We’ve been waiting almost four years for this new season and after watching episode 1 – Introductions, I can honestly say it was worth the wait! The series is back and in full form, the cast is back and everyone gets their fair share of screentime. I missed my Haikyu!! boys so it was nice to kind of get reacquainted with everyone. The first half of the episode was just so nostalgic, everything was just so spot on, from Kageyama and Hinata having one of their usual pissing contests right off the bat to the third years just being so over the younger team member’s shenanigans to Tsukki being so smug about surpassing 190 cm. All my old Haikyu!! just came flooding back full force and this is just the first episode!
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
I just finished my first playthrough of Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk and I’d like to get my initial thoughts about the game down before I get any deeper into the story, because my God was this game intense. I played Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly awhile ago and I didn’t really like it all that much, so I went into Ashen Hawk expecting it to be much the same as its predecessor… thankfully I was wrong! Ashen Hawk is a marked improvement over Black Butterfly in almost every way and one has to wonder what the hell happened between the production of the first game and this one to cause such a huge difference in quality… Technically Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk isn’t a sequel to Black Butterfly, though it is set in the same world as the first game, but with a completely different story and characters.
Now I say that, but there were QUITE A FEW Easter Eggs and callbacks to PBB in Ashen Hawk, that you’ll only truly get if you’ve played through the first game, but it’s not a requirement to enjoy the game. That said, EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED!! I know I literally just said you don’t have to play Black Butterfly before playing Ashen Hawk, but boy does playing the first game pay off in a big way in this one!! It’s no secret that I didn’t particularly care for Black Butterfly, but damnit if Ashen Hawk didn’t make slugging through the mess of the first game worth it. But, what I love most is that the connection between the two games isn’t overly in your face, the reveals work well within the context of their respective stories while also expanding on the preexisting lore of both games.
- Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
- Available for PS Vita | Steam
- Full Voiced
- Gameplay Lengh: 30-35 hours
- Cost: $29.99
- 4 male romance options
- Similar Games: 7’scarlet, Re: Birthday Song, Ayakashi Gohan, Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly
Since folks are really hung up on spoiler warnings, this post will contain some minor spoilers for the game, so if you haven’t played either Ashen Hawk or Black Butterfly, maybe hold off on reading this review.
I was first introduced to indie developer Mikomi Kisomi through her urban fantasy visual novel, That Which Binds Us. Its been a little over a year since that release and Mikomi Games, now re-branded as Crystal Game Works just released their newest title, Memories on the Shoreline—a supernatural romance. I’m a sucker for supernatural fantasy, and the prospect of dating a hot merman was just too good to pass up, so when Mikomi sent me a review copy of the game… I made time to play it.
Melody wanted a break from her stressful med classes— so when spring break came around, she dragged her best friend Shion with her to the beach. However, things don’t go quite so smoothly when they meet Brennan, a local fisherman, and Crylis… a mermaid?!
– Official Summary
- Available for Windows, Mac, Linux | Steam
- 2 pursuable characters (male)
- 5 Endings
- Languages: English
- Cost: $5.99
- Gameplay Length: 5 hours
The premise is simple, Melody and her best friend Shion are spending their spring break in sunny Florida, in hopes of getting some much needed down time before falling back into the academic grind. While there Melody meets a handsome fisherman named Brennan, who hints that all is not as it seems in the quiet beach-side town. Later that night, Melody discovers that sirens exist, when she encounters a runaway merman, Crylis. What should have been a normal relaxing vacation is soon made much more exciting with two handsome men vying for Melody’s affections.
Uta no Prince Sama or UtaPri as it’s called by fans is a multi media phenomenon, that has been enjoying over 9 years of popularity from its beginnings as an otome game back in 2010 to the newest film, Uta no Prince Sama Maji Love Kingdom. The series has been going strong for years with multiple fandiscs, spin-offs, and sequels. It is a powerhouse of a franchise with fans the world over, so you can bet there was a lot of hype surrounding the release of Maji Love Kingdom! The film debuted on June 14, 2019 in Japan, with the English subtitled version of the film premiering at Anime Expo 2019. But, there was also another pre-screening event here on the East Coast in Washington, DC at Otakon 2019, which is where I saw the film. And while it was a much more humble affair, when compared with the much more publicized Promare premiere, Otakon attendees were eager to see the film before it’s official theatrical release!!
Indie developer Argent Games is known for their inventive BL visual novels. Where most games from the genre focus on getting their characters into the bedroom, Dovah and Gamma, the dynamic duo behind Argent Games, tend to focus on creating games with stories and characters that subvert the usual cliche Boys Love tropes. I’ve been following their works for quite some time, but I will admit that despite having their games recommended to me quite a few times, Chess of Blades is the first of their games I’ve had the chance to play.
Chess of Blades is the studio’s second title and follows Rivian Varrison, the son of a high ranking military strategist, who is attending a celebration at the King’s residence. While there he must navigate the complexities of the aristocracy and the political intrigue of court life. But, the King’s court is full of dangers, and soon Rivian finds himself being drawn into the tangled web of secrets that could prove fatal for not just him but everyone he holds dear. With enemies all around, Rivian will have to be careful, lest he meet a grisly end…
- Available for Windows, Mac, Linux | Steam | Google Play
- 4 pursuable characters (male)
- 9 Endings
- Full English Voice Acting
- Languages: English
- Cost: $24.99
- Gameplay Length: 12+ hours
There is no way to talk about Doki Doki Literature Club without spoiling it, so if you haven’t already played this game, go do so before reading this review. Trust me, you want to go into this game blind.
Right, so I’ve seen Team Salvato’s Doki Doki Literature Club floating around, but I wrote it off as one of those cutesy anime styled harem romances and let it fade into the dark recesses of my backlog. I probably would have continued on blissfully unaware about the horrors of this game, had it not been for a friend mentioning it to me in passing:
- Genre: Psychological Horror
- Available for PC (Widows, Mac, Linux) | Steam
- Gameplay Lengh: 5-10 hours
- Cost: Free
The horror genre has always been about telling good stories. Made up campfire stories, urban legends, and folk tales… there’s something thrilling about a good scary story. But more often than not it seems like most big budget horror media is more concerned with hashing out the same old played out cliches and tropes, than they are with telling a good story. Jump scares and predictable characters are the norm, to the point that it’s rare to come across anything that feels genuine, let alone telling a good spooky story.
Every so often I come across a good scary story, one that renews my faith in the horror genre and Atelier Sentô’s The Doll Shop is one of those hidden horror gems. The Doll Shop is a slow tale that ditches the usual horror cliches in favor of telling a truly unsettling story. In a secluded Japanese village, there lives a quiet doll maker, who is content to spend his days with his dolls. Each one is more beautiful than the last, and so he spends his days in isolation, until his childhood friend, a beautiful young woman from the city arrives. She’s unlike anyone he’s ever met before, and suddenly his dolls aren’t enough to fill his lonely existence. But, he has a secret… he’s just waiting for the right person to share it with…
- Genre: Horror, Suspense, Thriller
- Available for PC (Widows, Mac, Linux)
- Gameplay Lengh: 2-3 hours
- Cost: Free
- 3 Endings
For someone that shies away from incomplete series, I’ve been really getting into episodic visual novels. Rather than blazing through a game in one sitting, the plot unfolds over a series of chapters/episodes and because there is usually a bit of a wait between new releases, this gap in new content gives you a chance to really dig down and fully explore the different story elements and scenarios in the interim. It’s a much more comprehensive gaming experience than I’m used to, but one that definitely allows for a much more immersive experience overall.
Recently I had the chance to give Asif G.’s Arabian Nights inspired fantasy visual novel, One Thousand and One Days a try and I was blown away by what I played so far. The game borrows heavily from ancient Persian mythology and Islamic lore AND features an all POC cast that draw inspiration from Middle Eastern, North African, and Mongolian cultures. On top of that, the game is LGBTQ+ friendly, with love interests with differing gender identities and sexual orientation. There are even poly romance options in addition to the standard one on one romances choices.
- Genre: Supernatural, Fantasy, Romance
- Available for PC (Widows, Mac, Linux)
- 4 Chapters (ongoing)
- Gameplay Lengh: 30 mins – 1 hour per chapter
- Cost: Free
- 4 Love Interests (Male and Female); Poly Romance Options
I am a huge fan of detective/investigative games like the Ace Attorney series and the Hotel Dusk series, they’re the games that sparked my love of visual novels in the first place. With their immersive stories and intriguing mysteries there’s always something new to discover. So, when indie developer Studio Attic Salt emailed me about their supernatural detective mystery visual novel, Misadventures of Laura Silver, I made sure to add the game to the top of my play list!
Set in 1935, Misadventures of Laura Silver follows paranormal detective Laura Silver and her assistant Orewell Cooper as they traverse the globe on a quest to catalog the mythical creatures they encounter. Along the way they come across a series of unexpected events that have them questioning the intentions of their bureau as they find themselves drawn into a web of murder, lies, and corruption.
Currently, Laura and Cooper are on assignment in Czechoslovakia, in search the Vodnik, a sea beast that has been terrorizing one of the local towns. But, when the agent already on site is found murdered in his hotel room, Laura must determine whether his death was the work of the supernatural or something much more sinister.
Misadventures of Laura Silver is an episodic visual novel, however, as of this writing only Chapter I is available (Chapter II is scheduled for a Summer 2020 release). Chapter one is a bit on the short side with roughly 8-10 hours of gameplay, but with over 100 choices for players to make in addition to the interactive investigative gameplay features, there’s plenty of content to explore in Misadventures of Laura Silver.
- Where to Play: Windows, Mac, Linux | Steam
- Genre: Detective, Supernatural, Investigative
- Gameplay Length: 8 -10 hours total
- Cost: $7.99 USD