Well, the holidays are done and 2012 is right around the corner! While 2011 has been a solid year for English visual novels, 2012 is already looking to be bigger with several groups looking to take their work to another level. While there will always be a mystery contender waiting in the wings, I’ve already seen five VNs that I am eagerly anticipating for 2012 and here they are!

5. Break Chance Memento (Cyanide-Tea)

God I shouldn’t like this game. Just like with don’t take it personally, it’s filled with things that I routinely mock (seriously, you could mop the floor with that preening twit Shuuki’s hair). And despite knowing exactly what I’m getting into thanks to Cyanide Tea’s reminder of the BL content in this one, I really want to play it.

A lot of my attraction is based on the approach of how they’re telling this story. Not only does it involving time traveling, but it is two separate acts with two main characters. Your actions in the first act, as Shuuki, directly influence how the second act will go when you play as Natsune. To what level that is taken to still remain a mystery, but I can only imagine what one argument, one misspoken word, one night of lust for Shuuki could mean for Natsune. That, and the mysterious deaths surrounding this family, is enough to keep me waiting for news of its release.

4. Mitsumata (Kinou Games)

How anyone could not be intrigued by this title is a mystery to me. Kinou Games has done a great job keeping most of the work quiet by systematically cutting the world away from it, instead of constantly trying to feed us updates. Frustrating, yes, but it did the trick. Now, according to them, we are potentially months away from a release date and what they will release is, I’m convinced, nothing short of genre changing.

Not satisfied just to tell a good story, and it sounds like a very good story, Mitsumata takes elements from other genres of games to make itself standout. I’m sorry but I got to keep saying it to wrap my head around it: there is platforming in this VN. On top of that is an RPG battling and leveling system that borrows from the old-school of video gaming. This many elements in a project can tank it, but with Mitsumata everything seems to be melding together very well.

3. Cinders (Moacube)

Shout out to Tom: delays will not stop my interest in game. Originally planned on a Summer release, Cinders has been pushed back in order to further tweak its inner workings. But from what we know already, this will be an adaptation of Cinderella very worth of its history. Skipping past Disney, Cinders reaches into a much darker fairy tale and gives the player more than just the option of waiting for her knight in shining armor.

In the mix for this one is a more Westernized art style that already makes it stand out from an anime dominated field as well as music with a decidedly more somber flair than the anime inspired tunes you can get with a visual novel. Those choices puts it apart and keeps it on this list. Here’s to hope 2012 will be a banner year for Moacube as we get a solid release for Cinders.

2. Katajion Kinetic Monthly (IDHAS)

I’ll be honest, I Don’t Have a Studio Studios snuck up on me. Through my research for the 2011 Best Ofs I fell upon Anton’s Vacation and, through that, gained a healthy respect for the one they call Chief. Now, though, I think Chief’s insane…and I’m pretty nuts myself so that’s saying something. For those who don’t follow IDHAS, recently Chief has announced that he’s taking on a grand experiment. Something that he’s calling a ‘Shonen Jump of kinetic novels’: Katajion Kinetic Monthly. I’ll let Chief break it down,

“Every month you can expect to see the running series of five kinetic novels. While the roster will grow and shrink as time ticks on, you can rest safe with the knowledge that almost all of these stories are already written and the art done before we even get near the series release.”

Starting off IDHAS’ new, incredibly daring initiative are five very promising titles: Rising Angels, Pet Project, Tales of Takao, Blood of the Light and one project that remains to be titled. I’ll be honest; a part of me is waiting for the Chief to crash and burn in this daredevil-esque move. But, my instinct tells me there is something about this project that is going to be special. I’ll be reporting on the first release in the Katajion series and we will all see what happens from there.

1. Jisei the 3rd (SakeVisual)

If God has a sense of humor, this game will be released around the same time as The Dark Knight Rises. After a very good year headlined by the release of Kansei, SakeVisual is preparing a few new titles for us with the promise of the next chapter in the Jisei series. For those that follow the series, there isn’t really much I can say as you’re already ticking down the days to you can play Chapter 3…but I’m going to talk about it anyway!

The conflict that spanned the first two games between the two genetic heavyweights seems to be on the verge of quieting down with Biodev dealing with the problems made for them by Jennifer Bergstrom and William Auten dead. That leaves our potentially named hero with plenty of free time to deal with the mess that is his private life. Will he get a new lead on the murder of his younger sister? What will this Schultz person have in store for him now that she knows he’s alive? And of course there’s Chance’s sugar daddy Shin Guan. His and Kangai’s path has crossed twice now, will the third time lead to a direct face-off? And, of course, who’s going to die next?

So what are you looking forward to seeing come out this year? Sound off in the comments or on twitter @vnsnow!

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Founder of VNs Now.com. Long-Time Reader, Amateur Writer and Chef and Gundam Enthusiast. Opinions are Steve's, Facts are Mine.