Art Credit: Compile Heart & Idea Factory | Game: Hyperdimension Neptunia
I first stumbled across Visual Novels in 2010 through the website Lemmasoft Forums by pure chance in my quest for some much needed entertainment. To my surprise, Visual Novels were a significantly more immersive and detailed medium than I initially expected. True to its name and appealing to the avid reader within me, it was quite literally a picture novel that utilised game console elements.
The first Visual Novel I played was a free-to-play OELVN (Original English Language Visual Novel) titled Frozen Essence by VenusEclipse. I instantly loved the dynamic nature of Visual Novels, and how interactive it was with the player. It used picturesque art to enhance the reader’s own imagination of the story, and directly reflected the original intentions of the author. What I liked the most and found incredibly interesting was the “choose your own story path” aspect.
It addressed the niche gap within novels, where more often than not readers are left dissatisfied with the sole conclusion of the story provided by the author and desire a potentially different outcome. Movie adaptations of novels are often met with mixed reception, as the author and reader’s perception of the characters brought to life from the original text are not what they imagined it to be.
Visual Novels bridge this gap, and in recent years have garnered increasing popularity within the western world.
7 years ago the only option for many avid visual novel readers were low-budget OELVN’s created by small indie companies, or mobile platform games. The only method of accessing high quality Japanese Visual Novels was through a high proficiency within the language itself, and purchasing japan-region locked consoles (which proved to be highly difficult for many due to shipping issues, and stunted the access for a potentially new target market for visual novels).
However with the increasing outcry from the community for english licensing, companies began to notice that there was perhaps a profitable enough market to attempt english visual novel ports. With the release of Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom from Aksys Games in 2012, the rest is essentially history.
The game had already garnered a massive following within the origin country of Japan, and had been a promising choice for regional expansion. It made a huge splash in the western world as fans eagerly purchased the game and console despite the original release being for PSP platform, in order to show support for future localisations.
To this day, it remains one of the better titles in the otome game genre of Visual Novels with its impressive art, immersive soundtrack, and traditional period storyline. I am extremely happy with the progress of Visual Novels being introduced into the western market during the recent years, and its popularity in turn assisting both current and aspiring game developers encroaching the genre. This in turn ensures the game companies and player base that there is a demand for the games, and encouraging more and more releases to be localised.
In previous years, a single title being localised would be considered a feat. In 2017 alone, Aksys Games have already announced 4 otome titles to be released, as well as 4-8 other visual titles from companies such as MangaGamer and Sekai Project.
I began this website out of passion and enjoyment for both visual novels and writing, and as a way to inform the community. Visual Novels can be expensive, and is considered steep for many desiring to sample a quality game but are unsure if it is a worthwhile purchase. Many are skeptical of the genre itself, because it is unlike any other game they’ve played before, with its long hours of reading and textual content.
I hope my reviews and walkthroughs can be useful to those on the fence about purchasing a visual novel, or are unsure of what game they would like to try first. Lets hope that the community continues to grow so that we can see more releases in the future.
Happy readings everyone!