Before Fading Hearts i've played TONS of Visual Novels and Dating Sims. I knew nothing about Fading Hearts before I decided to pick it up not knowing what to expect. From the main store page it seemed interesting enough for the $10 I paid for it. I have to say, I was quite dissapointed to be frank.
First I'm going to go over what I liked about the game. The gameplay was really interesting and fun, definitely felt more closer towards a Dating sim. You get stats you can raise by doing various activities throughout the day and the stats (usually) have some effect on the game, such as how much money you get and beating certain monsters in the forest. There is a combat system, though not very in-depth, was entertaining for the first few times. And the game strongly encourages and is ment to be played with multiple playthroughs for all the endings, even including some cute dialouge at the end of each playthrough that provide hints on what to do on your next one.
One thing that interested me into buying the game was the "Player-Active Storytelling! NPCs tries to manipulate you, the player!" feature on the store page. I seriously did not feel this at all, in any of the playthroughs. I felt fully in control the entire time as with every dialogue option you can easily see what the consequences were and what path you were going to go down. The "Players can actively manipulate story mechanics once they understand how they work." was just a fancy way of saying choose A or B like you do in any other game/VN, nothing intuitive there.
You get stats and other progress bars that you can raise that can influence your money income, and combat stats. It had very good potentional to be very good but in the end it was pointless. You honestly don't need money that much, the only time you really would need to spend money is on things to obtain even more money. You don't need to touch the system at all and can do very well without, theres no real benefit it was a waste of time. You can also choose to do various excercises and train magic spells as well for combat. However, to reach the ending that relied a bit on combat you didn't need to be very strong at all. Once you hit a certain threshold (which isn't very high) it was pointless and a waste of time. It would've been nice if they added something that required or rewarded spending more time on raising those stats.
However, the thing that bothered me the most, is that the story was absolutely terrible. I definitely felt like it was more gameplay oriented storytelling than an actual story. Of course the story changes with your actions (as expected with multiple endings and such) but each time I was never satisfied. The climaxes to each ending felt very bland, and the actual endings were extremely cliche and predictable. The characters are REALLY flat and I'm not talking about their chests. They have little personality and no development whatsoever. Side characters are pretty irrelevant and you only speak to certain ones to obtain endings.
Lastly, the game is super short. I spent about 15 hours on the game but really thats because I left the game on while I fell asleep. Each playthrough is about 30mins-1hour long at most. If it takes longer, thats because you're trying to figure out what to do to get the other endings which won't take long. You can probably get all the endings in one sitting if you wanted.
The game had a lot of potential but I felt like it was released a bit too soon or the writing could've been better. The idea and design was good but it had no depth whatsoever.