Scarlet Hollow Episodes 1 and 2 (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £15.49 (It’s sort of a season pass deal, episode 1 is £4.79, episode 2 is £5.19)
Where to Get It: Steam

Content Warnings (taken from the official site) Realistic Gore; death; dead, dying and injured animals; children in peril; child death; claustrophobia; emetophobia/vomiting; disturbing imagery and situations

Mystery horror. It’s a difficult thing to write, honestly. You’ve got to get the right balance between a sense of normality and… Something being off, before that something decides to come knocking.

And said somethings can be… Ewwwwww…

And so, Scarlet Hollow begins in a very simple way, well known to horror fans: An estranged family member, going to the family’s run down, decrepit house in a run-down, slowly dying town for their aunt’s funeral.

And it doesn’t fuck around with the “something off”, either. The guy on the bus is loud on the way there, and subtly unstable. The cat (if you can talk to animals, more on that in a sec) is a proud French asshole. There’s a forbidden wing, a seriously tired and frumpy cousin, and yes, you are very much a stranger in a strange land.

And this is before things even kick off.

So, yes, Scarlet Hollow is a visual novel, episodic, and only episodes 1 and 2 are out right now. But buy it once, and when the rest of the episodes come out, bam, they’re yours! And it’s… A really cool experience, gently unsettling until it decides to go all out, lowering and spiking the tension well… And aesthetically, it’s very on point.

Even if you’re haunted by grief and gribbleys… Don’t let your bathroom get this stanky. Seriously.

Inks abound, crosshatching, all that good pen drawing shit I know and love, and solid colour choices, muted when it needs to be, loud when it needs to be. Musically, it’s good, accessibility wise, it’s good, and it’s got… A lot of choice. Just to start off with, pronouns (YESSSS) and two special traits. For my first go through, I picked talking to animals and book smarts, and… Wow, I spent a lot of the first ep sounding like a pompous grad student, while also being dissed by Frou-Frou for butchering their native language. Ehehehe. So… Yeah, that, combined with hidden meters, meant I got a fair bit of choice paralysis, not helped by…

…Curse you, Black Tabby Games… You know about scroll-wheeling in Ren’py, and you cockblocked me. Then I shall have to save a heckuva lot

Why, bless your butterbiscuits, Gretchen, you are the sweetest little Southern Pugge I’ve ever met!

Anyway, yes, queer horror, romance options, complicated relationships… If you like a visual novel with a lot going on, then Scarlet Hollow is really good. Oh, and obviously, if any of the content warnings are triggers for you, stay away, and if they aren’t, keep an eye on the CW page for further warnings that may or may not occur.

No, dating the pug to get adorable doggy “kisses” is not an option. Sorry, go for Purrfect Date or Hatoful Boyfriend for that, and apologies.

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Sex And The Furry Titty (NSFW Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £4.79
Where to Get It: Steam

Content warnings: oral, masturbation

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Bard Harder! (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £1.69
Where To Get It: Steam

Bards have quite the reputation in tabletop circles. They can and will romance anything, or at least try to, whether it’s advisable or not. And, due to their natural charm, this will often work. It gets them into trouble, sometimes fatal, as much as it provides rewards.

And it will last until the end of time, Presley! Til the end of time!

So, in essence, they’re human beings who aren’t aromantic.

Okay, okay, there’s more qualifiers and nuance than that, but yes, Bard Harder is simultaneously about one of the more out there examples of bardery (A lich, to be precise), and of their player’s struggle to ask the DM they like on a date.

It’s cute, it’s silly, and, overall, it’s a story about the importance of knowing the target of your affections, listening to them, and clearly communicating with them. It’s a visual novel in which most of the bad ends are due, simply, to not using the information you gather.

I’ll freely admit I didn’t gather all the endings. I just wanted the one. But it was the main one, and it was sweet. Aesthetically, it’s pretty nice, UX is pretty standard for a Ren’py work, but the music and visuals appeal, and the writing… I have to admit, I agree with the people who simultaneously spoiler and screenshot said lich screaming “WHY ARE YOU SO CUTE?!?”

Look, this isn’t a spoiler. This is fanservice.

If you want a short, appealing visual novel, this one’s a pretty pleasant one, although I would drop the content warning of “Kissing a skeleton.” Even I’m not sure how that one works.

<3 No u! <3

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Love Stories: Furry Shades of Gay (NSFW Going Back)

Content Warnings: M/M, D/s, anthro/furry, maid costumes, oral, anal, facial, degradation, spanking, bratting, open relationship, size difference, dubcon(?), masturbation

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The Sad Story Of Emmeline Burns (Going Back)

Source: Free
Price: Free
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.

Hijinks!

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…

Emmeline is smooth as warm butter…

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…

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