Welcome all to 2019! A new year! New opportunities! A fresh chance for humanity to get its act toge- and we’ve already screwed it up. Nice. Well, at least we have a new wave of visual novels to start the year off with!
Plenty of promising titles to look at and it starts off with a little game from a Russian VN developer I talked about last year: Pantsu Hunter. I have long talked about by oldtaku sensibilities, so the game’s presentation that heavily borrows from the anime aesthetic of the 80s and 90s is an automatic hook for me. But can it deliver on more than just it’s promise of cute girls and, well, their underwear? Here’s the synopsis:
Kenji Kojima, a young and able enthusiast, leaves his home province to attend university in the capital. Without the help of his parents, it’s difficult to live and study, so he begins learning different occupations until he eventually becomes a true handyman. However, academic qualifications aren’t his priority in life—it’s finding true love! Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. To his aid have come the most unexpected of all things: Panties! Kenji has learned how to identify a girl’s personality by her underwear and he’ll meet four girls on his way: a playful sweetheart, a pretty tomboy, a shy introvert and an icy beauty. Can he eventually find his true love?
Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s is available on Steam for $9.99.
Now, this title isn’t out yet but it has intrigued me and not just because I’m a geek for the Steampunk subgenre. The Boys Love subgenre has recently exploded (……..) in the West thanks to both growing demand for their Japanese counterparts and increased Western production. What sets Chasing the Stars apart is its explicit 18+ rating: directly challenging the murky standards Vale has in place for Steam at the moment. I’ll be interested to see how it is received upon release and how it stacks up to other BL Visual Novels that, for some reason, people insist that I at least try. Is it because of all the Shuuki jokes I made back in the day? Is a Shuuki joke even relevant in 2019? Because I still have a few. Oh well, questions for another time. Here’s the synopsis:
Tirs is a workaholic, determined young man with a dream: going to space. Will he achieve his goal while dealing with college life, the academic research community and its begrudges and, last but not least, his awful love life?
Chasing the Stars will be available January 23rd on Steam.
Moving on one of the things I’m very happy to see out of the EVN community are more games that take inspiration from outside of anime and manga: the ‘Source Wall’ as I’ve called it in the past. And while it isn’t a visual novel, for the purposes of our website we’re co-opting it; if only to spread awareness. She and The Light Bearer takes inspiration from Indigenous folklore, Western fairy tales, and, interestingly enough, music videos. It also seems like something that a younger audience would appreciate based on its visual style. That’s all good from my perspective, so let’s take a look at the synopsis:
Follow the journey of The Little Firefly who wanders in an unknown forest, carrying a grand task with them. As the world has lost its balance since The Mother fell into a deep slumber, our Little Firefly is entrusted to find The Mother to bring back harmony upon the land. In the unknown forest, The Little Firefly will have to solve various riddles, challenges, and puzzles to prove their worth and earn the forest’s trust. Deeper into the forest, they will learn the sacrifice of the forest, the horror of the Devourer, and the secret to awaken Mother.
She and The Light Bearer is available on Steam for $9.99.
We don’t really talk a lot about Roseverte around these parts, which is a folly on my part. The publisher has existed about as long as VNs Now has and has overseen one of the more successful otome brands in gaming. And considering how its mostly Idol games and Otome on the mobile market, that’s saying something. The group has recently been on something of a roll thanks to their Story of Eroolia series that has so far featured How to Take Off Your Mask and How To Fool a Liar King. This year they’ve continued the series with How to Sing To Open Your Heart…..Good Lord, that title is tooth-rotting. Anyway, here’s the synopsis:
“Can the cat-eared princess’ song rescue her people and find true love?”
Princess Myana loves to sing, and believes she can make her people happy with her song.
This time, she visits the human’s country “Eroolia” as the leader of “Laarz”, the country of cat people.
Relations between humans and luccretias have never been good, and Princess Myana experiences it herself in Eroolia. Will her song be able to unite the hearts between humans and luccretias? Or as the imperial guard captain, Ludovic, argues, is it better to completely cut off ties between the two countries?
How to Sing To Open Your Heart is available on Steam, Mobile and Itch.Io for $14.99.
Well, since we’re on Otome today we might as well keep the train going. This honestly seems like a straight-forward, girlxboy setup: exotic setting, overdose of saccharine, but it does feature an interesting customization mechanic. Not only can you customize your character, which is a recent edition to the Ren’Py package, you can also design clothing to fit into the themes of the game. On second thought, that could’ve all been covered under the ‘saccharine overdose’ bit. Let’s get to the synopsis:
Design clothing and romance a guy of your choice. Tailor Tales is an otome that has you playing an aspiring fashion designer who runs her own boutique. Set in a fictional European country, her life gets complicated when she meets a certain guy in a fateful encounter. Throughout the game she’ll be required to design clothes for clients to earn enough gold to purchase the next chapter of the story.
Tailor Tales is available on Steam and Itch.Io for free.
Last year, I reported that Spike Chunsoft was bringing the rest of developer MAGES Science Adventure visual novel series to the West. This trilogy contains the influential works Steins;Gates, Robotic;Notes and Chaos;Head. At the time, I thought that was as deep as the collaboration went. However, that was also when I thought it was a trilogy and not a series. Both went out the window on the release of Chaos;Child: the fourth in the Science Adventure series and the canonical sequel to Chaos;Head. Here’s the synopsis:
It’s been six years since a massive earthquake leveled the city of Shibuya. Now, in October 2015, while researching a number of recent murders, Takuru Miyashiro realizes a horrible truth. These murders are the return of a series of killings that plunged Shibuya into terror six years ago. And at the same time, people called gigalomaniacs, with the powers to make their delusions real, are beginning to awaken…
Chaos;Child is available on Steam for $34.99.
Along with Roseverte, Vysoko Anime Production has continued to work. The developer has put together a solid catalog with the Invisible Apartment series and a handful of stand-alone titles I.E. Void and Nothingness. To start this year, the developer has released another science fiction title: Crystal Chameleon. Let’s check out the synopsis:
Sci-Fi Cyberpunk Visual Novel based in a future where telepathic powers are common-place. Meet Jackie – a freelance negotiator who’s best friend is a cyber dolphin. Accompany her in an adventure she didn’t really ask for. Solve a mystery and maybe make some new friends along the way. Crystal Chameleon is a choice based visual novel. Make decisions at various places in the game to proceed in a good or bad timeline.
Crystal Chameleon is available of Steam for $3.99.
You’ll have to forgive me on this one as I’m pretty sure the synopsis translation is off. The game is another title coming to us from a Russian developer. This time, we’ll be….oh dear. It’s an isekai VN. And it has catgirls….or dear. Zeliria Sanctuary all. Here’s the synopsis:
Young commando Maxx, tired of repetitive missions and time-consuming barrack weekdays, gets an offer from the command to take part in the trial teleporter test. Alas, the risky experiment fails: Maxx finds himself on a strange planet without a chance to return home. The journey promises to be interesting; after all, who knows what he will find in the new world – the king’s throne and love, or inglorious death in the stocks? Will girl-cat Leeka help him, or she will be the main cause of his troubles? Is it brave knight Velga who save him or she will execute him as an enemy? Answers to these questions are in our visual novel Zeliria Sanctuary!
Zeliria Sanctuary is available on Steam for $9.99.
To close out the week, I decided to close out on a short but sweet romantic VN. While I don’t have too many details on the project, any romance that starts with the woman threatening to kill you with your own gun should be interesting stuff. Big Dipper all – here’s the synopsis:
They say it’s hard to find a place to call your own, but what if such a place was not uniquely yours? What if both of you were not willing to give it up? Big Dipper is a visual novel which tells a romantic story of the circumstances that brought two lovers together one fateful New Year’s Eve.
Big Dipper is available on Steam for $4.99.