Thanks to the efforts of companies like MangaGamer, there has never been a better time to be a fan of visual novels. MangaGamer, the world’s first legal download site for English translated visual novels, have been tireless in their efforts to bring these titles to the Western Market. This has resulted in numerous Japanese titles getting translated and exposed to a larger audience and more Japanese developers realizing the potential of selling their products to English audiences. One such developer is Circus, a long time partner of MangaGamer, and creators of the Da Capo and Dal Segno series. However, Circus and MangaGamer are now taking things one step further by partnering for the launch of Space Live. What makes this such a noteworthy event is the fact that Space Live will be a Japanese visual novel that is developed primarily for the Western Market
Sarah Pennington is back and this time her adventures take her to a mysterious jungle where a visit to her mother turns into a showdown with the Dragon Clan over an extraordinary plant. The Secret Order 6 won’t disappoint those who are expecting more of the beautifully detailed visuals that has become a staple for Sunward Games titles. However, the game is also quite short and can easily be completed in a couple of hours. It is still very enjoyable though, and one of the better recent entries in this particular series, so if you are a fan of the genre or previous titles then this will be a good fit for your library.
Gameplay: Short and easy, but definitely entertaining.
Graphics: The scenes in this game are imaginative as well as very detailed.
Sound: Decent voice acting and a fitting, albeit limited, soundtrack
Crashday: Redline Edition might look a little dusty compared to some of the other titles currently on the market, but it still offers a fast paced and adrenaline fueled experience for racing fans. This re-release of the 2006 original packs a whole host of new features and improvements, which is sure to please fans. In addition to a plethora of content, this Redline Edition also has full Steam Workshop support, which has already paid off in the form of hundreds of new mods for the game. Whether you have fond memories of the original or simply want a racing game that offers speed, destruction and stunts, Crashday: Redline Edition deserves a closer look.
Gameplay: Tons of different modes and the ability to get on the track without having to waste hours tweaking your ride.
Graphics: An improvement over the original, but not quite up to the high standard of modern games.
Sound: The soundtrack is a mix of old and new, but the sound effects could have been better
Observer is a slow-paced, cyberpunk themed thriller from the same developers that brought us Layers of Fear. Despite the change of setting, Observer shares a lot of similarities with LOF, especially during the surreal hacking sequences where you invade the thoughts of other people and experience their worst fears. The incredibly detailed visuals and gripping environments make Observer a game that is hard to put down, but the slower pace and lack of control beyond observing your surroundings and scanning things might deter the action crowd. Overall, it is a title that all fans of the cyberpunk genre will enjoy and it offers an enthralling experience despite some technical issues.
Gameplay: There is little to do apart from exploring your surroundings and scanning things for clues, but the game remains engrossing nonetheless.
Graphics: The abundance of post-processing effects might be a bit much for some players, but there is no faulting the highly detailed visuals.
Sound: The soundtrack is just as tense as you’d expect from a title like this and it is great to hear Rutger Hauer lending his vocals to the lead character
Cat Quest is a very tongue-in-cheek role playing game that is sure to appeal to fans of the genre who also loves cats. Don’t be fooled by the bright, colorful visuals, though, as the game is every bit as fun and addictive as its serious counterparts. The streamlined interface and open world makes the game a joy to play and it offers hours of fun, although it can also be enjoyed in short bursts if you don’t have a lot of time. It is obviously not as in-depth as more serious takes on the genre, but remains addictive and entertaining throughout.
Gameplay: A very accessible entry in the action RPG genre that favors fun over statistics and inventory juggling.
Graphics: Bright, colorful and very easy on the eyes.
Sound: The game doesn’t have any speech, but the soundtrack hits all the nostalgic notes
While there are plenty of games that allow you to play as a magic user, Fictorum is one of the few that makes you feel truly powerful right from the start. With an impressive arsenal of spells at your disposal and the ability to shatter buildings, it is definitely not lacking in excitement initially. Unfortunately, once the novelty wears off the game can become quite repetitive and doesn’t offer you much to do beyond blowing up the same enemies and buildings. The game also lacks some polish in terms of visuals and audio, but as long as you don’t expect too much there is still fun to be had.
Gameplay: Fictorum is quite exciting initially, but once the novelty of blowing up buildings wears off it can become a little repetitive.
Graphics: The destruction is impressive, but the overall visual style a little bland.
Sound: Decent enough sound effects, but repetitive music and no voice acting
Assist Tara the apothecary, Darius the swordsman and Minu the genie as they try and take on an evil vizier in Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders. This hidden object adventure game might be light on hidden object scenes, but more than makes up for it with the adventuring elements. It features a compelling story, plenty of beautiful locations and more than enough to keep you busy. Although a little on the short side and lacking in any kind of bonus adventures, it is still a great way to spend an afternoon and definitely one of the better Artifex Mundi titles of late.
Gameplay: Hidden object fans might find it a little thin on content, but there are still plenty of inventory based puzzle solving to be done.
Graphics: Everything from the art style to the colors used are a perfect match for the setting.
Sound: Great soundtrack and surprisingly good voice acting
Ask anyone to name some of the best movies of all time and, if they have any kind of taste, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, and the Back to the Future trilogy will get a mention. These motion pictures are not just some of the best from Amblin Entertainment, but bona fide classics. Now, thanks to Zen Studios, fans will be able to do more than just watch these films, but also experience them in a whole new light as pinball tables. This announcement of the Universal Classics Pinball pack follows hot on the heels of news that Pinball FX3 will be hitting all the major gaming platforms soon
Omega Pattern is a visual novel where you follow the story of a young man named Shaiel who is on the run from a ruthless organization called Bioagora. His psychic skills make him an important target for Bioagora, who has a history of turning gifted people into brainwashed agents to do their bidding. The game doesn’t just tell the story of Shaiel in the present, but also features plenty of flashbacks where you actually get to make choices that influences the route you take to the ending. This gives the game some nice replay value and the different routes are actually quite different and not just minor variations. Unfortunately, Omega Pattern is also quite short and since it is only the first part of the full story, it ends in a “To Be Continued,” which might annoy some fans.
Gameplay: The story is genuinely intriguing and the choices you get to make actually impacts the story, which is a nice touch.
Graphics: Nothing really special, but gets the job done.
Sound: No voice acting, but the soundtrack is really solid
Hop into the cockpit of your fighter and take down a virtual network that has evolved a little too much for its own good in this shoot ‘em up from Bikkuri Software. It offers non-stop action and a bullet grazing mechanic that forces you to risk life and limb to boost your score while unleashing devastating attacks. The 16-bit style of the visuals and audio offers a nice blast from the past for fans of the genre, but even newcomers can ease into the action thanks to a practice mode and selectable difficulty settings. The game is a little short for our liking and the style might not appeal to everyone, but if you enjoy a good shoot ‘em up you can do far worse than this one.
Gameplay: Being forced to skirt dangerously close to bullets instead of simply avoiding them makes for a frantic experience.
Graphics: The 16-bit visual style is charming, but might not appeal to those who didn’t grow up with the genre.
Sound: The soundtrack is good, but the sound effects lack a little punch