Code Romantic, a visual novel about love and programming

If you like the sound of a visual novel with both computer science puzzle and romance elements then Code Romantic is for you. So far, creator Pretty Smart Games has released two of the game’s chapters, with more to come a little further down the line. Unlike Zachtronics-style programming games—where players learn fictional systems—Code Romantic is teaching players using C#, a coding language folks use a whole bunch. A game like Zachtronics’s Shenzhen I/O teaches more logic-based theories, while Code Romantic is starting more traditionally with the basics of code semantics. No prior programming experience is necessary, as the game starts off with very simple commands—stuff you’d learn in an intro…


Kinky visual novel Ladykiller in a Bind is out right now

This is exciting: Ladykiller in a Bind is out now on Windows, Mac, and Linux. You’ll find the visual novel—by Analogue: A Hate Story (2012) creator Love Conquers All Games—on the Humble Bundle store. For now, Valve deemed the game too sexy for Steam, but writer Christine Love hopes to get it on there one day. Love and her team have been working on Ladykiller in a Bind since 2012—full-time for three of those years. Its story is in stark contrast to the “brutally oppressive societal misogyny” in Analogue, of which Love has said her team was pretty burnt out on writing about. Ladykiller in a Bind celebrates consensual,…

Honey Rose

Honey Rose is the most relatable schoolgirl luchador out there

I relate a lot to Honey Rose. Or, at least I did back when I was a scrappy university student. While Honey moonlights as a masked luchador fighter in addition to being a college student by day, I juggled school, a job to pay the bills, and a far more time-consuming job that paid zero bills (campus publication editor gigs will do that to you). Like Honey, not everything went right. Sometimes I did poorly on tests because a deadline was approaching for the magazine I was art director for. Other times I’d slack off in one of those two,…


Anthrotari explores growing up as a queer furry in the ‘90s

Dial-up modems, Windows 95 floppies, IRC channels, and free American Online disks. Ask anyone who lived through the internet boom of the ‘90s and these are guaranteed to be some of the first things that come to mind. But for New York-based game developer J.C. Holder, who uses they/them pronouns, there was another aspect of their identity that marked growing up online: the anthropomorphic furry community. Holder’s upcoming game, Anthrotari, is a visual novel that casts the player in the role of a furry roleplayer named Alex. Through IRC channels, Alex hangs out with a group of anthros across the…


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

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

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

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…


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…