For many in the “mainstream” gaming community, visual novels are often seen as not “real” games—to many, an interactive story-based game can sound like a snooze fest. But, the truth is, visual novels are some of the most diverse games out there, covering a wide range of stories and genres… that quite frankly surpass anything I’ve seen from most mainstream games. Whether it’s a sci-fi adventure set in a distant galaxy, a slice of life romance, or an epic historical drama—visual novels are open to a wealth of story telling opportunities! They even lend themselves to giving creators from all walks of life a platform to tell their own unique stories with characters that are representative of themselves and the larger gaming community.
As a Black woman and a gamer, I find that I turn to indie visual novels whenever I am hankering for more diverse gaming options and always, visual novels deliver. Over the years I have discovered quite a few gems and I’ve even had the opportunity to chat with a few developers of color, like Jellyfish Parade founder, Jessinia. I am no stranger to her games, having fallen head over heels for her sci-fi romance game PAIRS—which follows two couples as they navigate the ups and downs of their relationship against the backdrop of an ongoing war between Earth and an invading alien race. But, what drew me to the game was the fact that both of its female leads have distinctly Black features (something that was WHOLLY intentional), while not being defined by the color of their skin—something that isn’t as common as it should be in media. So, when I saw that Jellyfish Parade was working on a new (longer) romance game featuring a Black female lead and a diverse set of love interests… let’s just say I was closely following the project!
Ocean Pearls: Kissed by the Sea is an upcoming fantasy romance visual novel that follows Nova, a young woman who finds her life turned upside down when she is unwittingly betrothed to one of several eligible ocean royals. I managed to get a sneak peak at the demo and y’all, I am in love with these mermen~ (and the game too)!
Continue reading “Ocean Pearls: Kissed by the Sea Demo Review – Do You Wanna Marry a Merman~”
I got this request months ago and while I’d like to say that the reason it took so long to review this game was because I was busy with real life obligations that wouldn’t be entirely true. The truth is, at first glance Up Until the End just didn’t grab my attention—the premise was definitely unique, but the art really didn’t do it for me, so I pushed it further and further down my list. I am not proud to admit that I judged this game before even playing it, but I am human and while reviewers strive to be impartial, it’s not exactly an easy thing to do.
So, with the prospect of being stuck at home indefinitely due to COVID-19, I decided to revisit Letitia Lambrechts debut visual novel, Up Until the End and I will admit that I owe her an apology for waiting so long to play this game. It’s not perfect, but, I may have been too hasty in judging Up Until the End, it is a rather enjoyable and inventive story that is worth the playthrough!
This was supposed to be an ordinary day, in an ordinary life. But it isn’t.
You were in the town library, reading a good book when…You don’t really remember. You know you passed out. When you wake up, you are surrounded by flames !
Will you get out of danger? Will you create bonds with your companions? And maybe, will you find love on the way?
- Available for Windows, Mac, Linux
- Price: Pay What You Want
- 1 optional pursuable male character
- 15 Unique Endings
- Gameplay Length: 2-5 hours
Continue reading “Up Until The End – Game Review”
Where to Get the Game: Steam
A little while ago I went on a recovery mission into my backlog and I “rescued” a few titles from the depths. One of those titles was Nightshade. When this game was originally released I didn’t have the money to purchase it, so a friend of mine from an otome group I’m in gifted it to me on Steam. Even then, I didn’t immediately play the game, and I have to wonder that if I had played it back then when the entire otome games community was hyped as hell for this game, maybe, just maybe my opinion might have been different. But, I didn’t and I’m gonna be upfront with you guys, I did not enjoy this game and the only reason I even finished the game was out of a moral obligation to the friend who bought it for me the game.
I went in expecting Nightshade to be this epic historical fantasy on par with the much beloved otome darling Hakuoki, but what I got was a bland and largely forgettable gaming experience. Everything was just so meh, it just didn’t WOW me the way I thought it would. The premise was okay, the characters were okay, and the story itself was just… you guessed it, okay. It just didn’t stand out at all. Everything was just so predictable and unoriginal, HELL if you’re looking for a better game with shinobi, I highly recommend the mobile game Destiny Ninja it has its moments, but at least it’s FUN. Nightshade just played it too safe.
Continue reading “Bite-Sized Review – Nightshade”
With all the flashier titles in their catalog, Love Calls You Home is one of their underrated gems. It doesn’t come with all the gimmicks and angst of some of their more popular Otome Romance titles, so it’s pretty easy to overlook this unassuming slice-of-life romance. An overworked young woman finds herself in close quarters with a handsome and supportive guy, and while the circumstances for their cohabitation differ by route, the romance between the MC and her chosen love interest remains largely grounded in reality. The only “gimmick” is that a majority of the guys are secretly famous or have lucrative careers. I kind of got the impression that this was what Voltage was going for with their older title, Serendipity Next Door, which has a similar premise.
Currently, four out of the five love interests are available—Taiyo, Arata, Liam, and Hazuki. Because, I’m biased towards kuudere and tsundere, I picked Arata’s route as my first conquest of the game.
Also, because folks (myself included) are fussy about spoilers. Here’s your one and only spoiler warning. This review will have minor spoilers for Arata’s route and Love Brings You Home.
Continue reading “Love Brings You Home – Arata Yuki Main Story Review”
I’ve been playing Code Realize ~ Guardians of Rebirth ~ off and on for the past five or so years and despite the overwhelming love for the game I could just never seem to make much headway with it. So in 2019 I made a bit of an unofficial resolution to finish at least one route before the end of the year and at long last I was able to complete my playthrough of Impey’s route! Took me five long years, but I can finally say I’ve at the very least played Code Realize and I’m not gonna lie, I have some mixed feelings about it. This won’t be so much a review as some thoughts I’ve had about the game over the years—and after five years I’ve amassed quite a few.
Code Realize was one of the first major otome game releases to make its way stateside. Developed by Otomate for the PS Vita in 2014, Code Realize is a steampunk fantasy, featuring a cast of characters based on famous literary and historical figures. The game follows Cardia—a young woman whose body produces a deadly poison that melts anything she touches—spends her days in an abandoned mansion to protect others from her affliction. Labeled as a monster by the locals, Cardia resigns herself to a life of loneliness until Royal Guards break into the mansion and attempt to capture her. She is saved by infamous gentleman thief Arsène Lupin, who promises to help her find her father, the only person who might be able to remove the poison coursing through her veins.
- Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Action, Romance
- Available for PS Vita | Nintendo Switch (Feb 2020)
- Full Voiced
- Gameplay Lengh: 30-35 hours
- Cost: $39.99
- 5 male romance options
- Similar Games: Steam Prison, London Detective Mysteria
Continue reading “I Finally Finished My First Route in Code Realize ~ Guardians of Rebirth~”