples off the top of my head, but i do remember one: when Alison was stuttering, she didn't s-stutter...like i-in my s-seventh grade f-fanfics..... but she repeated herself, which is another fresh, funky touch that i loved.

the one issue i had was with the save/load system and some of the buttons getting cut off (i think another comment mentioned that, though). anyway about the save/load thing, it always defaults to page 1, and the arrow buttons are kind of small. i'd have preferred it to default to the most recently accessed page, but it's nbd since i got used to it pretty quickly.

anyways, super excited for this game! see yall in 2020!

Hello! I've been following this game's development for a while, and I finally got to play the demo today. Overall, you guys did an amazing job with such a small team and it really is a quality visual novel!

I do have some feedback, which you're by no means obligated to respond to. I would love to see this game improve and grow so these are just my personal feelings based on when I played through the demo:

1. As many have said, the UI and backgrounds are brilliant! I really loved the vibrant colors in the game; it really fleshed out the world. The art was already pretty nice, but I'll be even more excited when the character portraits get redrawn. One thing about the UI, the home screen icons on the top did confuse me at first because they were cut off  (until you hover over them) and I had thought there was a bug with my screen resolution.

2. I also very much liked the article writing minigame! It's a good way for players to read a large amount of text that can summarize important events of the day so that they don't get lost in the plot later on.

3. Personally, I think the biggest weak point to the game is currently the writing. Visual novels rely heavily on well-written text to make up for the lack of gameplay. While Zodiac Axis has an interesting premise and colorful cast of characters, I feel like the writing was incredibly... fluffy. There was a lot of repetition and redundant sentences (if you need examples, I can happily provide).

I couldn't get a strong grasp of Alison's character other than she's "normal" but also judges a lot of other characters based on their "normality". I'm not sure if it was on purpose or not, but the fixation on "normal/ordinary" feels odd to me, especially because being "normal" is not a choice. People can choose to be complacent to their situation or apathetic to change, but normality is a state. The demo dialogue (through Alison) constantly rates characters on some sort of normal scale, which ends up rubbing me a bit in the wrong way kind of as like "how much of a special snowflake are you?" Yes, the characters that belong to the Zodiac have special powers, but most people who go into playing this game would expect that. Stating the obvious might make the writing feel condescending. There are other ways to create tension in writing rather than rewording the same type of foreshadowing after every character introduction in an edgy tone.

It might also help to write in more subtext. Having characters say lines without needing to explain what they (or what Alison thought) meant would make the dialogue feel a lot more natural. It also gives the players more room to make their own deductions and engage with the text. 

I'm by no means an expert on video games or visual novels, so you can take my comment with a grain of salt. I really only wrote this because I wanted to support this game with feedback! Anyways, the demo was ultimately still a fun play, and I look forward to the full release!

Hey! Thanks for the feedback! I understand that my writing style didn't appeal to you. It's heavily inspired by spoken word and poetic prose, prioritizing the sense of rhythm, rhyme, and color. While this can come across as condescending or repetitive—since it's not as straightforward as direct prose—it's an artsy sort of style that calls back to indie films and Japanese cinematography, which the atmosphere of the visual novel is built on (hence the use of cinematic cuts, dictionary definitions, and other subtextual imagery). The writing can definitely be polarizing, but keeping its style is something that I feel strongly about, since it's the foundation of the game's vision. I understand if it wasn't your cup of tea, and I certainly don't expect it to be everyone's!

As for Alison's fixation on normality, there's actually a specific reason that ties into the themes of the visual novel—though it won't surface until much later. 

Regarding subtext, while the visuals are meant to be artistic and subtextual, the actual dialogue is meant to be clear and easy to understand. There's copious amounts of foreshadowing and lampshading, but in the end, Alison is a straightforward protagonist who doesn't engage in subtext. Even when the Zodiacs ask her questions with hidden meanings, she tends to miss it and answers it literally. This does carry the risk of overexplaining, so we made the choice made after thinking of our target market. A lot of subtext is lost in the lack of body language / vocal tone in a visual novel, so as a result, the dialogue needs to be more literal. 

Thanks again for your honest thoughts and for playing the demo!

— Luna Chai

I just enjoy playing this game so much! I loved writing the article and I think that is a very good gameplay mechanic! I can't wait to play more! Good job!

That was absolutely amazing! The story was compelling, the art was beautiful the music was magical, I was terrified and thrilled and addicted the whole way! I soooo excited to buy the full game!

I finally met all of the main characters, I think. I love how you managed to make all of them completely different. You really put a lot of time and effort into this game! Good job!

This. Demo. Was. Amazing. The music, the plot, the characters, the art, the voice acting - everything was phenominal. I will 100% be saving up money to buy the full version!! I can't wait to learn more about the characters and be invested deeper into the plot. 

Thank you! I'm happy that you enjoyed your playthrough, and hope that you also enjoy the future releases! — Luna Chai

... four simple words: The. Demo. Was. Brilliant. I honestly did not expect such high quality results from this novel, I guess I should not make assumptions next time. But with every fiber of my being I am glad to say I enjoyed it very much and will be slowly dying until we have access to the full version. Also, if you do not mind me asking, when will the full version be released?

Very glad to hear this! We're currently aiming to release the full version is Q2 2020, but the detailed development roadmap can be found on the website zodiacaxis.com. — Luna Chai

Ahh thank you for letting me know, I really appreciate it!

I love playing the beta - which I wasn't really expecting. The game's just got one of those unnameable things that hooks me from the beginning :3. Will definitely buy when the full version is released!

Thank you! Very glad that you enjoyed your experience. — Luna Chai

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I played the demo. I can't download its full version for free. So can't you make it a free game as in full version? Please do that. then the number of players you are having now you will get tons more. And I want to join your team for writing the story line. Can I? Overall it was like super duper awesome. But if it was free like the demo then a lot of people would be interested to play it. So in the end I'll say that please make the game in full version free. And if you want you can send an E-mail to my account. Inform me if you need it.

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The dev is under no obligation to give their work away for free, especially when it is as good as this is.  Just save up some cash and buy it when it comes out.

Thanks for the support! — Luna Chai

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Since the team is comprised of mortal humans, we need money to pay for our grocery bills, student loans, mortgage, healthcare, and other living expenses we need to not starve to death in cardboard boxes. Thanks for your understanding! — Luna Chai

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I have finished the route of Becquett (I bought the Beta version), and I can absolutely affirm, that it was worth the money that I have spent for it, this game will become a masterpiece, and the only thing I can say is:

1) Thanks for creating such a wonderful game!

2) I liked the Becquett route so much, that I beg for a sequel, or a section of extras, to see more interactions of the characters after the events of the route, like their first time at the amusement park...

3) The next route will be Leaf, and it will start in January, right?
I hope it comes out soon, but take your time to raise the quality of the game.

4) In the future, will you make a guide for the game and all its possible fiancs?

And that's it, I'll wait patiently for the following news on the Leaf route.

(+2)

Wow, thank you for the feedback! Yep, the next story will be Leaf's, and we're aiming to release it in the last week of January. That being said, as mentioned, my parents' move to Chicago might influence the timeline, but we'll do our best to get his story out on time! I'm not planning on making a guide since walkthroughs are usually fan-created, but if there's a lack of clarity on the gameplay or achievements that feel unattainable, I'll definitely consider it. — Luna Chai

I think I've met all the love interests so far and I like each and every one of them! The writing for this game is amazing and it is so believable! Good job!

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed your experience. — Luna Chai

Sooo i played the demo and 

omg this is so beautiful i can't even express myself-

btw i think that i'll buy the "beta access" and i'm so exited, can't wait for the full version of this game!


(sorry for my english, i'm italian and i'm still learning)

Thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed, and your English is fantastic! — Luna Chai

I literally made an account so I could comment on how much I loved the demo of this game! It was amazing and there wasn't anything I could possibly think of hating about it. I can't wait for the full version of this game to be released!

Thank you! Very honored to hear your enthusiasm and feedback. — Luna Chai

Very beautiful art and GUI!! Interesting story with a quite unusual theme! Really love the mystery stuffs and want to know more about the plot, characters, and the Zodiacs ofc!! Can't wait to play the full version!!

Thank you for your support, and I'm glad you enjoyed it! — Luna Chai

can yall put this on mobile? 

Would love to! Our currently priority is finishing development of the game and releasing on Steam. Console and mobile ports are something we would love to investigate in the future, but is not currently on the roadmap. — Luna Chai

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this games is very much adventurous. I have heard about this from one of my friend. can I play it on Windows 10? actually, I am facing 

Windows 10 Explorer Keeps Crashing, in my OS.

Hi, we haven't previously had error reports with Windows 10 users. Does this happen throughout the game, or when you try to boot up the game? Is it unpredictable or are there times were it consistently crashes? — Luna Chai

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Hello! Your demo is amazing! The MC is by far, a character I can truly relate too. :') Is that a good thing? Now I think about it... Anyways, I've been pondering for a while now, is the MC one of them (in terms on being a Zodiac herself) ? Seeing her fit in perfectly into the group of 'weird magical Zodiacs with trust issues' though with some kind of merit for them to act that way. 

To sum it up, I'm really looking forward to the full release. You guys have set a very ambitious expectations for this game. I wish you all the best.  ....leprechauns with lots of gold. Pfft...

Hey, thanks for playing! Glad you enjoyed it, and found Alison relatable! — Luna Chai

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It's such a satisfying experience through the early/common route of the story, with suprising decent and light space of computer memory it takes despite those details (which I hope will be like that till the final version). The plus points are pretty many : the details for each segments of the game (especially the "Card of Choice" and the effect in when skipping), the progressing Stats, the magnificent BGM, the alluring soundtrack, the chill it gives for every characters' traits revelation, and of course the thrill of uncovering mystery with the perspective of a curious journalist.

The alteration/adaptation of Eastern most well-known Zodiac story is also intriguing, which leads me to some major questions :

There is already 3 or 4 known/revealed Zodiac figures (or 5? except  for The Cat, there are still my own assumptions based on the subtext in the appearance of the characters and similarity to the legend that had been told in the theater). So, indicated by the choice in the walk to the waltz, will Allison be the representation of the other Zodiac that hasn't been revealed? Will it affect her characteristic thorough the game or will it be the opposite; that our earlier choices to shape her character will determine our available choice of Zodiac to represent? (because it sure is interesting that The Dragon is locked.... or is it just mine?). Moreover, do you plan to use some basic Eastern Zodiac Horoscope to form the relationship between Allison and her "target"? Because it sure would be interesting to see, as there is some level of compatibility even "bad romance scenario" for some Zodiac pairing.

Anyway, I'll definitely stay tune for the update and final version ^^

(N.B. I'm a bit sulky because I can't be The Tiger, but then being rather impressed and sense of kinship to Halt's representation to his Zodiac traits.)

Glad you enjoyed it! We took a lot of precautions in making the game space efficient and lightweight without sacrificing quality, by running several techniques to optimize space. It's great to hear that the effort is paying off! Thanks for also writing down your predictions, and it's always nice to read those :)  — Luna Chai

Halt is easily my favorite character so far! I love your characterization with him and his heart of gold beneath his rough exterior! I am so happy that he was introduced!

Fun! Thanks for playing! — Luna Chai

I am loving the characters so much! They are so charming while also being mysterious! I can't wait to meet the rest of them! Great job!

Wow it's 2AM for me and I just finished playing the demo and I can't put into words how much I enjoyed it...it was incredible! I had such a great time, I fell in love with every aspect, the writing, the art, the music, the characters, the GUI, it was so immersive and refreshing. Keep up the great work, I'm honestly so impressed and captivated by this game, you guys did an amazing job, looking forward to the full release <3

Thank you for playing the demo! Very glad that you enjoyed all the different aspects! — Luna Chai

So far so good! I am really liking this demo! I find it cool that the main character is a journalist, as that is what I am majoring in. I liked that some of the things that she was taught in school are taught in my university! The art and plot are both amazing and the design of the characters are beautiful! Good job!

Oh, how fun! Glad that you can relate to the protag! — Luna Chai

Hello, loved the game. Beautiful graphics and intriging plot-- you rarely get that these days. 

Just wondering, will this game be free-to-download once its complete? Of course, I understand if want to charge for the game-- its extremely beautiful and well made, definitely above average for a free game.

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So glad you enjoyed it! Zodiac Axis is a commercial release; price will be $30. Thank you! — Luna Chai

I love it and can't wait for the full release, Also it's super long because it was a lifestream

Thank you so much! :D — Luna Chai

Hi!! I just finished playing the demo in one sitting and I just wanted to say that I loved it! 

The GUI/UI is absolutely beautiful and it compliments the game really well, and the dialogue/narrative switching back and forth works well too. 

I also loved the entire cast; Beckett and Zax were my favorites for sure though Holt and Leaf were cool too. There was so much intrigue and mystery! I'm going to see if I can grab some of the merch but regardless, I'm super excited for the full game to come out in 2020. Keep up the great work!

Thank you so much for playing the game and the support! :D — Luna Chai

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HOLY COW I PLAYED THIS DEMO FORGETTING IT WAS STILL A DEMO >.< it's so immersive and beautiful and the story is so amazing and kyaaaaaah i had to make an itch.io account just to be fully updated~ I CANNOT WAIT FOR THE FULL VERSION AND WOULD DEFINITELY BUY AN ARTBOOK OR MERCH IF ZODIAC AXIS WILL HAVE ONE IN THE FUTURE!~ yall did an extraordinary job with this one and i so look forward to your guys' future endeavors~ <3

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Wow, thank you so much! :D

If you'll pardon a bit of shameless promotion, we do actually have a store with acrylic charms, sticky notes, and the beta access package: http://store.studiotheophilus.com/

Also Soundtracks Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 are available on digital music stores! But I digress, haha. Thank you for the support and the enthusiasm!

— Luna Chai

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omg that's totally okay! yes i saw the charms and notes and are absolutely adorable and the music is breathtaking too >.< i'm definitely purchasing them in the near future as i'm in a bit of a financial crisis atm haha. and definitely pledging for the beta access as well cuz i'm just in love with this game already and would love to contribute to the development as much as i can. God bless  and have a good dayyyヽ(・∀・)ノ

Thank you so much! Hope you enjoy the future releases! :D — Luna Chai

I just finished to play it right now and I'am??????? This is so good??? Really, if this is only a demo, I can't wait for the complete game!

Thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm! We really appreciate it! <3 — Luna Chai

Can I get a plushie of July? She is the sweetest gold nugget/pumpkin ever! :D

JULY PLUSHIE?! Would be 110% down. — Luna Chai

I really enjoyed the demo (and the beta version but I digress). It was really funny seeing how Alison could be rather sarcastic/sassy (“Let’s just say everyone is married and call it a day” and also vulnerable and frightened (Cat, looking at you here, you suck but as a villain I love you). Definitely a multifaceted character on her own, and wonderful to see how she interacts with the lovely Marin. 

July is a sweetheart, Zax is very smooth at trying to hire people (even though he fails with Alison, haha), Halt is like a big grouchy protective cat (heh), Beckett is a lovely person, and Dexter Ardent is... Dexter Ardent. (Translation; He is one of my favorites.)

Oof. Sorry for the ridiculously long review.

Thank you for playing the game! Thrilled that you enjoy the main character, and also Marin, who's a personal fav :D Dexter's also my favorite guy, though the reasons won't be evident until True Route. — Luna Chai

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HEY THIS IS A REALLY COOL CONCEPT!!!!!! I love how the choices and the gui is presented???????? It's a little silly to gush over but I like it!!!!! Also I love Marin and July!!!!!!! The way the skip is done is really cool too!!!!!!!! ALSO I LOVE MARIN AND JULY but alas :') i think when the game comes out, i'll go for maybe benett's route!!!! 

I'm a little curious, is there any way to purchase the dragon mask at the moment? 

Whoa! Thank you so much! Marin and July are my fav characters, too! They get a hefty focus in Common Route :D

Possible spoiler, but purchasing the dragon mask is not accessible at the moment since it's a True Route flag. Thank you for your enthusiasm and your support!

— Luna Chai

Funny. Beautiful. Extraodinary. And inspiring! At last I found a masterpiece with choices that I actually would do in real life (speaking of playing mad when caught on assimilating with boxes ;P)

The arts, interface design and programming are really neat. Not too many special effects and colors, but all in the right place, time and amount. Ah, I really like the design and the work of programmer. My eyes enjoyed it :)

Let's see... The only thing I didn't mention so far is music. And it's not because I ddn't like it. I did. Only, when immersed in the story I didn't pay much attention to it. But it is actually really good. The music and sound effects felt natural. When actually stopping for a bit (wich is problematic, because the story flows smooth and interesting) you find out soothing melodies that are hard to stop listening.

And for some reason I'm captivated by the clicking sounds and the sounds of the fan ;P

Overall, though it's just a demo you've done a greate work and it will definitely shine and win more hearts when released. Thank you for you work. And good luck!

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Thank you so much! :D For the choices, I wrote down ones that I would personally find fun, so glad to see that there's a fellow lunatic in the house! Very glad that you enjoyed the aesthetics and sounds! — Luna Chai

Zodiac Axis is an, amazing visual novel. The art style is amazing. The story is interesting and, keeps you hooked. I enjoyed the bits of voice acting but, was craving just a bit more. Maybe in another project we will get more voice acting! The interactions are very interesting!

Thank you so much for playing the game! I, too, would adore more voice acting :D Currently, it’s far out of our budget, but perhaps one day... They’ve all done a stellar job! — Luna Chai

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*spoiler warning*

Nothing short of amazing,  I never expected such immersive story telling from a english visual novel. It's all so sublimely  professional.

An intelligent story and an equally intelligent presentation of it. I was reeled in right from the beginning with probably the best introduction I've ever read. Alison is so bright and witty, she was instantly likeable.  Starting not from the beginning, but from the middle like journalists often do. I liked that.

Her little quips and narrations throughout were a really nice touch. Of course the story so far is all in the past and her ominous musings are based on information we don't have  yet so it kept me on my toes, in anticipation of something supernatural to occur. I loved the little character break down and their zodiac animal definition after each new character was introduced! It's the sort of thing I expect in movies. Kind of dramatic, and in the best sense of the word.

The attention to detail was astounding, you thought about everything right down to to the shutter of the fan in the menu, the stamp-like saving sound effect when I'm saving in a slot and the slight VHS static  when fast forwarding to the next choice.

All those little noises when a character is dumbfounded or angry really reminds me of asian dramas. The voice acting is perfect too, gosh it would sound fantastic if it was fully voiced but I understand it would be quite a task. This is a very minor quip because I fell in love with the actor's voices so I wanted to hear more. Regardless the soundbites are doing their job brilliantly!

Miss Teller is my favourite character so far, I can't wait see more from her.

The soundtrack and backgrounds is simply gorgeous, major props to the composer. It gives it a real cinematic feel. The backgrounds  are beauitfully drawn too especially during the founder's day show, it was truly captivating.

I can see this becoming very popular! The premise is certainly unique and the quality is top notch. 

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Wow, thank you so much for the specific feedback and encouragement! We’re truly honored by your enthusiasm, and I’m so glad that you enjoyed all the little details!

The voice actors certainly knocked it out of the park! While we would love to hire the voice actors for more lines, we only raised enough funds for the soundbites / partial voice acting. It’d be a dream come true to invite them back in the future for full VA!

— Luna Chai