Jump to content
  • entries
    123
  • comments
    367
  • views
    28221

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

Blog update + my VN FTL university project

Hello there, all you good people still following my content-starved blog! There will be no regular review post this week (I’ll be catching up next week with one about Reine Work’s Our Lovely Escape, and hopefully a week after that with one of the long-overdue games sent to me for review), but I’ve wanted to take this opportunity to share the reasons behind the recent slowdown on the site and talk a bit my plans for the future. A warning: this will contain a lot of personal musings that most of y

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

I Love You, Colonel Sanders! A Finger Lickin’ Good Dating Simulator (Free VN Review)

As it’s probably very clear by this point, I like visual novels. Like, a lot. I also happen to like KFC, which definitely places in my top 3 of fast food chains available here in Poland, occasionally coming very close to claiming that number 1 spot. The only thing stopping me from enjoying its antibiotic-filled, industrial chicken goodness every other day is the lack of convenient locales (in stark contrast to McDonald’s, as the closest one is in a very cosy corner just 10-minutes’ walk away fro

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Obscure VN: Hierofania 1 & 2, Rhyme or Reason by Ludeshka

In my never-ending journey through the world of EVNs, I often happen to stray away from the more mainstream titles or things explicitly sent to me for review, and into the world of extremely niche games published by countless small-time developers, either for one of the many VN-related game jams or for no reason in particular. While most of them end up being unremarkable, many others turn out to be diamonds in the rough, showing really promising elements and fresh ideas, but being brought down s

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

Perceptions of the Dead 2, Episode 2, 3 & 4 (VN DLC Review)

Perceptions of the Dead 2, released on Steam on June 2018, is a light-horror visual novel by Ithaqua Labs, a team whose titles stand out from the usual output of Western VN studios through their unique, vibrant artstyle and full voice acting. Soon after the game’s initial release, I’ve reviewed its then-available first chapter, Misty Mournings. It was an hour and a half piece of content tying together all the stories and characters from the first, freeware Perception of the Dead, with the main s

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Shall We Date? Blood in Roses+ & NTT Solmare's Despicable Business Model (Predatory Mobile VN Review)

I’ll be completely honest: I didn’t have a good opinion of NTT Solmare even before approaching the game this review is about. After exploring their sole non-otome visual novel, Moe! Ninja Girls, I was absolutely stunned with the predatory monetisation and poor quality of that title. I was still curious about their otome projects though and decided to check out one featuring the theme I personally enjoy a lot: vampires. Thus, I ended up playing Blood in Roses+, one of the over 20(!) games in the

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

No One But You (Western VN Review)

In our obscure EVN market, there are rarely games or events that could be described as major controversies – even the most unfortunate releases or Kickstarter disasters usually don’t involve enough people and money to gather the attention of the community for a longer period of time or spark a mass backlash. Along with Aeon Dream Studios’ k-pop fan game debacle (a really amazing story of incompetence and borderline-fraud, if you care to follow it), No One But You is possibly the most controversi

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Sakura MMO Trilogy (Yuri VN Review)

Winged Cloud, creators of the infamous Sakura series, are visibly past their prime, which shows not only in their diminishing Patreon support and smaller interest in their games in general, but also the lack of marketing effort and innovation. For two and a half year now their VNs are only becoming shorter, simpler and more iterative, making the already not-particularly-impressive projects from the peak of studio’s popularity, such as Sakura Nova or Sakura Fantasy, look like absolute heights of

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

Shining Song Starnova (Western VN Review)

Love in Space, authors of the highly-appreciated Sunrider series, are a very peculiar kind of EVN developer. In their games, they unapologetically cater to weeaboo sensitivities, copying the Japanese storytelling tropes and stylistics pretty much in every aspect of their games. Sunrider: Liberation Day, the second Sunrider titles was the clearest example of this, with its Japanese speech mannerisms (which look at least a bit questionable in English prose), Japanese voice acting and pompous, Japa

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

2019 Steam Curator Clean-Up – Half of the Year Edition (Snowed IN, The Great Voyage, Manna for our Malices, Lyantei, Courage for a Kiss)

Hello and welcome to this year’s first EVN Chronicles Steam Curator Clean-up, where I look at the games that were sent to me in the past six months through Steam’s Curator Connect, but were either too small to warrant a full review, or I simply couldn’t cover them in detail due to time constraints. When I first did this kind of posts last year (you can check them out here: Part 1, Part 2), some of the games featured there waited extremely long for being covered. Because of this, I’ve decided tha

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

NaNoRenO 2019 Highlights, part 2

Welcome to the second and final part of EVN Chronicles’ NaNoRenO 2019 coverage (if you missed the first part, you can find it here), where I’m going through my highly subjective picks from this year’s submissions to the biggest annual visual novel game jam. While I don’t think any of the games listed this time could seriously threaten the position of Mnemonic Devices as my personal “winner” of the event, there are at least two worth giving closer attention to – Monochrome Blues, which is another

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

DoraKone (Free Yuri VN Review)

While it’s easiest to find high-quality free EVNs during popular game development events such as NaNoRen0 and Yuri Game Jam, from time to time there are small gems that pop up more or less out of nowhere, created either by hobbyists or as side projects by veteran developers without any particular occasion. One of the most interesting (even if infrequently active) collectives that created this kind of games in the past few years is Apple Cider, a team co-founded by DejiNyucu, a Chilean artist kno

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

NaNoRenO 2019 Highlights, part 1

For more than a decade now the NaNoRenO visual novel jam is the biggest cyclical event organized by the EVN community, every year prompting dozens of hobbyist and aspiring commercial developers to present their work created from scratch within a strict, one-month timetable. Despite being mostly a non-commercial affair, dominated by both complete freeware titles or various demos and prototypes, it delivered many memorable games in the past, many of which are well remembered till this day (Christi

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

How To Date a Magical Girl (Dating Sim Review)

Warning: Heavy spoilers for How To Date a Magical Girl and Doki Doki Literature Club! ahead! Despite the amazing success of Doki Doki Literature Club! (including a commercial one, if you consider the 1300+ Steam reviews on the $10 Fan Pack DLC), there have been surprisingly few attempts to replicate its formula within the EVN scene, especially among the titles that could be considered of professional quality. While the plethora of mods kept the DDLC fanbase occupied, arguably no major We

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Plk Lesiak’s Shovelware Adventures: Beach Bounce series

Beach Bounce was the second title introduced by AJ Tilley, the creator of Dharker Studio, just a few months after his debut with the infamous Sword of Asumi. It stood out from his other work in a slightly paradoxical way – while Tilley’s other projects dealt with different breeds of fantasy or experimented with unusual plot elements (ex. Highschool Romance’s gender-bending), Beach Bounce was meant to be a much more standard nukige, placing our average male protagonist in a summer resort with a s

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Highschool Romance: Magi Trials (Yuri/Gender-Bending VN Review)

I’ve spent a lot, if not the majority of my time writing the blog covering yuri games and while I enjoy the theme in pretty much all of its variants (outside of plain porn, at least), I quite rarely stumble upon an EVN that surprises me with its approach to lesbian romance or does something very unusual when setting up such a story. Thus, I was more than just a little intrigued when I’ve learned about Dharker Studio’s Highschool Romance: Magi Trials, a sequel to a “trap protagonist” romance VN,

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Plk Lesiak’s Shovelware Adventures: AJTilley.com

Before Dharker Studio became the semi-competent producer of smut we know and (occasionally) love today, its founder, AJ Tilley, made a name for himself through his personal VN publishing brand, AJTilley.com. Throughout 2015 there has been an impressive number of decently-sized games released under that label, the whole endeavour fuelled by a never-ending stream of crowdfunding campaigns, making Tilley one of the most notable creators on the fledgeling EVN scene. At the same time, his activities

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Lesbian Visibility Day Special: Heaven Will Be Mine (Yuri VN Review)

Welcome to EVN Chronicles’ 2019 Lesbian Visibility Day Special! Last year, to celebrate this lovely occasion, I wrote a short, impromptu rant about yuri, its inherent ambiguity when it goes to the representation of lesbian romance and the major role it plays in the EVN scene. Having little to add to what I said in that post, this year I’ve decided to use this opportunity to give the spotlight to a game that contributes to the LGBT+ themes in Visual Novels in a particularly interesting and compel

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Cursed Lands (RPG/VN Hybrid Game Review)

Note: To learn more about this series of games, check out my reviews of Loren: The Amazon Princess and Tales of Aravorn: Season of the Wolf Winter Wolves’ series of RPGs set in the fantasy world of Aravorn, starting with the highly-appreciated Loren: The Amazon Princess, have a long and rich history, with three “mainline” games released over six years and many visual novel and dating sim spin-offs, and a direct sequel to The Amazon Princess, Reigns of War currently in development. Combin

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Sable Grimoire – Tix’s Route (VN DLC Review)

Sable’s Grimoire was, in my opinion, one of the most interesting and enjoyable OELVN releases of 2018 – the expansive, story-driven VN with a very unusual approach to the theme of monster girls impressed me both with the sheer amount of content and the stories it told. Featuring various mature themes but essentially devoid of sexual fanservice (if you didn’t read my original review, check it out here – it also includes a lengthy interview with the game’s developer, Zetsubou), it was a rare kind

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Pantsu Hunter – Back to the 90s (Western VN review)

Indie games have for many years now capitalized on players' nostalgia and included various throwbacks to the early eras of gaming, both aesthetically and gameplay-wise. However, while you can’t take a look at Steam without finding a dozen high-quality, retro platformers with pixelart graphics and "metroidvania" design elements, this trend have very rarely found a meaningful application in the world of VNs. While there are heavily-stylized titles such as the Otusun Club’s The Bell Chimes for Gold

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Serment – Contract with a Devil (Dungeon Crawler Review)

EVN releases often come apparently out of nowhere, with games either flying under the radar during their entire development process or simply being forgotten due to delays and inconsistent promotional efforts on the part of their authors. This lack of proper buildup can easily spell a commercial disaster for such titles, especially considering today’s overcrowded indie market and the Steam storefront so full of shovelware that browsing recent releases stopped having any functional meaning. Thank

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

Heart of the Woods (Yuri VN Review)

Studio Élan, a company founded by Josh Kaplan, one of the authors of the highly-appreciated yuri VN Highway Blossoms (check out my review of it here), gathered an unusually large and enthusiastic following since its formation in early 2018. Engaging high-profile artists for their projects, utilizing Kaplan’s renown within the VN community and brilliantly spreading its message through social media, the relatively small team managed to become of the most high-profile actors on the EVN scene before

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

My Litte Pony fan VNs, part 2

Welcome again to my short series on the My Little Pony fan visual novels! In the last part (if you missed it, check it out here!), we’ve looked at six games of vastly variable quality, climate and state of completion, and this trend will definitely continue today. Also, this post will include a (un)healthy portion of fandom cringe, although mostly connected to embarrassing fan fiction tropes, common in the creative output of many online communities, rather than the sheer fact the stories are abo

Plk_Lesiak

Plk_Lesiak

×
×
  • Create New...