Island is probably in one of the more unique positions out of VNs released recently. First off, it’s all ages; something that is generally considered a risk when selling a VN. It’s heavily based in science fiction, a genre that is rarely used in VNs, and even more rarely done well. Lastly, the casting for all of the heroines is abnormal. Call them higher profile voices, call them anime voice actresses, call them whatever you want but it’s definitely not made up of a cast that you would normally see in a VN. Yet among all these risks Island seems to be swimming in a sea of praise from the people who read it. It even has an anime adaptation announced and just in general has absurdly high ratings. Now, I wouldn’t normally pick up a game off of ratings alone, but in this particular case it had gotten to the point where I felt like I would be missing out on something if I decided to keep ignoring it, so I picked it up. Albeit a month late, but still.
Noratoto, as it’s sometimes referred to, might just have the most ridiculous reason for me picking up any game ever. Originally, I saw a few bits of it pre-release but never really thought much of it. Once the voices got announced I was really tempted to pick it up, but come release the motivation just wasn’t quite there. Skip forward a week or so and I see that it’s getting rated very highly and basically everyone that I’ve seen that’s playing it seems to be really enjoying it; still not enough to get me to start it. Almost a month after release though something happened: Dark Souls 3 got released in Japan. The internet filled with spoilers, streams of the full release, and new information; all of which I was trying to avoid since I’m getting the English version 3 weeks later. I needed a distraction, and a good one at that. March releases were still a few days out so I started looking for other ways to distract myself for a couple days. While checking Twitter that day I happened upon a picture from Noratoto in which one of the heroines had been turned into a cat. That heroine just so happens to be voiced by my favorite voice actress, and what could possibly be a better distraction than hearing her play a cat? Nothing, the answer is nothing.
Yet another one of those games that I’ve been following since it was originally announced. This one in particular falls in a bit of an awkward spot because it’s based on a subject that I actually have personal experience with. While that does mean that I’m more likely to be able to relate to the setting, it also removes me from the main target audience. One of the strengths of Miagete Goran, Yozora no Hoshi o is how it manages to passively educate readers about astronomy and astrophysics. Unfortunately for me, most of the knowledge it offers is diluted to a point well below where I would be learning something new, so I didn’t really get to enjoy one of the core aspects of the game. Regardless, I still believe this is one of the strongest titles I’ve seen from Pulltop thus far.
To be honest, given how my experience with this game went I normally would have avoided writing a review about it. In an ideal scenario I feel that my reviews should have as little bias as possible, and where it’s unavoidable to have bias I should be able to step back and present it in a way which either appears relatively unbiased or very clearly points out exactly what I’m biased about. Unfortunately, for reasons that I will explain below, I will not be able to remove a significant portion of my bias in this review. Just a fair warning.
Visual Novels, as an artistic medium, are one of my favorite ways to express a story. There are a lot of quirks and tidbits unique to the story structure in VNs that can make for an amazing read when done properly; and if my experience with recent titles is anything to go on, it seems like most of the sizable developers out there have figured out a formula to create consistently solid VNs. Unfortunately, this does mean that most VNs all follow a similar structure. Stories can sometimes get predictable and even create pretty hefty expectations from their readers if not handled well, but for the most part the formula works universally. Sorcery Jokers, on the other hand, decided that it would be best to trash that cookie cutter strategy in favor of creating a more unique type of story. A decision like that is a pretty significant risk, even for a larger developer, but in this particular case the payout ended up being absolutely phenomenal. Not only did they find a way to make this different story structure work, the story also feeds off the common expectations that it’s readers might have and twists them to be used for it’s own benefit.
Every once in a while I find a story that fits really well within my tastes and basically just pick it up and say “this one. I’m going to like this one.” Despite the fact that I find it really interesting and basically decide that I will like it before I even read it, more often than not I end up not liking these by the end. They usually carry pretty well for the majority of their time, but there’s almost always a couple things somewhere in there that just ruin it for me; whether it’s a plot hole, terrible character, or whatever. Sometimes, however, I make it all the way to the end without ever losing that original spark; and those rare stories make up a good portion of my all time favorites. Continue reading
Here it is: the VN that’s taking the whole community by storm! Or so it seemed when I played it at least… Before I even knew what it was I had a friend on Twitter hyping this game. I originally hadn’t planned to play it, but I caved in about a week after it’s release and picked myself up a copy. Despite my attempts to hide what I was playing from my usual group of friends, one of them found out and, for one reason or another, decided to get into it himself. Aside from that, through basically random chance I met a group of people (also on Twitter) that were playing at the same time and got to talk with them about the game as we all played it, which actually made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. It probably didn’t spread very far outside that, but through my confined lens it looked pretty popular. Continue reading