Nukitashi could easily be dismissed as an overly-sexual visual novel meant to be played one-handed. Those playing it will instead discover plenty of adult scenes, but a surprising depth of story behind it. I expect that Nukitashi will be well-regarded by most, but between the humor and writing, it may not be a hit with everyone. Still, I certainly feel it’s very worth playing—as long as you play the 18+ version.
Loop8: Summer of Gods has an interesting concept and some great characters that give a good reason to play it. My first impressions were actually quite positive and if my review was based on the first ten hours, it would probably be a 7/10 due to the great character moments and idea of growing stronger through loops. Unfortunately, the issues with gameplay and systems that came to light over the full forty-five hours it took to complete, and the method of storytelling make it difficult to outright recommend.
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly is well-written, thoughtful and explores serious topics through a fantasy lens. It's worth checking out. If you enjoyed the first, this is essentially more of the same, but with new characters and stories. This is exactly what I wanted from it.
While the tone is mostly light and there are plenty of jokes, Sabbat of the Witch uses touching moments and serious issues to develop characters and build an interesting plot. Not all routes are equal, and I’d not use words like ‘masterpiece’ that I’ve seen thrown around, but this is certainly one of Yuzusoft‘s stronger titles.
Kunado Chronicles is certainly worth buying if you enjoy more of a focus on story and setting over romance. It takes an interesting world and builds it up well. Using this to then weave a plot with excitement and intrigue, the story dragged me in.
Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key is a slow adventure that works perfectly as the culmination of Ryza’s trilogy. With tons of interconnected systems keeping things fun and a strong focus on the characters and dynamics between them, it’s a great experience for JRPG fans who enjoy slice-of-life – just make sure to begin at the start of this trilogy.
I enjoyed the final chapters of Beta-Sixdouze and it certainly added to the lore of the series well, but it felt like a long and tiresome journey to get there at times. It has plenty of good moments sprinkled throughout, but between the technical issues and the moments of tedium, it’s difficult to outright recommend this visual novel. It did feel like somewhat of a letdown, as Alpha-Nighthawk was quite good.
There are certainly some positive elements to Fitness Boxing Fist of the North Star. It encourages progress, uses unlocks well, and demonstrates stretches in an easy-to-follow manner. Sadly, the issues with the core gameplay and the price point make it difficult to recommend. For some casual exercise and at a lower price-point, then it might be worth picking up, especially if you’re a fan of Fist of the North Star. But there are better options out there.
Like a Dragon: Ishin has some great characters, an immersive world, and a lot to love. The main plot may not stand out, but the smaller stories of the characters that inhabit the world do. With combat being a highlight, and tons to do, the few issues don’t stop me from recommending this. Just be sure to take it in slowly and experience the world.
Neptunia as a series does seem to suffer when it moves away from its JRPG roots. While Neptunia Sisters VS Sisters has a lot of great points, the more action-oriented gameplay aspects do let it down quite a lot. I’d not suggest rushing out and grabbing it, but Neptunia fans will certainly find a lot to enjoy and this is certainly who it’s aimed at. If you can get past the slow start and the gameplay, the story will make it worth it.
With much of the time spent on that transition period from just friends whether new or old and the conversation system simulating it, Fureraba ~Friend to Lover~ feels like something a little different than most visual novels. Even if the comedy doesn’t always land, I think most will enjoy spending their time getting to know these heroines and becoming more than friends. If nothing else, Misaki is just precious — play this and you’ll fall in love with her.
Otome Domain took me about thirteen hours to complete and I enjoyed each one. It has a fun concept that is rare in localized visual novels. The characters are great too. I really enjoyed how it connects their various personality quirks to their own challenges and a serious plot while keeping a fairly light and comedic tone throughout most of the story. Mixing in some touching, dramatic, and romantic moments kept me engaged the entire time.
Aokana – EXTRA2 is a fitting follow-up to Misaki’s route in the original Aokana, with an exciting focus on Flying Circus and the feelings that occur when competing in sports with friends and rivals. Even as someone with no interest in sports, I was hooked. If you enjoyed this side of Aokana, I’d certainly recommend you pick it up.
Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten is a difficult one to rate. It has an excellent story, better than a lot of other visual novels or JRPGs, but it is severely hampered by the dated gameplay and certain design choices. If you’ve played and loved all of the Utawarerumono visual novels, I’d recommend it. Even if I found myself often frustrated, I’d certainly sign up for any potential sequel after playing.
What Samurai Maiden lacks in plot, it makes up for with excellent relationship-building scenes, and surprisingly tactical hack’n’slash gameplay. While there were a few issues, I had fun throughout. It goes beyond fanservice and delivers a surprisingly great game.
Pokémon Scarlet/Violet is a potential 10/10 game, trapped behind severe issues. I personally had some of the most fun I’ve had with any game all year, but there’s a lot to criticize and it certainly shouldn’t have been released in the state it was. It does bring up a conflict in terms of scoring and not everyone will agree, but I feel recommending it is still fair due to all the positives and the sheer amount of fun I had with it – if not at such a high rating
I picked up Alpha-Nighthawk as the sci-fi setting sounded interesting and it didn’t disappoint. While I do have some issues with the ending, the majority of the story was interesting and I would’ve liked to see more. The banter between characters was often great too. I hope that people don’t continue just to dismiss it as a ‘furry visual novel’ and actually give it a chance.
Saints Row (2022) is a mixed bag. The story and characters are only decent and there are a lot of bugs to iron out. The gameplay has only slightly changed since the previous games. That said, the character’s interactions made me laugh and the gameplay is just enjoyable, with a few improvements over the past games' already solid gameplay and a ton to do. I found it difficult to rate this one. There are a lot of points where I feel it could be better, but I still enjoyed many elements of this. It’s one that I somewhat reluctantly recommend.
Renai X Royale - Love's a Battle had me laughing from start to finish. It won’t be for everyone with its fourth-wall breaking and focus on comedic characters over romance routes, but it’s a ton of fun. I really appreciated how even side characters had their moments to shine too.