Tag Archives: VNADS

Indie Wonderland: Sakura Space

Heya, readers. Happy new year! May your 2017 be good where 2016 was bad, and great where 2016 was merely good.

In lieu of the first ‘proper’ review of 2017 (that one comes next week), this week I’m posting the last entry of VNADS 2016. I’d originally planned to throw this one up last week (and then take this week off), but at the last minute I decided to spend Christmas time with my family and loved ones instead of…

…Well, I mean. I promised this at the start, didn’t I? “Tell me which one of these four specific games to review, and I’ll review it”. I have no-one but myself to blame for not even building in a convenient out. But at the very least, I hope you understand why this didn’t have priority. I’ve tallied the votes, and taken all arguments into consideration, and the final game of VNADS 2016, the one Sakura game I will review in that period, is

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, high. Mechanical, visual novel. NSFW Warning: Sakura Game from the first page.)

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: excitement! Unless you’ve looked at my Twitter poll. Or my ‘recent purchases’ feed.

It's never a good sign when a game's title screen would make me alt-tab away if my mother suddenly came to visit.

Indie Wonderland: Loren The Amazon Princess

Winter WolvesLoren The Amazon Princess is another fan request for VNADS 2016, as well as a game I’ve been interested in checking out myself. It’s been on Steam since January 2014, and I think I remember that it’s one of the first self-identified visual novels I personally ever saw on the platform. It might even have been part of the seed that originally led to VNADS, who knows? I needed only the gentlest of nudges to check this one out.

To wit:

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, high, but only for the first third of the game. Mechanical, medium.)

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break

Indie Wonderland: Solstice

Following an unprecedented two concurrent reader recommendations — I really hope this doesn’t come off as a mean-spirited burn, I love you guys — I’ve decided to this week take a look at Solstice. Created by MoaCube, developers of Cinders [official site], Solstice… looks a lot like Cinders 2.0? Both mechanically, and with respect to art style, I feel like I’ve seen this before. Except that Cinders was very clearly based on the Cinderella story. But Solstice… maybe it’s a Ice Queen adaptation, like Frozen? Am I going to be buddying up to existentially oblivious snowmen any time soon? Probably not. But still, only one way to find out.

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

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: Solstice. I do appreciate the narrative disconnect between this snow-and-ice theme, and ‘cinders’. Let’s see if it lasts.

Indie Wonderland: VA-11 Hall-A

“Hey, wait a minute, Jarenth,” I hear you say. “You’re still doing VNADS! You can’t suddenly veer into Sukeban Games‘s VA-11 Hall-A, as that’s clearly a cyberpunk bartender action game! Says so right on the tin!”

To those people I say, good eye! I appreciate you trying to keep me honest. But also, maybe take a little closer look at the Steam page. See what it says, right there in the popular tags section?

IMG: VN (Read ’em and weep, nerds.//I don’t make the rules, I just rigidly enforce them for my own benefit.)

The larger Steam community has spoken. VA-11 Hall-A‘s a visual novel, and what’s the abbreviation for my winter adventures again? Visual Novels and Dating Sims month. Looks like I’m in the clear! So let’s get this party started before anyone thinks to bring up that it’s possible that I myself added that ‘user-defined’ tag.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, medium-light. Mechanical, light.)

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: VA-11 Hall-A. I didn’t actually tag it on Steam, but it’d have been cool if I did.

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…

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.

A Very Special Indie Wonderland Christmas

Happy seasonal holiday period, one and all! We here at Ninja Blues would like to wish everyone a good last few days of 2015. May you celebrate whatever traditions you hold dear with the people you love and care about.

Now, normally, I use the Christmas period as a prime excuse for taking one or two weeks off. I was close to doing that again this year! But then I figured, no: this year, I’ll put some extra effort into writing a special Christmas-themed review. A gift, from me to you. As a thank-you to all our loyal readers over the past two years, and especially to our Patreon supporters, whose generosity has made possible so much of our 2015 adventures.

And as luck would have it, I know just the game. T’is the season for it, for one. And what’s more: it’s a game so kind, so heartwarming, and so uplifting, that it’d be a shame not to share it with all of you as soon as possible. And no, I’m not telling you what game it is yet; what would the Christmas period be without a gift to unwrap?

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, medium. Mechanical, medium.)

(Game source: Gift from a friend. This review is in the spirit of both giving and receiving; the perfect Christmas review, perhaps?)

After the break: are you ready? Ready to open this previous gift? Go ahead, then. Start tearing at the wrapping paper. Aaaand…

Indie Wonderland: Sakura Clicker

And so reach we the end of Sakura Month. Sakura Indeterminate Stretch Of Time, if we’re sticklers for accuracy. And what a ride it’s been! We’ve watched angels battle ancient sorcerers, high school swimmers work out their emotional baggage, voyeuristic battle maidens go on a quest for a fallen star, and childhood beachfront friends be awful at each other. And I don’t know about you readers, but I can definitely say I’m no longer the man I was when I started this.

There’s only one Sakura-brand left in Steam’s store. One final hurrah. It’s the largest breaker of the mold, too; the reason I saved this particular game for last is because it’s not a visual novel at all. But rather… a clicker. A Sakura Clicker.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, it’s a clicker game. Mechanical, it’s a clicker game. NSFW levels: some bikinis — quite a lot of bikinis, in fact — but nothing major.)

(Game source: I’d love to blame Patreon one last time, but this one’s free-to-play.)

After the break: Sakura Clicker. Curious how I’m gonna write a full review on a derivative softcore clicker game? Ha, so am I!