Visual Novel Romance: On Agency

One of the most common complaints I see about galge (romance visual novels with male protagonists and female love interests) protagonists is that they're too passive. Maybe the guy is dense, or wishy-washy, or just overall milquetoast. In any case, he sits back and waits for things to happen. If he can be spurred to … Continue reading Visual Novel Romance: On Agency

Review: The Mysteries of Ranko Togawa: Murder on the Marine Express

Fresh off the high from the spectacular Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, I've been in the mood for more mystery. So the recent release of The Mysteries of Ranko Togawa: Murder on the Marine Express, a short murder mystery visual novel from 1564 Studio, caught my eye. The title brings to mind Agatha Christie's Murder on … Continue reading Review: The Mysteries of Ranko Togawa: Murder on the Marine Express

First Look: One Spirit Demo

Voyvod Arts, the team behind the planned original English language visual novel One Spirit reached out and asked if I'd take a look at their recently released demo. One Spirit is set in an alternate history where the Cold War never ended in the fictional Western satellite nation of Sysica. It's an intriguing setting--not one … Continue reading First Look: One Spirit Demo

Review: Gloom and Doom – Welcome to the 90s

For me, Clerks is the quintessential 90s slacker movie. Dante gets called in to work the convenience store on his day off, and he and his buddy Randall do everything from yak about pop culture to screw with customers to play rooftop hockey. But underlying the references and quippy dialogue is Dante’s mantra: “I was … Continue reading Review: Gloom and Doom – Welcome to the 90s

Quick Hits: On Plotless(?) Visual Novels

If you hang out in some of the online visual novel communities, for example reddit or vndb, you’ll hear people sometimes describe visual novels as “plotless.” Usually, this is taken in a negative context and applied to visual novels that focus on characters and relationships as opposed to action, combat, competition, or mystery. This is … Continue reading Quick Hits: On Plotless(?) Visual Novels

Review: Aquadine – At the Water’s Edge

Since we recently talked about original English language visual novels (OELVNs), I thought it might be nice to take a deeper dive into Aquadine, an OELVN from developer SoftColors that I recently read. I mentioned I'm interested in OELVNs with a non-Japanese identity, and Aquadine impressed me not only with its stories and characters, but … Continue reading Review: Aquadine – At the Water’s Edge

OELVNs and Japan

Visual novels are usually associated with Japan. While early western adventure games like Mystery House share quite a bit of their DNA with visual novels, the conventions we associate with visual novels today were cultivated in Japanese adventure games, while western adventure games largely explored other modes of presentation (you can read a fascinating deep … Continue reading OELVNs and Japan