Steins;Gate is the best visual novel I've ever played.
Read. Experienced. Whatever. It's easy to get hung up on the parlance seeing as visual novels blur the line between books and videogames, reader and player, but it's also completely moot. Not only is Steins;Gate the best visual novel I've ever reviewed (sorry, Danganronpa), but this time-travelling course-correcting masterpiece is almost certainly the finest example of the genre to have ever released.
We already knew that when the PC translation released last year and now Steins;Gate has launched on PlayStation platforms. Does it still hold up? Can it still pack a punch?
You've read the strapline and this review is already shamefully late, so let's drop the pretence and discuss exactly why Steins;Gate is one of the truly essential games of 2015.Click here to read more...
My review of Steins;Gate should be going live this afternoon or tomorrow morning, but either way, it's almost certainly going to receive a perfect score. The new PlayStation release is the definitive version of the best visual novel ever made, with an uncompromising story and great characters, plus heartbreaking interactivity that makes your actions (or inactions) have serious consequences.
Though I'd recommend the PS Vita version, the PS3 version is no slouch and it's also dirt cheap.
As one of the last reviews I'll be writing for Dealspwn, I'm glad it's such an auspicious title. Stay tuned. Many thanks to Bure11 @ HUKD!
Steins;Gate released on PS Vita and PS3 last week and Vita copies of this legendary visual novel are selling out fast. Especially if you want a special edition, which are like gold dust! However, Rice Digital have managed to put together a new special edition while waiting for more stock of the impressive El Psy Kongroo Edition, entitled the Lab Member Edition.
Available on Vita only, it contains the game, a limited edition artbook and a Rice Digital exclusive official t-shirt of your choice. I.e. more than GAME's special edition with free worldwide shipping.
In case you don't know, I've been suffering from some godawful fever thing and haven't had time to write the Steins;Gate review yet. However, I can refer you to this.
The fact that Lord Of Magna: Maiden Heaven even exists, let alone made its way to the US and Europe, is nothing short of incredible.
As far as I can tell the original studio was shut down partway through development, but Marvelous Games managed to put the band back together long enough to finish, publish and localise it. Effectively Lord Of Magna is back from the dead and the result is a fun, cheeky and very interesting little thing indeed. Halfway between a strategy JRPG, romantic visual novel and ten-pin bowling, it's absolutely delightful.
Lord Of Magna revolves around the harem dynamic we've seen in everything from Sekirei to Omega Quintet. A hapless innkeeper with an unpronounceable name, Luchs Eduard, finds himself forced to scavenge for crystals to keep his business afloat. Encountering monsters instead of riches, he's saved by a mysterious Fairy Maiden and becomes her master via a strange bracelet. With a new purpose, Luchs (ugh, thank goodness that we can rename him) sets out to assemble six more Fairy Maidens, discover their true origins and learn the truth behind his family inn.
Oh, and he also puts them to work in the hotel to earn their keep, inspired by his enthusiastic yet slightly lascivious friend. Cue some light romance and a little bit of ecchi teasing as you grow to know the seven sisters through lighthearted banter and absolutely insane combat.Click here to read more...
Steins;Gate has released on PS3 and PS Vita today, both physically and digitally. You should buy it.
See, though I haven't quite managed to prepare the review yet (it's coming soon, I just need to put fingers to keys), it's a visual novel that lives up to its fearsome reputation. Which, in case you don't know, is being the best visual novel ever. Its story eschews fanservice for superb characters and an incredible time-travelling plot full of heartbreak, tragedy, joy and hard science. Put simply. Steins;Gate is magnificent and even eclipses even the mighty Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc as the Vita's most impressive example of the genre.
Check out the launch trailer below.Click here to read more...
Steins;Gate is so close to releasing on PS Vita and PS3 we can practically taste it. Us Brits will finally be able to play it in a matter of weeks, which is a major event for visual novel fans. 5pb's legendary title follows a rag-tag band of tech-savvy young students who realise they can alter the past by using a microwave coupled with a mobile phone, leading to a conspiracy involving the Large Hadron Collider and time travel.
Visual novels are becoming increasingly popular here in the West thanks to the hard work of international publishers and their valiant localisation teams, bringing us text-heavy narrative experiences that hinge around characters, story and 'talking heads' presentation. Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters is one of the best I've read since the first Danganronpa, but it also attempts to inject more interactivity into the typically passive genre with tactical turn-based battles and frequent dialogue choices.
To be honest, I really wish it didn't. We'll get to that later.
The story is the crux of any great visual novel, and Tokyo Twilight tells an absolute corker. Arriving as a new transfer student to a Tokyo high school, you're free to create your own persona (note the small 'p' before you get too excited!) down to name, favourite pastime and even blood type before settling down to classes. However, it doesn't take long before you end up conscripted into a paranormal organisation with a few classmates, pursuing a career as a freelance ghostbuster. Who you gonna call?Click here to read more...
Steins;Gate is coming to PS Vita in May, which is a major event for visual novel fans. 5pb's legendary title follows a rag-tag band of tech-savvy young students who realise they can alter the past by using a microwave coupled with a mobile phone, leading to a conspiracy involving the Large Hadron Collider and time travel.
It will be available in a regular standard edition, but if you're a serious fan of the genre, you should check out the Steins;Gate El Psy Kongroo Edition for £49.99.
The price may seem steep, but it's chock-full of extras and physical merchandise. Behold:
Rice Digital hold the exclusive UK rights, and we covet it madly.
Visual novels, one of the most ancient yet timeless forms of videogame, have been gradually gaining ground here in Europe as more Japanese games get localised. From Corpse Party: Book Of Shadows to War Of The Human Tanks and the magnificent Danganronpa, we're getting increasingly spoiled for choice, and we were delighted to hear that the legendary Steins;Gate is being officially localised for PlayStation platforms.
As far as I'm concerned the Vita is a superb platform for visual novels due to its high-resolution screen, suspend functionality and touchscreen capabilities. Steins;Gate is a multi award-winning science fiction visual novel developed by 5pb and Nitroplus. The gameplay is non-linear, and allows the player to choose their own narrative path through the game. Steins;Gate places the age-old question of 'What if?' in the hands of teenage scientists - giving them the power to bend time and the world around them. Thanks Stefarno88!
Make sure to use voucher code 20PERO-FFDIGI-GAMESX to make this cheap PC deal even cheaper.
Basically Hatoful Boyfriend is a dating sim visual novel, only the boys are birds. And you can get murdered in your bed. "Courting your potential feathered suitors is rewarding and frequently hilarious, while eventually unravelling the story's darker elements bring the real heft and value to the experience. If you're willing to leave your comfort zone, it's worth sticking your beak in." - 8/10 Hatoful Boyfriend review
Platform: PC (£6.99)
Publisher: Devolver Digital
For the last few days, I've been the only human girl in a high school for birds. I've flirted with Rock Doves, agonised between chasing a haughty Fantailed pigeon and his dreamy half-brother, entertained the notion of dating my narcoleptic button quail teacher and embarked on a quest for the One True Pudding. All between trying to ace my tests and pass the semester.
It's was weird, even for someone who reviews localised Japanese games and doujin titles on a weekly basis. Thankfully I've loved every delightfully bizarre and comfort zone-shattering minute of it.
At its core, Hatoful Boyfriend can best be described as a dating sim with birds instead of people. Like any visual novel, you'll click through reams of quirky text dialogue and narration accompanied with crude character portraits, occasionally choosing between a few different options to push the narrative in a new direction. Hanging out with and being nice to your harem of clichéd potential boyfriends (the shy bookish one, the complex Tsundere one, the hyper one, the childhood friend after something more, you know the drill) may make them fall for you, at which point you'll enjoy an intriguing ending, unlock some character artwork and then start all over again like a pigeon-fancying version of Groundhog day.
Only, again, the boys are birds. And if you don't manage to find love you'll be brutally murdered in your bed.Click here to read more...
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is magnificent. Genuinely, truly superb. Both a compelling visual novel and engrossing tense videogame, this disturbing yet playful cult classic tells an incredible yarn with fantastic characters and gruesome murders to unravel. The sequel is out soon, but as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't hold a candle to the original.
So, if you have a Vita, I'd suggest taking advantage of the PSN discount that will save you £8 vs Base.com - and more if you're a PS Plus member. That way you'll know what I'm talking about when I award it GOTY 2014 (your move, holiday season!). Thanks to RicknVic @ HUKD!
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Once more with feeling: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is magnificent.
Seriously, I'll keep banging on about it until you buy it or show me a letter from your GP proving that you're allergic to visual novels. Halfway between Corpse Party, Cluedo, Battle Royale and Ace Attorney, this grim and frequently disturbing tour de force managed to be both an engrossing page-turner and a gripping videogame. Great characters, fantastic story, despair and hope in equal measure. It's still my GOTY thus far.
The reason I'm telling you this now is that you absolutely mustn't play Danganronpa 2 without fully enjoying the original. Partly because the sequel builds on the revelations of its predecessor, but also because it's worse.
Not bad, mind you. It's actually rather good. But stacked up next to Trigger Happy Havoc, Danganronpa 2 lacks the subtlety, pacing and restraint to be a truly effective mystery, and often feels like a fan-service holiday special instead.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Compile Heart
Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection is an idol videogame parody spin-off of a parody JRPG based on videogames. It's Parodyception!
And it's a decent parody too. The world of Gamindustri -- yes, that's the sort of level we're at here folks -- is ruled over by godesses who cheekily personify a real-life console manufacturer. From the impulsive and brash Noire who runs Lastation (geddit?) to the adorable DS twins, everyone and everything is based around obvious and occasionally hilarious satire of this cut-throat industry.
My personal favourite 'CPU' would have to be the arrogant feature-obsessed Vert, who considers herself to be older and wiser than all her fellows, while occasionally suggesting handing out free hardware at PR events. She wears green and presides over the Leanbox region. See if you can guess what console manufacturer she represents!
Click here to read more...
War Of The Human tanks is a fun strategy game wrapped in a massive, sprawling, poorly-drawn and crudely translated visual novel. Though the story itself is fun and the battles are surprisingly tense, having to click through all the extraneous fluff can get seriously galling.
Either way, I still liked it overall, as you can see in our 6/10 War Of The Human Tanks review. You can pay what you want on IndieGameStand, unlocking Steam codes at £0.61.
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
What could inspire high school students to murder each other in cold blood? Fear? Financial gain? Honour? Despair?
This isn't a rhetorical question, because you'll have to work it out for yourself -- then prove it beyond all doubt -- to avoid grisly death at the paws of a sadistic robot teddy bear. After average student Makoto Naegi blacks out on the first day of attending his new school, he wakes up confined within the academy's walls for all eternity with his new classmates, who are offered only a single way out: commit a perfect murder, then get away with it. Surely the students will see the wisdom in peacefully working together to solve the mystery of their incarceration... right?
If only. Halfway between Phoenix Wright, Persona, Corpse Party and Virtue's Last Reward, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is one of the best (and most disturbing) visual novels to ever hit British shores, and easily one of the most compelling games on the PS Vita so far. If not the year so far, as long as you're comfortable with the differences between a visual novel and a traditional adventure game.
Important note: in an effort to avoid spoilers as much as humanly possible, I'm severely limited in my choice of screenshots. Be aware that the full game features graphic yet stylised depictions of brutal violence and mature themes. - JonathanClick here to read more...
Platform: 3DS (eShop, £7.19)
Developer: Milennium Kitchen
Level-5's second 3DS collaboration has been a bit of a damp squib, to put it mildly. GUILD02 promised us reckless innovation from legendary developers like Keiji Inafune, yet brought us one of the most insultingly primitive shooters on the platform and a horror adventure without the brains or innovation to back it up. Disappointing was an understatement. It was with relatively low expectations, then, that I approached the final proposition: an anime-flavoured visual novel from the creators of cult adventure series Boku No Natsuyasumi.
Four hours later I emerged enriched, uplifted and thrilled that I'd spent time in good company.
Attack Of The Friday Monsters! is an intruiging little game, casting players as a young boy who moves to a sleepy Tokyo suburb with his parents who've set up a struggling dry cleaning business. Over the course of a few hours, you'll meet a cast of new friends, solve a mystery, help out your old man and gradually find your place in the new setting. Story, narrative and characterisation are the most important aspects of the experience, far overshadowing any traditional notions of gameplay. It's a small-town coming of age story like any other, except for the fact that enormous monsters from Japanese B-Movies turn up to ravage the city every Friday afternoon.
Click here to read more...
Platform: PSP | PS Vita [PSN, £11.99]
Publisher: XSEED Games
The original Corpse Party is an odd little proposition. Halfway between adventure game, visual novel, psychological horror experience and exploitative murder pornography, this bizarre PSP download managed to grimly captivate its players with deep inter-character relationships and shocking acts of violence visited upon helpless minors. Many of us soldiered through it, braving several frustrating gameplay sections and a constantly-building feeling of disgust, out of a desperate need to save the cast of terrified students trapped in a nightmare world... or occasionally out of perverse curiosity. Finding all of the horrific multiple 'wrong endings' became a sadistic addiction in and of itself, as was exploring the secret behind the cursed, hellish Heavenly Host high school.
So let me ask you a question. Are you a fan of Corpse Party? Did you emotionally connect with the characters, from the tragic relationship between Naomi and Seiko to the deliciously disturbed Morishige? Would you like to spend more time with them?
If you answered 'yes' to all of the above, you'll probably get a massive kick out of Book Of Shadows. Otherwise there's nothing for you here.
Before clicking, be aware that this review contains Corpse Party: Blood Covered spoilers and images that some may find offensive >>
War Of The Human tanks is a fun strategy game wrapped in a massive, sprawling, poorly-drawn and crudely translated visual novel. Though the story itself is fun and the battles are surprisingly tense, having to wade through all the extraneous stuff will likely turn off all but ardent Japanophiles.
Either way, I still liked it, as you can see in our 6/10 War Of The Human Tanks review. If you're interested, Green Man Gaming have the cheapest price around by a couple of quid.
Note that you an save a little extra with voucher code GMG20-FXYD1-7WHP1, but I'm pretty sure it's a one-shot deal.
You probably already know whether or not you might be interested in this deal. Essentially, you can pay what you want for a number of decent visual novels, which are dialogue-heavy 'adventures' that focus primarily on the relationships between characters. Which can, of course, become romantic. Either way, if you like visual novels, you can pay what you want for a bunch of them - and get a couple more if you're willing to pay a bit extra. Planet Stronghold is great fun, for the record.