2017 has been a pretty cool year in terms of VN releases. I'm not even close to Clephas' level of reading, so I have only scratched the surface of what was released this year, but I did still read what I think is a pretty decent chunk of VNs, and now that the year is coming to a close, I'd like to go through some those games and talk about which ones I liked the most etc. This blog post will only cover NEW releases in 2017. I might make a separate blog post about VNs that weren't released in 2017, but that I still read this year later on.
I started the year with Ryuu Kishi Bloody Saga, a cool fantasty game by Akabeisoft 3. The prequel to this game was a dark nukige-ish story, which didn't really impress me. But, Ryuu Kishi went into a completely different direction, and ended up being a really entertaining read. I wrote a blog post about Ryuu Kishi around the time I finished it, so I'll link that here if anyone wants to read it.
Summing up though, Ryuu Kishi is a good fantasty VN, with great action scenes, an interesting plot, and good romance. (With a functional harem aspect, which was interesting.) It's by no means a kamige, but it was definitely among the better games released this year in my opinion.
After this I played a few games, but none of them were anything special. Amanatsu Adolescence had some aspects I liked, but fell flat on its face with the heroine routes, which was disappointing.
The next game worth mentioning is Majo to Tsurugi to Sen no Tsuki. This was my first time playing one of Kai's Mahou Shoujo games, and the only reason I picked this one up was because Ban'ya had helped write it. (I love Ban'ya's stuff.)
The game honestly blew me away. I'm not saying it's a kamige or anything, (not by a long shot,) but considering that this is meant to be a nukige, it really went beyond my expectations. The story was legitimately interesting, the characters were great and the writing was satisfying. Reading this game made me interested in checking out the rest of the works in the series, which I'll get around to reading at some point. Hopefully they are similar in structure, as I took quite the liking to the way this game's structure. You basically have a nukige with a story, where making the right choices lets you skip most of the H-scenes, and move through the true route. But, if you make the wrong choice, you are thrown down "bad routes", filled with bad endings and H-scenes. So, depending on what mood you're in, you can choose what type of game you're playing, essentially. (There are of course still a decent number of H-scenes in the true route, but the bulk of them are in the bad routes.)
My review of this game can be found here, on Clephas' blog.
Now, next on the list is Chrono Box, and well, I'm just going to come out and say it right away: This game is amazing. It's without a doubt one of my favorite VNs of all time. Actually, it's tied for 1st place with the ChuSinGura series.
I went into the game without knowing much about the story, and I got sucked into the game right away, finishing the whole thing in about 4-5 days. (Considering it's a rather hard game to read in Japanese, that's pretty crazy fast for me.) The ratings on VNDB aren't the best, which is to be expected tbh. It's a hard game to read, and it's a denpa game where every single small detail matters. I'd imagine a chunk of VNDB votes comes from people who try reading JP games with machine translations, and well, that is not recommended for this game. In fact, there are many parts of the game that cannot be hooked, as they are either in image files in the game itself, or in voiced lines without any text. In addition, it's a game with some pretty dark content here and there, and I know some people just rate games badly because of that. (This is a story driven mystery/denpa game, and similar to SubaHibi, all the dark elements are there for a reason, driving the story forward.) I don't mean to come off as an elitist saying "EOP's opinions doesn't matter!" here, by the way. I do think the difficulty of the game, and the content in it might have caused a bit of a change in the votes from English readers, though. In comparison, the game is rated very highly on EGS, being #23 of the whole year so far, (and it also has a rather high amount of votes, in comparison to some games above it on the list, which just has a handful. Like, seriously, 2 of the games on the list only have 5-6 votes, kek.)
Overall, this is just a fantastic read. I strongly recommend it to anyone who can read it. It truly just blew my mind. If you ARE going to read it, do yourself a favor: Do NOT look up anything about it. No CGs, no story summaries, no nothing. Just go in blind, and enjoy the ride. Seriously, you have no idea what's in store for you.
Moving on from Chrono Box, we have Pure Song Garden, the first "normal" charage I played this year that I feel deserves a spot among the "better" releases I've read in 2017. This is Pulltop's newest "club-themed game", similar to Konosora and Miagete Goran, focusing on a future world where AI and VR has become an important part of our lives. It has fantastic romance, (in the true route at least; I have to admit, I skipped the other routes for the true route. It was all I wanted,) the story is surprisingly good, and the characters aren't just stereotypes, like they tend to be in similar games. Suzu and Iroha, the characters with the main focus in the true route, definitely makes the game worth it by themselves. The MC also isn't bad, though I do wish they added a bit more to his backstory. They introduced an interesting conflict with him, which just kind of resolved itself rather quickly, something that irked me a bit. But, definitely a solid game overall.
You can read more of my opinions on the game here, on Clephas' blog.
Finally we have Biman 4. This was my first Biman title, and I didn't really know what to expect of the game. And honestly, I was blown away by it. The writing was fantastic, and felt nearly poetic at times, even. The drama was well handled, and some of the scenes made me take a break from the game for a bit, as they made me feel so many different emotions. These scenes were so well done.
At the end of the day, the game is still a nukige, and I won't call it a kamige or anything, but man, this game is so much more than first meets the eye. Almost makes me sad that it's a nukige, as there could have been even more potential there had it been a little longer, and a little more story focused.
Either way, this is another truly good VN that I strongly recommend people read. Also, it's completely possible to read it without having read the other Biman games, just like I did.
You can read some more details about my opinion on the game here, on Clephas' blog.
Overall, this has been a great year with many solid releases. My backlog still has a good chunk of the games that came out this year, many of which might have made it on this list, if I had the time to read them. But, oh well. I'm still happy with the amount of VNs I got done this year, and look forward to seeing what 2018 has in store for us.