Friday, December 4, 2015

Visual Novels - Like A Novel/Video Game Hybrid!

Today it's time for me to talk about something very dear to my heart - visual novels.

For those of you who don't know what that is it's, much as my title suggests, kind of a hybrid between two very different forms of storytelling. Visual novels - or VN's, as they are often called - tell a story using mostly static images, both of characters and locations, and text.

For example, this is a screenshot of the game 'Nicole' made by Winter Wolves. It depicts the characters of Darren and Nicole. (It also shows stats which all VN's have, though more often than not, they aren't shown to the player.) During their conversation, which can be read in the textbox at the bottom of the screen, their expressions will shift as their emotions do and, perhaps they might change the way they are standing. However, nothing is animated. In some of the more advanced VN's, the characters might blink or there might be wind blowing in the background.

Very little is described in VN's, no facial expressions and no background - not if it's shown in the images. The text is mostly dialogue and actions, which makes for a very different storytelling experience. Most VN's also have choices, where the reader/player can interact with the story. Sometimes it's for romance, other times it's major plot points that can be changed.

Choices like in this screenshot of 'Cinders' depicting her thoughts while speaking with Tobias.

VN's are originally from Japan - the land of anime! - but they have caught on a little here in the US. (Definitely have no idea their reception in other parts of the world, but if you know, I'd love to hear from you!)

The first VN I played/read was 'The Royal Trap' and I had no idea what to expect from it. What I wasn't expecting was something that was so immersive. It's like the perfect balance between video game graphics and the text of novels.

Often VN's get a bad name - they're not good writing or they're all porn, people say. I'll admit, some VN's have terrible writing. And some are nothing but porn. But there's also some pretty awesome stories that they tell.

And, for me, that's the important thing. I can easily get just as absorbed in a VN as I can any novel, sometimes even more so because unlike novels, I actually get a chance to interact with the VN environment.

So, tell me, do you play VN's? Do they sound like something you'd like? If you have any suggestions for good ones, let me know. And if you want any suggestions for good ones, just ask!