Where to Get It: Steam
At first, I had mixed impressions. A beautiful piano piece on the one hand, not making it clear the drawers are the menu, and the key the options on the other.
The piano remains good. And the opening crawl… Don’t let it put you off. Yes, it’s all text, but being that fits. Toma has no good pictures for this. Why should she, when she feels off, isolated, and feeling like her core, her identity, was stolen via the simple fact her aunt named her baby with Toma’s mother’s desired name for her daughter. And it’s affected her self esteem, to the point where she, a beautiful young lady (and she is) feels plain, weird, uncomfortable to be around.
A kinetic novel (where one doesn’t choose, but simply experiences the story), it revolves around two people, both young: Toma and Emmeline, and the fateful meeting they have in a graveyard. And it’s an emotional ride, where I found myself tearing up at one phrase early on:
“Every person has a story, and there is not enough space on a single tombstone to say it.”
But the story is told, and I teared up several times. That, in and of itself, says a lot. I sometimes tear up at the weirdest things (Like the SST arrange of Space Harrier, of all things. No idea why), but I don’t often do it overall…
But Toma’s story, and Emmeline’s struck a chord. They both loved a girl, and, in the end, they both got the relationships they wanted, and resolved, at least partly, the histories that plagued them.
You’d think that was a massive spoiler, but no. The details matter. The very British nature of the game matters, the small things matter. Just like a light brush of the hand, or a stammered set of words.
The Sad Story of Emmeline Burns is free, is hella gay, and it made me almost cry. If you want that experience, and don’t mind it being a kinetic novel… Go give it a go.
Oh, and the gallery is in the book, and the music box’s function is obvious.
And so we close our tale, the biscuits and milk all eaten, the night drawing in. Sweet dreams, one and all…
Source: Free, Cashmoneys for the DLC
Price: Free (£4.79 for an extra romance route and extra eye candies)
Where to Get It: Steam
Omigosh. This is so hecking wholesome. So hecking wholesome, in fact, that I’ve said hecking twice.
Okay, okay, let’s get into it. Rawr.
Witches x Warlocks is a visual novel with some resource/raising elements, in that you need potions to cast and learn spells from the four potential sweethearts, and you have times of the day to choose to make potions with one of said sweethearts, learn spells from them, and work part time to buy potions. And, naturally, learn about your four potential sweethearts, and romance the heck out of them as The Matchmaker of Dwimmermere, the Halloween Town!
…Who’s also a witch who completely forgot to study, and realises exams are in a week’s time. Which is why you’re doing all this. Whoops.
So, aesthetically… Everyone is cute. The visuals are clear. The music is nice, and my only (minor) gripe with the VA is that, no matter what gender presentation and pronouns you pick, your protag has exactly the same voice. Otherwise, everyone is characterful, and there’s just enough VA to get more of a sense of their characters.
Speaking of characters… I love them all, and if time actually permitted, I would smooch all of them. There’s Damion, the frankensteinian cutie, Zero, the gruff poltergeist who, nonetheless, is warm beneath that, Lawrence, the grumpy werewolf, and Carmilla, the wry, seductive vampiress who nonetheless hides some pain in her past. I want the best for all of them, and this is a hallmark of a good dating sim: You want to date them all.
And then there’s something I enjoy most of all: This is a game that wants to be played. So long as you have at least 8 of every potion at the end, and a selection of spells that cover most situations, you will be fiiiine, and the full selection of a given character’s skills goes a long way, and, y’know… Gives you more chances to get to know them, and closer to giving them a big sloppy kiss.
So yes, Witches x Warlocks is fun, it’s wholesome, it’s cute, and it tugs at my heart in the right ways. Give it a go.
Now, what we need are more queer villainess isekai otome visual novels. And manga. And anime. I won’t shut up about this, you can’t make me.
Source: It free!
Price: It free!
Where To Get It: Steam!
It’s the end. You’re the last one. And you’re thirsty. But that, honestly, means you can enjoy the last great fruits of humanity’s labour, for good or ill. One. Last. Lap. That’s what Cloud Climber is, a short narrative game about walking through the last remnants of a once… Of a people who worked really hard when their backs were against the wall, one last time.
See, the world is all desert and sandstorms below. Water stopped coming up the buckets years ago. And that first utterance of the game, that first “Well, I’d better see if anyone else has water”, already has a sense of defeat. But not despair… The calm acceptance of someone who knows it’s over, and there’s nothing they can do about it. One. Last. Lap.
It’s short, so I really can’t say more without spoiling things, but it’s a beautiful set of towers, a beautiful, desolate, and ruined landscape, wood and stone that’s somehow stood the test of time, stood despite building code, and even common sense, has been forgotten. And all for one last push at survival. One. Last. Lap.
The music, like the narrator, is calm, appreciating the beauty, gentle strings melding effortlessly in counterpoint to the winds below, the creaking of wood, the rattles and squeals of doors that have warped over the time they’ve been left alone. All presaging One. Last. Lap.
And finally, the acceptance is complete. It’s over. You are the last one, you’ve worked hard. Time to take a well deserved break. And your last lap, your journey to find what you’ve finally given up on finding…
Haha, all I can say is that I’m not sure if it’s a reward… Or a mocking coda on humanity’s…