XBlaze Code: Embryo

XBlaze Code: Embryo

XBlaze: Code Embryo is set in the same universe as the BlazBlue fighting titles, but no prior knowledge is required to enjoy the story. The game features an intriguing storyline and multiple endings, but reading news articles to influence the path you take is a little confusing at first. Once you figure out the system, it is a lot of fun though, and the stylish visuals as well as great soundtrack make it easy to recommend.

Gameplay: A typical visual novel with a rather unusual system for choosing your path to the multiple endings.

Graphics: Not a lot of animation, but very detailed and colorful.

Sound: Plenty of music tracks and some great Japanese voice acting as well

NEKOPARA Vol. 2

NEKOPARA Vol. 2

NEKOPARA Vol. 2 once again demonstrates why this series has such a loyal and fanatical following. The artwork by Sayori is as beautiful as always and the animations for the characters continue to impress. The story is still quite lighthearted, but focusses on slightly more serious issues compared to Vol. 1. The Steam version is once again censored, but comes with a lower price point, while the uncensored version cost a bit more, but features plenty of animated H-scenes.

Gameplay: It is a kinetic novel, so there are no branching routes or choices to be made.

Graphics: Stunning artwork and great animations.

Sound: The voice acting is very good and so is the music although most of the tracks will be familiar

Kindred Spirits on the Roof

Kindred Spirits on the Roof

Enoki Sachi and Nagatani Megumi are two ghosts who want to consummate their relationship, but to do so they want to observe other female couples to figure out what exactly it entails. Since Toomi Yuna is the only person at the Girl’s Academy who can see the two restless spirits it becomes her task to turn the school into a “yuritopia.” While the story might not sound like it leaves room for a lot of depth the game is surprisingly entertaining and treats the subject matter with more care and respect than most other titles. There’s plenty of funny moments too and a great cast of characters who you end up really caring for.

Gameplay: It is a kinetic novel, so you cannot really influence the story, but there is a lot of content.

Graphics: It’s a pity the resolution is so low, but the art style is quite beautiful.

Sound: Voice acting is restricted to important scenes only, but the quality is good and the soundtrack is great

Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning

Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning

With its Steampunk setting, great characters and intriguing storyline it is easy to get sucked into this visual novel. However, it is not perfect as the pacing slows down considerably in later chapters and too many superfluous characters with little impact on the story keep getting introduced. Stick with it though and you’ll find a great visual novel with characters that are truly memorable.

Gameplay: Some chapters drag their feet, but the overall story is quite captivating.

Graphics: Great visuals, but the relatively low resolution is disappointing.

Sound: Full Japanese voice acting, great sound effects and very nice music, but some tracks repeat too often

Highschool Possession

Highschool Possession

Highschool Possession tells the tale of a student named Hikaru, who one day finds his conscience mysteriously alternating between the bodies of two girls in his school. It is an interesting premise, but due to the short length of the game not a lot of time is spent on fleshing it out more. While the art and audio is decent enough the story could definitely have benefited from a bit more work.

Gameplay: The basic story is quite interesting, but due to its short length a lot of things feels glossed over.

Graphics: Nice artwork, but not many different backgrounds

Sound: The soundtrack is decent, but the game features no voice acting

PLANET STRONGHOLD: COLONIAL DEFENSE Out Now

PLANET STRONGHOLD: COLONIAL DEFENSE Out Now

Anyone who only watches Steam for new releases might have missed out on the launch of Planet Stronghold: Colonial Defense by Winter Wolves. This title marks their first foray into the sci-fi visual novel / collectible card game hybrid market and is set before the events of the original Planet Stronghold game. The game was released on January 25th, 2016 on the official website and is available for Windows, MAC and Linux

The Stargazers (Lupiesoft)

The Stargazers (Lupiesoft)

Good news for fans of original and unique visual novels as Lupiesoft are back and this time they have Space Elves! For their latest title Lupiesoft turned their attention to the stars and created The Stargazers, a game inspired by 50s and 80s science fiction, pulp fiction and good old mecha anime. Unlike their previous titles this one is set to be a self-contained story and will follow the adventures of the Stargazers Squadron, a group of three pilots who are stationed in deep space

CLANNAD

CLANNAD

At first glance CLANNAD appears to be a typical slice of life visual novel featuring the adventures of high school delinquent Tomoya Okazaki. However, its engrossing storylines and fascinating characters make it a title that is hard to put down. Completing the multiple storyline branches takes a long, long time, but the excellent writing and emotional impact makes it worthwhile. The game is a must have title for fans of the genre, but thanks to its compelling storylines will definitely appeal to other players as well.

Gameplay: CLANNAD features multiple routes that lead to different storylines based on your choices.

Graphics: The art style takes a while to get used to, but the overall quality is very good.

Sound: The game features a stellar selection of tracks and very good Japanese voice acting

Sakura Santa

Sakura Santa

Sakura Santa doesn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of story or gameplay, but it is a lighthearted and enjoyable title. Like all Sakura titles it is a little short and lacking in depth for our tastes, but the art is great and features no shortage of fanservice. Players looking for something different from Winged Cloud will be disappointed, but everyone who enjoys the Sakura titles will like this festive themed one.

Gameplay: A typical Sakura title, so fans will know exactly what to expect.

Graphics: Only a few girls and handful of locations, but everything looks great.

Sound: No voice acting and the music is rather unremarkable

G-senjou no Maou – The Devil on G-String

G-senjou no Maou – The Devil on G-String

The story of G-senjou no Maou – The Devil on G-String is definitely the best part, but despite its age the game doesn’t disappoint when it comes to visuals and audio either. The adult scenes did not make the cut, but even without them the game is still one of the best in the genre. Players who enjoy intelligent and well written stories with plenty of twists and turns should not miss out on G-senjou no Maou – The Devil on G-String.

Gameplay: This is a very long visual novel with wildly different routes and plenty of great characters.

Graphics: It is a pity that the CGs had to be cropped for widescreen, but the game still looks great despite its age.

Sound: The voice overs cost extra, but are worth the high price and the soundtrack is equally brilliant