screenfightB_05
News

Honey Rose puts another kick-ass woman into videogames

Honey Rose: Underdog Fighter Extraordinaire is what happens when you combine a traditional animation style and with genre-bending game challenges inspired by wrestling/lucha libre. Developed by Pierre Sylvain, Honey Rose: UFE is a life management simulation, presented as a visual novel with beat’em up segments. The protagonist is a student trying to balance studies with becoming a wrestling champion. Most of the game takes place in the visual novel/life management format and is driven by choices over balancing activities, and responses to situations. The beat’em up segments, split between tournament matches and street brawls, are less about combos or timing, and more about proper stat management and…

VA-11 Hall-A
News

Play a day in the life of a dystopian bartender

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. VA-11 Hall-A (Windows, Mac, Linux) BY SUKEBAN GAMES If you want to get to know the character of a city quickly, check out its bar scene. There, you’ll find all the community’s hopes and issues under the same roof, sharing a stiff drink. That’s the idea behind VA-11 Hall-A, a dystopian “drink-em-up” where players serve the bar regulars and listen to their personal stories. By developing relationships with your patrons, you learn about the everyday struggles of a consumerist surveillance state. While light on mechanics, VA-11 Hall-A allows you to…

va-11 hall-a
Review

VA-11 Hall-A is how you do modern cyberpunk

“Time to mix drinks and save lives.” Jill lackadaisically jazzes herself up with this line at the start of every shift, unknowing of just who will waltz through the door. But what I soon find out is that Jill is kinda lost. The 27-year-old bartender resides in a run-down apartment, barely scraping by when it comes to bills, rent, and impulsive buys, like cute posters or a plant. Jill is lost in the same way that her regulars—patrons of the dive bar VA-11 Hall-A (colloquially called “Valhalla”)—are lost. She’s caught within an average life, with the only fulfillment she gets…

hiroshima 2016
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Visual novel sends you on an accidental trip to the darker side of Japan

When I had the chance to visit Japan, after years of accruing savings and getting a handy-dandy passport, it was a dream come true. I could collect adorable capsule toys wherever I travelled, eat conbini onigiri at my leisure, and admire the beautiful streets and swift transit system. Japan was the most amazing place I’ve ever visited. But even perceived utopias aren’t perfect, and musician and game maker Sean Han-Tani-Chen-Hogan (HTCH) knows that. So in comes the bleak visual novel HIROSHIMA 2016: Sean Hogan Visits Japan, an adventure filled with insensitive Twitter feeds, President Barack Obama visiting Hiroshima, and witnessing dastardly…

cybercity
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New visual novel should satisfy your lo-fi cyberpunk dreams

New York City has a clichéd nickname: The City that Never Sleeps, referring to the restlessness of nightlife in the city. Similar is the metropolis in the newly released Cyber City 2157: The Visual Novel, as it also never sleeps. But that’s because the sun never sets. Night never comes to toss its dark cloak over the city. The City (capitalized, as it is a character in itself) remains bright, shining, always ready to adventure—it doesn’t sleep because it doesn’t get a chance to. And you, the player, are tasked with navigating all its parks, suburbs, cemeteries, and even dreams. Created…

The Mind's Eclipse
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A grungy machine-age videogame prioritizes storytelling over difficulty

In The Mind’s Eclipse, players will take on the role of Jonathan Campbell, a scientist who wakes up to find that he’s seemingly the only person left alive in the ruins of a fallen utopia known as the CORE. His only companion is an AI known as L, who is just as mysterious as her single-lettered name suggests. Jonathan must rely on her as he explores the world he finds himself in, in an attempt to find his loved ones. The game is a visual novel that touts emotional and intense narrative moments. As team lead Donald Campbell explains, the story told by The…

samantha-bed
News

Visual novel has you experience the harrowing reality of social anxiety

I never lived in the dorms at my old university. But I have had my fair share of semi-unpleasant roommates. The scariest part of social anxiety, at least in my personal battle with it, is that it can stem from being thrust into a room with complete strangers, or even just being in the midst of any old acquaintance. In one particular apartment I lived in, a roommate of mine lived in a curtained-off living room. She was sensitive to noise, particularly if myself or the friend I shared a room with came home in the dead of the night…

Solace State
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Look out for Solace State, a game about ideological division in a daunting sci-fi city

The world of Solace State opens up before me, its buildings cross-cut and becoming transparent as Chloe, a “woman of many [identities] who gets caught up in a journey of dissent, deception and redemption” navigates a foreign, 21st century cosmopolitan city-state. “An isometric camera cuts in, and you’re hacking into the building,” says Tanya Kan, the lead designer and founder of Vivid Foundry as she demonstrates Solace State for me. “It’s a way of depicting open-societies, or of trying to reveal more of the world.” As 2D art is overlaid on 3D environments, I’m reminded of origami: detailed, delicate, intricate. Compartmentalized facets combining…

Solstice
Review

Solstice leaves its best mysteries unsolved

In the eighth episode of The X-Files, agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are dispatched to investigate radio silence at a science outpost in Icy Cape, Alaska. There they discover a parasite—because it’s always a parasite—that makes its host hyper-violent. Suspicion and fear threaten to tear the team apart as they search for answers. In the knick of time because it’s always in the knick of time—reason and rationality prevail, temporarily giving order to the chaos and showing our protagonists a way forward in their eternal search for the truth. Solstice similarly follows the first-person accounts of Galen, a doctor,…