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This blog is devoted to popularization (and discussion about) western-produced VNs. My main goal is to present notable non-Japanese visual novels that didn’t receive attention in the Fuwa community and, whenever possible, giving voice to people behind them. Doing this, I hope I’ll be able to give these projects and their creators the appreciation they deserve and oppose some negative stereotypes about non-JP VNs that circulate within our community.

I’m also going to talk about failed VN projects and review newly-released titles of various quality, using this opportunity to discuss the most common flaws and problems characteristic for the western VN development scene and realities of the OELVN market. 

Entries in this blog

Plk_Lesiak

Welcome back to EVN Chronicles, your prime source of romantic fluff reviews and recommendations! Today, I present you a post that will either capitalize on the post-Valentine's Day atmosphere by providing you even more positive feels, or help mend your lonely heart with quality love stories! Romance, as we all know, is one of the driving elements of visual novels in general, and maybe especially within the niche that is particularly close to my heart – and that is, of course, yuri. Recently, I've spent quite a lot of time going through and writing about Yuri Game Jam VNs and with that coverage finished, for the time being, it's an excellent day to look beyond this particular event to satisfy our freeware yuri needs.

          The Western visual novel scene is, if you take a closer look, surprisingly full of f/f romantic stories and freeware titles containing such themes show up pretty regularly, both thanks to other game jams, such as NaNoRen0 and various “random” releases, mostly by hobbyist developers. Today, I’ll go through some of the most notable, free EVNs with yuri elements – both those purely focused on girls’ love and those that include it as a significant part of the experience, but not its primary theme. As usual with this kind of lists, I’ll focus on short, casual VNs most fitting the mini-review format – some games that would fit the theme, like Christine Love’s Don’t Take it Personally, Babe, it Just ain’t Your Story, deserve a more detailed review and they will receive just that… SoonTM.

 

Butterfly Soup

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Brianna Lei's story about a group of lesbian teenagers has gathered a significant amount of mainstream attention thank to its unique subject matter (focusing on minority queer women and their experience), but it’s definitely more than just a piece of social commentary. It offers a well-written, charming story that tackles its main themes with a lot of subtlety and attention to detail. It also doesn't overstate the sexuality of its characters, saying more about the universal challenges of growing up than just minority issues. And while it definitely attempts to create a more realistic representation of homosexual relationships, straying away from the typical, idealized yuri romance, it's a fun and light-hearted read that should be appropriate for anyone not allergic to close-to-reality LGBT stories.

Final Score: Highly Recommended
 

Her Tears Were My Light

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Nami's allegoric love story about Space and Time, threatened by the never-ending spiral into nothingness, is a simple, short game, that nonetheless managed to gather an impressive amount of praise from the readers (apparent, among other things, through its unusually high VNDB rating: 7.48 average, 6.92 Bayesian). With beautiful (although distinctly cute) visuals and high-quality writing, this NaNoRen0 2016 entry is a really touching and surprisingly unpretentious read, appropriate not just for yuri fans, but rather everyone not afraid to shed a few tears.

Final Score: Highly Recommended
 

Seduce Me the Otome

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The notorious otomege by Michaela Laws might focus mostly on the male love interests, but also offers three enjoyable yuri routes – two short, “side” ones, featuring protagonist’s high school friends Naomi and Suzu, and one revolving around Diana – a succubus and one of the central characters of the whole Seduce Me series. While cheesy writing and voice-acting, along with inconsistent art sometimes makes it hard to take this game seriously, it truly works the best when you don’t – the amateurish feel gives it some peculiar charm with can make it highly enjoyable if you’re looking for a few laughs, along with the genuinely cute, romantic moments it provides. And Diana's route, at least, is definitely among the most interesting elements of the whole experience.

Final Score: Recommended
 

Mira’s Magical Mishap

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Mira’s Magical Mishap by SilverHyena is another one of those extremely cute and relaxing yuri visual novels which work best when you don’t want to worry about receiving a really bad ending or the drama going out of control. Following Mira, a magic school dropout trying to prove herself as an owner of a potions store, and creates a faulty mixture that takes away the magic of her old rival, Odette. Having to work together to fix the problem, they realize that their old conflicts were misunderstandings more than anything more. Depending on your path, they might forgive each other and become friends, or even more than that – and as standard as this scenario is, pleasant art and good writing make it just fun enough to read to be ultimately worth your time.

Final Score: Recommended

 

Romance Detective 1 & 2

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Quintessential work by NomnomNami, the Romance Detective duology does a great job of showcasing both her characteristic artstyle and the casual, mostly-comedic storytelling typical for her VNs. While the second game was never truly finished, missing some art assets, the whole series is complete story-wise and offers a lot of fun for those looking for a light, cheerful read – although the sequel has its share of more sober, touching moments and should be compelling also for those looking for some actual romance and drama.

Final Score: Highly Recommended
 

Taarradhin

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Taarradhin is a fairly well-known NaNoRenO 2014 entry, that only partially relies on yuri themes, but manages to stand out thanks to an appealing aesthetic, Orient-inspired stylization and a simple, but well-executed plot. It follows the story of Netqia, a young and naive daughter of a powerful noble in a country struck by a catastrophic drought, who's unexpectedly presented with a gift of two beautiful slaves. While, just like other games on this list, Taarradhin is fairly short, it manages to create an interesting setting with many elements unusual for visual novels, a pretty well-fleshed-out cast of characters and an interesting intrigue, that lets you connect to the main cast through multiple playthroughs and rewards you with a compelling "true" conclusion at the end of the road.

Final Score: Recommended
 

Sugar’s Delight

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Before Winged Cloud became the company we all know and love (?), they’ve created a cute, SonoHana-style nukige titled Sugar’s Delight, under the Neko☆Soft label. And surprisingly enough, it’s quite a competent one, if you exclude the headache-inducing, stock background music. The already mentioned Kiss for the Petals inspirations are rather clear even in the character designs and the emotional dynamic between the heroines, and while the writing is definitely not on par with the Japanese productions, it’s serviceable most of the time. The erotic scenes are also surprisingly well-done, making this game quite adequate for what it tries to be – and that, considering what came later from its creators, is already a positive surprise.

Final Score: Recommended

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I’ve said it so many times that it is probably getting boring by now, but the unique place that yuri and f/f romantic themes play in the EVN scene is one of the reasons I appreciate it so much. For the fans of girls’ love, Western VN devs, both hobbyists and professional ones, provide a constant stream of meaningful content (admittedly, with lesbian porn being just as prevalent and seemingly way more popular than it is on the Japanese eroge market). While I expect free games to become less prevalent in the future, as the most talented devs transition to commercial titles and the market for those grows steadily, yuri fans will always have something to look forward to in the EVN niche – and hopefully, I’ll be able to fill many more lists like this with enjoyable f/f stories. 

          And for now, I hope you've enjoyed this little post and I wish you all a lot of love in your lives, both in 2D and 3D formats! ;)

Plk_Lesiak

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Yaoi VNs, and yaoi media in general, are something I know quite a bit about “in theory” – even beyond the discussions in the VN community, you can’t get far into fan studies academic literature without seeing substantial mentions of both Western slash fan-fiction and Japanese yaoi doujin in every other article. Still, in practice, BL VNs were something I was always hesitant to pick up, not really because of being “scared” of male gay romance, but simply because of it having lower appeal to me than both traditional het romance, and, especially, yuri. When I can choose between similarly high-quality games from various genres (and my backlog is full of those), yaoi simply doesn’t have many appeal-points to climb at the top of my to-read list.

            Thankfully, where my straight male sensibilities didn’t lead me, Steam Curator Connect came into action, in the form of Y Press Games sending me their debut visual novel My Magical Demon Lover. Released in May 2018, this little BL game promises a pretty interesting formula – a highly-comedic erotic VN, borderline nukige when it goes to the amount of sexual content, but kept in a strictly softcore formula (with no genitals visible in any of the scenes). Being a much bigger fan of softcore porn than I am of normal hentai, this already made me much less reluctant to explore this game, but still left me definitely outside of its target audience. Thankfully, porn wasn’t the only thing it had on offer...

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogpost.com

Plk_Lesiak

While two weeks ago we’ve mostly covered the beginnings of Winged Cloud’s presence on the EVN market (well, ignoring the "otome period", but Pyrite Heart might be worth a separate look, along with The Guardian’s Spell crowdfunding debacle), this time we’re taking look at a transitional period – one in which Inma still didn’t make explicit art, acting as the sole “all-ages” artist for the company, while Wanaca was already focusing exclusively on hentai titles, including the 100+ CG behemoth that is Sakura Dungeon. It’s also a time that brought something we could describe as a pretty obvious drop in quality – the new non-porn titles definitely looked like low-effort cash-ins, with mostly linear storytelling, no voice-acting and underwhelming CG counts. Sakura Beach 2, put together in only a few months and obviously reusing a lot of visual assets from the first game, was especially emblematic, foreshadowing the switch to mass-production of cheaper, shorter titles, that fully dominated the studios output a year later, after the release of Sakura Nova, the last arguably ambitious Sakura game. But, ignoring for a moment our knowledge of what the future held for the franchise, how these late Sakura ecchi VNs hold out today?

 

Sakura Beach 1 & Sakura Beach 2

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It might be just my personal taste, but I can somewhat accept a harem scenario if the protagonist earns it in some way – by being a really good person that helps the heroines in a substantial manner, or even being a shitty one but defying expectations and doing something exceptional when it truly mattered. Starting with a harem, however, feels like the laziest setup imaginable and I pretty much abhorred every instance when it showed up its ugly head in the Sakura series (of course, in short nukige such as Sakura Christmas Party the only thing that mattered was giving a justification for inserting a variety of porn scenes, so complaining about dumb plot is a bit of superficial – thankfully, I’m also making a series all about pointless nit-picking :3). Inma’s debut as a Winged Cloud’s character artist, Sakura Beach and its sequel, Sakura Beach 2 already had a pretty rough start with me because of this "storytelling technique", while the apparently short development cycle for both games also did little to encourage any kind of optimism from me when I decided to approach them.

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

A while ago I’ve made a Shovelware Adventures episode about NewWestGames, a one-person studio from Canada creating primarily erotic yuri titles. For the first time since I’ve started doing my semi-serious (and borderline mockery) short reviews, I was actually approached by the developer and had an opportunity to discuss my criticism of their games, in a respectful and constructive manner, that was probably way more forgiving than the tone of my original post would warrant. After a brief exchange, I proposed to take this discussion public, giving Katie, the person behind the NewWestGames label, a chance to respond to my commentary on her work and talk a bit about the general ideas behind her VNs. I also decided it was a good moment to take a look at the NWG titles I haven’t reviewed before, completing my coverage of the studio’s catalogue and giving Katie the ability to comment on it in full. So, without further ado, I hope you’ll all enjoy my reviews and the conversation that comes after them!

 

Frequent Flyer: A Long Distance Love Story

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Frequent Flyer, released on Steam in March 2018, went unnoticed by most EVN readers and received mixed reviews, mostly due to its simplistic visuals and a relatively brief, linear storyline. It is, however, arguably one of the most interesting NewWestGames titles, telling a story about a toxic relationship between two girls with some apparently autobiographical elements. The protagonist, Emi, is an average-looking girl, living in a large American city and working as a freelance journalist. Rejected by her family due to her sexual orientation, depressed because of her failed ambitions of becoming a writer and recovering from another failed relationship, she decides to go for a trip to Scotland, hoping that a change of scenery and an opportunity to meet a close online friend can invigorate her. There, while watching an evening stand-up comedy show at a local bar, she meets Isobel, a gorgeous and charismatic young Scotswoman. The two quickly forms a connection, leading to an affair that first restores Emi’s happiness and then crushes it in the most disturbing ways.

            Those that experienced a toxic relationship with a mentally-unstable person themselves or know stories of such couples, will find many elements in Frequent Flyer familiar – all the lies, manipulation and emotional blackmail involved, along with Emi’s reactions to more and more obvious betrayal from the person she loves, are portrayed in a believable and properly heart-wrenching manner. The minimalistic & inconsistent presentation might take away from the overall impact of the story, and many of the events are pretty easy to predict, at times making the whole experience feel a bit like a PSA, rather than a “proper” piece of fiction. Still, it is a game with an important story to tell and an underlying message that is worth hearing out, and despite all the gripes I had with its execution, I couldn’t help but appreciate it.

Final Score: Recommended

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

Welcome back to the Shovelware Adventures, the series that most likely no one was missing, but it came back regardless! It's been a while since I last delved into the Sakura series, so with only a few of those games still not reviewed, and staying true to my grossly counter-chronological coverage of the Winged Cloud’s trashy catalogue, let’s finish it where everything started. When Sakura Spirit appeared on Steam in mid-2014, on what was still a fairly barren EVN landscape, it quickly became something akin to a viral sensation – achieving not only sale numbers that most likely no one ever expected, but also popping up frequently on YouTube and becoming popular enough on Twitch to quickly get officially banned. It also established a peculiar variant of ecchi formula, which took the fanservice usual for eroge and trashy anime, and dedicated every CG and the whole plot to showing it off, without ever going into actual porn to stay within Steam’s, at the time, strict adult content policy. Before Winged Cloud made a transition into actual hentai games, this model spawned an impromptu franchise that turned "sakura" into a dirty word for most Western VN fans, with a total of six "all ages" fanservice VNs released within it. Today, I’ll take a look at first three of those not-quite-porn Sakura games – in a distastefully biased manner, considering my relative taste for fanservice and cliched romance, and dislike for hentai.

Sakura Spirit

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Sakura Spirit has been ridiculed countless times, but apart from the immense amount of typos and terribly implemented popcultural references, it’s actually not the worst thing Winged Cloud has even created (even not counting the obviously-trash-tier free games like Sakura Clicker). It offers both a semi-coherent, low-fantasy isekai story (although, of course, a poorly executed one with a highly anticlimactic ending), and a somewhat appealing cast of heroines (two fox spirits, who helps the protagonist after his accidental travel to a parallel world, and two human girls acting as village guards) which could all work as a decent basis for an enjoyable ecchi VN. However, it strangely doesn’t utilize the biggest strength of visual novels as a medium, offering pretty much no meaningful choices, very little romance and an inconclusive harem ending straight out of a shitty fanservice anime.

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

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A short while ago I’ve reviewed PixelFade’s Crystalline, expressing my disappointment at what was a visually brilliant, but rather hollow experience, in many ways inferior to that studio's first project, Ace Academy. While AA, a mecha-themed game set in near future’s Japan, mixed convincing drama, a cast of archetypical, but compelling heroines and great SoL sections, providing a fairly balanced and enjoyable game, Crystalline focused much more on comedy and despite the fantasy adventure framework, failed to produce an engaging plot or characters interesting enough to make the whole experience satisfying. The genuine chemistry between Ace Academy’s characters and its compelling atmosphere let me even forgive its anticlimactic ending – PixelFade struggled heavily with that game's development, being forced to cut a large portion of the plot and rush the conclusion, infuriating many fans. The cuts and omissions were definitely visible, for me however, what was already there was simply too good to disregard and I still consider AA as one of the best EVNs I’ve ever read.

            As you can imagine, it was hard for me not to get excited when, shortly after Crystalline’s release, the studio announced Kaori After Story – a spin-off to Ace Academy, continuing the romance arc of Kaori, arguably the primary heroine of the first game. Using the Live 2D engine and animations from Crystalline, it promised to be another eye-candy, this time directed to the fans of PixelFade's debut title. What worried me, however, was that it was also described by the devs as primarily a comedy, most likely ignoring the bitter-sweet climate of the original and its somewhat ambivalent ending. Thankfully, as much as some might be disappointed with this game’s obvious disinterest in continuing Ace Academy’s main intrigue, connected to protagonist’s father’s scientific research and tragic death, there are many things here they should find highly satisfying – and even I, as reserved as I was when approaching KAS, couldn’t help but to enjoy it quite a lot.

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

Welcome to the second and last part of my 2018 Curator Connect Clean-up (if you missed the first half, check it out here)! The horror themes were strong in the VNs sent to me this year and while it will be less explicit in this part, they’re not completely gone either, mostly represented by Perseverance – an episodic, postapocalyptic game which strives to prove that story-driven experience featuring zombies is still not passée in 2018 (and, possibly, that the Telltale storytelling formula is not as dead as the studio that created it). Other than that, we’ll get to experience an ominous sci-fi mystery Event-D and two low-budget, simple romance VNs, all of them holding some surprises… Not always positive ones, though.

 

The Wilting Amaranth

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I have pretty complicated feelings about Reine Works’ visual novels – on one hand, they show genuine effort, have decent visuals and are not cynically exploitative even when implementing sexual content. On the other, they always struggle when it goes writing and characterisation, to the point they always short of being genuinely good and compelling. The Wilting Amaranth showcases these problems especially well – while the set-up protagonist’s personality and her backstory are all simple (a lesbian-in-denial princess, pressured by her parents into an arranged marriage, is accidentally summoned by a witch to her remote tower), they’re interesting enough to carry a simple, romantic plot.

            Where it pretty much falls apart is the heroines and how their characters are developed: the witch is shy and stuttering to the point she’s barely able to hold a conversation at any point of the plot and her quirks grow tiring very fast. The other possible love interest, a prisoner of the witch who tried to assassinate her for a bounty, is a first-class sociopath who can do all kinds of despicable things if it makes her some money, but switching her attitude in certain scenarios for no clear reason. Even with how short the game is (around 3-4 hours of reading) there’s no real justification for how these characters are developed and sadly, it takes away quite a lot of fun from the experience, with contains not-awful production values and some fairly cool ideas. While reading it is not a complete waste of time, it’s also not something I would ever strongly recommend, even for yuri fans.

Final rating: (Cautiously) Recommended

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

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The New Year is just a few days away, so why not take a look today at another appropriately-themed VN? Ebi-hime is probably best known for both yuri romances and horror VNs, but in reality created a huge variety of slice-of-life and mystery titles, both borrowing from different formulas and simultaneously breaking their rules, ultimately escaping any kind of easy classification. Games like Empty Horizons or Asphyxia are clearly identified with common labels such as “otome” or “yuri”, but they pretty much never cater to the reader’s expectations taken from reading other visual novels within those genres.

            There are also certain elements extremely common for ebi’s work, regardless of topics or conventions she’s trying to tackle. Deeply flawed, painfully realistic characters, extensive internal monologues of the protagonists and a nostalgic aura are almost constant elements of her writing, making most of her stories fairly easily recognizable and differentiating them from the typical Western-produced VNs. Ebi’s latest release, A Winter’s Daydream, while at first glance might look like a silly comedy, can be accurately described in only one way. It’s an ebi-hime VN through and through: slow-paced, introspective and handling serious, existential topics despite any humorous elements and the wacky premise. And, as you can easily expect from this particular author, it does all those things in a thoroughly satisfying way. 

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

Since I’ve established my Steam Curator profile last winter I’ve been sent a number of games, some of which received full reviews on the site (ex. Sable’s Grimoire or Crystalline), while others, for various reasons, did not get covered at all. In most cases, the games I didn’t write posts about were small or low-budget titles, hardly giving enough material for an in-depth review – still, as I don’t like the idea of ignoring people that were generous enough to offer me their work for free, I’ve decided to dedicate this and next week’s posts to giving a short overview of things that were given to me through Curator Connect in 2018, but didn’t get to appear on the blog. Just as in the mini-reviews series, every entry will be concluded with a simple rating on a scale from “Highly Recommended” to “Not Recommended”. So, let’s get this party started!

 

Silenced: The House

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If someone asked me to define “wasted potential”, showing them this game would be an easy way to thoroughly explore the concept. Silenced starts with a slightly edgy, but appealing and unusual concept. You play as a villain (although to a large extent manipulated rather than plain evil) – a girl adept in the occult, who lures a group of some particularly obnoxious teenager to a secluded mansion, as a sacrifice to a malevolent spirit. There, things quickly goe out of control and our protagonist has to struggle both to satisfy the demon she’s forced to serve and keep her life while fighting off against vengeful ghosts that come after her “companions” and uncover the sins from their pasts.

            The general set up and the simplistic, but well-stylized art are fairly promising, but that impression quickly falls apart as you experience the game’s clunky and often cringe-worthy writing style – to some extent a victim of the less-than-perfect translation from Russian, but having problems that go far beyond what poor localization could explain. The unnatural English, overly-contrived metaphors and edgy internal monologues of the protagonist quickly makes the whole thing unpleasant to read and while the storyline has its moments (the backstories and hidden motivations of the characters are kind of fun to explore, especially after the intrigue picks up), it’s just ultimately not enjoyable to go through. The game is also technically clunky, adding to the cheap feel of the whole experience – even the large number of CGs and effective use of gore can’t save it from being a poor VN.

            Unless you’re able to read the original, Russian version, this one is simply not worth buying – but I also hope that the devs behind it will try creating something similar in the future and improve on the formula, because as disappointing as this game was, it was also not very far from becoming something genuinely interesting. Time will tell.

Final rating: Not Recommended

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

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Since being published by Alienworks in mid-2016, Highway Blossoms earned its place as one of the highest-rated yuri VNs on VNDB and could easily be considered as one of the most successful Western visual novels to date. The game from the very beginning stood out through its unusual setting, plot structure and high production qualities, seemingly appealing even to the more demanding or JP-focused yuri fans. It wasn’t a great surprise then that Highway Blossoms’ authors, despite their second title, The Human Reignition Project, being stuck in a development hell, decided to further capitalize on their previous success and create an updated version of HB, with features such as partially reworked art and full voice acting (the initial release had none). The Remastered edition was released on May 18th 2018, two years after the game’s premiere, with quite a lot of fanfare and became available as a free update for both existing and potential owners of the game. So, how that does the enhanced version of everyone’s favourite yuri EVN presents itself, and does it live up top the hype? Spoiler: it does. Kind of...

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

Welcome to the second part of my Yuri Game Jam 2018 summary! Just like the last week's article (if you haven't read part 1, check it out now!), this post will offer you a short overview of visual novels that entered the event this year, this time with the focus being solely on fully-released titles. While in the previous post there were very few surprises (with mostly the two titles I actually expected to deliver quality experiences standing out from the crowd), this time there were a few unexpected latecomers to the event and games that genuinely surpassed my expectations – Scrambled: Syd City being probably the most notable one, and quite possibly the best VN in YGJ this year. It will also make a small trip outside of the VN sphere, but what that is exactly about, you'll see at the end of the article... Enjoy!

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A Game About Ants

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This story about two colonies of anthropomorphized ants and two simply workers that brought those together despite the distrust and differences between them is one of the most charming and compelling stories in this year’s YGJ. Thanks to its relatively longer script (it takes around 2 hours to fully read through), A Game About Ants manages to not only convey an amusing “love beyond prejudice” main plot, but also set it in a pretty elaborate "political" context of a clash between the aforementioned ant nests (heavily inspired by actual species of ants, with their specific appearances, habits and social hierarchies). The end result is a really intriguing and visually pleasant experience, also featuring probably the most sensual scene of antennae “kiss” you’ll ever see in a visual novel... And, quite likely, anywhere else. Do you really want to miss out on that?

Final Rating: Highly Recommended

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

Yuri Game Jam, having few limitations on what can enter the event outside of including some form of yuri or LGBT themes, was always a good arena for various devs to show off demos or prototypes and gain visibility or feedback for their projects. At the same time, it consistently attracted many complete projects, often surprisingly solid when it goes to their quality and the amount of content they offered. This year this was no different, with over 20 full games entering the event, including 11 original VNs, ranging from extremely short and basic, to a few-hours-long and artistically impressive ones. In the last month, after the end-of-October YGJ deadline has been reached, I was going through all these titles and today I'm offering you a full overview of what a VN fan might find in this year's event's roster. Or, well, at least the first half of it...

          In my coverage, I will, for the most part, ignore all the in-development titles – the production cycles of indie games are always a bit unpredictable and I’m highly distrustful whether some of the demos we can find in YGJ will turn into actual, finished products in foreseeable future. Instead, I’ll be focusing on the fully-released visual novels in the event and providing a short overview of each of them, along with a simple rating on a scale of “not recommended/recommended/highly recommended”. I will also, obviously, skip on the games from other genres that took part in the Jam (although if you value story-driven yurige, I encourage you to still give them a chance). So, I hope you’ll join me on the journey through this interesting collection of queer, freeware VNs and uncover all the surprises this year’s edition of YGJ holds for us. As always, all the games mentioned below are completely free to play, so if you click the Itch.io links in their titles, you can try them out right away with no charge. Let's get to it!

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Valentine Disaster

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We’ll start things off with what could be described as another quintessential YGJ VN – a piece of cute, visually pleasant and utterly heartwarming GxG romance with some minor, cool spins to it. In this case, the story of tomboyish Selene trying to bake a perfect Valentines Day's gift for her girlfriend after they had a falling out, is spiced up by brief point-and-click gameplay elements, requiring you to buy and select the right ingredients for the dessert of your choosing. If you follow the subtle clues the game provide you with along the way, you can easily find the best combination or home-made delicacies and bought presents to quickly salvage the threatened holiday. But if you mess up, there will be consequences… A very brief (up to an hour for 100% completion), but fun and lovely-looking experience.

Final Rating: Highly Recommended

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

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Chuunige is one of the visual novel genres that are barely present in OELVN scene, at least to any “serious” capacity – among the more popular and high-quality releases there’s very few that would even loosely fit the “fighting VN” formula, or especially effectively replicate the unique feel of this particular current in Japanese fiction. Recently, however, a fledgeling studio under the name of Epic Works decided to remedy this sorry state of affairs by creating a content-rich, Fate-inspired EVN called Episicava. The first volume, of what was apparently planned to become a longer series, was released on Steam in April 2018, in a slightly disastrous state – full of graphical bugs and various technical issues, the game made a rather poor first impression. However, since those problems were mostly fixed with patches in the months after launch, it’s a good moment to look at Episicava and ask the most important question – did it manage, in its improved state, to capture some of the magic of Fate/Stay Night or Dies Irae in a downscaled, low-budget form of an EVN?

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

Two weeks ago we’ve started our journey through the world of Yuri Game Jam visual novels and today we’re gonna conclude its “historic” part, with another 6 games from the 2015-2017 period. As before, the order in which the games are presented is semi-random, but I’ve tried to mix commonly known and widely appreciated titles – ones you might be familiar with even if you never followed the event itself with some lesser known entries, which are still worth a closer look. While even the list is obviously not exhaustive (and of course don’t cover the huge library of non-VN YGJ releases), it covers most of the entries I’ve personally found interesting. While I might still cover more of them in the future, it will most likely be in a different format and above all, I hope to focus on giving an overview of the latest event every year. But, that's in the future for now, I hope you’ll enjoy this one last look at the GxG visual novel glory of YGJs past!

 

Once on a Windswept Night

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Once on a Windswept Night by ebi-hime is definitely among the most ambitious Yuri Game Jam VNs, with an intricate meta-narrative and multiple layers of mystery for the player to uncover (starting with an element as basic as the identity of the protagonist). Featuring two touching, tragic love stories, up to three hours of content and very solid writing, it delivers much more than you would normally expect from a free game. The visual side of things suffered slightly from the relatively short development cycle, but it doesn’t change the fact that its a very creative and in many ways unique experience and, for a game jam entry, an impressive artistic achievement, in many ways on par with ebi's commercial projects.

Final Rating: Highly Recommended

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

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Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of this game by the developer. All opinion presented here are solely my own.

PixelFade is a studio that from the very beginning showed an unusually ambitious approach to EVN development. Their first project, Ace Academy, offered some features rarely seen in Western VN of similar scale (~10h of content), such as good-quality, full voice acting and lots of impressive-looking, stylistically consistent artwork. It was also pretty atypical in its storytelling, featuring a mostly college-age cast, choosing a very tame approach to romance and avoiding the fanservice endemic to this kind of lighthearted, SoL-focused VNs. Initially funded on Kickstarter as Kendo Crush, it went through a curious evolution from a generic-looking, sports-themed game into a futuristic story about mecha battles but regardless of all the tribulations, the end effect was a highly refreshing, all-ages experience with a satisfying mix of light drama, non-violent action and mystery. In my opinion, it’s still one of the best EVNs ever released, with few real issues beyond the somewhat abrupt, anticlimactic ending and the overly simplistic "gameplay" elements.

            Considering the relative success of Ace Academy, it was obvious that there would be high expectations connected to PixelFade’s second project, Crystalline – a lighthearted fantasy tale with a single romanceable heroine, which promised a longer story and even higher production qualities than their debut. After a successful Kickstarter campaign in early 2017, with gathered over 60k CAD (an amount pretty much unseen when it goes to original EVN projects), the game fairly quickly entered Steam on early access and was fully released in late August 2018 – the much anticipated final product offering truly impressive sound and visual design... And, in my opinion, a truly disappointing lack of compelling story content. But why is that exactly?

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

Close to a year ago, I’ve published a top-list of my 5 favourites Juri Game Jam visual novels – a post that, in hindsight, was rather poorly thought-out and based on my, at the time, not-that-great knowledge on the event in question and the games that came out of it. While my appreciation for the game listed there didn’t change (just as my love for indie yuri games in general), I realized that both the “Top X” formula and the small selection of VNs presented there could not give justice to the quite impressive roster of titles produced for the YGJ over the years. While the Yuri Game Jam 2018 has recently ended and I’m (slowly) preparing my own summary of this year's edition of the event, it’s also a good moment to look back at the most popular and interesting titles that came out of previous ones – from highly-appreciated classics such as ebi-hime’s entries, all the way to various significantly less fortunate projects, which nonetheless played their parts in the history of yuri EVNs. Let's get started! 

 

The Sad Story of Emmeline Burns

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The Victorian drama by ebi-hime is the best know and probably most-appreciated Yuri Game Jam entry – and not without good reasons. While short and, as a kinetic novel, following a purely linear formula, this tragic story offers excellent writing, emotionally impactful storytelling (with a "story within a story" structure) and a great aesthetic, all way above the levels you would normally see in an event like this. It also doesn't rely on shock value or leave the reader with a depressing conclusion – with all the titular sadness still in place, it's a relatively hopeful, touching story of love cut short by fate and a great reading experience – one which might have yuri romance as its main theme, but offers much more than just that.

Final Rating: Highly Recommended

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

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Note: I was provided with a free review copy of this game by the developer. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

The multi-route mystery VN is not a format easy to pull off properly and for that reason not many EVN developers even attempt to tackle it. It requires creating a number of paths and characters, all interesting on their own and complementary to each other, while also keeping the overall quality high enough to motivate the reader to go through all of it in order to piece together the overarching story. This is both a challenge from the writing perspective and requires a fairly substantial amount of content to communicate the mystery effectively usually, more than an average Western visual novel can provide with the humble resources at its creators' disposal. 

            Still, all this makes exploring the few examples of such games done right by Western devs that more interesting. SoulSet, developed by NoBreadStudio and released on Steam in late 2016 is a particularly “orthodox” implementation of the formula, with every route and ending (including bad ones) adding to your understanding of the story and culminating in an unlockable “true route”, which resolves the crucial mysteries and tie all the previous paths together. It’s also, as I will try to argue, a damn fine game that positively stands out in the EVN market, in a few ways.

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

Dharker Studio is one of the better-known development teams on the EVN scene, active since early 2015, but also one that quickly became rather infamous due to their low-quality, fanservice-filled titles. Games such as Sword of Asumi or Divine Slice of Life gathered a lot of attention, as they were released on then still quite barren EVN market and quickly found their way to Steam, but were also quite harshly rejected by reviewers and poorly received by many VN fans. Later down the line, the company focused on purely erotic titles, with much-telling titles such as Army Gals or Battle Girls – admittedly with slightly more artistic(?) success. While most of those games followed a very standard formula, with faceless self-insert protagonists and number of females to “date”, there are also two notable yuri eroge by Dharker: Negligee, released in late 2016 and Galaxy Girls, published a year after that. Today, as the appreciator of yuri that I am, I’ll take a closer look at those two girls’ love-themed games, both of them quite curious examples of commercial success despite many, many problems they suffered from. As a "bonus", I'll include the Negligee's prequel, Love Stories, in the article – the game that earned the unexpected honour of being the first uncensored, fully explicit eroge accepted by Valve for Steam release. While this game's content is mostly straight hentai, it has one notable yuri subplot and features all the girls from Negligee, being worth a closer look from everyone that enjoyed the first title in the series. So, let's get this thing started!

 

Negligee

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While writing the two dozens of shovelware reviews over the last 6 months I've noticed that ecchi EVNs seem to work better with casual, more or less realistic settings – there are few things more painful than mediocre-at-best writer trying to create a fantasy or sci-fi setting with the use of kitsch, exaggerated characters and all the most overdone cliches, just to give an excuse for persistent close-ups on anime boobs and a few hentai scenes. The game we're talking about now, thankfully, chose a rather simple and straightforward premise and made a pretty decent use of it. As the player, you control the actions of an assistant manager in a lingerie shop (titular Negligee), that is suddenly forced to take over for her boss (who runs away in mysterious circumstances) and find some new employees. Soon, three candidates show up and as they all seem reasonably fit for the job, we have to take our female protagonist (who is, by the way, a quite gorgeously-designed, busty redhead) through a week-long trial with the girls and decide which one of them she should hire. And, as I probably don’t have to explain, the store’s sexy merchandise will find many, many uses throughout the whole experience. And also quite often it will be falling on the floor...

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

For the last month, we were going through the impressive catalogue of free VNs by ebi-hime, one of the most celebrated creators within the Western VN scene. As a conclusion to this series, it’s my great pleasure to bring you a short interview with none other than ebi herself. During our conversation, I’ve focused on the dominating themes in ebi’s works and topics directly connected to the freeware titles I was reviewing lately – if you want a more general overview of her inspirations and questions connected to her other work, consider reading the interviews done in the past by The Yuri Nation and Sekai Project. Also, if you’re not familiar with ebi’s free VNs, check out my previous posts about them (Part 1; Part 2) – they should give you the context necessary to understand what we’re talking about in the more context-specific questions. So, here it comes – hope you’ll all enjoy it!

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Plk_Lesiak: Thank you for accepting my invitation! I don't think there are many Western VN fans who wouldn't be familiar with your work, but can you share something about the person behind the ebi-hime label?

ebi-hime: I’m ebi and I like cute things, maids, and magical girl anime... And that’s about it! Honestly, I’m not very interesting.

PL: As you talked about your inspirations and interests in other interviews, I would like to focus on the dominant themes in your games. You're one of the few EVN authors that frequently set their stories in the West. Do you have a favourite setting to write about?

ebi: I think England is probably my favourite setting to write about, because it’s the country I live in and I’m reasonably familiar with it (though I don’t know everything about England, of course). It’s easier to place my characters in a setting I know relatively well, as I don’t have to do as much research, and the end result feels more ‘authentic’.

I also like setting stories in Japan because I got into VNs through reading a lot of Japanese VNs which were (what a surprise!) set in Japan. I also watch a lot of anime, and I went through a period where I exclusively read Japanese crime fiction, so I’m fond of Japanese settings! If I don’t feel like setting my stories in England or Japan, I’ll usually pick a European country I’m somewhat familiar with, like France or Italy.

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

While Time Tenshi, which I covered two weeks ago, is definitely the flagship franchise for Silver Cow Studios, the company never settled for only producing new iterations of their breast-expansion/time-travel formula, releasing two other ecchi VNs since their debut in 2015. Those games, while they didn’t abandon the giant boobs and over-the-top storytelling that could be considered Silver Cow’s staple, offered their own twists to the fanservice-filled and trashy, but hentai-free format. The first one, Burokku Girls, appeared just three months after the first Time Tenshi game and… The lack of reasonable development time definitely showed, in a few ways. The second, Battleship Bishojo came out in early 2017, after Time Tenshi 2’s Special Edition and proved that the devs had their formula figured out much better by this point in time. Still, what exactly are these games about, besides exclusively-kyonyuu heroines and are they as good serviceable as Time Tenshi proved to be?

 

Burokku Girls

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Burokku Girls (the first part of the title apparently represents the Japanese pronunciation of the word „block”) is quite possibly the most bizarre VN I’ve seen since Legends of Talia: Arcadia. Although it’s not as devoid of humour as the Winged Cloud’s unfortunate “dark fantasy adventure”, it still manages to mix incredibly trashy fanservice and character designs with a rather grimdark story about a last bastion of light in the world besieged by darkness – a conflict so hopeless that the people of the last town standing are pretty much just waiting for their final battle and inevitable demise. Our generic protagonist enters this world-ending scenario through a full-immersion VN machine, constructed by his father. The virtual reality set goes haywire in an inexplicable way and transports him to a reality built with the titular Blocks – voxel-like elements, which were used in past immemorial to create an artificial paradise for people to live in, but was since invaded by the “Underworlders”, exiles trapped in the dark chasms beneath the “Overworld” and sealed away with the Blocks.

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

Today, we’ll be continuing our agon… I mean, out adventure through the world of free VNs by ebi-hime. While the earliest games we’ve covered, like Dejection and Is This the Life? were very visibly ebi’s early works, simple on the technical side of things and featuring minimalistic artwork, today we’re jumping straight into very recent projects, all released not earlier than 2017. Mostly staying true to the general climate of heavy, existential topics and endings that are never the typical happy, wish-fulfilment scenarios, these games are once more not far detached from ebi’s commercial projects and while smaller, could easily have a modest price tag attached to them, with few people being able to claim they didn’t get their money’s worth (especially in the cases of Lynne and Six Days of Snow). But what are they exactly about?

 

Where the Sun Always Shines

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Where the Sun Always Shines is another bittersweet story, although in a wholly different climate than Lucky Me, Lucky You. Featuring a 32-years old writer, suffering from a deep depression after losing his wife, and a teenage girl from his neighbourhood with whom he forms an unlikely friendship with, the game explores themes of grief, inspiration and moving on after losing one’s feeling of purpose, but is also maybe the only title on this list that provides a truly positive, hopeful conclusion. Before it gets to that point however, it presents to the reader rather convincing descriptions of writer’s block, anxiety and self-pity of the leading character, along with interesting interaction with Sunny, the aforementioned teenager, who first visits him out of pity, but then forms a bond of sorts over their mutual interest in musical – all that accompanied by very decent artwork. In a way though, it’s maybe the least impactful of the ebi’s stories, being overall solid and enjoyable to read, but lacking any interesting twists or highly emotional moments from the previous games. Definitely a worthwhile VN, but not necessarily a must-read.

Final Rating: Recommended

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

While not nearly as famous as Winged Cloud’s Sakura games, Silver Cow Studio’s Time Tenshi is one of the longest-running EVN series, following a single storyline and consistent cast of characters since late 2015. So far, its developers published three, fairly substantial entries in the franchise: Time Tenshi, Time Tenshi 2 (released in mid-2016 and later expanded significantly in the Special Edition version) and Time Tenshi Paradox – an episodic game, with two parts already available and most likely more coming in the near future. All of them, unusually at this day and age, follow a relatively tame, ecchi formula with no actual hentai scenes – a choice Silver Cow seems to be quite dedicated to, despite the general trend of inserting 18+ patches into everything that can even remotely justify the full-on adult content. But, enough of history lessons – how’s the story of busty time travellers and sexy side effects of temporal dislocation holding up in the current, competitive market of anime boob slideshows? Surprisingly well, I’d say! Or at least, to a certain point...

 

Time Tenshi

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Time Tenshi starts with a bang and soon after, follows it up with a few extra ones. The first scene features our male lead, Kenji (the usual faceless, high-schooler protagonist-kun), witnessing his house burning down along with his parents. After being hospitalized for a few months because of the shock, he’s picked up by his only close relative – maternal grandfather, an elusive scientist who was barely present in his family’s life. He invites Kenji to live in his laboratory complex, where he hides… A time machine, obviously! And while this might be quite predictable, there’s another important twist, which will be a leading theme in the Time Tenshi games from this moment forward: time travel has a fairly peculiar side effect when used by women, making their hormones go out of control, their boobs and butts grow enormously (until they return to their time) and turning them… Eager, for a brief time after they come back from the past (that’s the one direction in which the time machine works). And the professor’s assistants happen to be three gorgeous women in overly-revealing uniforms! Who would’ve thought!

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogpost.com

Plk_Lesiak

While this situation is changing significantly nowadays, as the Western visual novel market is professionalizing both when it goes to development and publishing, in the past EVN scene was primarily a world of extremely short, freeware titles, created by countless enthusiasts as minor passion projects or game jam entries. While these games, often very simple and minimalistic, rarely deliver sufficient material for full reviews, many of them are still worthwhile and artistically pleasing titles that I would like to cover more consistently. For this reason, I’ve conceived this new format – mini-reviews, that will provide the basic outlook of the VNs in question and rate them on a simple, three-point scale:

- Highly Recommended: for short VNs that provide an exceptional, memorable experience despite their limitations

- Recommended: for titles that are enjoyable, but significantly flawed or advisable mostly for people enjoying their specific subgenre/dominant themes they use

- Not Recommended: for titles that in my opinion simply fell flat or were misguided to the point they’re most likely not worth your time – a rating I expect very rarely to use, considering the games and authors I’m going to cover

In the next few months, I hope to deliver a few posts in this formula, while I’ll also be redacting the old Yuri Game Jam/Free Yuri EVN lists according to it. As a starting point, however, I’ll take a look at a developer with maybe the most impressive catalogue of short, free VNs, some of which I’ve already covered in the YGJ series. While The Sad Story of Emmeline Burns and Once on a Windswept Night might be ebi-hime’s best-known freeware titles, since late 2014 she released 8 other free games of varied scale and quality (I am skipping the earliest ones, not listed on her Itch.io page – those were mostly humorous experiments with the VN formula rather than legitimate stories).

Recently, ebi announced abandoning freeware projects for good, as they were draining too much of her time and resources – and while it might be a sad thing to hear, it’s both understandable from the viewpoint of any commercial developer and a good opportunity to look back at her extremely generous contributions to the EVN scene. Today, I’ll cover the first four games from the eight mentioned before, in the chronological order, starting with Dejection: An Ode, released on November 2014 and ending with Round the Mulberry Bush from the mid-2016. In two weeks I will complete this list, starting with Where the Sun Always Shines and ending with the 2018 April Fool’s VN Learning in Love!. I hope you’ll be willing to accompany me on this little journey and enjoy reading my reviews!

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Dejection: An Ode

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Taking its title from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, this VN is a direct predecessor to Asphyxia, taking the same themes of gender-bent romantic era English poets, depression, substance abuse and unrequited love. Samantha, female version of Coleridge is placed here as the protagonist, with an unhealthy obsession about her best friend and fellow poet Lillian (William Wordsworth) and constantly struggling with what we can assume is a bipolar disorder – episodes of extreme agitation and inspiration, followed by extreme depression and inability to work. Her struggle is shown through simple visuals, with just sprites and a few backgrounds, but the dynamic and stylized prose makes it a very enjoyable and convincing read. The abrupt, inconclusive ending felt slightly disappointing, but the story makes it clear that any proper resolution of the plot would be even sadder and harder to accept. While it’s definitely a simple and minimalistic game, visibly from the very early period of ebi’s activity as a developer, it’s still very much a worthwhile read, especially for the fans of her characteristic style of writing and storytelling.

Final rating: Highly Recommended

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

Plk_Lesiak

Winged Cloud’s early hentai VNs appeared at the moment of company’s greatest creativity (obviously, speaking in the relative terms) and during what could be described as a slow improvement in the overall quality of their titles. The two latest ones, however, came as a syndrome of an exact opposite tendency, one which becomes very clear when we look at pretty much any of the Sakura releases after Nova – the whole formula becoming increasingly stale and cynical, and WC’s games turning into little more than low-effort cash grabs, feeding on the loyal fans of the series.

            Still, while they might represent the lowest moment in Winged Clouds' history, did these games at least keep some of the entertainment value you would hope for in a trashy fanservice VN? Spoiler: Not really…

Sakura Agent

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A prime argument for my thesis that if you don’t want to put actual resources into creating an interesting setting, you’ll be better off just sticking to high-school SoL drama – at least then your laziness and corner-cutting won’t be completely obvious. While Sakura Space managed to make the theme of space mercenaries unbearably unexciting and generic, Agent achieved something maybe even harder – making an alien invasion and a secret agency fighting it completely dull and laughable (not to be confused with “funny”), mostly by never showing anything but fanservice and presenting the whole plot through WCs typical, cliched and bland narration.

             Beyond that, the game offers a protagonist with no presence or charisma whatsoever (but who was, I guess, meant to be a badass), no routes, unconvincing heroines, distinct lack of humour and Sakura Maid’s levels of random fanservice (including a hentai scene with a kidnapped heroine in the middle of an enemy base and possibly the dumbest tentacle sex scene in the history of VNs). As a result, Agent is one of the saddest entries in the whole Sakura series, in which WCs attempts to give context to the porn CGs does not add any kind of appeal to them, but rather makes you cringe from how bland and stupid the whole setup is. Also unlike some of the Sakura games that preceded it, like Fantasy, Nova or Dungeon, it simply feels cheap, missing the visual flair and assets necessary to communicate its theme and storyline properly. In the end, it's a highly unfulfilling experience find the pics online, save your time and money.

Final rating: Smelly Poo smelly1_by_szafalesiaka-dcbhwas.png

Sakura Magical Girls

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The first example of Winged Cloud reusing a whole theme in something that isn’t a direct sequel (if anyone needs a reminder – Sakura Angels was a magical girl story with no actual angels involved) might suggest the studio running out of ideas, but is definitely a proof of it running out of creative powers. With two main heroines so shallow and similar to each other it’s seriously hard to differentiate between them, and a third one only remarkable by being their vague opposite (and whose darker philosophy is strangely also reflected by being black – though, as bad as it sounds, it’s at least a piece of visual variety previously rather absent from the Sakura franchise and I wouldn’t mind it becoming more common), this game already missed out on the most important part of the ecchi formula – appealing female cast.

            Without it, there was already little Magical Girls could do to stay memorable, but it didn’t make itself any favours by also being short and linear. And while it might only be my impression, even Wanaca’s visual designs are among the poorest in the whole series, with magical girl outfits looking like a random, overly colourful mess (and this is made even worse by the ability to contrast them with relatively good-looking sprites from Sakura Angel). The aforementioned “dark magical girl”, Ayame, might be the closest thing to an actual “positive” here, but in the end, she is also way too over-the-top and one-dimensional to hold any serious appeal beyond hentai scenes. With a bland, "delinquent" protagonist and nonsensical plot added to the mix, it's another thoroughly skippable Sakura game, which only makes the cliffhanger ending, signalizing a possible sequel, laughable. Of all VNs in the series, this is probably the last one I would like to see continued and I wholeheartedly recommend avoiding it at all cost.

Final rating: Smelly Poo smelly1_by_szafalesiaka-dcbhwas.png

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There’s no escaping from one simple fact – the latest straight hentai games by Winged Cloud are terrible. And they’re not terrible in the meaning that would apply to pretty much all Sakura games, with their thin plot, pretty much just pretext for fanservice and h-scenes, poor writing, short length etc. They’re simply devoid of any kind of entertainment value that usually accompanies WCs stream of anime boobs – the bare minimum of characterization and humour that make these VNs more appealing than just writing “Wanaca91” in a Google search or browning random anime fanart. And this time, even Winged Cloud’s fans seem to agree with me in that assessment – both games received relatively poor reviews on Steam and VNDB, and most likely had their role in the company’s move towards hiring a new scenario writer and focusing on yuri content. 

            Will the het-porn formula come back in the upcoming Sakura titles? I have no doubts about it, but hopefully in a much, much better style – at least within the WCs scale of being “good”. After all, no miracles will happen within the world of trashiest Western eroge, even when magical girls are involved.

PS This time too, my special thanks go to Bosskwar, whose videos made preparing this post much less painful then it would otherwise be.

Plk_Lesiak

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Zetsubou, a developer and writer involved in many popular EVN titles is someone whose work many fans of the genre might be very familiar with, but not necessarily even knowing about it. While have made a few relatively successful projects of his own, such as Sickness or Tomboys Need Love Too!, many of his commissioned works, such as Razzart’s Love Ribbon gained even more recognition. For this reason, among others, there was relatively little fanfare around the release of his latest project, Sable’s Grimoire, in May this year. However, there are many reasons to consider this project as a particularly notable one – the 350k-words-long, modern-fantasy tale about a young mage entering an academy filled with demi-humans is rather far-detached from the usual EVN formula, both by its scale and its dominant themes. 

             Of course, scale by itself does not have to be a positive, just as unusual story elements don't automatically make a VN interesting to read. Does Zetsubou's largest project to date have other merits beyond its impressive word-count and interesting premise, and does its overall quality justify the 25+ hours time investment that is required to fully read through it? In my opinion, answer to all these questions is: yes.

Read the full article at evnchronicles.blogspot.com

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