NEWS: New Facebook Page

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Hi everyone,

I have received some requests from you guys to also have a facebook page for the website, as facebook notifications are a lot more convenient. I know that not everyone has a wordpress account to follow the blog, or would prefer to not have continual email updates about new posts. People also tend to use facebook more so than other social media as well nowadays. I sat down and made the facebook page today, so yes you can also now like/follow ‘Visual Novel Reviews’ on facebook!

You can see the facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/visualnovelreviews/

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I usually do check my social media/website everyday, so if you do comment/post things I do try to respond within the day! For more prompt responses or casual conversation about visual novels/otome games, I am the most active on twitter @vnreviewer.

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NEWS: Visual Novel and Otome Games Reddit

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What is Reddit? 

In a nutshell, it’s a social news media sharing and discussion website. You can subscribe to any forum of your interest, and scroll through a newsfeed (similar to Facebook and Twitter). It consists of thousands of other people posting news or interesting and funny links on your subscribed ‘subreddits’ of interest.

I am fairly active on reddit mostly as a lurker under /r/iTotoro, and usually I do check it every day. It’s my go-to resource for visual novel and otome game news. I also love reading the discussions on various games, and seeing what other people’s opinions are. I highly recommend checking out /r/visualnovels, and /r/otomegames! Both subreddits are very active and receive new content everyday from users.

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I decided to post about reddit today because in spite of how popular it is, there are still a lot of people who don’t know what exactly the website is about or use it.

Yesterday night for good fun, I made a post on /r/otomegames where you name specific otome games and other users comment on who the ‘best guy’ is from that game. I did not expect the post to literally blow up over night, and when I hopped on this morning it had over 150+ comments of so many different games and favourite characters.

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I highly recommend checking the post out here, since some of the comments are actually really funny and hilarious. It was interesting seeing who everyone viewed as best boy and there was mostly a lot of contentions between the first and second best guy in every game. If you haven’t signed up for reddit yet, come join in on the fun! Everyone there is really nice, and passionate about both visual novels and otome games.

NEWS: False Elegy Kickstarter

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The biggest English fantasy visual novel, False Elegy, has just launched on Kickstarter.

With a planned story of 250.000+ words, False Elegy will the biggest English fantasy visual novel on Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1183318884/false-elegy-the-dark-fantasy-visual-novel).

The interactive story features three different routes, covering the three different heroines. False Elegy will be the first English Visual Novel to contain both romance and action at this production level.

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SYNOPSIS: Since the dawn of man, Ascendants have soared through the skies. To the humans, they are ethereal, divine and immortal beings, guardians of earth and protectors of humankind. But even among the Ascendants, there are those who have Fallen.

Areon and his partner Eden are Ascendants tasked with the elimination of the creatures born from sin – the Fallen. Following a tragedy, Areon chooses to participate in the Divinity Project; a project with the potential to rehabilitate Fallen and make them Ascendants once again. There is a risk though. During the project, a Divinity Link forms between Fallen and Ascendant and this means their fates are linked. They are connected until finally the Fallen Ascends and is freed from sin, or the Ascendant Falls to the same corruption as the Fallen.

At the selection, the beautiful Ark catches his attention. A Fallen never approached due to her insanely corrupted personality. Areon, undaunted by her ferocity, forms a link with Ark. However, he did not realize that his powers will be irrelevant. What will be challenged are his wits, resolve, and mental fortitude. What awaits him is a bigger task than he could have ever imagined.

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ABOUT TEAM GENE6: Team geNe6 is an international team striving to make their mark in the visual novel world. Their goal is to create the high-quality visual novel which everyone has been waiting for, whilst also introducing people to the medium. Inspired by both Japanese and western media, they hope to create something unique and surprise everyone with their upcoming visual novel, False Elegy.

FALSE ELEGY:
Retail: €19,99
Demo: https://team-gene6.itch.io/false-elegy
Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1183318884/false-elegy-the-dark-fantasy-visual-novel
Available on PC, Linux and Mac

NEWS: The Charming Empire Release Announcement

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For more information, check out the steam store page.

Recently, Dogenzaka Lab announced two new games to be localised in english on steam: The Charming Empire and Campus Nightlife. This is super exciting, cause as I mentioned before in my anticipated english visual novel releases for 2017; this year will indeed be very stacked in terms of english localisations! It is great and promising news for Visual Novel fans in the western world, as more and more publishers/companies are recognising that there is a viable target market and fans of the genre. With the newfound momentum we’re seeing in 2017, I won’t be surprised at all if 2018 turns out to be even better.

Of course, that is still a while away and as fans we’ll just have to continue keeping our fingers crossed! I will be covering The Charming Empire out of the two games, since from the premise I found it to be more interesting out of the two. If you would like more information about Campus Nightlife, you can read about it on the steam store page.

Initial Impressions

From first impressions alone, The Charming Empire has some pretty impressive art for a game originally on the mobile platform. Truly, the mobile platform has come so far in improving the past couple of years. I’m sure that it’ll look even better on the PC screen, judging from the screenshot previews that they’ve shown of the game so far. I can already see that Dogenzaka Lab have addressed some of the shortcomings I mentioned from reviewing their two previous (and most popular) releases for mobile and steam: Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya and Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya.

Other than the clear art improvements, they’ve finally decided to incorporate voice acting in their ports! As I mentioned in my criticisms of their previous games, the recent steam release visual novels have all included full voice acting. In order to compete with the rapidly growing and competitive market, having non-voiced games really isn’t going to cut it anymore. Not only that, but some of these games are fully voiced and significantly lower in terms of price threshold. Voice acting just adds so much to a game, and can turn poor/average writing into an engaging story due to the expressions of the VAs.

Overall, in terms of first impressions it is quite positive and I am personally looking forward to the game’s release.

Storyline

-The Story-

Our heroine, Amane Kosaka, was living a simple yet happy life in the countryside until one day she was suddenly taken away to live in the empire, summoned by her brother Soji Amazaki — the current ruler. Though she was unaware of the underlying circumstances, she finds herself brought to this lively and palpable central city.

Living in the immaculate royal palace, our heroine comes to learn that the empire might not be as joyful as it seems.
Her brother is no longer the gentle man she once knew…
A corrupt organization secretly runs things behind the scenes…
The heroine’s fate guides her down the path of love.

The story seems interesting enough, and I do like that it is a more traditional and historical setting; rather than one set in Modern Japan. Dogenzaka Lab’s Men of Yoshiwara series is their most popular and successful for a reason, as they definitely do much better with the concept in comparison to their other game genres. However, I’m still slightly apprehensive of the game’s writing due to past experiences with the company’s titles. They’re not exactly known for their stellar writing, interesting protagonists or bachelor personalities.

Their previous games have been riddled with poor writing, and littered with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. It’s as though it was translated by someone unfamiliar with the english language, and judging from the game script it honestly felt like the final copy wasn’t properly proofread at all. However, as it is a newer release by the company I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt for now and I sincerely hope that the writing is much better this time around.

Character Introductions

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Toki Tanba  |  丹葉桐己  |  CV: Tetsuya Kakihara  |  柿原徹也

The flirtatious cafe owner

Toki owns a cafe in the city that serves tea and various confections. He is particularly kind to women and loved by all of his customers. But behind that kind smile, however…

“Sorry for the wait. This here is the pride of the cafe, our signature baumkuchen.”

Oh my, it’s the VA for Shin from Amnesia: Memories and Viktor Frankenstein from Code Realize: ~Guardian of Rebirth~. I knew his voice sounded familiar the moment I heard it! He seems to be one of the two the main bachelors judging from the art and trailer released so far. I find it quite amusing that in this game he plays a flirtatious character, whereas his previous roles in the above two very popular otome games were the complete opposite.

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Kei Yoshimine  |  吉峯螢  |  CV: Toshiki Masuda  |  増田俊樹

The captive former prince

Kei is the heroine’s private tutor.
The prince of a fallen country, he is now a captive of the empire.
Perhaps because of those circumstances, he treats the heroine harshly.

“My name is Kei Yoshimine. Starting today I’ll be teaching you foreign language and dance. Any questions?”

Kei seems like your typical major-closet tsundere; where he’s cold to you initially but becomes increasingly embarrassed and shy as he develops feelings for the heroine. I do really like his character design, as I have a soft spot for dark-haired male leads.

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Koichiro Sera  |  世良皇一朗  |  CV: Takuya Eguchi  |  江口拓也

The reticent bodyguard

Sera is the heroine’s unsociable bodyguard.
Not a minute goes buy where Sera isn’t devoted to his duties, and he also has a stubborn side.
He bares distrust towards Lord Soji’s dictatorship.

“Stay close to me.”

The same VA as Sonosuke Izayoi from the Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School. Ironically they both play a similar character role in both that anime and this game.

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Kagemitsu Togawa  |  渡川景光  |  CV: Toshiyuki Toyonaga  |  豊永利行

The mild-mannered aide

Kagemitsu is Lord Soji’s right hand man.
He is a childhood friend of both our heroine and Soji.
Kagemitsu worries about the future under Lord Soji’s dictatorship.

“You’re so kind…just how I remember you.”

The role of the kind childhood friend who usually is very supportive of the heroine and her endeavours in every route (despite also being in love with her). I’ve learnt to distrust this type of character trope as in light of recent popularity of these personality types; companies have enjoyed placing dark twists on their character to make their inherently bland stories more interesting. Although I don’t think that is the case in this game, you never know until you actually play through his story route.

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Soji Amazaki  |  天崎奏嗣  |  CV: Kenjiro Tsuda  |  津田健次郎

The aloof lord

Soji holds the most powerful seat in all the empire.
Only trusting himself, he rejects the opinions of others as he continues his dictatorship agenda — breeding animosity amongst the people.
He’s a cold man who sees even his own sister as a political tool.

“I see you’ve arrived safely. From now forth, you’ll be living here.”

The moment I heard that voice, I knew exactly who it was before even checking the name. It’s the same VA for Seto Kaiba from the Yu-Gi-Oh series, and of course Chikage Kazama from the Hakuoki series. The VA for Chikage Kazama is my all-time favourite performance for a male character out of any otome game that I’ve played. Now that I know he’ll be voice acting in this game, I am a lot more hyped and excited than I was initially. With Chikage Kazama’s voice, I can imagine exactly what character and role Soji will play in this game.

Final Thoughts

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The Charming Empire is actually looking very promising now that I’ve looked over all the information that they’ve released so far. They definitely stepped up their budget and voice acting, with their two main characters being voiced by very popular and prominent VAs. I’m looking forward to playing Toki and Soji’s routes the most as not only are they voiced by some of my favourite VAs, they’re also the main characters of the game. Generally speaking, the main bachelors/poster men do have the better routes, greater screen time and more prominent roles in the overarching storyline.

I am especially interested in Soji as I am admittedly biased and love that he’s essentially emulating Chikage Kazama’s voice V2 in this game. But, I am also intrigued by his character as I do like his design best out of all the bachelors. He is the reason as to why the MC was brought to the palace capital in the first place, leading into the events of the game. You can just tell that he has a significant role within the storyline, due to his actions in the premise and his clearly questionable hidden agendas concerning the protagonist.

The art in the game is gorgeous, and I do love the designs for all the characters. Normally I usually do have several characters I lean towards more than others, and the rest I play to complete the game. For ‘The Charming Empire’ I am looking forward to playing all of them. The game looks to be very solid if the writing has improved from Dogenzaka Lab’s previous games, and I sincerely hope that they incorporated better music. Mobile platform games are always prone to thirty second generic tracks that loop horrendously, and it would be a shame considering the prominent VA cast and beautiful art.

I am looking forward to playing this game, and I definitely think it should be a game to look out for as an otome fan!

NEWS: Irresistible Mistakes Release

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-The Story- 

I should never have done that…
He was a total stranger. I didn’t even know his name.
But we spent the night together…!
It was just a huge mistake. There could never be anything between us!
Or so I thought…

“I want to see you again tonight…”

That simple text from him was just the beginning of an incredible love affair…

The game is out now on both the apple and android store for everyone to play! I’m personally quite interested in Voltage Inc’s new release as I feel it has a more mature theme in comparison to their usual games. It reminds me of ‘In Your Arms Tonight’, which was definitely one of their best titles for an older audience.

I haven’t been too impressed with their recent releases, so I’m hoping that this one will be different. I’ll most likely have a review on the game out in a couple of days, after I play through perhaps a route or two depending on which characters I find the most interesting or whether it leaves a good impression on the first play through.

You can actually play 5 free episodes from one of the selectable bachelors as part of the release campaign. So, if you would like to trial out the story and game without paying for a route I highly recommend downloading and checking it out. 5 Episodes is actually a pretty decent length, since Voltage games tend to be around 10-16 episodes long so you’re essentially getting to see the first half of the story.

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NEWS: Soulless Wonder – A Monster Girl Dating Game Kick Starter

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For more information, check out the full website.

About the Game

Normally, one would not turn to a game about dating monsters in a fantasy realm to examine the great sociopolitical issues of our time. What -is- normal, though, these days? Soulless Wonder uses classic Visual Novel storytelling to engage players in a tale about the many faces of love, attraction, identity, jealousy, the value of individual choice… and its consequences. Also, you date monsters.

Our adventure stars a bard named Lantz who serves the Paladin Queen Zarwyn until some questionable decisions and a hot temper lead her to rip his soul away with a curse. Though the Queen has been waging a brutal war on monster kind, she casts Lantz out into their midst with the command to convince those monsters to fall in love with him… or never regain his soul!

Darkain Arts is looking to raise $37,000 in Canadian funds to bring our story to life and to pay our creators so they can eat. Artist Rod Espinosa has worked with both Marvel Comics, Dark Horse, and Antarctic Press. His hit comic ‘The Courageous Princess’ is award-nominated. Writer/producer Les Major has also worked on Antarctic Press game and comic projects, as well as independent animation. Composer Joel Steudler has produced many volumes of music for RPG Maker developers and has worked extensively with indie game creators as well as in TV and film.

Our Kickstarter campaign can be viewed here: http://kck.st/2nMZPwf

We also have a gameplay video featuring the scene mentioned above in Zarwyn’s bedchamber: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xZmN7ylfW4

Our focus is on:

– Diverse characters that you can really get to know
– Recognizing that everyone has value, monsters included
– Plenty of interactive choices
– Delving into important issues without sacrificing fun

We want to create a different kind of visual novel that explores serious topics like grief and loss, bullying, transgender issues, asexuality, same-sex relationships, and more while still being fun and humorous. People (and monsters!) are complex and can only be understood when you get to know them… so character development and detailed personalities are a focus of our storytelling. It won’t be easy for Lantz to get everyone to open up, and the player may not always be successful, but just like real life Lantz will move on and his choices will lead to one of many unique endings that reflect what he’s done.

Most Anticipated English Visual Novel Releases of 2017

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Ever wonder what other english releases are going to be released in the year of 2017? Do you want to know what games you should save up for? Are you looking for more games to add to your playlist and backlog? Here is my personal list of games that I am anticipating for 2017, and cannot wait for their release! They’re in no particular order and hopefully they won’t be pushed back to 2018, as they are all planned for 2017 but no official date has been announced (for some of them at least). 2017 is probably the best year so far that I’ve seen in terms of the amount of new titles picked up to be released in english.

1. Collar x Malice

-The Story-

“Who put this collar on me?”

The protagonist is a policewoman who works in Shinjuku, which had become a dangerous city after a series of brutal incidents popularly referred to as the “X-Day Incident”.

She had been busy working in her assigned area everyday in order to keep it safe. But one night, an unknown assailant attacked her and placed a collar built in with poison around her neck.

Amidst the chaos and right before the protagonist’s eyes were men with suspicious backgrounds. They’re all part of an organisation composed of former police officers and have taken it upon themselves to investigate the brutal cases.

Without knowing whether she should trust these men or not, she suddenly became the person who held the key to this massive case.

In order to remove the collar that places her at the edge of death and to liberate Shinjuku from the malice that binds it, she cooperates; beginning to investigate the incidents with the men.

Who holds her life in their hands?
Will Shinjuku ever return to its former glory?

(English translation from official website)

I love the premise, storyline, art, OST, and just everything about Collar x Malice! I am an absolute sucker for mystery x detective themed games. Not to mention the artist is Hanamura Mai (same artist for the Amnesia series) and Manyo as the composer (big fan of his soundtracks and work; composed for Amnesia and Kara no Shoujo series). I just knew the art was familiar when I first saw screenshots of the game. I am extremely excited about the game, and dearly hoping it will be a 2017 release.

UPDATE: They have announced that the game release date is July 28th, 2017. Preorder here: Collar X Malice – PlayStation Vita

2. Period Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~

-The Story-

With the help of your childhood friend, Hiroya, you decide to play the online RPG game “Arcadia” in order to look for clues as to the whereabouts of your missing older brother.

You are suddenly engulfed by a blinding light and lose conscious. When you wake up, you find that the scenery has changed into that of a video game fantasy world.

As you are overwhelmed by the sudden twist of events, you learn a terrible truth: to escape this deadly world, you must clear the game.

In this cruel world, you were selected to become the key to clearing the game – the holy sword. With this, you are the target of everyone!

(English translation from official website

The first out of the four otome titles localised by Aksys Games in 2017, the storyline gives me Sword Art Online vibes. With beautiful art by the artist of Black Wolves Saga, this is quite an interesting fantasy otome with RPG elements. Period Cube actually comes out very soon, with an announced release date on the 28th of April next month!

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase the game here: Period Cube – PlayStation Vita

3. Bad Apple Wars

-The Story-

Congratulations on your DEATH admission!
Welcome to NEVAEH Academy!!

The heroine, who was caught in an accident on the first day that she was to enter high school, suddenly found herself on the premises of an unknown school.

This was NEVAEH Academy, a school for those whose souls were left behind after death.

In this school if you were a good student who followed the rules then, upon GRADUATION, you would be able to return and RESUME YOUR LIFE.

The heroine, having been informed about her death from a suspicious man wearing a RABBIT HEAD and thinking that this was all a dream, followed him to the school entrance ceremony.

Suddenly, a piercing explosion echoed from over there.

What started at the sign of that noise was the school war between those who defy the school’s rules, the DELINQUENT TEAM BAD APPLES, and members of the DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE.

In the middle of that battle, the heroine meets a RED-HAIRED young man.

That young man faced her directly and asked a question.

“– Do you want to live?” (English translation from official website)

The premise reminds me so much of one of my favourite animes, Angel Beats. The art deviates from Idea Factory’s usual style, taking on a more comic-book themed approach (to match the concept that it is a different world, I suppose). Although it was a little strange to look at initially, I do find the art grew on me the more I looked at it. The release date is still to be announced, but I do hope it stays with its 2017 expected date.

4. Code Realize ~Future Blessings~

The fandisc for Code: Realize, featuring after stories for the main cast and new routes for Herlock Sholmes and Finis.

If you haven’t read my review for Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ you should check it out! If you have, then you’ll know I absolutely loved the game and it is one of my all-time favourites. I am looking forward to the new routes with Herlock Sholmes and Finis, as I felt their stories weren’t quite fully delved upon in the original game. The art in the opening looks gorgeous, and of course who doesn’t want to have more stories to read with their favourite bachelor? The release date is still to be announced.

5. Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome 

-The Story-

Ema Tachibana is a tall, gloomy and unsociable girl with a bad case of resting bitch-face. With all that working against her, she’s never really had any friends. That didn’t really change when she started at a new school. Everyone kept their distance because they were scared of her.

But Ema herself was quite content with that state of affairs. She was all set to spend the rest of her time until graduation invisible as ever.

That is until two men turned her life upside down…

“I’ve finally found you. You are my… my one and only muse!”

Miki Hiraizumi—recently returned to Japan from abroad, he’s loved making clothes ever since he was a little kid. He has a strong desire to help make charming, unusual women shine. (Also a bit of a masochist.)

“Listen, you may be nothing but a little shrew right now, but even you have some potential to shine. I’ll just have to polish you up.”

And Saito Shinjou—he frequently finds himself bored because things have always come easy to him. He wants to find a way to do something so big, it’ll change the world. (He’s also a bit of a sadist.)

These two ambitious and attractive fellows decide to give Ema Tachibana a makeover!

“No… I’m not really interested…”

But Ema has other ideas. (English Official Website)

This is quite an interesting pick up by MangaGamer, as I feel R18+ otome game localisations are very few in comparison to bishoujo games. The summary looks hilarious, and the art is quite good! The VA (Yotsuya Cider) of Shinjou Saito is the same as Kyrie from OZMAFIA!!! Hopefully if the title sells well commercially, we will see more mature-themed otome games released in future.

6. Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds

-The Story-

A remastered retelling of the beloved otome Hakuoki series that focuses on the story set in Kyoto. 

Hakuoki was first developed and released in 2008. New players, as well as players that have grown with the franchise, can discover the beauty and richness of its story with new, innovative features all presented on the Playstation Vita system. 

Never-before-seen episodes and character routes have been added to the original version of the game, introducing more romanceable targets, new minor characters, and plenty of new paths to seek for yourself!

Take a glimpse into the world of Hakuoki, as it was originally intended!

(English Official website

Although I’ve already written a post regarding my mixed feelings on the game, it is still a great title nonetheless for players new to the franchise. It’s essentially an all-in-one release, so if you haven’t gotten around to playing the series; now is the time to play it. It’s release date was announced only a few days ago, the game is being released on May 16 (NA) and May 19 (EU) for the PSVita!

UPDATE: The game is up for pre-order. Pre-order it here: Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds – PlayStation Vita

7. Night Shade

-The Story-

Thanks to an age of constant war, the Iga and Kouga had independently achieved an expansion of their respective forces.

Both shinobi forces, owing to that long history of warring, shared an antagonistic relationship of mutual hatred towards one another. However, during the ninth year of the Tenshou era, the Iga forces fell into ruin due to the Tenshou Iga War started by Oda Nobunaga. The few Iga members that had survived were taken in by the Kouga forces.

Seventeen years later, the Sengoku period had ended and lasting peace came to the world.

Dreaming of performing shinobi duties, Ueno Enju (the protagonist), daughter of the Kouga forces’ leader, Ueno Kandou, had been training everyday.

After finally being selected to go on her first mission, a major incident occurs. It not only derails Enju’s fate, but the fate of the village as well…

(English translation from official website)

The storyline, art and theme reminds of the Hakuoki series. I really enjoy historical Visual Novels, and the art in Night Shade is gorgeous. Originally it was actually meant to be released December 15th, 2016 on steam but it got pushed back. I’m assuming it just wasn’t ready yet, and although it is unfortunate; it’s better to wait if it’s going to be a higher quality release. It’s in the steam-release queue with other Visual Novels within March-April release dates, so fingers crossed it will be released sometime soon in 2017! What I’m looking forward to the most about the game is that Hattori Hanzo is voiced by the same VA as Chikage Kazama from Hakuoki. He is one of my all-time favourite VAs, and it’s ironic the character is named ‘Hanzo’ (after Overwatch, the name is forever ruined for me -laughs-).

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase it on steam here.

8. Grisaia no Rakuen/The Eden of Grisaia

-The Story-

Our story picks up immediately after the events of Grisaia no Meikyuu, with Kazami Yuuji having been detained for suspected involvement with an international terrorist organization, lead by Heath Oslo, that has managed to enter Japan’s borders with a devastating new weapon of mass destruction in hand. Meanwhile, at Mihama Academy, the remaining students find themselves with time running out – due to financial issues, the school is set to close within the month. Over the past year, though, the girls of Mihama have finally begun to find their own legs, thanks to Yuuji’s involvement – are they really just going to bury their heads in the sand and let the world change around them? And are they really willing to let the man who changed their lives slip away without so much as trying to win him back? As the end of their time at Mihama Academy approaches, Amane, Makina, Sachi, Yumiko, and Michiru find themselves arriving at a single conclusion.

The final chapter in the Grisaia series, featuring Prologue De La Grisaia, a prologue set before Yuuji’s arrival at Mihama; Blanc Aile no Tane, the overarching story’s grand conclusion; a smorgasbord of bonus eroscenes; and an after story to the events of Blanc Aile no Tane. (Excerpt from VNDB

The Grisaia series is one of my all-time favourite visual novels, and it’s great to see that the series trilogy will come to an end in 2017. The Labyrinth of Grisaia (second in the series) was released in January this year. It has a to-be-expected release date of March 2017, and the uncut version sometime during the summer. I personally am currently still finishing up the first game (The Fruits of Grisaia), and onto my last route which is Makina’s. But, I am taking my time as the series is incredibly long (my current playtime is 85hrs) and I might as well pace myself until the final game is released. No point finishing the games early then suffering the unbearable wait (laughs).

9. Nekopara Volume 3

-The Story-

What’s NEKOPARA? Why, it’s a cat paradise!

Minazuki Kashou, the son of a long line of Japanese confection makers moved out to open his own shop “La Soleil” as a patisserie.

But upon moving out, hidden amongst his things were two of the catgirls (“neko”), Chocola and Vanilla, that the family had been raising. When he tried to send them back, they begged and pleaded until he gave in and now they’ve opened La Soleil together.

With two nekos who really, REALLY love their master trying their very best and occasionally failing — a heartful comedy opens for business!

See the Sayori NEKO WORKs’ mascots Chocola and Vanilla like never before, moving, and in full voice on screen. And now with the E-mote System, the characters smoothly move on screen changing expression and poses in countless ways. (Steam Summary)

Initially, I found this game a little weird not going to lie. It is not for everyone, and I actually found out about it from internet memes (laughs). But, once you give it a try it’s actually a pretty good game and for a very cheap price! They often go on sale in bundles, which is when it’s best to grab them. The art and animation is really good and crisp, and it’s an all-around hilarious game. The cat girls really do grow on you as you play through the visual novel. This is the last in the trilogy, releasing the last two romanceable cat girls. It is set to be released on the 28th of April, 2017.

10. New Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony

-The Story- 

The third Dangan Ronpa game which has been confirmed at the TGS 2015 to be released on both the PS Vita and PS4.

Like the title “New” implies, the game has a completely different storyline, characters and environment than the first three games (the “Hope’s Peak Academy” storyline ends with an anime series), with only the series’ mascot Monokuma returning. The game features a new killing game called the New Killing School Life. The new setting is called Gifted Inmates Academy or the Prison School for the Gifted. The Academy (and hotel) is in a garden surrounded by a cage. It’s implied that the story is set in the future.

The overall theme is mentioned to be “psycho cool”, unlike the “psycho pop” and “psycho tropical” themes of the first two games. The visual style will have a “cool adult-like image” and the Class Trials will have “high-speed reasoning action”. While the storyline and the sixteen new characters are different, the gameplay is similar to the earlier games, including exploration, talking with other characters and the Class Trials. It will have notable additions and improvements, though, like the possibility to use your own lies to defeat opponents during the trials. (Excerpt from VNDB

Did I save my ultimate bias and the best for last? Perhaps. This is my number one favourite visual novel of all-time indisputably. It has an amazing mix of storyline, plot twists, character cast, humour, cuteness and mystery; just everything I love in a game. When I first played the game, I had a phase of obsession for several long weeks – months (which never happens to me over a game; usually I just have a few days of bliss upon completing a game before getting over it). I’m a little sad that the Hope’s Peak Academy arc has ended, and I am very curious as to how they decided to revamp the series with a brand new release with a completely new cast.

The Danganronpa series is a ‘whodunnit?’ mystery/detective Visual Novel, where you must discover the culprit of the killings and present your findings in a class trial. The stakes are essentially kill or be killed – and you’re faced with uncovering people whom you consider friends; as potential murderers. However, it is not what you expect at all coming into the game; with an incredibly immersive storyline and great gameplay. It’s one of those games where you just have to try it yourself to understand what it’s truly about. The descriptions will never do the game any justice.

I have heard mixed reception over the new game, but for the most part they were very positive. It has an announced release date on the 26th of September for NA and 29th of September for EU. What I am glad about is the steam port is being released at the same time as the PSVita/Playstation 4 platform. This is great considering for the predecessors, the steam release was usually a year later.

I hope that you all enjoyed my list, and found some new games to look forward to for 2017! 

Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds Release Date Announcement

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For more information, check out the official Idea Factory website.
Pre-order it here: Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds – PlayStation Vita

Idea Factory announced the official release date only yesterday, although I personally have mixed feelings about yet another Hakuoki game.  I think it’s clear to anyone at this point that Idea Factory is just absolutely milking whatever is left of the franchise, since none of their other games have created such an incredible wave of popularity and of course: profit.

I’m all for more games using the Hakuoki universe or a twist on the original concept; but when it’s their second ‘remastered’ edition of the same game – it’s bound to raise more than a few questions. They had their original game released on PSP, and then the fandisk Zuisouroku on Play Station 2. The original was localised, whereas the fandisk was not. Due to its commercial success in the western world, a port for Play Station 3 was released re-titled “Stories of the Shinsengumi”.

This included both the original game and the translated fandisk, which had extra routes with all the bachelors, more CGs and fan-focused content. Rather than emulating the serious, history-driven storyline of the original, the fandisk depicted the everyday lives and antics of the Shinsengumi when they were out of action. This was explored in the anime OVA of Hakuoki, and had the iconic geisha scene where Yukimura Chizuru infiltrates the red-light district undercover.

And now, we have Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds which is essentially a remastered version of the PS3 Stories of the Shinsengumi. From what is shown on the website, it includes everything of the predecessor (both the original game + Zuisouroku shown from the screenshots) but new and improved additional content has been added.

3 new never before seen characters, which the website has yet to reveal and Yamazaki, Sannan and Shinpachi all now have their own routes due to fan request. The original routes also have additional events and scenes (more CGs!), as well as Kazama’s route having more substance.

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The three new bachelors/playable routes as pictured above in Image 2 & 3.

I’m not entirely sure how long these new character routes are compared to the original bachelors, which took around 10-15hrs per character. Although Yamazaki, Sannan and Shinpachi have their own routes now, does that mean their stories have the same amount of content as the original bachelors? Or is it just mini-routes, like what we saw in Zuisouroku/Stories of the Shinsengumi?

For players like myself who purchased both the original PSP game, and the PS3 port —there are many questions as to whether its worthwhile purchasing essentially the same game again. How immersive and detailed is this new content? Are the revamped routes truly that much of an improvement over the original? Or is it just additional events that essentially don’t change anything in the grand scheme of things?

I personally am looking forward to seeing the ‘new and improved’ Chikage Kazama route because honestly his story in the original was very disappointing in comparison to the others. For such a complex and interesting character with so much potential for a storyline; he barely had any substance or playtime in his route at all. Not to mention he had one of the best VAs in the game, and is one of my all-time favourite characters.

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As the game is a poorly disguised cash-grab, Idea Factory are banking on the fact that fans of Hakuoki will purchase the game regardless; simply because we all want to see more content with our favourite bachelors. I’m personally still on the fence as to whether or not I will be purchasing the game myself once it’s released.

However, for players who have never played the Hakuoki game before, then I highly recommend grabbing Kyoto Winds! It essentially has everything the previous releases had, but better. You’re getting a lot more bang for your buck. The original game is a solid title, with beautiful art and immersive storyline; definitely a worthwhile pick up for the PSVita.

However, with Idea Factory constantly recycling the same game, it honestly comes off as they’re running out of ideas for new titles. I would’ve preferred to see Hakuoki: Reimeiroku localised or even Hakuoki: SSL. Reimeiroku is one of the more under appreciated titles of the franchise I feel, despite it offering so much good quality content. It deviates from the otome/romance aspect of the game, as we play a male hero however it has significantly longer playtime than the original.

It delves into the origins of the Shinsengumi, their past, how they came to be, and offers more dimension to the original character cast. To me, that is something worthwhile playing rather than yet another rehash of the first game. I look forward to when the game releases, and seeing other player’s opinions first before deciding for myself. What do you guys think of the newly announced Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds?