Aquadine

Aquadine

Aquadine is a kinetic visual novel set in a picturesque town where gondolas are a common sight. It is a magical place that is rife with myths and legends. However, the protagonist has more pressing matters on his mind as he struggles to make ends meet as a gondolier to support his sick mother. As he grows closer to the people in his circle of friends, he also discovers that he is not the only one leading a double life.

Gameplay: An interesting and unique story with different routes to explore.

Graphics: Beautiful backgrounds and detailed character sprites.

Sound: Only partial voice acting, but the music and sound effects are very good

MAMIYA

MAMIYA

Mamiya is a visual novel that tackles themes that are pretty dark and disturbing. It can be confusing at first due to how it mixes the ordinary with the surreal, but once players are hooked, it is hard to stop reading. The beautiful CGs and incredible soundtrack also make it easy to get drawn into the twisted depths of the story. Mamiya is not for everyone, but thanks to the lengthy free demo, it is easy to find out whether or not you can stomach its bleak and oppressive story.

Gameplay: Although it is primarily a kinetic novel, there’s plenty of routes and different stories.

Graphics: The backgrounds are simple, but the sprites and CGs are outstanding.

Sound: No voice acting, and the sound effects are nothing special, but the soundtrack is incredible

Venus: Improbable Dream

Venus: Improbable Dream

Venus: Improbable Dream is an emotional visual novel that features a protagonist named Kakeru who struggles daily with social anxiety due to hemangioma. Kaker is terrified when he is coaxed into trying out the after-school music club, but his life changes when he meets a disabled girl named Haruka. This lengthy visual novel features an emotional storyline, memorable characters, and a beautiful soundtrack.

Gameplay: The story is not just lengthy and engaging but also branching thanks to player-made choices that determine the ending.

Graphics: Gets the job done.

Sound: No voice acting, but the soundtrack is fantastic

Pale Cachexia

Pale Cachexia

Pale Cachexia is a kinetic novel with Gothic undertones featuring two young women who meet under strange circumstances. One suffers from a life-leeching plague called the Pale Cachexia, while the other lives on her own in the middle of a forgotten forest. Despite the differences in their backgrounds and personalities, the two girls become friends, but there are outside forces that will put their bond to the test. The unique story, setting, and characters make Pale Cachexia an interesting read and the gorgeous visuals, as well as the haunting soundtrack, certainly doesn’t hurt either.

Gameplay: This is a kinetic novel, but the lack of choices doesn’t hamper the compelling story.

Graphics: Beautiful character sprites and CGs as well as detailed backgrounds.

Sound: No voice acting, but the soundtrack is excellent

9-nine-:Episode 4

9-nine-:Episode 4

9-Nine-: Episode 4 returns players once more to the college town of Shiromitsugawa where Kakeru Niimi and his gang of artifact users battle a threat from a different dimension. This episode upholds the same high standards as the rest of the series and the story really is an emotional rollercoaster. It’s not the best place to get started with the series, but fans of the previous episodes won’t want to miss out on this one.

Gameplay: Very engrossing and packed with humor, action, and drama.

Graphics: The character sprites and CGs are still some of the best in the genre.

Sound: Great voice acting and a solid soundtrack

Your Smile Beyond Twilight:黄昏下的月台上

Your Smile Beyond Twilight:黄昏下的月台上

The protagonist of Your Smile Beyond Twilight, Yunshan, returns to his small hometown for the first time in six years. A lot has happened in the meantime, but Yunshan still has some unresolved issues from his past that he has to deal with. However, upon arrival with his girlfriend Jingxuan in tow, Yunshan encounters a mysterious maiden who only he can see. This short kinetic novel can be completed in very little time, but the story is good enough to leave a lasting impact.

Gameplay: Short, but well written and engrossing.

Graphics: Only a few sprites and backgrounds, but they are all beautiful.

Sounds: Chinese voice acting and a beautiful soundtrack

LOVE BAKUDAN

LOVE BAKUDAN

Love Bakudan is an 18+ yuri visual novel with a unique premise and plenty of hot women to romance. When Haruka Mishimi inherits her grandmother’s erotic bookstore, she moves back to her childhood home of Akiyama where she finds a bevy of beautiful customers waiting to frequent her shop. With six unique romance routes, a fun bookselling mini-game, and plenty of optional erotic stories to unlock, Love Bakudan belongs in the library of every yuri fan.

Gameplay: Six romance routes that are completely unique from each other.

Graphics: Plenty of backgrounds and some nice character designs.

Sound: The music is good and there’s plenty of great sound effects

Sakura Beach 2

Sakura Beach 2

Sakura Beach 2 is a continuation of the first game starring the same characters and pretty much recycling all the art and music. The addition of a new character could have made things a little more interesting, but unfortunately, the story still falls flat in every aspect. Even though the Sakura series isn’t exactly known for deep storylines or compelling characters Sakura Beach 2 is a low point.

Gameplay: A rather mundane story with meaningless choices.

Graphics: Not bad, but most of it is recycled from the first game.

Sound: The same repetitive songs as the first game

Jiangshi x Daoshi

Jiangshi x Daoshi

Jiangshi x Daoshi is a very unique kinetic novel featuring some of the most animated and over the top scenes we’ve seen in the genre. The quirky style of the game and Chinese folklore elements can be a little overwhelming at first, but it’s hard not to get sucked in by the characters and story. The first two episodes are completely free, so there’s no reason to miss out on the game and the third episode is worth the price of admission as well if you are hooked.

Gameplay: A kinetic novel, so there are no choices, but the story is very unique.

Graphics: The over the top animated style of the game is something to behold.

Sound: Decent voice acting as well as a very varied soundtrack

Sakura Swim Club

Sakura Swim Club

Sakura Swim Club is another fan service packed visual novel by Winged Cloud. The protagonist is an unmotivated high school student named Kaede who joins the swim club where he is drawn into the lives of Hiromi and Mieko. The two girls are the only remaining members of the club and while trying to whip Kaede into shape they begin to develop feelings for him too. There’s nothing new or surprising here, but Winged Cloud fans will enjoy the game, especially with the adult patch which adds a few sex scenes.

Gameplay: The game gives the illusion of choice, but the experience is actually very linear.

Graphics: The art is the highlight of the game.

Sound: Decent sound effects, but the music is very forgettable