The Witch’s Love Diary
The Witch’s Love Diary is a visual novel by Qoobrand and Sekai Project that introduces readers to Alice Nanno. Alice is a seemingly ordinary girl who lives with her pet dog Qoo in a worn-down barbershop, right on the edge of the Rose Village shopping district. She spends her days as a student at the Hekihou Academy while working part-time at Dragon Burger as a waitress. Her life is pretty busy, but quite uneventful until one day when her two best friends convince her to journey into the forest with them. The forest is located on the academy grounds and is home to a mysterious clock tower that is said to be able to grant wishes. Alice tags along and although the trio become lost, they eventually reach the clock tower. It is here where Alice finds a strange diary that appears to chronicle the life of a young man, named Takumi. As Alice begins reading the diary, she is drawn further into the strange story of Takumi.
The best way to describe The Witch’s Love Diary is to say that it is a visual novel about stories. It is the story of Alice, who is reading the story of Takumi, while also uncovering new stories about the people in the stories. This might sound confusing, and to be honest, it is initially, but the more you read, the more the pieces start to fall into place. TWLD features quite a large cast of characters and the game actually has routes for each of the main girls as well as sub character routes for minor characters. Virtually all of these individual stories could practically have been a small visual novel on their own, so reading through everything will take at least in the region of 30 to 50 hours. Even then, the story is not over as there is still one more tale left to be told, but we will leave that up to players to discover.
What makes TWLD so compelling is that the characters Alice reads about in the diary are all actual people who she knows in her daily life. Everyone from Rei Tokeizaka, the principal of Hekihou Academy and her twin sister Canon, to Konron Fujita, Alice’s classmate and member of the occult club. Then there’s Mii Kashiwabara, Alice’s fellow photography club member with her secret dreams of becoming an idol and Hijiri Suou, the strange girl who lives as a nun in the church that can be found on the academy grounds. Even one of Alice’s teachers, Akemi Kozue, makes an appearance in the diary. However, while the diary describes the interactions between these girls and Takumi and intimate detail, none of them appear to have any recollection of these events ever happening when Alice finally works up the courage to ask them. Then, just when she thinks things couldn’t possibly get any stranger, Alice discovers stories about herself in the diary. To say that the story manages to remain intriguing despite its length would be an understatement. This is in stark contrast to shorter visual novels, such as Sakura Beach.
Another element of TWLD that we really liked the fact is that it knows how to flesh out its characters. Initially, we thought that Takumi is a complete jerk who only lives for one night stands and to seduce every girl in sight, but there is definitely more to him than that. Even deep into the story, it still managed to find ways to surprise us and cause us to reevaluate how we viewed certain characters. Unfortunately, the length of the story also means that there is a lot of repetition involved and parts are extremely confusing until you discover later on what they really meant, but overall this is a really solid title. It is also worth sticking with it right to the end (and beyond) to discover all of its secrets.
The version of TWLD that is released on Steam has been censored to make it suitable for all ages, but the good news is that a free patch is available on Denpasoft. Considering the amount of adult content that this patch adds to the game, it could easily have been sold separately, so kudos to Sekai Project for opting to go this route. Bear in mind that even with the adult patch there is still some mosaic censorship for anything below the belt, though. The game is still perfectly playable without the patch, but can be confusing as you might be left having to guess whether or not characters ended up having sex or not. Speaking of the sex scenes, they are rather numerous, but most of them are pretty vanilla, so don’t expect anything too kinky. As with most adult visual novels, some of these scenes can be a little cringy, but there are also a few decent ones that really add to the story. The game features a galley mode with six pages of CG as well as multiple pages of “Memories” for the h-scenes, which should be a good indication of just how many of these there are.
The Witch’s Love Diary is pretty much a kinetic novel as during your first playthrough there aren’t really any options that can alter things in any meaningful way. However, the game does provide users with a map system, which allows them to choose which story to read next. The order in which you read the stories can make things a little clearer or more confusing, but in the end, it all makes sense. Praise definitely has to go to the translation work on the game as everything feels polished and natural for the most part. The game definitely has a “magical” atmosphere, where it feels like anything is possible and more mysteries are waiting just around the next corner, which makes it addictive to read.
In terms of visuals and audio, there is nothing that we can fault about TWLD. The artwork is simply beautiful and we love the character designs. In addition to the great CGs, the game features sprites for all of the characters, including the male protagonist, which is unusual. There are not a lot of backgrounds, but the available ones are all exceptionally detailed. The game doesn’t feature a lot of animations for the characters either but makes use of other effects to make some of the scenes feel less static. The soundtrack for TWLD is rather calm and laid-back, which fits the mysterious nature of the story perfectly. The soundtrack also features more than 30 songs, which is a good thing considering the length of the game. In addition, it has opening and ending songs with vocals. All the voice acting in the game is in Japanese, but the quality is definitely high. The actresses sound like they have poured their hearts and souls into their characters and don’t hold anything back, even during the sex scenes.
Playing through TWLD requires a lot of reading, so it’s great to see that there are a lot of options to customize the text. In addition to being able to play the game in fullscreen or window mode, players can also adjust different font options. From selecting the type of font to enabling things like outlines, shadows, gradients, subpixel rendering, and justification, there are enough options to cater to everyone. The same goes for the audio settings, which allows you to adjust the individual levels for everything from the background music to the sound effects and voices. TWLD also provides players with a generous amount of save slots, so we never had to resort to overwriting any previous saves.
Because The Witch’s Love Diary has such a slow pace, it’s probably not going to be a visual novel that appeals to everyone, especially those who crave action or excitement. However, due to the intriguing cast of characters and unique way of telling its story, we highly recommend it to fans of the genre. The lighthearted and ecchi elements can sometimes feel at odds with the serious undertones of the story but do keep things interesting. Some parts of the story feel weaker than the rest, but overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our time with The Witch’s Love Diary.