Visual Novels - because insomnia builds character.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

At Summer's End

At Summer's End is the second doujin game I played, after Narcissu. It is a short sweet little (non-fantasy) story with a few choices that do not affect the plot. The plot revolves around a boy and a girl who are long time friends. This story won't change your life but is fun and short to play over a cup of tea.

Graphics - The backgrounds are very professional looking while the character style looks a bit amateur. This is easy to get used to and the art has a bit of whimsy charm to it. The colors are bright and colorful to match the light story. Each scene also has a sketched opening image with a title. 7/10

Music/SFX - The music is also mostly light and cheery but there is a very nice slower song as well. It is simple but very nicely matched to the story. The sound effects consist mostly of punching and crickets. There are no voices. The sound effect are not of high quality (and the crickets get annoying) but they are not bad either. 8/10

Story - Like all other aspects of this game, quite simple but solid. The plot is well built but predictable. A happy ending. 7/10

System/Extras - This is an ONScripter release. For all of you who can't figure out why I bother to say that it is because ONScripter games happily run on English OS's while most others require tweaking. They also tend to be multi-platform instead of Window$ only. The interface is much nicer than the average doujin game. It includes all the standard features of a visual novel and some of the features I've only seen in commercial games, such as Quicksave/load, thumbnails, and a detailed options menu. The extras were the standard CG mode and music mode (the tracks had names which was quite nice). 5/5

Overall - A nice, light, little game. Worth the time spent on it. Enjoy it for what it is.

Score - 27/35 - 77% - average

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Red Shift

  • Title - 常世の星空 (Red Shift)
  • Author - Team EXTRA
  • Style - Short Linear Novel (non-interactive)
  • Engine - ONScripter
  • Price - Free
  • Get - Web Download

I played through this novel in a few days, a scene or two a day. Each scene was 20-30 minutes long. I didn't know much about it before I downloaded it but that wasn't a problem. This was a very easy novel to get hooked on. This could be called a science-fiction/fantasy game but it is a very human story. You play as a high-school boy, Kouya, who meets a rude and unusual albino girl in the park and is forced to keep her company. I can't say anymore without spoiling the plot. ;)

Graphics - The graphics for this game are very nice. They are not as detailed as the ones in VFTOS but they are clean, expressive and well colored. The event graphics are relevant to the story and helped it along with out standing out too much from the regular CG. Each scene also had a sketched intro graphic which was quite nice. 10/10

Music/SFX - I enjoyed the music in this title very much. It worked very well to set the mood of each scene. It is all simple instrumental likely synthesized but the music is well chosen for the scenes and has enough variety you don't get sick of it by the end. The transitions were a bit abrupt but nothing unreasonable. The SFX were well integrated to the story and not over used. 9/10

Story - The story was deep but not overly-complicated. It starts very simple and builds up to an exciting climax. Even though it gets a bit technical at the end I never felt overwhelmed by the fantasy/SF concepts. The story is focused on character-interaction and the characters are all very well developed. The story is very easy to follow and has a satisfying conclusion. 10/10

System/Extras - This is an ONscripter release. It has all the typical functions of a visual novel. (save, load, log mode, hide text) It runs with out a glitch. The extra menu is a CG menu where you can choose an event graphic to view and cycle through its variations. There is no music/jukebox menu. 4/5

Overall - I definitely recommend this visual novel. It is one of the best I have played. Very entertaining, suspenseful and a bit humorous. ^^

Score - 33/35 - 94% - exceptional

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Visions From the Other Side

  • Title - 向日の夢 (Visions From the Other Side)
  • Author - Treasures
  • Style - Short Linear Novel (non-interactive)
  • Engine - ONScripter
  • Price - Free
  • Get - Web Download

I just finished this visual novel not 20 minutes ago. I downloaded it on a whim from al|together 2006. Since it is doujn software I didn't expect it to be long but didn't expect it to be this short either. It was enjoyable but there are better games out there.

Graphics - The reason I downloaded it in the first place was the graphics. They are very nice though sometimes a bit unrelated to the story. Some are a bit unpolished but very nice for doujin work. They are also stored in the program files as jpegs so you can copy and save them very easily. 9/10

Music - The music was enjoyable but a bit harsh sounding and much louder than my other games. The soundtrack is entirely MIDIs with WAV files for sound effects. While I have nothing against MIDIs these are nothing really notable. Again, the music is stored as normal files in the program files folder. 6/10

Story - This is where it dies....there is no coherent story. While there is simple flow, there is no plot and it feels like an omake chapter to something else. Luckily, it is very short. 2/10

System/Extras - VFTOS is an ONscripter release. I have not found a save function. The interface is not explained in the readme or anywhere else but being a VN you just click the mouse or hit enter to prompt text and you can press up-arrow to review old text. Once you finish the game, a CG slideshow (instead of an extra menu) is unlocked. 1/5

Overall - Don't bother with it unless you just are bored. No save function. It'll entertain you and the ending is kinda cute but overall it's not as good as most.

Score - 18/35 - 51% - mediocre