Milky Way Prince: The Vampire Star Shows the Dangers of a Toxic Relationship
Note: The game discussed in this article contains depictions of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and severe mental illness. Take care.
Milky Way Prince: The Vampire Star is a disturbing and difficult game experience.
The moody visual novel, created by Lorenzo Redaelli, tells the story of two men, Nuki and Sune, who have a volatile romance that soon becomes toxic and even dangerous due to Sune’s unchecked Borderline Personality Disorder. Called a semi-autobiographical story by Redaelli, Milky Way Prince shows the highs and deep, deep lows of an abusive relationship and explores mental illness in ways that few games attempt.
You are Nuki, a young man fascinated by the stars. As a child, you dreamt of meeting your prince, the Milky Way Prince, and flying off into the night sky for untold adventures. As an adult, though, that dream is more of a distant fairy tale — until you meet Sune, a brooding, sad young man who instantly takes to you when you offer him a bit of kindness. A fast, intense sexual relationship gives way to an emotionally volatile and wild romance, one that goes downhill incredibly fast given Sune’s mental illness.
The game is played as a visual novel, with striking manga art set against shaded 3D backgrounds that suggest an otherworldliness. But the drama in Milky Way Prince feels very real. Too real, actually. A lovely, nice day at the beach suddenly takes a turn when Sune has a breakdown and pushes Nuki away. Sune seems to want to be hurt during sex, which you as Nuki can choose to comply with or not, and the results vary wildly and unpredictably, as Sune’s Borderline Personality Disorder leads to wild and unpredictable reactions. The game crosses into full horror multiple times, with Sune’s disorder manifesting in horrific visual ways, from his body contorting to his head spinning.
Milky Way Prince acknowledges that Sune has a mental illness, and a severe one at that, but does not excuse his abusive behavior toward Nuki. Playing as Nuki, you can try to reason with the out-of-control Sune, you can enable his behavior — whether or not you meant to — or you can choose to take care of yourself.
I chose to take care of myself.
When I was a younger adult, I dated someone who was manipulative and often cruel. While the situation never escalated to the dire straits Nuki can find himself in in Milky Way Prince, it informed the way I played the game. I know there are darker endings in Milky Way Prince, but the game made it quite clear that it was okay with my decision to leave Sune — and the pain he brought with him — behind.
If you are in the right headspace, check out this remarkable game on Steam and consoles.