Today is the fifth day for my little Game-athon and today… well the choices could arguably be considered… well not games I guess. Namely because they are Visual Novels, the key word here obviously being Novels means you are doing more reading than you are doing anything else IF the title you are going through at the time actually has anything else in it.
So starting out the little gaming fairies have chosen:
Steins;Gate is a remarkable science fiction visual novel brought to us from a collaboration from Nitroplus and 5pb. Last year gave us an official English translated version of Steins;Gate that you should still be able to buy from places such as J-List. Unlike many other science fiction series out there you won’t be seeing superpowers, aliens, or highly advanced technology, but rather will be seeing what would be modern day Tokyo with completely natural laws except for the accidental discovery of a controlled phenomenon that leads to the possibility of text messages being able to be sent to the past and having to deal with the Butterfly Effect of what changes because of these messages.
Steins;Gate starts out fairly slow as it works its way up through introducing characters and the story for its first half but delivers exceedingly well in its second half with a well written dramatic and thrilling story. Now while it is slow at the beginning and there is real no sugar coating on that, it uses this slow build up to really introduce characters properly and flesh them out into proper people you can understand rather than just roaring along with a plot with characters you know nothing about.
Steins;Gate has one of the more unique artstyles I have seen come from any anime or visual novel and while I have heard some don’t really care for it I personally can’t get enough of it but tastes in art are always subjective anyway. As well as sporting its fairly unique art as stated already the game spends quite a bit of time fleshing out its characters to give it an amazing experience with its already amazing story. From our chuunibyou protagonist Okabe Rintarou, or also known as the mad scientist Hououin Kyouma, with his airheaded childhood friend Shiina Mayuri and hardcore otaku and hacker friend Hashida Itaru all the way to tsundere Neuroscientist Makise Kurisu the cast helps propel the story to great heights.
Now like many visual novels Steins;Gate presents to you multiple endings as well as choices along the story to choose which ending you will end up with. Now unlike other visual novels which would usually have a pop up message giving you a choice of A. B. or C. to choose from before you can move forward Steins;Gate does it slightly differently by making you use Okabe’s cellphone to make choices. But the game does not pause unless you HAVE to use the phone to continue, therefore you must use your phone to go on certain route, or to progress past a point. If you don’t use your phone though, you will just be presented with the first ending possible.
Steins;Gate does come with a Mature rating, but don’t let this confuse you, yes I know visual novels are terribly notorious, especially the general knowledge of them here in the states, that they are just full of hentai/porn scenes and are just there to rub a quick one out. Steins;Gate does not have any H-scenes as they are called and only has a few scenes that could be even considered partial nudity and it gets its Mature rating from its Language, Blood, and Violence. I would tell you how it has all that in it but I do not want to spoil the story.
In the end I would give Steins;Gate an 9 or 10 out of 10.
[following points are taken from the point of view of someone who has played plenty of visual novels]
+ Art style is stellar and unique giving it an amazing feel.
+ Story and characters are top notch and fairly unique in my opinion at least.
+/– Story does take awhile to get started but once it gets going it has an amazing finish.
+/– Progression is done through a secondary menu in the game, rather than being a pop up like most visual novels, and can be easily forgotten at times, until you get used to it.
Now of course it almost seems wrong to have a post about visual novels without touching on the other side of the visual novel fence, in this case… Eroge. For those unfamiliar with this term… it is pretty much the visual novels with hentai/porn scenes I was just talking about. Now of course for some this is the immediate turn off to even touching titles under the banner for eroge. But after my time going through some visual novels… I can admit while easily half to three quarters of eroge I have come across were nothing more than quick fap material, the rest actually have some amazing stories too them. Mattering of course on what your tastes are on good or bad, I am easily entertained with stories so as long as its more than quick fap material it tends to be good for me.
Anyway enough rambling here let me also throw in our second title for this post:
[I will not be using any 18+ pictures, sorry guys]
Littlewitch Romanesque Girlish Grimoire: Editio Perfecta is a recently released in the states visual novel set in a time period with wizards, elves, magical creatures and such fantasy elements like that. You take on the roll of Domino, an archmage, who has been given the impossible task of training two problematic magic academy students into full fledged wizards in only three years (or 156 turns/weeks). Every year representatives from the magical academy will arrive to test your students, if they fail all of you are to be sent back to the academy from the tower you all are living and studying at.
Primarily what you do in Littlewitch Romanesque is choosing what you do during each of your 156 weeks. You are given multiple choices from studying, which gives you the points needed to learn spells. To learn your spells, which is unfortunately reduced to one spell per student per week. Or you can choose to do missions, which requires specific spells to complete. During your first few months this is fairly simple as it takes a couple of weeks to gather the components for the spells, learn them, and do the early missions. But as more and more friends, acquaintances, and neighboring villages ask for help you are quickly prodded into either choosing a path or choosing missions randomly.
Study sessions take the form of a fun interactive dice rolling game full of flare and spells being cast off in order to get the components for your spells. Learning your spells or going on missions take on your usual click and read style of visual novel progression as things unfold. As the game progresses you will unlock various tutors and study rooms that help increase and decrease certain components gained through your study sessions.
Like most visual novels Littlewitch Romanesque also offers multiple endings ranging from the endings with the various characters as well as your various endings of the girls graduating, or refusing to leave you, or whatever else mind you. To end with a character you must focus on their missions in order to obtain their ‘star mission’ as I call it which will put you off the path of the normal ending and on the path of the character ending.
Obviously as already stated Littlewitch Romanesque is an adult visual novel, or eroge, which means there are sex scenes involved, usually during or at the end of a characters route at one point or another. If this is not to your liking though Littlewitch Romanesque does have an all ages version now available I believe as well. Though two of the character ending choices could be questionable (I do not believe their ages are actually specified?) I usually am not bothered by that especially from games because… well I can separate fiction and reality and that is all there is too it.
The art style and story of Littlewitch Romanesque is on one hand slightly unique I suppose but at the same time giving at vibe of not being all that unique either. But they work surprisingly well together and give some life to a cast of some fairly interesting characters that have their own quirks and personalities rather than being nothing.
In the end it all boils down to Littlewitch Romanesque is an excellent game with its story, characters, and art all complementing one another and strengthening each other. Overall its a delightful, if slightly silly, visual novel with a slightly addicting (for me) mini game with a New Game + feature that allows you to use previously learned spells in your next games study sessions.
I would give Littlewitch Romanesque a 7 out of 10.