When we’re talking about conventional games — particularly today’s games — it’s important to consider them from a wide variety of perspectives.
Typically, we look at a game from several different angles: the way it’s presented through its sights and sounds; the way it plays through its mechanics; and, where applicable, how it handles its story.
When contemplating visual novels, the balance tends to be a little different. We tend to up the focus on narrative considerably, and in many cases mechanics don’t enter the picture at all — many visual novels simply don’t have any! That is, unless you’re 428: Shibuya Scramble, in which case your narrative and mechanics combine together to produce something exceedingly interesting…
Continue reading 428: Shibuya Scramble – The Mechanics of Storytelling
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve indulged in a visual novel or two in your time. Perhaps they’re even a primary form of entertainment for you.
Those of you who have explored the medium to some extent have doubtless discovered that there isn’t really any such thing as a “typical” visual novel — some, like Dharker Studio’s Negligee, are effectively short stories designed to be enjoyed over the course of no more than a couple of hours, even if they have multiple endings or routes. Others, like the wonderful Grisaia and Fate/stay night, can take a hundred hours or more to see through to completion.
Sometimes, you want the experience of a visual novel’s approach to interactive multimedia storytelling without having to devote a significant proportion of your life to enjoying it. Sometimes you want something that will just entertain you for an evening but still give you the sense that you’ve “completed” something. Sometimes a game like Lily’s Day Off is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Continue reading Lily’s Day Off: The Visual Novel, Condensed
While the Xeno series has, from its outset, always been about imaginative takes on worldbuilding, the Xenoblade subseries in particular has placed a strong emphasis on this.
Indeed, as we’ve already explored, the very reason the first Xenoblade Chronicles exists at all is because series creator Tetsuya Takahashi thought it would be cool to have a game set atop the bodies of two gigantic, frozen gods. The concept was subsequently fleshed out into the divide between the Bionis and the Mechonis, and the rest is history.
Xenoblade Chronicles X subsequently provided a somewhat different take on worldbuilding, providing us with a huge, seamless and geographically diverse planet to explore at our own pace. But Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is closer in concept to the first in the series, albeit with a few twists of its own.
Continue reading Xenoblade Chronicles 2: A Titanic World
How do you describe a piece of interactive entertainment? Chances are the first thing you mention is the way it plays, or the supposed “genre” it is part of.
Final Fantasy is a JRPG; Gears of War is a third-person shooter; Mario games are platformers. And this isn’t only true for mainstream games, either — even the most esoteric indie games tend to be described in terms of their mechanics. Fez is a puzzle-platformer; The Binding of Isaac is a roguelike shooter; Minecraft is an open-world building and survival sim.
While you may then elaborate on that by describing the setting — sci-fi, fantasy, cartoonish crazytown — it’s highly likely that this is not the first thing you mention. Interactive entertainment is pretty much the only artistic medium in which we do this.
This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.
Continue reading From the Archives: A Question of Genre