Well we’ve reached the end of April! And while I didn’t expect anything Earth-shattering to happen this month due to NaNoRenO wrapping up, the times we live in managed to surprise me. We have quite a few titles to go through, including one that has been awaited by fans of a certain gaming site for a while now. But let’s start with a piece of news that managed to slip under my notice.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is, by all accounts, not a good movie.  Reports are coming in now that the movie may result in a massive loss for Universal Studios and when you’re looking down that barrel, spinning out another method of profitability and salvaging the franchise becomes the key corporate focus. So I always expected something: TV series, YA novel adaptation, something that can justify Universal not tossing the license with the baby and the bathwater. HOWEVER, if you had told me just a few hours ago that the answer they would have come up with was a visual novel, I’d have thought you were joking.

But, here we are my friends: discussing a movie-licensed visual novel. Allow me to repeat that for everyone in the cheap seats. The Huntsman: Winter’s Curse is an ENGLISH Visual Novel based off the intellectual property of a major Hollywood studio. Pinch me: I’m dreaming. To the synopsis:

Winter is fast approaching as Queen Freya’s army marches relentlessly on the White Lands. Beneath the shadow of that deadly war Elisabeth’s quiet life on her family’s farm in Vardhelm comes to an abrupt end as she embarks on a journey of her own. Join her on a quest to find her missing brothers as you explore an expanded Huntsman universe, one where you’ll encounter both familiar faces and new dangers, all while discovering the secret Elisabeth herself unknowingly carries.

Will people disagree with my assessment? Of course. I’m sure that because it includes a card-based battle system it’s not a ‘pure’ visual novel or something along those lines. However, considering what I’ve been talking about for three years now when it comes to commercial visual novels in the West and how the medium will be adapted once large media companies realize just how cheap it is to develop and profit form them, I’m counting this as correct prediction on my part. I certainly wish that prediction was attached to a better movie, but I’m still counting it nevertheless.

The Huntsman: Winter’s Curse is slated to be an episodic series. The first episode is available for free on Steam with a Playstation port in the works. The second and third episodes are already available as DLC and you can get them for $4.99 each or invest in a Season Pass to get the entire game for $17.99. You can get more information about all of this here.

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As YouTube continues to play an integral role in the gaming industry, it was inevitable that its current unshakable position as the middleman of new, independent gaming commentators would breed its own unique fandoms. But Normal Boots? Really? I kid Normal Boots. And, to be fair, I’m not completely sure how this even happened: it just kind of did, Does that mean Asagao Academy: Normal Boots Club will be any good? Only time will tell, I suppose. At least they already have cosplayers going for it. One of those guys even pulls off a decent ProJared: he’s just missing the scowl lines. To the synopsis:

When things in her life get to be too much to handle, Hana Mizuno transfers to Asagao Academy to start fresh. Once there, she runs into the Normal Boots Club – a group of handsome, competitive gamers, and the most popular guys in school. And they need her to compete in this year’s gaming tournament!

Now that I think about it, Normal Boots isn’t the only YouTube personality to get the fangame treatment. Humanity’s own Jim Sterling had a game made in his likeness a while back, although not nearly with the same visual quality. Luckily for me, I will always be out of the running for this sort of thing thanks to my overall cynicism, penchant for megalomania, psychotic blood lust, hatred of love and unpleasant face so if a VN reviewer ever gets this sort of thing, it’ll be Tenarium and Tryinmornin. Either them or Lost Pause I guess…no he doesn’t get a cheap plug. Your synapses will thank me. Jokes aside, you can get Asagao Academy on Itch.Io for free.

After a brief (and still unexplained) delay that set this one back a few weeks, RazzArt has finally released their much anticipated Starlight Vega. The title originally received notice last year when it was going through Kickstarter. In relatively short order RazzArt got $22,264 to bring their game to life and sealed a partnership with Sekai Project that saw a much deeper partnership form with Unwonted Studios that will give us Catch Canvas later this year. For now, let’s see what this magical mix of yuri and fantasy will give us:

You play as Aria, a girl who moves into her grandfather’s old house. While exploring the upstairs study one night, she and her friend Melody accidentally unleash a flirtatious demon named Lyria, who spent the past fifty years in a stone. After freeing her from her prison, the two become attached by a ‘lifestone’, which means Lyria can’t go far from Aria without feeling repercussions, and vice versa. Now Aria, an ordinary highschool girl, must find a way to free herself from Lyria, who seems to crave the exact opposite. Add to that the increasingly realistic dreams plaguing Aria, the sexual tension between Aria and a select few girls around her, and the supernatural phenomena – it seems like Aria’s life will never be the same again.

Starlight Vega is available on Steam for $14.99.

So, if you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve played Lucid9: Inciting Incident and you’ve most likely already seen the rant, so you know that the eventual review is going to be very interesting to say the absolute least. And while I have many things to say about it in the future, what I want to say right now is that everyone reading this needs to play it: especially EVN developers. Keeping in mind what I said to start this article about Winter’s Curse, it is absolutely pivotal that everyone has an opinion based on their own experience with Lucid9.

I’ll get into why in a different format. With that said, let’s get to the synopsis:

Yama Ishimoto, a cynical high school student in 2018 Japan, would like nothing more than to keep his life free of school drama and hard choices. However, he’s forced to face his circumstances when an eccentric detective blazes into his life, alerting him of a string of brutal murders at his school.

Now, as Yama furthers this investigation, he must dig through the secrets of the city, bringing him and his friends closer and closer to danger in the process. Every step leads Yama to the most unexpected – and terrifying – culprit…

Lucid9: Inciting Incident is available for free on both Steam and Itch.Io.

World-hopping adventures have been a staple of anime and manga since I was a kid and it continues to be a popular theme in fiction. We just got finished talking about Starlight Vega whose major running theme is parallel worlds in a fantasy setting. Ciikos Bridge also takes on that theme with a higher emphasis on adventure than sugary romance. To the synopsis:

Taku spends his days looking out for new things to explore around Bruma, the small forest village he calls home. When the village elder tells of a way to visit another world, Taku is dying to find out if it’s really possible! What kind of adventure awaits Taku on the morning of legend? Only a journey through the fog will tell!

Ciikos Bridge is available for free on Itch.Io.

DANGANRONPA!

The entire series is slowly making its way onto Steam and we have been ecstatically awaiting them all. The series has only grown in popularity since its first release in 2010 and the first episode has had strong success on Steam; garnering somewhere around 30,000 Steam owners since it hit the platform two and a half months ago. So where do we go with the next episode? To the synopsis:

Jabberwock Island – once a popular tourist destination, this now uninhabited island remains oddly pristine. You and your classmates at the elite Hope’s Peak Academy have been brought to this island by your super-cute teacher for a “lovey-dovey, heart-throbbing school trip.” Everyone seems to be having fun in the sun…until Monokuma returns to restart his murderous game! Trapped on this island of mutual killing, your only hope of escape rests in solving the island’s mysteries. But be warned—sometimes the truth can be its own despair…

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is available on Steam for $29.99

It’s been down year for Sekai Project. After the dud that was Atom Grrrl! and the fumbled launch of Sunrider: Liberation Day, the rest of the year can only go up for the company. So no more warming up in the bullpen; let’s see what the folks from LA have in store for us! To the synopsis:

The year is 2030. Business is as usual in the isolated research city of Rokumei–that is until several explosions suddenly go off in the nuclear research facility known as “LABO.” The city sends in “Sirius,” an elite rescue squad, to deal with the situation. But the situation only gets worse when LABO’s nuclear reactor melts down, sending the facility into lockdown–with members of Sirius and survivors still trapped inside. With lethal radiation leaking everywhere and not enough anti-radiation medication to last until lockdown lifts, the survivors make more and more grim discoveries. In their struggle for survival, in a deathtrap full of fire and radiation, they learn that doubt is their greatest enemy, and trust their greatest asset.

Root Double is available for $39.99 on Steam.

Continuing in our exploration of dark fiction from Japan, we have the surprising (but not unwelcome) release of Corpse Party. The franchise is one of the more storied ones we’ve come across recently. The original was released in April 22, 1996 by KenixSoft. While it didn’t make a lot of waves on its initial release, it maintained something of a cult following in Japan which led to a remake in 2008: Corpse Party BloodCovered. The remake garnered more popularity for the franchise which saw several new entries on the PSP, Vita, 3DS and home computers between 2008 and 2014. It has also been adapted into a manga in 2012 and an anime in 2013.

With that type of pedigree, it’s no surprise that the original would make its way to Steam at some point. While other entries into the franchise have been released to the West long before now, how appropriate is is that the (remade) first game finds its way to us on the week of its twentieth anniversary? Let’s get to the synopsis:

A group of friends unknowingly perform an occult ritual that traps them in an otherworldly elementary school. Here, the vengeful spirits of young children threaten their lives and their sanity, and the only hope of survival is to uncover the chilling details behind the murders of those trapped before them…

Corpse Party BloodCovered, or just Corpse Party for us it seems, is available on Steam for $14.99.

Finally I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Telltale’s Walking Dead miniseries is concluding this week. The series, starring fan favorite Michonne, has been well-received by critics and fans and it stands to reason we’ll be seeing similar mini-series to fill in the blanks between both television and comics where we don’t see certain characters. It’s a smart business move and allows the group room to focus on some key franchises they’ve managed to bring under their umbrella like Borderlands and upcoming works such as their Batman game.

I’m personally not going into this title with sky high expectations, but from what I’ve seen of it the miniseries is as solid as the rest of their work on TWD. If you’re interested but HusbandoGoddess and one of my personal favorites ThaRadBrad have some of the better Let’s Play on the series and I strongly recommend them both. If you just want to jump into the game, you can purchase it on Steam and consoles for $14.99.

And that’s all for this week! JP3: OUT!

 

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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.

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