Hey Blerdy Tribe, if you’ve been following me for awhile you are well aware that I am a lover of boys love media for everyone else… surprise, I’m a proud fujoshi! I won’t bore you here with the details of my hilarious introduction to the boys love genre, but if you’re curious definitely check out one of my earliest posts, Wait, Are those Guys Kissingfor all the deets!
But, long story short, I enjoy most things BL from manga to anime, fanfics and yes, even games—and because this is a game review site I figured why not take a look at some of my fave indie BL games! Yes, indie. If I did a list of my fave Japanese BL games, it would just be a list full of Nitro+Chiral games and while I love them, that just seems a bit one-sided and variety is the spice of life, don’t ya think? And trust me there are tons of great titles out there to delight even the most seasoned fujoshi and fudanshi! It can be a bit daunting, so today I’m narrowing down the list to include a handful of my absolute favorite indie boys love games!
Say what you will about Nitro+Chiral and their games, but beneath all the angst, leather, and dubious consent are some pretty introspective stories. Sure, their games tend to be on the darker and edgier side of things, taking readers to some less than savory places, but when it really gets down to it there is always an underlying message that serves as the lifeblood of their stories. In Sweet Pool the story explores the inevitability of fate and the difference between being pulled along by forces beyond your control or embracing your lot in life. While Dramatical Murder takes a few notes from Freud in its exploration of the human psyche…among other things… So, going into Togainu no Chi I was prepared for a dark, yet thought provoking story… and let’s see if it lived up to expectations.
Hashihime of the Old Book Town is a psychedelic murder mystery boys love visual novel developed by ADELTA and published by MangaGamer. I’ve seen other reviewers throw around the phrase “existential horror” when discussing this game and after finishing Hashihime of the Old Book Town I agree that is a pretty fucking accurate description of this game.
Time plays a huge role in the plot of Hashihime of the Old Book Town, with the schtick being Tamamori using his time traveling ability to jump between several timelines each with wildly different outcomes. However, unlike your typical visual novel, where the player makes several in game choices that guide the course of the story—Hashihime of the Old Book Town is surprisingly linear. The game consists of five routes, each comprising of one chapter of the overall narrative—following a very strict story progression. After completing each chapter you are presented with a single new choice that “gently nudges” you onto a new path.
There are quite a few twists and turns throughout the game and while you don’t actually make any choices, it damn sure feels like it. From the moment you enter the game it’s a nonstop rollercoaster that takes you further and further from reality with each new revelation. Each route builds on the last, uncovering just a bit more of the mystery until the big reveal in the final chapter—and trust me, you wantto finish this game.
After finishing the romantic comedy otome game Love Spell: Written in the Stars I set my sights on the newest boys love visual novel Room No. 9. This is the second Parade game to make it’s way stateside, following MangaGamer’s localization of No Thank You!!! in 2015—and I’m going to be honest with you, despite coming from the same publisher, these two games couldn’t be more different. In fact, with it’s psychological horror elements, Room No. 9 has more in common with the recent JAST Blue localizations of Sweet Pool and Togainu no Chi. There is a lot to unpack with this gameand I won’t be the first person to say that Room No. 9 is NOT for everyone.
I went into Room No. 9 without having read anything about it—not the game bios, not the Steam page… nothing. It wasn’t until I saw the insane disclaimer and the content filter setup at the start of the game that I had any indication of what was in store for me with this game and for what it’s worth, I think there’s more of a precedence for going into the game blind. Like the main characters, you are thrown headfirst into the confusion and fear that surrounds their unfortunate situation, which in turn makes the abject horror and psychological upheaval Daichi and Seiji face all the more terrifying.
My Black Monkey Pro game reviews have been getting an awful lot of views lately, which I find rather amusing considering the amount of pure unabashed vitriol I spew in my reviews for their… delightful boys love offerings. It’s no secret that I wasn’t really a fan of their shallow smut filled games, and I wasn’t all that sad to see the company disband back in 2015. They’ve since re-branded themselves under the name Herculion and recently released their first official title, Full Service, which looks to be an improvement on their previous BMP formula.
While I wasn’t really a fan of Sleepover or the Bacchikoi series, I do acknowledge that there is a market for BL games that sacrifice their stories for the instant gratification of sweet sweet smut. I’d be lying if I said my inner fujoshi didn’t enjoy hanky panky with my boys love, but where BMP kind of had the monopoly on the English language Boys Love gaming scene back in the day, today there are quite a few game publishers and indie developers that have stepped up to fill the void… and they’re worth checking out!