February is traditional a slow month for the visual novel sphere. More of the independent developers are preparing for the annual NaNoRenO jam in one way or another. The more oragnized publishers and localization groups will be making their big announcements around the Summer to coincide with their planned releases for the year. With Valentine’s Day this week, there should be a few releases to celebrate the occasion, but as far as major titles? We are in coast at the moment.
I might as well be sipping a mint julep right now.
However, there are a few titles of note I wanted to share with you to start the month off: especially after the strong release schedule we had in January. Let’s start with one on Itch that caught my eye had less to do with its premise and more to do with its developer. Ben Wander is a veteran of the AAA game industry: working for a handful of major corporation such as Visceral (before being consumed by Electronic Arts) and Bioware as a software engineer and systems designer. He has recently left the AAA industry to craft more intimate experiences with a focus on player interactions. It’s been a fascinating journey for Ben and I suggest you read up on him at your own leisure. For now, let’s take a look at his first game as a independent developer: A Case of Distrust.
PC Malone grabbed her freshly rolled cigarette, stuck it in her mouth, and lit it. She exhaled blue smoke. Looking through the plumes, she spotted the stack of papers near her desk — all old cases from the force that she’d quit long ago. She began to wonder about her future as a private investigator. Whether the modern world would ever give her more than thankless adultery cases. Emancipation still had a long way to go. More smoke filled her lungs and she sighed another cloud. “Is this life worth what I’ve given up?”, she wondered. “Maybe I should help Green…”
A Case of Distrust is available on Itch.Io for $14.99.
Western Otome creators are slowly but surely adopting the mobile formula of releasing the main route of their games, then releasing each route over a period of time. I currently have no opinion on the strategy, but it is something this corner of the Internet will begin to looking into. Either way, Lettuce Waltz is moving forward with the second route of their highly anticipated Spirit Parade title: this time focused on the character of Mikio. Since there is no individual synopsis for the route, let’s just re-up the main game’s synopsis and go from there yeah?
The story centers on Nara (her name can be set by the player), a cynical 17-year-old girl who mostly shut herself off from the world after contracting spinal polio at a young age and becoming unable to walk. One night, a festival is going on in town. Instead of going with her family, Nara wanders off alone, not wanting to slow them down. As she goes through the various stalls, things become hazier and gradually Nara finds herself surrounded by people with ears, tails, and horns…then suddenly her clothes and wheelchair disappear! After a run-in with a rambunctious kitsune named Hayato and a scary-looking dragon officer of death named Shuye, Nara finds out that her soul has left her body and has been transported to the Spirit World, where all the demons and spirits are celebrating a month-long festival. Until the end of this festival, she won’t be able to return home… Will Nara survive long enough in the Spirit World to go back in one piece? Will she be able to get over her bitterness borne from the past, or will she be engulfed in hatred and lose sight of what’s truly important?
Sticking in the realm of Otome we have a new contender from Yoshibb! We last covered her work on this website a few years back with the Legend of Zelda fangame Lost Heroes. This has been a major project on her list and we’re happy to finally highlight an EVN Otome title that Spike Spiegel would approve of. Here’s the synopsis for 2 Minutes For Roughing;
Paige loves hockey. She’s studied and played on and off the ice for as long as she can remember. Her knowledge and toughness are top notch. While she’s never been gifted in natural skill, she’s one of the best when it comes to adapting to opponents and teammates. There’s only one problem, her temper. Paige has racked up innumerous suspensions and even been kicked off teams for her legendary bouts of rage.
However, she finally feels like she has her temper under wraps and she’s ready to give her favorite sport another go. Her brother has agreed to bring her to practice with his dek hockey team to see if she’s ready to handle competition once again. First step, making sure she can get along with her new teammates!
2 Minutes For Roughing is available for free on Itch.io.
Moving into a slightly darker realm, this one caught my eye in relatively short order. It’s no wonder why, though. It is heavily atmospheric, uses as unique, hand-painted style and is a mystery game blending together Gothic horror and the Salem witch trials. I mean, I know I’m pretty easy to intrigue with darker works of fiction, but at the very least this one has everything needed to catch my eye. Get it? Because of the header image? Let’s just go to the synopsis for A Salem Witch Trial;
You awake in the middle of the night when an angry mob storms through the village. Soon you find yourself caught in a witch hunt. Investigate the circumstances that lead to the witch accusations, unravel the clues to uncover what’s really going on Salem and find the one responsible.
A Salem Witch Trial is currently available for $3.99 on Itch.Io with a launch on Steam scheduled for February 23rd.
Finally this week, something that is very different. AGM Playism has been influential in licensing some of the more unique visual novels that have been brought to the West over the last few years. This includes D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die and An Octave Higher. One of their projects I have been keeping an eye on is Break Arts II and that’s mostly because, well; I dig giant robots. The game merges a few different concepts in the subgenre: emphasizing customization in a fast-paced, racing/battle simulator.
…Am I the only one getting IGPX flashbacks?
Anyway, it is out now and I am definitely going to check it out. If you like mechs and the battles they bring, do give this one your consideration. You can get more information about Break Arts II on the Steam page.
And that’s it for me! Until next time!