Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley is a great update of the free visual novel released by ebi-hime in 2014. In addition to some stunning new artwork and a great soundtrack the story is still as unique as it is captivating. Don’t let the visuals fool you, this novel is not as lighthearted as it first appears and thanks to some great writing the story is a lot more memorable than expected. The game is short enough to complete in a single sitting, but still manages to have a bigger emotional impact than stories that are ten times longer.

Gameplay: Pretty much a kinetic novel with only a single choice, but the story is so good that it is hard to stop playing.

Graphics: The updated artwork looks really nice, but the option to play with the older visuals is a nice touch.

Sound: The hauntingly beautiful soundtrack is definitely a highlight

TankBlitz

TankBlitz

If you have a hankering for jumping into a tank and blasting everything in your path to smithereens then TankBlitz has got you covered. This 2D, top down shooter looks and feels like an arcade game from the nineties, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s got nonstop action, tons of different enemies to shoot at and enough upgrades to keep you coming back for more. Three difficulty levels and plenty of achievements add to the replay value, but we would have loved to see more than 12 levels. Nevertheless, the game is entertaining from start to finish and we had a blast with it.

Gameplay: Shoot things to earn cash for upgrades so you can do it all again with even more powerful weapons.

Graphics: Not as sharp as we would have liked in high resolution, but packed with detailed.

Sound: No speech, but the effects sound like they’ve been plucked straight from an arcade

The Falconers: Moonlight

The Falconers: Moonlight

Help Cassandra Winter save a small New Zealand town from a monster in this engrossing Visual Novel by Bionic Penguin. Instead of romance or fan-service, this title places the emphasis on action and intrigue. It is a little on the short side, but the unique setting and fascinating lore ensure that there is never a dull moment. Three different endings also provide the game with some replay value, so if you are a fan of the genre then this is definitely one to add to your library.

Gameplay: The story will have you hooked from the start and never lets up.

Graphics: Great character designs and good use of color.

Sound: No voice acting and the music frequently just stops, but the sound effects are excellent

The Secret Order 5: The Buried Kingdom

The Secret Order 5: The Buried Kingdom

Although The Secret Order 5: The Buried Kingdom ditches the time traveling elements of the previous titles, it still offers some solid puzzles, mini games and hidden object scenes. This time the adventures of Sarah Pennington take her to a legendary buried kingdom on a quest to save her friend from the sinister Dragon Clan. The setting for The Buried Kingdom is more fantasy themed than the fourth installment, but features the same imagination and attention to detail that has made this series such a hit with fans. The Buried Kingdom doesn’t really advance the overall plot of the series much, but since it is such a self-contained adventure, it is also more accessible to newcomers who are unfamiliar with previous installments.

Gameplay: Plenty of puzzles, mini games and hidden object scenes for players to sink their teeth into.

Graphics: Lots of detailed hand-drawn locations that feature plenty of imaginative touches.

Sound: The music is good and the voice acting is decent too

PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness

PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness

PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness is based on the popular anime series of the same name, but this engrossing visual novel isn’t afraid to carve out its own path. It features a very memorable setting, interesting characters and plenty of content to explore. The story is a little darker than most visual novels on Steam, which is a good thing and familiarity with the anime series isn’t required to enjoy this title. Any fans of the genre looking for something that will keep them busy for a while should definitely add PSYCHO-PASS to their collection.

Gameplay: Features an engrossing storyline, two protagonists, a branching storyline and plenty of different endings.

Graphics: Great character designs and backgrounds, but not much in the way of animations.

Sound: Full voice acting for all the characters and some nice background music too

NEKO-NIN exHeart

NEKO-NIN exHeart

Join Haruki, the protagonist of NEKO-NIN exHeart, as he suddenly finds himself with two catgirls on his doorstep claiming that he is their new master. Haruki is understandably dubious about the whole situation and not entirely keen to accept responsibility for the two ninjas, but eventually warm up to their cuteness. This visual novel is a lighthearted affair with beautiful artwork, but the story isn’t’ exactly memorable and it is all over without much really happening along the way. Fans of cat girls will definitely enjoy it, but everyone else should probably try the free demo first.

Gameplay: Only two choices in the entire game and not much in the way of character development, but still enjoyable.

Graphics: The artwork is beautiful and the moving cat ears are as adorable as advertised.

Sound: Nice Japanese voice acting for all the girls, but the music isn’t exactly memorable

A Rose in the Twilight

A Rose in the Twilight

Help a young girl and her giant companion navigate a treacherous castle while unraveling the mystery of the thorns in this unique puzzle title. With its somber visuals and blood drenched gameplay, it is probably not a title that is going to appeal to everyone, but puzzle fans are in for a treat. A Rose In The Twilight can be a little frustrating at times, but makes up for it with challenging puzzles and captivating characters. If you don’t mind your puzzle titles infused with equal measures of cuteness and creepiness then this one comes highly recommended.

Gameplay: Making progress requires teamwork, puzzle solving and some light platforming.

Graphics: Dark and moody, but very stylish.

Sound: No voice acting, but the music is suitably somber

The Secret Order 4: Beyond Time

The Secret Order 4: Beyond Time

Sarah Pennington continues her epic time traveling saga in this fourth installment of the popular hidden object puzzle adventure series. This time Sarah finds herself stranded when her time machine is destroyed and has to deal with the sinister Dragon Clan while planning an escape. Beyond Time leaves the fantasy theme of the previous game behind for a mixture of Egyptian and Aztec elements, which results in good looking as well as interesting locations to explore. The bonus chapter, which is set in the Realm of The Dead, is also a nice addition. Although it is probably not the best place to start if you are not familiar with the series, for fans this one is a no-brainer.

Gameplay: Slower paced, but features plenty of nice puzzles and mini-games.

Graphics: The setting allows for some very interesting and unique scenes.

Sound: Great use of sound effects and the music as well as voice acting isn’t too shabby either

Taste Japan Box – February/March 2017

Taste Japan Box – February/March 2017

If you have a hankering to taste some mouth watering treats straight from Japan then the Taste Japan monthly subscription box is all you need. After signing up you’ll receive a brand new box every month, each packed with premium candy. Instead of different pricing plans and subscription types Taste Japan keeps things simple with one box that contains about 8-10 snacks along with detailed information about each item. Best of all, the shipping cost is free

Sakura Space

Sakura Space

The Sakura series heads into space for a yuri adventure with this release by Winged Cloud. Players get to experience what happens when Captain Shika and her crew of mercenaries stumbles across the bounty of a lifetime. Although it might look like you have choices in the game, it plays out more like a kinetic novel, but offers some entertainment nonetheless. We would recommend sticking to the uncensored version though, as it offers a bit more content.

Gameplay: There are some interesting story elements, but the focus is mostly on the ecchi escapades of the girls.

Graphics: The artwork by Inma is gorgeous as always, but the cast is small and the locations limited.

Sound: No voice acting and decent, but unremarkable music