This article is one chapter of a multi-part Cover Game feature!
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A common theme explored throughout the visual novel medium in general is the idea of people not being quite what they appear at first glance.
The reason for this is mostly a practical one: the very nature of the visual novel medium makes deep dives into multifaceted, layered characters a viable thing for creators to explore. Enthusiasts of visual novels are already accustomed to the medium’s slow pace and relatively limited interactivity compared to games with a stronger emphasis on their mechanical components, so writers and developers are more than happy to allow us the opportunity to get to know the main cast extremely intimately.
That doesn’t mean those first impressions the characters set don’t matter, mind you. On the contrary, they are extremely important for setting expectations as to how those characters will behave and interact — and then, in some cases, subverting rather than confirming those expectations. Let’s take a look at how Our World is Ended’s cast presents itself in the early hours of the game as the narrative is getting underway.
Continue reading Our World is Ended: First Impressions are Lasting Impressions
With my Sunday Driving playthrough of Black Rock Studio’s excellent Split/Second now at an end, it’s time to take a final, summative look back at one of my favourite racers of all time.
Split/Second, like its contemporary and rival Blur, was a victim of a combination of factors: poor marketing, arrogant publishers and an overall gaming landscape that was somewhat in flux. As such, while those who took a chance on it back in the day tend to look back on it rather fondly now, it doesn’t get nearly the recognition it deserves.
Let’s change all that, shall we?
Continue reading Racer Essentials: Split/Second
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
A lot of games that really stand the test of time are based on a very simple idea.
This is particularly apparent in the puzzle game genre, which typically involves little more than matching shapes and colours in one form or another. And indeed said genre is home to some absolutely timeless classics that are still getting rereleases and reimaginings today.
One puzzler from the early days of gaming that often seems to get forgotten, however, is Sega’s Columns — and that’s a bit of a shame, because it’s an interesting twist on the usual falling block puzzle format.
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Columns
Despite the fact that as you are reading this, someone somewhere is almost certainly enjoying an intimate moment of some description right now, sex remains the ultimate taboo in video games.
This is one of many reasons why I find it so endlessly fascinating that Japan, a nation whose society is not stereotypically known for being particularly open about such things, leads the way in terms of sexually explicit entertainment, be it interactive games or non-interactive formats such as anime and manga.
Up until now, our exposure to Japan’s thriving “sex game” industry in an officially licensed capacity has primarily been through eroge and nukige visual novels. But with Western hentai localiser and publisher Fakku’s partnership with Illusion, now everyone can get their hands on one of the most world-renowned “sex sims” out there: Honey Select Unlimited. It’d be rude not to take a peek, right?
NSFW warning: This article discusses strong sexual themes and features explicit imagery after the jump. If you read it at work and get caught, I accept no responsibility whatsoever!
Continue reading Honey Select Unlimited: Let’s Talk About Sex
For many of you reading this, the words “erotic puzzle game-cum-dating sim with art by Sayori” will doubtless be enough to convince you that Tropical Liquor is worth a shot.
For those less familiar with Sayori’s work — or those who simply prefer to think very carefully about every £7.19 purchase they consider making — today is all about taking a look at this unusual game, and why it’s worth your time.
Before we go any further, let’s get two things out of the way. Firstly, no, it’s not a HuniePop clone. And second, yes, it does have 18+ content, available via a free official patch from publisher Denpasoft. With all that out of the way, let’s go on vacation!
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Tropical Liquor
Last time, we looked at how to get up and running with Visual Novel Maker as soon as possible using its built-in assets and template project.
Today we’re going to take a look at how you can use your own assets to create something unique to you! Because built-in assets are all well and good — and Visual Novel Maker certainly has some lovely default artwork and character designs — but if you’re serious about getting creative, you’ll want to take control of as much about your work as possible.
That means, among other things, creating your own characters with which to tell your story. So let’s take a look at that today!
Continue reading Visual Novel Maker: The Breath of Life
Let’s get one thing out of the way up front, because it seems to be a common point of confusion if Steam reviews are anything to go by.
The Winged Sakura series is not the same as the Sakura series. The Sakura series is a sprawling range of ecchi and hentai visual novels with a distinctive anime-inspired art style, developed by Western indie group Winged Cloud. Meanwhile, the Winged Sakura series is, at the time of writing, a trilogy of three disparate games with a shared cast, a (different) distinctive anime art style, this time developed by Winged Sakura Games, also known as one-man studio and BCIT graduate Hong Dang (plus freelancers).
To put it another way, if you’re one of those people who sees a new game with Sakura in the title and thinks “oh no, another Sakura game” or makes other similar assumptions, note that Winged Sakura: Endless Dream is nothing to do with those games, despite similarities in both its title and the name of its developer. It’s also really rather good.
Clear? All right then. Let’s continue.
Continue reading Winged Sakura: Endless Dream – Dungeons and Defenses
There have been a number of attempts to dethrone Nintendo’s Mario Kart over the years, but none of them have been successful, at least in the multiplayer sphere.
There is one aspect of Mario Kart that has pretty consistently sucked over the years, though, and that’s the single-player offering. Offering little more than predefined Grand Prix championships, one-off races or time trials even in the most recent installments, Mario Kart has always struggled to provide anything of real substance for the solo player. Which is fine, as the series has always been known for being best experienced with at least one friend, right from its inception in the 16-bit era.
This has, however, left a decent-sized gap in the market for other developers to come along and offer more robust solo experiences in kart racing titles. And one game that succeeds admirably in this regard is the cumbersomely titled Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed from Sega.
Continue reading Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed: Driving Into Dreams
We’re enjoying a bit of a puzzle game renaissance at the moment.
While we’re not quite at the same level as we were in the 8-, 16- and 32-bit eras, where puzzle games would happily share retail shelf space with 100+ hour RPG epics (Puyo Puyo Tetris aside), we are at least starting to see more and more puzzle games that aren’t free-to-play mobile titles primarily designed to repeatedly part you from your cash rather than providing a well-balanced, fun experience.
One interesting game that may well have passed you by owing to its low price and seemingly low production values is Hell Girls from Taiwanese circle SakuraGame. And you should most definitely give it a look!
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Hell Girls