Happy New Year all! Yes, it’s technically mid-January, but the VN community has started the year off in a hurry. We have a great deal to cover, so let’s started with a game that has been in development for quite some time. Ayu Sakata and the good folks at Sakevisual have been working on Backstage Pass for the better part of three years now. It’s still listed in Early Access on Steam, but according to them it’s basically finished although there are still tweaks and additions to be made. So what can we expect from Sakevisual’s largest project to date? To the synopsis!
The glamour and glitz of showbiz hold little appeal for Sian. As the daughter of a professional makeup artist, she knows how stressful and uncertain work can be, and she aspires to something more stable. When a sudden accident topples her plans for a smooth college life, she realizes she must put her own makeup skills to use if she wants to make it through the year. The entertainment world may be wild and unpredictable, but Sian’s about to learn there’s also a lot to love.
Backstage Pass is available on Steam from $29.99. We’ll be keeping tracking of continued edits and additions to Backstage Pass and when it is officially released from Early Access or is released in other formats, we’ll let you know.
Michaela Laws and her henchmen were very busy in 2015 with Seduce Me the Otome and a few smaller projects and is looking to stay just as busy this year. Her production record, though, is a bit iffy. I thought Pizz’Amore was hilarious, but we are going to have a long talk about the first Seduce Me. Hopefully, My Lady will be a step forward! Here’s the synopsis:
You are Miss Bauxmont, the heiress to the Bauxmont estate. With your mother always away on business trips, you find yourself infatuated with your personal butler. For several years, you have vied for his attention, but to no avail. However, you are now 17 and your mother has plans for you involving a certain suitor who has come into town.
What will your future hold on the chessboard?
My Lady is currently available for dollar on Itch.Io.
Okay we’re three games into the new year and it’s all sugar and friendship and lovey-dovey what-not. I am not a very happy disciple of darkness right now; just saying. Anyway, another anticipated release comes from Ebi-Hime. Last year she hit the market with Asyphixia and The Sad Story of Emmeline Burns. Her newest game, Strawberry Vinegar, seems to stay within her aesthetic of youth and relationships but that’s a face-value judgment. Let’s see what awaits us in the synopsis:
Sakuraba Rie, aged nine, is a cynical and grumpy girl who cares little for her fellow classmates, and does not have a single friend. That is, until a self-proclaimed demon from the deepest, darkest pits of Hell suddenly appears in Rie’s kitchen and steals a tray of cookies. What will happen between these two young girls? Will friendship blossom between them, or perhaps something more? That is up to the reader to decide – but rest assured, no matter what, there will lots and lots of delicious food!
Strawberry Vinegar is available for $9.99 on Steam.
………………You know what? At least this one has some self-sacrifice in it. It’s a little tragic and I’m going to take what I can get! Created by Vietnamese developers Milliasoft, Millia – The Ending was Kickstarted successfully in 2015. From there the group has been busy crafting their project and have entered a busy month with their finished work. Here’s the synopsis:
The story follows the daily life of Rize who lives in a fantasy world. After a tragic event, the world was cursed by one of its two goddesses. The other goddess tries to prevent the destruction of the world by sacrificing herself over and over again each twenty years. Rize inherits the title of goddess guardian after his father passed away. With his carefree personality, he quickly becomes friend with the goddess and they spend a happy childhood with each other. However, as time goes by, the goddess will soon have to sacrifice herself again and it means that she will forget everything about him. Will Rize be able find a way to help the goddess?
Millia – The Ending is available on Steam for $4.99.
…I’m just going to queue up a little Splinter Cell: Blacklist for when I’m done with this report. Need to get all of this romance and otome out of my system. Anyway! The train continues on with a few noteworthy Lemmasoft releases! We got a few new kids on the block with Filipino developers Otomedice whose first visual novel, Locked Heart, project turns a very familiar children’s tale on its head in the name of Otome. Here’s the synopsis:
Once upon a time, the d’Lockes, a prestigious family, became the receivers of a terrible curse. No one has heard of them since then. Seven years later, their mansion, remains standing in the dark forest with no signs of life inside. Nobody even dares go near it. Until one day, a girl named Aura stumbles across the house and is greeted by a family of…talking plush toys?!
Locked Heart is available to download for free on the Otomedice website.
Hm, so here’s an interesting one. Shoujo City was recently released on Android devices and seems to combine your standard dating simulator with an old-school adventure game. It’s about as straightforward as you can expect a game like this to be, so let’s hit up the synopsis:
Shoujo City is a dating simulator game for Android. You have ten days to try and win love of a girl by giving her gifts, playing games, or going to regular dates. While talking to a girl, each dialogue choice affects your intimacy score. Each girl has a different personality and requires a different approach.
Shoujo City is available on Google Play for all Android devices.
A Wild Catgirl Appears from New West Games. I’ll be honest with you; this is one of those titles I’m not sure what to expect. I know I’m going to play it and I haven’t had the best experience with catgirls in EVNs. I guess that’s a good thing since I’m not entering with any expectations, therefore it can surprise me if its good. But for now, let’s just go over the synopsis to see what we’re in for:
A Wild Catgirl Appears follows the story of Ami, a loner at high school, as she joins the school’s coding club and sets about making her first video game. They create Starla, an awesome catgirl ninja and create a figure to interact with their game. The figure doesn’t quite work, but the next day Starla is quite real!
Who will you choose to date?
A Wild Catgirl Appears is available for $2.99 on Steam.
And now to something different. VNs Now will be doing its best to highlight and review more narrative-driven games in 2016 and that won’t always fit into the default idea of a visual novel. Why? Because, as Major Kusanagi once said, ‘Monotony is death’. That holds true for both review sites and developers and how can the developers avoid monotony if the review sites don’t include things like Oxenfree from Night School Studio. Here’s the synopsis!
Oxenfree is a supernatural thriller about a group of friends who unwittingly open a ghostly rift. Play as Alex, a bright, rebellious teenager who brings her new stepbrother Jonas to an overnight party on an old military island. The night takes a terrifying turn when you unwittingly open a ghostly gate spawned from the island’s cryptic past. How you deal with these events, your peers, and the ominous creatures you’ve unleashed is up to you.
Oxenfree is available on Steam for $19.99.
This is going to be a tough one. That Dragon, Cancer is one of the few games to deal with a very somber topic seriously as player’s follow the story of Joel Green and his family and his battle with cancer which he was diagnosed with when he was only one year old. This one won’t be for everyone and even then you can expect a heavily emotional journey through Joel’s short but powerful life. Here’s the synopsis:
This is where we go to remember our son Joel, up through here along this path. We want to show you who he was, and how his life changed us. Can we walk here together for a while?
That Dragon, Cancer is available on both Steam and Ouya for $14.99.
That’s all for this week! JP3: OUT.