Perfect Gold: The Alchemy of Happiness is a short slice-of-life yuri visual novel developed by Yangyang Mobile, an indie game studio based in the Philippines. This isn’t my first title by the studio—their horror visual novel The Letter had me afraid to sleep with the lights off for weeks after I finished it—but, their newest release offers a much more lighthearted experience. Follow estranged friends Marion LaRue and Audrey Clary as they explore the magical city of Castlecoast and get a second chance at love and friendship.
Perfect Gold: The Alchemy of Happiness is a short, coming-of-age yuri visual novel about two former friends who escape detention in order to celebrate the Sunflower Festival. Set in the magical city of Castlecoast, readers get to know Audrey Clary, an alchemy student and heiress who secretly dreams of a different life, and Marion LaRue, a rebellious elemental magic student in search of someone she once loved.
-Official Game Synopsis
As the heiress of the renowned alchemist Clary family, Audrey Clary is expected to create a magnum opus in order to bring the world closer towards the highest state of perfection. Audrey, however secretly wants to be a healer, an occupation considered to be way beneath her status. Responsible and compassionate, Audrey is torn between following the path her family has laid out for her and choosing the one her heart desires the most.
Marion LaRue is an elemental magic student who earned her scholarship at LeFay Academy through meticulous self-study. Fiery, rebellious, and carefree, Marion is not one to back down from a challenge. As one of LeFay’s brightest students, she aims to prove her worth and earn a place as a respectable mage despite her common background. But, when it comes to friendship and teamwork, Marion still has a long way to go.
Perfect Gold is set in the fantasy city of Castlecove, a mecca of sorts for alchemists and other magically endowed individuals. So, I went to this game expecting it to be this grand fantasy adventure story with epic magical battles and life or death situations, much like Serendipity of Aeons or even The Royal Alchemist. But, instead I was surprised to discover that Perfect Gold is a much more intimate story that focuses on the relationship between two young women: Audrey Clary, a talented alchemy student from the famous Clary family and Marion LaRue an impulsive elemental student from the countryside.
Told from the perspectives of both Audrey and Marion the story gives players a much more comprehensive look at both girls and their experiences; Audrey desperately wants to live life on her own terms, but is constantly weighed down by the expectations of her family; while Marion wants to break free from the shadow of her talented older sister and make a name for herself on her own terms. Despite being different in just about every way imaginable, the pair strike up an easy friendship that quickly blossoms into romance. But, after a misunderstanding ends their friendship, the girls become bitter enemies, that is until Marion sets Audrey’s potion book on fire landing both girls in detention on the same day as the Sunflower Festival, Castlecove’s most anticipated social event. Not wanting to miss out on the festivities, Marion and Audrey reluctantly agree to work together to escape! Together they explore the city and celebrate the festival, rekindling their past friendship along the way.
The prologue kicks things off by showing us Marion and Audrey confessing their feelings for one another and it’s this beautiful scene with warm lighting and soft music, only to drop us into the present day, where Marion and Audrey are no longer friends and we’re left wondering what exactly led to their falling out. This is intentionally kept vague, using flashbacks to gradually reveal the events leading up to the fight that ended their relationship. Each flashback is interwoven with events of the present adding much needed context to their interactions and their unresolved feelings for one another. Depending on your choices Marion and Audrey will have a chance to rekindle their relationship, which is made all the more impactful thanks to the dual narrative structure of the game. As the story progresses you really feel like you know both girls and their pain, so it’s hard to pick one perspective over the other, because both Marion and Audrey are valid for feeling the way that they do about the situation—it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether they can put aside their hurt feelings and pain in order to better understand each other.
It’s very clear which choices will net you the Good/Bad endings, so there’s a lot less emphasis on strategy or affection percentages as is the norm with most visual novels. But, this works to the game’s benefit giving players a chance to really focus on the characters and their relationship with one another. I will fully admit that there were times where the story really tugged at the heartstrings, and I think that most players will be able to relate to the conflicts Marion and Audrey face, both as individuals and as partners. As far as the romance goes, Perfect Gold keeps it strictly G-rated—if you’re expecting more than intense blushing, cute hand holding and light kissing, this is not the game for you. But, if like me you just want to see cute girls in love, step right on up because Perfect Gold is chock full of cute and warm fuzzy moments.
Visually, this game is absolutely GORGEOUS!! Aside from a bit of sprite position variations every now and again, there’s usually not much movement in visual novels—that is not the case with Perfect Gold. Yangyang Mobile goes all in with the immersion, incorporating light animation to breath life into the characters and the setting. Character sprites blink and breathe, there’s even animation for their hair, a feature that carries over to the CGs as well! Even the backgrounds are full of so much detail, from flowers blowing in a gentle summer breeze to clouds floating listlessly in the sky to magical items bobbing about on their own. I do want to note that the game does let you adjust the resolution and texture quality of the animation—the highest setting 4K UHD is gorgeous, but can put a strain on your system, so it’s nice to be able to adjust those settings to 1080p or even 540p without sacrificing quality.
Lastly, Perfect Gold does have full English voice acting and I have to say I am impressed with the talent lending their voices to this game—Dani Chambers and Eileen Montgomery voice the main pair, Marion and Audrey respectively, but everyone gives it their all! Each performance feels so natural and I love how effortless the dialogue feels as a result! Top notch work all around!
I have said this on more than one occasion, but I don’t play very many yuri games—in fact I can count the number of yuri games I’ve played over the years on one hand and I am happy to count Perfect Gold among them. This is just an all around wonderful game with amazing characters, a heartfelt story, and absolutely stunning artwork! It is a bit on the short side, it took me about five-ish hours to finish, but that definitely works for such an intimate story.
I highly recommend giving this game a try if you have the chance and for the $7.99 price tag, you’ll definitely be getting an absolute steal with this delightful game!
Thank you to Yangyang Mobile for providing me with a copy of the game for this review!!