Tokyo Dark

Tokyo Dark

Explore the sinister side of Toyko in this compelling point & click adventure / visual novel hybrid. When detective Ayami Itō is confronted by a seemingly supernatural opponent she must put her job and her sanity on the line to figure out what is going. Tokyo Dark features an engrossing storyline and a unique system where every choice and action has an influence on your sanity, professionalism, investigation and investigation. You also have the option to be as professional or reckless as you would like to be, which can alter the story and lead to more than ten different endings. While the game has some minor flaws, these do not detract from the overall experience and Tokyo Dark definitely lives up to expectations.

Gameplay: The storyline is compelling and the game has buckets of replay value.

Graphics: Interesting characters and locations.

Sound: Full voice acting would have been great, but the music and sound effects are great

West-First Japanese Visual Novel Launching Soon Courtesy Of MangaGamer And Circus

West-First Japanese Visual Novel Launching Soon Courtesy Of MangaGamer And Circus

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

NEKOPARA Vol. 3

NEKOPARA Vol. 3

The NEKOPARA series has consistently delivered entertaining kinetic novels with great visuals and audio, so it is no surprise that volume three does the same. This time the story shifts to Maple and Cinnamon, the only catgirls left at La Soleil who have not yet had their chance to shine. While the story spends a lot of time with these two the other catgirls also make regular appearances, so no matter which ones are your favorite, you’ll get to experience more of their cuteness. Like volume one and two, this game is available in censored and uncensored versions, with the former costing less and the latter including explicit h-scenes. Whichever version you choose, you’ll find a story that is packed with adorable catgirls, plenty of humorous situations and some of the best visuals in the genre.

Gameplay: NEKOPARA Vol. 3 is still a kinetic novel with no choices to make, but the story is entertaining all the way through.

Graphics: More stunning artwork by Sayori and more animations courtesy of the E-mote system.

Sound: The soundtrack sounds a little too familiar at times, but still has plenty of great tracks and some stellar Japanese voice acting

Princess Maker 3: Fairy Tales Come True

Princess Maker 3: Fairy Tales Come True

The third installment in the popular Princess Maker series is finally available, but unfortunately not in refined form like its predecessors. The game is a lot more streamlined, but with sixty different endings, it still has more than enough content to keep players busy for ages. It is a pity that the game has had such a rocky launch and issues with the translation along with other technical problems continue to plague it, but underneath it all there is still a very addictive game waiting to be played.

Gameplay: Schedule your daughter’s activities and raise her to become a princes.

Graphics: This game dates back to the nineties, so don’t expect too much, but the pixel art animations are really nice.

Sound: The music is decent enough, but can become repetitive, although the voice acting is still good

A Butterfly in the District of Dreams

A Butterfly in the District of Dreams

A Butterfly In The District of Dreams doesn’t quite live up to its mysterious premise, but as far as visual novels goes it still has a lot to offer. The pace of the story is very slow and relaxing, which is great for players in search of a calming experience. It is refreshing to play a title that doesn’t rely on fan service as a crutch, but due to the slow pace it is also a title that some players will find a little boring. With three main heroines, each with multiple routes and different endings, this visual novel is definitely not lacking in content.

Gameplay: The pace is fairly slow, but the slice of life drama still manages to be captivating once you get hooked.

Graphics: Beautiful character sprites, but the backgrounds are fairly limited.

Sound: Full Japanese voice acting and a great soundtrack

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

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

Senran Kagura: Estival Versus

Senran Kagura: Estival Versus

Senran Kagura Estival Versus offers an impressive amount of fanservice mixed up with some solid hack and slash combat. The game does have its fair share of questionable elements, but it certainly doesn’t skimp on content. There is a meaty story mode to complete, along with plenty of side missions, while the money you earn can be spent on clothing and accessories for the girls. Like most hack and slash games it can get a little repetitive, but despite the large cast none of the girls feel alike in personality or fighting style. If you are a fan of the series or enjoy fighting games, this comes highly recommended, as long as you realize you are going to get bombarded by fanservice around every turn.

Gameplay: Features plenty of content and a learning curve that eases you into the various combos and attacks you can pull off.

Graphics: Looks great on PC and the detail as well as animations are impressive.

Sound: Full Japanese voice acting for all the girls and a funky soundtrack that complements the action nicely

Sakura Shrine Girls

Sakura Shrine Girls

In Sakura Shrine Girls you step into the shoes of Toru, a young priest-in-training, who gets more than he bargained for when following in the footsteps of his grandfather. Toru has always been a skeptic, but when he encounters two guardian sprits at the shrines he is supposed to maintain his whole world is turned upside down. Sakura Shrine Girls features decent art, but the story is fairly predictable and the characters not that memorable. It is still an entertaining read and you can pick which one the girls Toru ends up with, but don’t expect to be blown away by anything.

Gameplay: Not bad, but unfortunately quite predictable.

Graphics: The artwork is lovely, but sprites and CGs are limited to only two characters.

Sounds: No voice acting, but the soundtrack is quite good