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

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

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

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

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

Trauma Center: Under The Knife

Trauma Center: Under The Knife

Trauma Center: Under the Knife is quite a unique game and might easily be overlooked. However, doing so would be a crime as this game has a lot to offer and really stands apart from other DS titles. You’ll need quick reflexes and the ability to work efficiently, but saving people’s lives has never been this much fun.

Gameplay: More of a arcade / puzzle game than a sim but very challenging.

Graphics: A nice blend of 2D story scenes and 3D operations.

Sound: Tense tunes that will keep you focused on the operations

Sakura Agent

Sakura Agent

Akira took the job working for a mysterious agency because it gave him the opportunity for free trips around the world and meeting women. However, despite his high success rate, he is on the verge of getting kicked out due to his antics. He has the opportunity to prove himself though when an influx of other-dimensional beings start making a nuisance of themselves. Sakura Agent is a typical Winged Cloud visual novel with plenty of scantily clad women, comical situations and a paper thin plot. If you are a fan of the genre and the developer you’ll enjoy the game, but everyone else will probably find it a little lacking.

Gameplay: Humorous characters and situations, but the story isn’t exactly engaging.

Graphics: Beautiful character designs, but far too few backgrounds.

Sound: The music is unremarkable while the sound effects and voice acting are non existent

Sweetest Monster

Sweetest Monster

Sweetest Monster is the latest release from ebi-hime, which means interesting characters and memorable situations. It is defintely a much darker title than what you might think, but one that kept us hooked right to the very end. At only about 40,000 words it is slightly shorter than the average visual novel, but the story is good and the price very reasonable. Anyone looking for something with a bit more substance than the typical lighthearted cat-girl visual novels should definitely give this kinetic novel a try.

Gameplay: Beautifully written and definitely very memorable despite the lack of choices or story branches.

Graphics: The game only features a limited amount of character sprites and backgrounds, but they are all great.

Sound: There is no voice acting, but the background music and sound effects are of a very high standard