Another Try with Visual Novels

I gave “Game of Thrones – A Telltale Games Series” another shot and watched the first episode. I leave it at “watched” rather than “played” because I do not feel like my interactions were especially meaningful, and the gameplay remains a visual novel with quicktime events. Extra points lost for having sections with player control of movement where the only option is to walk forward. I am not sure how much the choices a player makes matter (by reviews: not much), but it seems true to the source material in that all options lead to death. Embracing “I am playing a role a tragedy” enhanced the experience. (There are several takes on “Guardians of the Galaxy as The Avengers playing an RPG,” and one of my favorite has Thor as Drax. After being told that calling up the Big Bad at level 2 will get them all killed, he revels in what a glorious tragedy it shall be.)

futurama screencap. robot devil says you cant just have your characters announce how they feel! that makes me feel angryI found the writing poor. There were several rounds of direct characterization, with characters remarking on how wise, brave, etc. the other characters are. There are at least two times in the first episode when you are put in control so you can click on pictures or objects to have the POV character say a series of, “Alice, she is so strong. Bob, I hope is still as playful as when I left,” etc. If the whole thing lasts about 12 hours, watching the game takes about as long as watching a season of Game of Thrones. The show sounds more entertaining.

I went on to try Doki Doki Literature Club, which has a lot of buzz. It is another visual novel. The fact that I can’t tell you the buzz about Doki Doki Literature Club without giving you a spoiler is itself a spoiler … as are the content warnings and “horror” tags. Checking a couple of reviews, it looks like I made it about a quarter of the way to the twist. Maybe I could try again, but the whole thing clocks in at 4-5 hours of visual novel. Maybe the full text is posted somewhere, and I could read an actual novel instead?

Folks have advocated Tales from the Borderlands as the best Telltale Games game, and Fate/Stay Night remains that one visual novel piece of gaming literature on the “someday” list. So I have some more to try sometime, but I am about at the point of accepting that this format is not for me. Walking simulators are borderline.

: Zubon

2 thoughts on “Another Try with Visual Novels”

  1. One I’ll suggest, whether to you, or the other Viz-Novel curious among your readership, is the ‘Zero Escape’ series of games. This has much more ‘game’ to the Viz Novel experience, by marrying it with an ‘Escape The Room’ style game. The general idea behind each game is ‘An evil mastermind, named Zero, has captured 9 people, and subjected them to a game, where the only way to get out is to solve a series of puzzles.’

    The story is full of lots of interesting twists, but you don’t get too much at once — it goes back and forth between moments where you do, definitely, just read what other characters have to say, and moments where you’re actively engaging in an escape sequence and trying to puzzle out the solution.

  2. I watched Let’s Plays of Doki Doki Literature Club, thinking it would be less tedious and more entertaining to observe streamers’ reactions + the game twist experience. I found the starting buildup really slow regardless, so I’m not surprised many people won’t make it to the twist stage.

    I’m not sure how broad your definition of the visual novel genre is, but you might want to give games that have more player interaction a shot before writing off the genre completely. For example, the Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney series is kinda on the edge of “visual novel or nay?” considerations – aesthetically it is very visual novel-like, but the player has a bit more input. Or Analogue: A Hate Story, which involves a great deal of reading, but demands more out of the player to splice together plot threads.

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