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We get bombarded with movies and comics about superheroes, but what about the henchmen, lackeys and extras? What about the people who consistently get an elbow to the face, who run bravely into combat even though they are up against an Asgardian god? What motivates them? Henchman Story from Top Hat Studios looks to address the balance.
Visual novels are quite a passive game to play. That isn’t a criticism, it’s a fact. Lotus Reverie: First Nexus on Xbox though is different as it combines a visual novel with strategy elements and a battle mode too.
There’s a fantastic Lost-like quality to Crimson Spires, the latest visual novel from Eastasiasoft. There’s a hulking great mystery at its centre, and it’s hard to tell whether it’s man-made, supernatural or something else entirely. You are stuck in a town that’s cut off from the rest of the world, surrounded by deadly, glowing towers that encircle it. As newly transferred sheriff Erika Wright, your job - among others - is to find out what these towers are.
If there's one genre that is sure to stoke up a debate amongst gamers, it's that of the visual novel. However, should you side with what they deliver and are happy to immerse yourself into some deep tales, you'll find a host of opportunities out there. The latest is that of Bai Qu: Hundreds of Melodies as it launches on Xbox, PlayStation and Switch.
Ever wanted to take in a mysterious visual novel on Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo Switch in which the main thrust of the tale is fully focused on cops against vampires? Cross the Moon is that visual novel.
Ratalaika Games already have a number of visual novels in their gaming catalogue, including the likes of How to Take Off Your Mask Remastered and Autumn’s Journey, but now they’ve released another. There are a lot of mysterious goings on where we’re heading to next though. So, prepare to be whisked away to a dragon realm for this one as Angels with Scaly Wings lands on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
What truths will you uncover in How to Take Off Your Mask Remastered on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch?
Ratalaika Games are building a rather extensive collection of visual novels under their publishing wing, with Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet, Roommates, Nicole, and more releasing on consoles this year. Now, Autumn’s Journey is another of its kind joining the mix to tell the tale of a wannabe knight and her two new dragon pals on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4 and - very shortly - Nintendo Switch.
Following the recent release of Nicole, Ratalaika Games are back with another visual novel from developers Winter Wolves in the form of Roommates. Prepare to share your dorm life with a few potential love interests and maybe have a chuckle along the way.
As the dust settles following the Xbox Games Showcase, our team of gaming fanatics are ready to not only discuss the fallout from that, but also other game-related news emerging recently. In fact, TheXboxHub Official Podcast Episode 41 is brimming with gaming chatter, for a change. So prepare for visual novels, dating sims and murder mysteries in this episode too!
Visual novels are fast becoming a regular feature on the various digital stores that hold our gaming goodies, with multiple offerings having arrived over recent weeks and months. Today it's the turn of another in the genre, mixing a romantic theme into the usual chatty ways as Arcade Spirits launches on Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
Is gaming all about the visuals? Well, The Vale: Shadow of the Crown is here to prove otherwise, providing an audio-focused gaming experience to Xbox and PC.
It’s that time of year where snuggling up and reading a book from a murderer’s point of view is suddenly more acceptable. That’s right, its Halloween, where spooky goings on are promoted and scary games are in order. Murder Diaries 2 on Xbox combines horror storytelling with a visual novel style game, and it can be played starting today. It is also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation consoles.
Henchman Story is one of the good ones. As visual novels go, it’s substantial, and has twenty or thirty choices before you reach one of its twelve endings. It dares to be different, taking the story of a supervillain’s lackey and stirring in some social commentary. Sure, it could do with a touch less snark and a degree more characterisation, but this henchman’s costume is well worth pulling on for an evening.
There’s no doubt that LoveChoice will take you on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s sensitive and wistful, and you will feel the highs and lows of its characters through the three visual novels. But too often the rollercoaster judders to a stop, and you have to guess what illogical thing the game wants from you before it restarts again. By that time, that sensitive, wistful feeling has gone.
Visual novels come in so many different forms these days that there’s something for everyone; whether you want horror, mystery, romance, comedy, or anything else. The folks over at Woodsy Studio have released an otome visual novel, Crimson Spires, which appears to fit into quite a few different sub-genres simultaneously. The last time I played one of their games though, Echoes of the Fey: The Fox’s Trail, it left me baffled and occasionally disinterested due to the complexity of the lore, but did at least impress in the way it attempts to tackle numerous social issues. Can the mysterious Crimson Spires keep its audience on tenterhooks for the duration, or will it be another offering that fails to captivate?
The joy of Ratalaika Games titles is found in the variety they provide. Over the months it's been that Ratalaika team who have provided us visual novels, platformers, puzzlers and more. Today that same team drop the sword swinging Apple Slash to Xbox, PlayStation and Switch, providing swashbuckling players the opportunity to embrace some serious innovation.
It might be easy to dismiss Sable’s Grimoire as a visual novel take on Harry Potter. It’s even easier to dismiss as a dating sim. But it’s laced with teenage anxiety and social commentary, which builds on the Hogwarts foundations and ends up as a dating sim, almost by accident. It’s not without its cliches and melodrama, but Sable’s Grimoire is a rich, effective visual novel that fans of the genre will fall in love with.
Bai Qu: Hundreds of Melodies is a dull, melodramatic plod of a game, and it’s a textbook example of how to get visual novels wrong. We’re partial to a visual novel, but they do have habits that we dislike, and Bai Qu does its darnedest to exhibit every single one of those habits.
Cross the Moon’s a stylish and enthralling vampire tale, and there are very few visual novels that have its confidence. It has a sure hand in its photography, soundtrack and plotting, and - as long as you can stomach the lack of any interaction at all - you’ll take great glee in unwrapping its mysteries. You won’t ever come back to play Cross the Moon, but one of its unexpected moments or lilting songs will sink its fangs into you.
On reaching the end multiple times, and seeing Sara yo-yo from wealth to pauperdom and back again, we can say - with some confidence - that A Little Lily Princess is a capable, well-put-together visual novel. It sits above the par, although not too far above, and anyone with a taste for period adaptations will forgive an annoying main character, some mawkish writing, and a very, very predictable plot.
Angels with Scaly Wings takes its dragon-dating very, very seriously, and doesn’t care much about whether you find it improbable or distasteful. When you add in a detective story and some science fiction, you’ve got the definition of ‘pulp’. But ignore it’s many weird and fabulous faults, including an insistence that dragons are sexy, and a world that has nothing to do with logic or believability, and you have a little charmer of a visual novel.
Not quite the text adventure that SELF: Where’s my father on Xbox pitches itself as, it’s instead a surreal and stripped-back visual novel that beckons you to reveal its mystery by finding all of its endings. But while it has some wonderful moments on the way, it succumbs to the problems of many poorly structured mysteries: once you’ve peeled away the layers of the onion, you’re often left with nothing but a sense of dissatisfaction... and a tiny onion.
How to Take Off Your Mask Remastered on Xbox is a satisfyingly romantic visual novel that doesn’t over-complicate proceedings or become too awkwardly raunchy. You’ll want to see how the rather cute story unfolds, but then you’re done with it, which is a little bit of a shame.