I’ll level with you, dear reader: as a heterosexual man, I’ve never really made checking out boys’ love (BL) media a particular priority — though I must also admit that I’ve been curious for quite a while to see what it’s like.
My past experiences with otome games aimed at heterosexual women have been universally positive, after all (play Sweet Fuse, it’s amazing!) so there’s absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t be able to enjoy a BL title, too. As I’ve discovered since leaving the mainstream side of gaming behind, keeping an open mind and stepping outside of what you might typically think of as your “comfort zone” pretty much always pays off with some memorable experiences.
And thus, when independent developer Studio Senpai reached out and asked me to take a look at their work-in-progress visual novel The Secrets We Keep, I thought this would be a good opportunity to take my first steps into a brave new world. Also, the concept of the novel sounded highly intriguing, too, so that definitely helped! So let’s explore together.
Continue reading The Secrets We Keep: A Modern Love Story
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if, for once, everything went your way? I know I have.
Doubtless many of you reading this have, at some point in your lives, wondered “what’s the point?” and contemplated giving up altogether. “I work my ass off,” the train of thought inevitably goes, “and I never get any recognition for it. Why bother?”
Well, unfortunately I can’t help with your own personal circumstances — my hands are plenty full with my own, believe me — but I can both prescribe and recommend a healthy dose of the new kinetic novel from Nekopara developer Neko Work (under their new Neko Work H label), because Love Cube is one of the most potent pieces of wish fulfilment fiction I think I’ve ever enjoyed.
Some sexually explicit NSFW images and themes ahead.
Continue reading LOVE³ -Love Cube-: Can’t Escape From Crossing Fates
One of my favourite aspects of being Someone Who Writes About Games is that you occasionally have the opportunity to sit down with the people who created these experiences and pick their brains… or at least exchange some questions with them via email and interpreter!
For me, there’s always been a certain amount of mystique surrounding both game development and the art of bringing a commercial product to market. I’ve felt this way for as long as I can remember — even to this day. It’s an aspect of what is, I guess, childish innocence that I’m keen to never let go of; video games, visual novels and creative works are exciting, and the people who create them are magicians, and I don’t ever want to forget that.
With all that in mind, I was delighted when MangaGamer, localiser and publisher of The Expression: Amrilato’s Western release, agreed to let me have a chat with the developer SukeraSparo and find out a bit more about where this unusual, fascinating title came from.
Continue reading The Expression: Amrilato – Konversacio kun SukeraSparo
A lot of Japanese popular media tends to place adolescent characters in leading roles. There’s a very good reason for this: adolescence is a point in your life where your understanding of the world and your beliefs are at their most fluid and dynamic.
Many dramatic Japanese stories explore the concept of adolescence as a turning point in one’s life. For most people, adolescence is where they truly establish who they really are, how they see the world and how they choose to live in it.
Most of us don’t have to go through an ordeal quite as turbulent as The Expression: Amrilato’s protagonist Rin as part of this journey of discovery, however…
Continue reading The Expression: Amrilato – Nova Vivo de Rin
The prospect of learning a new language is a daunting one for many people — particularly English speakers, who tend to take their language’s position as “default” for granted.
What this means, more often than not, is that if you’re not put in a position where you have to learn a new language, chances are you won’t. There are exceptions to this rule, of course — some people learn a new language to improve their career prospects, some learn to broaden the range of language-dependent arts and entertainment they can engage with and some just do it for fun — but for the most part we, as humans, are rather lazy when it comes to this sort of thing.
When The Expression: Amrilato’s protagonist Rin finds herself in a version of her hometown that seems to be all “wrong”, she soon finds herself learning firsthand what being in a position where you have to learn a new language is like.
Continue reading The Expression: Amrilato – Suddenly Voiceless
Video games have been used as a means of helping people learn things pretty much since the early days of the medium; even the humble Atari 2600 played host to basic spelling and mathematics challenges.
As technology has advanced and creators have become more proficient at using interactive media to tell stories and express themselves, more and more ways to educate people have become readily accessible.
Best of all, people have realised once and for all that we don’t need a hard divide between “games” and “educational software”, so today we find ourselves with titles like SukeraSparo’s The Expression: Amrilato, a visual novel that provides its audience with both a romantic story of blossoming love between two girls, and the opportunity to learn some Esperanto.
Continue reading The Expression: Amrilato – Introduction
Despite PQube’s excellent Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa not being a romance-centric visual novel, it has no shortage of characters — both male and female — designed to be very appealing.
My personal favourite from the ensemble cast after completing the whole thing — that is, after finding out all of their respective dirty little secrets, anxieties and woes — was, without a doubt, Yukino Tsubaki.
Allow me to explain further! Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Yukino Tsubaki