With 2017 already fulfilling its unspoken promise of delivering a deluge of delectable games I will probably never be able to finish, it does become difficult to limit my commitment or even outright pass up on a particularly interesting find. Smaller projects especially seem to have this hold on me. Lionheart, a visual novel/RPG hybrid developed by doujin circle Shiisanmei is a fine example of one that is engaging, but a joy to come back to between play sessions. Players take on the role of Leon, a young man dreaming to be adventurer. After a chance meeting with a young woman named Maria, she enlisted his unique abilities to explore the Magic Labyrinth, “Libra Corridor.”
Franchises either live or die by their audience – both long time followers and prospective ones alike. Whether it is a change in approach or reaffirming its appeal, the challenge for most brands is staying relevant and being where the eyes of its consumers are. Fire Emblem is certainly one of many long running titles doing just that as it passes through the years modifying its mechanics, incorporating new elements, and even changing how it markets itself. With Fire Emblem Fates being a good example of the latter, one place I never expected to see the series is on mobile as it was so beholden to Nintendo consoles, but thanks to the minds at Intelligent Systems and Nintendo, Fire Emblem Heroes bucks that trend. Being quite the paradigm shift for the series to date, it does tend to take advantage of the franchise’s pedigree and proves to offer something worth while…or at least I think so.
Two years ago, Gust released Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea for the Playstation 3, which was supposedly to be the conclusion to the Dusk trilogy. Getting a few complaints from fans aside from the general gameplay, the narrative was the most criticized element as it felt incomplete as well as effacing all the developments made in the prior installments. Vowing to fix this mistake with another entry into series, there is no mistaking that the Playstation Vita title Atelier Shallie Plus is what the team had in mind. With inclusion of new events, bosses, and prominent returning characters, does it manage to succeed where the PS3 title failed?
Exploring vast locations, making new items and equipment, and amicable characters are all qualities of Gust’s Atelier franchise that has attracted and kept me coming back to the series all these years. Mixing together fundamental and traditional RPG mechanics with modern flair, it is a franchise that has definitely changed its approach since its inception for better or worst to widen its appeal to a new audience. However, looking back on the many titles up until now, I do feel like the series has lost much of the traditional and creative life it once had long ago. With Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – the start of a new entry for the long-running franchise – incorporating many of the lessons and ideas inspired from the earlier titles as well as handful of new ones, it does make for an interesting start, yet also one that falls short of the mark for the very same reasons.
Developed by Uzumeya, Enigma is a visual novel that takes place in a world where most of the mainland has been ravaged by mysterious illness. Chester, a young man that happen to contracted the illness find himself washed ashore on a remote island – one that isn’t even apart of any modern map. The only two noteworthy features: a small village unaccepting of those from the outside world and a mysterious forest that is said to devour people. It’s name is Enigma, the very same name of the disease Chester is infected with and now in the terminal stages – his life nearly at its end and this island likely to be his resting place. Are the two somehow connected?
Developed by LizArts – creator of Resette’s Prescription, Memory’s Dogma is science fiction visual novel that places in an alternative future of earth where humans have gained the knowledge to make the memories of the deceased digitized and interactive personalities. For Kusuhara Hiroki, the memories of his friend, Mizunashi Sorano is the only thing keeping him going. However, there does seem to be more than meets the eye between Sorano mysterious passing and the string of events to follow…
With visual novels (and eroge to an extent) continuing to grow in popularity in English speaking regions, it is something of a godsend that many foreign developers are finally recognizing the potential of such an untapped market and want to jump on the bandwagon. Alicesoft, a company that has long seemed out of reach is the latest to hop onboard with releasing Beat Blades Haruka, a simulation eroge. Of course, while its awe-inspiring that we are finally getting a product from Alicesoft…it is something of a weird selection from the possible alternatives. So is this selection worth adding to your collection?
Developed by Complie Heart in collaboration with Sega, Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls is the latest spinoff in the HDN brand. And despite Neptune having top billing, IF takes the reins as protagonist alongside newcomer Segami for yet another time traveling misadventure. So how does it measure up?
Developed by Spike Chunsoft, Mystery Chronicle: One Way Heroics is a forced side-scrolling rougelike RPG that is actually a re-imaging of the indie PC game One Way Heroics. With the original developer Smoking Wolf giving their blessings to Spike Chunsoft, this version is chock full of new classes, bosses, and a few changes while still retaining the same old gameplay that made its counterpart so engaging, only being marred with what the Mystery Chronicle brand can bring to the table. So does this entry in the series manage to elevate it to greater heights?
Developed by Compile Heart, MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death or Death Under The Labyrinth is the 2nd entry in the companies “Makai Ichiban Kan” or “Number 1 House in Hell” franchise following Trillion: God of Destruction. Where that title has the goal of putting down an absurdly strong foe, MeiQ puts the player in the shoes of 5 girls known as “Machina Mages” on a quest to their world by performing a sacred ritual at the zenith of 4 towers. I can’t say that the outline shouts the most ambitious or even noteworthy of ideas being pitched, but behind the meager synopsis there is an okay product behind it. Sort of…