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About this blog

Twitter (for news and announcements)

Steam Curator Page

External Blog

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

Yuri Game Jam 2019 Overview (Updated)

The Yuri Game Jam is a yearly event celebrating my favourite romantic setup in visual novels in all configurations imaginable. Each edition attracts both newcomer and experienced developers, flocking to share their work of various sizes and various states of completion, and while it's not a purely VN-oriented event, in practice it was always dominated by those. From the early days of my interest in VNs as a medium, it held a very special place in my heart, spawning both celebrated classics, such

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Yuri Game Jam 2018 VNs, part 2

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 unexpe

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Yuri Game Jam 2018 VNs, part 1

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 o

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Wolf Tails (western VN review)

Visual novels with the possibility to choose the protagonist’s gender are fairly rare, and genre's focus on storytelling and romance makes such a gimmick especially hard to pull off properly. Creating games like Loren: The Amazon Princess, with an option to choose between two full-fledged leads, one male and one female, each with their own personality and a set of romance options, takes a lot of work and only fits certain kinds of stories. On the other hand, VNs in which gender choice only chang

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Without Within Trilogy (Western VN Review)

In the EVN world dominated by clichéd romance stories, titles by InvertMouse, a long-time indie developer from Australia, stand out in a few significant ways. Staying away from most common genre tropes and easily-marketable story elements, the games he creates often focus on topics such as friendship and struggles of everyday life, rather than grand tales of romance and adventure. The three short VNs in the Without Within series are particularly unusual and interesting in this regard, tackling t

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

VN Developer Spotlight: Reine Works

For the last few months, I’ve published reviews and top lists, presenting worthwhile or interesting OELVNs that usually have little presence on Fuwa and don’t get discussed as much as they deserve. From the very beginning, however, my goal was to focus not only on the games themselves, but also the people behind them – the independent creators and small studios that make the core of the Western VN market. Today, I present you with the first “Developer Spotlight” post, where I’ll be talking to J

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

VN Developer Spotlight: Nami

Two weeks ago I've brought you an interview with Reine Works' Jackie M., where we talked about realities of OELVN publishing and the specificity of women-oriented western VNs. Today, I have an immense pleasure of bringing the spotlight onto one of my favourite western VN creators. Nami is an indie game developer and author of highly appreciated yuri titles, such as Her Tears Were My Light and Syrup and the Ultimate Sweet. If you observe VN contests such as Yuri Game Jam or NaNoRenO, or you read

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

VN Developer Spotlight: ds-sans

In March I've brought you two interviews with notable yuri and otome OELVN developers, talking with Nami and Reine Works' founder, Jackie M. Today, however, we're venturing into the world of very, very traditional romance (with equally high levels of cuteness), as my guest is ds-sans, the author of a lovely freeware VN Sounds of Her Love (be sure to check my review of that game) and the upcoming commercial title Chemically Bonded. I encourage you to join us as we discuss the place of all-ages ro

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

VenusBlood FRONTIER International – Steam Version (JP VN/sRPG review)

When it goes to the Western market for Japanese eroge, VenusBlood FRONTIER is one of the most interesting marketing phenomena in the recent past. Belonging to a series that is most known for its corruption theme and related sexual content, it was rather brilliantly rebranded with a focus on its in-depth gameplay mechanics and the morality system which allows players to shape the fate of its fantasy world in various drastic ways. It is also a game I was highly anticipating because of its rare pre

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Top 5 Yuri Game Jam VNs (free)

Hello Ladies & Gentlemen! The western visual novel market, unlike the high-budget JP scene, thrives mostly through amateur passion projects and products of small, indie development teams. While this causes most of the Western VNs to be of relatively poor quality, it also promotes creativity and good stylization over huge word-counts and high production values, which are simply unattainable with highly limited budgets and manpower. This philosophy is further supported by various events o

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

The Tail Makes the Fox, Episode 1 (otome VN review)

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free review copy of this game by the developer. All opinions expressed here are solely my own. Be sure to check my interview with Jackie M., founder of Reine Works, the studio behind The Tail Makes the Fox What better way to link my otome-themed weeks and the upcoming yuri event, than with a game that has an equal share of male and female romance options, especially if its one made by a studio most known for their Yuri Game Jam contributions? The Seve

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

The Fairy’s Song (Yuri VN Review)

The last time we talked about a “modern fairy tale” VN with a yuri spin to it, it was a very special one – Studio Elan’s Heart of the Woods, which I confidently gave my first and, so far, only 5/5 rating. The way it mixed relatable, modern characters with an emotional fantastical plot resulted in experience in many ways unmatched within the EVN scene. It also showed the huge potential of this formula, handling the clash between mundane and supernatural in a different way than typical fantasy or

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak in Review

The End of an Actress (Western VN Review)

Human beings are contradictory creatures, whose behaviour is rarely as consistent as we would like to see and whose motivations are often complex, to the point they’re not fully understood even by the specific person themselves. This fact is often minimized in fiction, which instinctively strives for clear narratives and characters that are ultimately possible to fully understand and assess according to some kind of moral standards. At the same time, there’s undeniable value in exploring the amb

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Thank you all for coming along for this ride! (Indefinite Hiatus)

Hey there all!   I will start with saying  that I really treasure my time spent writing this blog and interacting with various people involved in the EVN community. You guys were awesome company in this journey and despite the obscurity of this project, I feel like it benefited me personally in many ways and maybe even helped people appreciate the value within the non-JP visual novel scene. I'm really thankful to all the people that read my blog, the devs that offered me their time and

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Tales of Aravorn: Seasons of the Wolf (VN-hybrid game review)

While Loren: The Amazon Princess, which I reviewed two weeks ago, if fairly well-known among western VN fans and did a lot to establish WinterWolves studio as a respected OELVN developer, the second RPG placed in the fantasy world of Aravorn, Seasons of the Wolf, flew very much below the radar of most gamers and VN fans. Published on Steam in January 2015, this game pushed the series in a slightly different direction, with a smaller cast, more casual story and far fewer romance options, to a ver

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Synergia (Yuri VN Review)

Have you seen Blade Runner 2049? The cyberpunk epic that charms the viewer with its climate and polished visuals, but is probably a bit too convoluted for its own good and offers relatively little payoff for its massive, multi-layered plot? Now, imagine watching that movie without the context of original Blade Runner and accompanying shorts, all offering crucial pieces of worldbuilding and linking the main entries in the franchise together. How much meaning the sequel would lose and how hard to

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak in Review

Sweet Volley High (failed VN)

Outside of new releases, I usually try to avoid reviewing bad OELVNs in-detail, unless they’re especially interesting or notable despite their failures – after all, in any semi-amateur game development scene, the poorly-made, misguided or horribly iterative titles will be far more numerous than those actually worthy of your attention. Writing that much about the former, especially when my goal is to promote OELVNs as a niche worth exploring, is arguably a waste of time and possibly even counter-

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Sunrider: Mark of Arcadius (VN-hybrid game review)

Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius is one of the best-known and probably most appreciated western visual novels. Developed by Love in Space and published for free by Sekai Project in July 2014, it was downloaded on Steam by around 600 thousand players and spawned a successful franchise, with its commercial sequel, Liberation Day and dating sim spin-off, Sunrider Academy, both reaching impressive sale numbers and mostly positive feedback from the community.             What’s interesting, Mask of Ar

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Sunrider: Liberation Day (VN-hybrid game review)

After the impressive success of the freeware VN/strategy hybrid Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius the game’s developer, Love in Space, soon started working on a sequel, doubling down on their policy of directly imitating the Japanese visual novel formula and apparently devoting much of their newly-found resources and experience to exactly that end. When the highly-anticipated Sunrider: Liberation Day finally released, on March 2016, it came armed with Japanese voice-acting, Japanese theme song and extr

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Sunrider Academy (dating sim review)

The Sunrider series is one of the most successful OELVN franchises – one which not only spawned two highly-appreciated VN/strategy game hybrid titles, but even made a rare attempt at expanding to the Japanese market (at least successful enough that the games’ developer, Love in Space, apparently works on making their upcoming title, JP-idol themed Shining Song Starnova, into another export product, with Japanese voice acting and other elements rarely seen in western-produced VNs). Both the freew

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Stellaren II (Western VN Review)

Stellaren, released exclusively to mobile devices in 2017 was an important game in my engagement with VNs. A dark sci-fi adventure with a captivating setting and a tense, at times brutal story stood out significantly from most other visual novels available for smartphones and I think to this day is one of the best dedicated Android/iOS games of its kind [you can find my detailed review of it here]. It also cemented my love for VNs as a storytelling formula and while some of that infatuation was

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Stellaren (mobile-exclusive VN review)

Mobile phones and tablets, especially Android devices, are strangely underutilized as a platform for VN publishing, with few high-profile titles being ported to them (especially when it goes to English versions) and underwhelming selection of dedicated mobile releases. Also, existing Android versions of famous visual novels, such as Narcissu, suffer from technical issues that you wouldn’t expect from what is ultimately a very simple application, based on text and still images. Occasional Ace Att

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Steam Curator Wrap-Up – Winter 2020 (Legend of Everything; Weeping Willow; Usagiri; Revenant March; Tell a Demon)

Hello and welcome to EVN Chronicles' seasonal Steam Curator Wrap-up, where I cover the VNs sent to me for review through Steam's Curator Connect functionality. Lately, I’ve come to a sad realisation that I’m unlikely to keep up with all the games I’m receiving, with the appropriate tab in my Steam library growing more and more intimidating over time. However, I’ll be still working to give a chance to as many of them as possible, and assess them for all of you.                 This tim

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Steam Curator Wrap-up – Fall 2019 (Summer Meetings; Omnimus; Knife Sisters; The Far Rings; 4 Alice: Lorange Journey)

Hello and welcome to my seasonal Steam Curator Connect Wrap-up, where I’ll be looking at games sent to me for review through my Steam Curator profile during the last few months – particularly the shorter/simpler among them, for which I couldn’t make dedicated posts. This time, the quality of the VNs I’ve received was a positive surprise, with each title offering something interesting and most of them exceeding my expectations in some ways. The highlights of today’s list are definitely the virtua

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Steam Curator Connect Wrap-Up: Summer 2019

Check out my interview with Georgina Bensley, the founder of Hanako Games, published recently on Fuwanovel Welcome back to another one of my seasonal (yup, I get enough things sent my way for that to be a thing now) summary of games given to me for review through the EVN Chronicles Steam Curator page. Once more, I’ll be focusing on the shorter titles, that would most likely be hard to write a full-length review about or had to give up their spots for games I really wanted to cover in det

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

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