Monthly Archives: November 2016

Indie Wonderland: Sepia Tears

I assume you’re familiar with ‘you get what you pay for’? Here on VNADS 2016, we’re about to put that truism to the test. I found on Steam a visual novel called Sepia Tears: Midwinter’s Reprise (by Scarlet String Studios), for the unenviable price of zero dollars and no cents. An entire free visual novel! That’s like the review equivalent of nature’s bounty. Of course, there’s a significant chance that there’s a good reason no money is asked for this product. But we won’t know that until we try, right?

Welcome to another exciting VNADS 2016 adventure, readers! Let’s find out of Sepia Tears is figuratively worthless as well as literally.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low. Mechanical, visual novel.)

(Game source: Technically I could put anything in here and it’d be accurate. I’m going to go with ‘happenstance’.)

After the break: Sepia Tears. This might be the least informed I’ve ever gone into a game, so that ought to be fun!

Indie Wonderland: We Know The Devil

Do you know We Know The Devil? I don’t know We Know The Devil, but I know of We Know The Devil. Which is to say, I know that We Know The Devil is something that I don’t know. And I know that I want to get to know We Know The Devil, because I know that people who know it seem to think it’s worth knowing. I know, right?

“Jarenth, are you just reviewing this game because you wanted to babble about the title like a lunatic?” Okay, okay, you got me. I actually saw a lot of We Know The Devil news and hype pass by my Twitter timeline around February/March this year, in no small part because I follow the indefensible Twitter account of Aevee Bee — one of the Date Nighto triumvirate, creators of this game. I didn’t get around to playing it at the time, for reasons that… I don’t actually remember? I’m going to say I mentally banished it to November, because all visual novels instill that automatic fear reflex in me now. Whatever the cause, I’m getting around to it now. Save for the apparent importance of a few alchemical symbols, I’ve actually managed to stay entirely spoiler-free, so I have no idea what to expect. Presumably the devil will be involved.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, medium-light. Mechanical, ‘visual novel’.)

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: maybe I’ll even get to know them! The devil, I mean. You know? Because it’s like… okay, okay, this is genuinely the last time I giggle at the title.

Indie Wonderland: Sunrider Academy

One of the very first visual novels I reviewed for this VNADS experiment, back in the heady heydays of 2014, was Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius. I remember thinking it was an interesting game: it combined a fairly straightforward and competently-written character-driven romance story with number-crunching tactical space battles. Which had its ups and downs, as an approach, but it was definitely unique enough to warrant remembering. It was quite a stretch from your standard ‘all characters attend the same high school’ cliché setup.

And here we are, two years later, with Denpasoft‘s next game. Sunrider Academy. Which takes the same colourful and interesting characters from Mask of Arcadius… and puts them all in a high school together.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low. Mechanical, medium-high.)

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: Sunrider Academy. I… really have to wonder who *asked* for this. Who was clamoring for a repeat Sunrider character cast performance? But, all the same, here *I* am. So…

VNADS 2016

Heya, readers! It’s November again, which, if you’re a long-time reader, you know what that means: it’s Visual Novels And Dating Sims month here at Indie Wonderland!

If you’re not a long-time reader, then hello! My name is Jarenth, and for reasons I can’t accurately recollect, I decided two years ago to devote every November (and sometimes December, too) to playing exclusively visual novels and/or dating sims. Hence, Visual Novels And Dating Sims month, or VNADS. I know, the acronym is terrible. It fits the games I tend to play. You can find them all under the ‘VNADS’ tag in our tag cloud. Here’s a link.

“Oh, boy, VNADS! I can’t wait to see which terrible Sakura games Jarenth is gonna review this time around!”

Yeah, see, that’s… kind of the main reason I’m writing this intro post. I know my Sakura reviews are popular, for reasons I’ll never* understand; I can look at my traffic plugin and see all of them climbing the ‘most ever read’ rankings, Sakura Spirit still squarely on top. But I can’t do another whole month of these. Because a) I’d go mad, and b) there are other, more interesting visual novels that I want to play. Trust me! I’ve got one or two good ones lined up already. And the field is so large. To arbitrarily restrict myself to Sakura novels just for fleeting website hits… that’s just not what I do.

So, a compromise. Since my last Sakura game review, four new of these weeds have sprouted in the marketplace. Sakura Shrine Girls, a game about hosting a Japanese shrine while also dealing with two sexy cat girls. Sakura Space, a classic Sakura adventure where the lack of atmosphere and gravity will in no way hinder all the near-naked pool parties. Sakura Nova, an academy for aspiring knights that can’t seem to decide if it’s past-themed, present, or future. And Sakura Maid, the one that didn’t even make it to Steam, because Winged Cloud decided that putting in hardcore Patreon-only sex scenes was too juicy a proposition to let pass.

I’m going to review one of these. And I leave the choice of which one to play up to you, the readers. Cast your vote in the comments, with as much or as little explanation as you care for. Or, alternatively, go over to the Twitter poll I made for the purpose, which — from today — stays up for seven days. I’ll collect data at the end of the week, and then review the chosen game in the last week of VNADS. Something to look forward to, for all of you!

Now, in the meantime, why not take a look at the first game I actually reviewed for VNADS, Rose of Winter? You can find the review by scrolling just a little further down, or by following this handy hyperlink

Indie Wonderland: Rose of Winter

Rose of Winter! What a lovely name for a lovely game (by developer Pillowfight, but be sure to check out the more accurate credit assignments on the game page) to lead in a lovely winter with. Unfortunately it’s early fall right now, and living in the Netherlands as I do that means a lot less ‘lovely weather’ and a lot more ‘why did I forgot my umbrella again, it’s grey and rainy here literally always‘. But you can’t win ’em all, I guess. I doubt I’d have picked up a game called Dreary Grass Patch of Autumn.

For real though: I ran into Rose of Winter a month ago, and decided to save it in the limbo of my Chrome tabs for the oncoming November. It genuinely looks lovely at first glance, art-wise, and I feel that a story about an up-and-coming knight escorting fancy princes through a snow-covered mountain (or so the website tells me) will be a lot nicer and a lot more interesting to talk about than yet another slog through the land of anatomically implausible anime boobs.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, medium-high-ish. Mechanical, I guess completely?)

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

After the break: Rose of Winter. I’m not sure how roses would bloom in winter, but I assume it’s probably a metaphor for something.