It’s been way too long since I’ve had a major love affair with a quality visual novel, so to whet my appetite while I wait for the next major release, I decided to have a few flings from the array available from this year’s NaNoRenO. My plan is to just sample a few from this appetizing buffet of games, instead of gorging myself on everything that’s available, and here are my thoughts on the first two little morsels that caught my eye.
SPEED DATING on the CITADEL??!?!?!?!? Ermahgerd! Sputter! I am nearly incoherent with joy at the prospect!
It’s over already? I played through that in less than 15 minutes. I mean, I read quickly but that was *short.*
This game has a lot of potential and the graphics are nice. You get to name your character, specify your gender pronouns (three options! How novel!), and decide a little bit more about yourself. The decision interface is a lovely nod to the Mass Effect decision wheel.
You encounter three people on your titular speed dating adventure. The creators manage to make two of them seem pretty interesting even though you don’t have very much time to interact with anybody. With only one of the characters do you actually participate in the usual let’s-carefully-but-rapidly-try-to-get-to-know-each-other dance that is generally associated with speed dating. And thus, perhaps unsurprisingly, that character’s the only one you have contact with after that first meeting. This is disappointing because the concept art shows five different characters. And I want to talk to the other characters! Speed dating more aliens would be awesome. It seems like you’re able to be a PC of any sexual persuasion, and perhaps all the characters would be romanceable no matter what. There were some hints at a mystery a-brewin’, but it could also just have been the storyline for the character I connected with. Because really, I have no idea! I just have guesses, and hopes, and wishes, with no actual content to back them up.
It’s really too hard to tell what’s going on due to how incomplete this game is so far. It is absolutely too short as is to be a game; it’s more like a demo or a teaser for a much larger project. The homepage implies there’s more in the works, and I’d love to check back in on it in a few months to see if something actually comes of it. I’m a bit reluctant to place any bets on it though, since their Facebook and Twitter pages no longer exist, and developer Rebel Quill’s page only has updates from February.
Obviously, as a Bioware/Mass Effect fan, I’d be overjoyed to have a full game of this. I really just want more speed dating with aliens. All the aliens, please.
Well, luckily for my wounded heart, I was able to rebound from my alien dating disappointments in the best way—with a couple of dragons instead! In “Wanted: Dragon,” you follow Princess Chrysandra, second-in-line to the throne, as she schemes her way to becoming Queen. This here’s a good one; there are a lot of very nice things going on in this visual novel. There are three different men, or rather, minions, you can pursue to aid you in you quest to take over the throne. Two of them are the dragons that Chrysandra has come a-hunting for at the castle where the story takes place, and the third is their somewhat incompetent guardian wizard.
The writers did an excellent job within the one-month time frame for NaNoRenO. The characters are well-written and their extremely different personalities are clearly expressed through their dialogue. The best character of all, though, has got to be our protagonist. Our little princess is so bitchy and I love it so much. Our princess—ahem, our Queen—is petty, selfish, and often downright mean. It’s a very nice change from the one-dimensional cardboard cut-outs you often see in dating games. Maybe she can’t stand in as “every-woman,” but I’m more than willing to trade the (rarely convincing) illusion of inserting myself in a game for a protagonist with some spunk.
Another great aspect of Chrysandra is that her fiery personality isn’t subsumed by her relationships with the men. If anything, she often turns the tables and surprises them. The lascivious one can’t even handle her matter-of-fact reaction to his provocations and sexual innuendos. As he so aptly describes her, “You surely do not act like any princess I have seen.” She is headstrong and self-reliant and even when she “succeeds” in winning over one of the men, their relationship is clearly an equal partnership, or she’s pointedly the boss.
You can achieve a total of nine variations on the ending, and, conveniently, seeing most of them merely required changing a minor decision towards the end of the story. I enjoyed the art style and the music as well as the story and characters. The only thing I can even think to complain about is occasionally the choice boxes have artwork that cover up part of the text. Now, if that’s my only issue with this game, I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I tell you my verdict is that this one comes highly recommended!
Jen R. just got back from visiting Japan, where there were decorative anime boys on EVERYTHING!!