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Visual Novels - What should we play?


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Doki Doki is a very slow start and quite laborious to begin with, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as a starting point. I'm struggling to find the best visual novels on the systems you listed, unless you have an iOS device in which case you can play stuff like the Nonary Games (which I'd recommend as a good starting point).

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41 minutes ago, Yiggy said:

Whata a good place to start with this genre? 
 

I have Switch, Xbox and Mac. 
 

Doki Doki? 

Phoenix Wright is your friend here.

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Just to echo I think Phoenix Wright is a great starting point.

 

I've seen a debate online recently that we shouldn't be calling these games visual novels, due to the history and how the genre developed, and instead should be japanese adventure games. I do think that the current usage can be difficult to cover the variation between titles like @Wiperoutlined on the first page of this topic.

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Has anyone played the Spirit Hunter games on Switch? I think there are two so far: Death Mark and NG.

 

They look delightfully creepy, but I'm not too sure if they're VNs or dungeon crawlers. They're also pretty pricey, only rarely hitting the 50%-off price point of £22.50. Having said that, they are both on sale now. Any impressions?

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On 06/05/2020 at 11:56, therearerules said:

Right just done the first part of Death Mark. It's classically japanese creepy, you know the drill, lots of quiet footsteps and noises and something quickly appearing and disappearing. Translation is mostly good, just a few curiousities (constantly referring to a boy as they instead of he for example). Lots of point and click elements, although the controls are a little wonky in parts (I died in one place because had limited actions, and tried to instantly use the tool in the correct place, rather than examining it first and then using the tool). When you die you're taken back to your last decision, but you can also save regularly (except during the long story sections- only start the game if you have 20 minutes to get to the point you assume control).

Honestly, no way would I pay however much it's meant to cost, but for £11 so far I'd say it's worth it.

 

edit- and the occasional graphic sexualised imagery which suprised me when I first saw it. So that's a content warning.

 

On 15/05/2020 at 10:59, therearerules said:

And sort of completed. I'd say if you like creepy ghost stories buy it on sale. I actually really quite enjoyed it. The atmosphere demands you play it at night with headphones, what with it being a bunch of ghost stories and all, so it took a while, and the translation in chapter 4 is dreadful (thank goodness for gamefaqs), but it's a daft slice of Japanese horror. The occasional bout of male gaze and uneccesary sexualised imagery, to the point of parody, and the effect on the actual spirits is awful when compared to the still images, but it held my interest enough to the point where I'm replaying it to get the final chapter (spoilers but not really- to actually play the final chapter you need to make sure none of your partners die. Wish I'd have known this before letting them all die.)

It's no Somnium Files, and it's absolutely not worth the full asking price, but I've put the sequel on the wishlist for when that goes down in price. Which says something.

 

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I must have got it for 75% off. Not sure I'd pay more than that. Be aware there are some ridiculous nudity shots, the kind that blight these things and make it embarassing to play with anybody able to see what you're doing.

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I've not played them myself, but by reputation they're well-written, gorgeous games marred somewhat by illogical, trial and error wrong choice = death sections.

 

Edit: or just listen to the person who's actually played it!

 

I do wish fewer adventure games would fall into the "unpredictable choices lead to failure" trap. It's something western adventures largely abandoned with the death of Sierra, but Japanese ones still seem fond of it; see also e.g. Somnium Files.

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31 minutes ago, MW_Jimmy said:

Just to echo I think Phoenix Wright is a great starting point.

 

I've seen a debate online recently that we shouldn't be calling these games visual novels, due to the history and how the genre developed, and instead should be japanese adventure games. I do think that the current usage can be difficult to cover the variation between titles like @Wiperoutlined on the first page of this topic.

I saw that debate, from one database removing 13 Sentinels because the writing is just dialogue, as opposed to describing the scene. Seems ridiculously pedantic and gatekeeping to me tbh.

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I do think there's some merit to it. I find it quite odd that there's this long-lasting reluctance to call any games in Japan "adventure games", but instead refer tirelessly to the term Visual Novel - a term coined for a very specific subset of adventure game that is now actually quite rare. Not least as I often see people then weaponising that naming convention: dismissing the genre as just visual novels - a name which after all suggests extremely limited interaction.

 

Personally I consider visual novels a subset of adventure games (which is, after all, the origin of the genre - a variation of the old graphic adventure genre), and while I still tend to talk about the genre in broad terms because of how it is understood, when I think of it myself there are very few modern games I would pigeon hole as being visual novels, outside of the largely traditional Otome genre ( and even there excluding the life simulator variants).

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To me that's because 'Adventure Game' describes nothing. Tomb Raider is an adventure game because you go on an adventure. Visual Novel describes a game with lots of reading, a storyline focus, and less 'traditional' gameplay mechanics. It's easy to jump from the term to the expectation.

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Thanks both, I might just leave the Spirit Hunter games hanging on the wishlist for now, and look forward to Gnosia in a couple of weeks instead.

 

I didn't think of 13 Sentinels as a VN at all while I was playing really, despite the huge amount of dialogue. It always felt more of an adventure game with RTS elements.

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27 minutes ago, therearerules said:

To me that's because 'Adventure Game' describes nothing. Tomb Raider is an adventure game because you go on an adventure. Visual Novel describes a game with lots of reading, a storyline focus, and less 'traditional' gameplay mechanics. It's easy to jump from the term to the expectation.

 

Ah, I'd never put Tomb Raider in the adventure game category; it's clearly an action-adventure, which is entirely different :P I would agree that the name if the 'adventure game' genre isn't fantastic, but I think we can blame the first significant text adventure - Colossal Cave Adventure, aka. Adventure - for that. See also the helpfully named 'role playing game' for a genre whose name is pretty meaningless, but is a meaningful* genre nonetheless.

 

I mean, the thing is that Visual Novel - or ビジュアルノベル - exists as a term in Japan; it's not a label we've invented to describe their games, it's one we've taken from their own use. And in Japan, it's used in the specific sense: it refers explicitly to games which are effectively illustrated/animated novels. It's explicitly not used in Japan to refer to games like Phoenix Wright; even games like Snatcher are considered too interactive (what with the actual decision making and shooting), and they just get bundled into the broader genre of アドベンチャーゲーム - adventure games. That we've decided to co-opt the Japanese term for a specific genre and then use it to label all Japanese adventure games with it feels a bit, well, off.

 

I would consider a lot of games as having visual novel elements - Phoenix Wright is a combination of light puzzle game and visual novel; Zero Escape is a combination of room escape puzzle game and visual novel. But in those cases, if I was asked to give them a single genre, I'd have to just go with 'adventure'. (there are even games with visual novel elements that I wouldn't class as adventure games - Persona 3 onwards are a combination of JRPG, visual novel and life simulation game, for example, but their primary genre is assuredly JRPG).

 

 

*if broad and frequently confusing

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3 hours ago, Alan Stock said:

Doki Doki is a very slow start and quite laborious to begin with, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as a starting point. I'm struggling to find the best visual novels on the systems you listed, unless you have an iOS device in which case you can play stuff like the Nonary Games (which I'd recommend as a good starting point).


Ah to be fair I have got iOS devices so that’s an option. Just forgot. 
 

@MW_Jimmy @Vorgot @mdn2

 

I have actually played the first 2 Phoenix games and had not even considered them visual novels but I can see how they are now!

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I was about to write that I thought the iOS version of 999 removed the escape room elements, and that it seems like a bit of a shame to play a cut down version of a genuine classic. However it looks like the iOS version was actually pulled from the App Store a couple of years back so isn't an option anyway, unfortunately.

 

Thanks to @therearerules for the heads up on 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim. I've bought it in the sale to add to the huge stack of visual novels / adventure games I couldn't possibly find time to play. Gnosia will surely follow.

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Just a public service announcement to remind you all Gnosia is out on Switch today.

 

Going to pick it up; think it will make a nice counterpoint between sessions of trying to edge forward a few centimetres in Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection. 

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6 hours ago, Jolly said:

Just a public service announcement to remind you all Gnosia is out on Switch today.

 

I've done the first playthrough. I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing but it's intrigued me. 

 

Edit: the title screen music is :wub:

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Polygon has a great review of Gnosia:

 

Quote

Gnosia manages to capture that in single-player format, while creating a story and universe you care about enough to really learn and understand. I know everyone’s tells, but I also know what they like and dislike, what they struggle with and what they seek. Gnosia’s both an impostor game and a visual novel, and the mix results in something else entirely new. Whether you enjoy new forms of storytelling or just want the friendly deception without the social anxiety, it’s well worth experiencing.

 

https://www.polygon.com/platform/amp/nintendo-switch/22315451/gnosia-review-nintendo-switch

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Yep, I'm about 15 loops in myself now and it's feeling like the tutorial stuff is over, it's properly engrossing. Like a cross between Raging Loop and Among Us, but better than either. 

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Yep I picked it up tonight and up to loop 12. Really enjoying it. Yes it's pretty much a logic/Among Us game vs AI but I've never seen a compelling single player version before. The overarching story is intriguing and over these first few hours it's been unlocking a bunch of different mechanics on the whodunnit side of things, which has made it way more complicated. One of the last loops was 5 days long and with 11 crew members so there was a lot to unpack. So far I've been doing pretty well, 8 out of 12 victories. I died in loop 1 to an imposter, and in another loop I checked in on an imposter (unknowingly) at night time and that seemed to get me killed as well. The other times were getting frozen by my treacherous teammates (ok, so admittedly I was the imposter one time :P).

 

Once you've done some loops you get access to the main settings menu and there is a help guide in there. I didn't look at it all because I didn't want to spoil all the mehanics, but the guide is like 15 pages long and seems insanely complex. Different ways to unlock more story, loads of tactics and abilities to use in debates, a big FAQ spelling out all the common questions. It may be overwhelming but I'm sure I'll be happy to dive into it all as I progress.

 

I think the thing that has impressed me the most is that the story is just being drip fed like in Hades, but the core Mafia-style gameplay is solid enough to carry it alone. And also that the characters really do act kind of like real people would do. I've spent ages poring through the discussion logs following people's answers through the days, and seeing how they voted, and its so satisfying when it all pays off and you are proved right in the post-game review. 

 

Very cool take on the imposter formula and visual novel theme, looking forward to seeing where it goes.

 

Also, I'm in love with Gina and Setsu.

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Haha, blimey. You're doing so much better than I am. Over 20 loops in now and I think I've only won three times :lol:

 

(At least that is reassuring that the mafiascum bits are played 'fairly' if you get me. I did have a bit of a worry that it may be artificially funneling you into winning or losing to move the overarching narrative along but it's clear that's not the case which is good!)

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I completely fluked a loop earlier: 11 crew, 2 of which were Gnosia. I was the engineer and on the first vote I figured out one who was lying and managed to convince the others he was and he went into cold sleep. We lost a crewmember that night, but my complete random guess overnight turned out to be spot on and I convinced the crew to put them in cold sleep. Success! Both caught with just one fatality. 

 

It runs with the exact same set up as Raging Loop, though. Although that is definitely more of a standard visual novel. Well worth a look for those who are enjoying this. 

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After my good start I've been getting my arse handed to me. Just done loop 19 and I've lost 6 of 7 of the past matches. It's way harder with a bigger crew and more imposters and other roles to worry about. I keep getting voted on and cold slept either when I'm crew or gnosia, sometimes after only accusing once and staying fairly incognito. My stats are all about 10 now. Even after the games are over I quite often am finding I've made some wrong deductions. Very tricky! The story is still slowly unfolding and there's been a few cool events thrown in. If I carry on struggling I might go back to lower crew numbers and 2 gnosia until I get a few more edges in abilities. How are the rest of you getting on with post-loop 12?

 

One thing that's really annoying is the discussion log doesn't log who agreed and disagreed with accusations, which can be crucial to figuring out where people's loyalties lie. Does this get unlocked or are you left to remember for yourself? With 15 crew there's a lot of assent and dissent. I know the game says agreeing and disagreeing doesn't change much but I've seen evidence that gnosia will sometimes stick up for each other or team up to sway opinion take down crewmates (including myself!)

 

Ps haven't heard of Raging Loop until it was mentioned here, might well check that out after if you think its worth it

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Not heard of Raging Loop either. On the wishlist it goes! 

 

EDIT: Actually, maybe not. Just reading the Nintendo Life review about it and it suggests that it's pretty transphobic, sadly. 

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It was a good couple of years ago when I played Raging Loop, but I can't remember anything overtly transphobic - not saying there wasn't, I just don't recall anything jumping out at me. 

 

Gnosia is the better game, anyway. Raging Loop is more like your standard VN, this has far more choice and is more interesting because of it. 

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