Curious Expedition – Indie PC Game Review

Title: Curious Expedition

Genre: Adventure Game, Rogue Like

Developer: Maschinen-Mensch

Platform: PC, playable over Steam and also right in your web browser, stand-alone DRM free client coming soon

Release Date: May 19th, 2015

Retail Price: $14.99

Where to Buy: Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/358130/The_Curious_Expedition/ or Direct from the official website at http://curious-expedition.com/

Overall: 58 / 80 73% C “Good Game for Girls”

Overview: 8/10 Curious Expedition is a rogue-like adventure game with retro style pixel graphics. It puts you in the role of one of several famous explorers from history and lets you compete for fame and fortune. If you become the most famous explorer, you win, and are honored with a large statue in your likeness.

That is, if you can survive long enough to even return home from your expedition. The game uses some interesting mechanics such as a sanity meter, which when it gets low, bad things begin to happen. Mutiny breaks out among your crew, or random disasters begin to befall the group.

You can restore sanity by eating, drinking, or sleeping. There are also certain units you can recruit, or perks you can receive that increase your max sanity, making it a bit easier to explore without going insane.

There are other resources for you to manage as well, such as fresh water, ammo, first aid kits, torches to explore dungeons, ropes and climbing kits, and numerous other tools to help you discover treasure.

While out exploring you will sometimes enter into battle using various dice (amount of dice and colors of dice are determined by which party members you have with you at the time.)

You can always select from 2 different expedition routes, and are presented with a randomly generated objective to complete while on expedition. You can choose to return home after completing your objective, or continue to search for treasure to bring back.

Your movement speed is greatly reduced when your inventory is over burdened. This will make it even more challenging to manage your sanity and other resources. Terrain obstacles such as sand, snow, ice, mountains, and forests will also slow down your expedition and require careful resource management.

Perhaps the most unforgiving element is if you die, you get one chance to load your auto save, and then that’s it, you’ll have to start a new game. And you will die often. 6 expeditions may not sound like much, but I have yet to make it past the 5th.

The overall experience of the game left me both addicted, and annoyed. I have yet to successfully complete a full series of expeditions. But yet, I played all night, and can’t wait to get home to go on new expeditions.

Pros: Strangely addicting Gameplay paired with retro pixel graphics. D&D style dice-rolls and turn based combat system. Fairly large maps (I typically have to return home without fully exploring the maps). Rogue like elements make it great for multiple replays (but admittedly need some tweaks).

Cons: Normal mode is very challenging… like seriously challenging (There is an easy mode (which I have not tried) and an even more difficult mode as well though so this is not really a bad thing). My chief complaint of Curious Expedition is that there’s not enough choices in places to explore. Maps all feel very same-ish. Scenarios seem to repeat, and even when you get a new scenario, there’s nothing terribly unique about the quest to make it memorable or exciting. Need more maps, more variety in quests, more variety in classes, npcs, treasure, random events, etc. My other chief complaint is there’s no multiplayer mode. This seems like a great game for some multiplayer fun as it does show you how much fame/fortune your competitors are earning. It could even make a great persistent online game with credit going to players for being the first to discover new regions, items, animals, native people, etc. So much potential here for interesting multiplayer options, but instead, your competitors are always controlled by the computer. And lastly, my last complaint is that there’s no Steam Achievements. A game like this would be PERFECT for steam achievements. There are steam trading cards, but no achievements which seems once again like a missed opportunity to add some fun gameplay elements.

Geeky: 5/5 – The retro vibe and random rogue like elements, as well as references from D&D and other old school games make this a blast for all geeks who grew up with fond memories of the 80s/90s.

Sweetie: 3/5 – Although it is very text heavy, a lot of the text repeats and is not very interesting on subsequent playthroughs. However, there are some notable female playable characters that represent real women throughout history, which is just awesome. This game highlights women who did extraordinary things and emphasizes their brains over beauty, making this a great game for young girls.

Gameplay: 7/10 – When the game begins, you select which explorer you want to play as. Some will be locked and can be unlocked through game play to be used on subsequent playthroughs. You will be given a few supplies and some animal and human companions.

You’ll then be shown a map of the world. It will have many expedition points, but only ever 2 at a time will be selectable as your competition will be exploring the other parts of the world. Select one of the two routes and you’ll be offered a quest. You can either accept or reject the quest. I assume if you reject it, you can just freely explore the expedition area without a quest in mind. Or maybe you’re presented other quest options before embarking on your voyage. I’m not really sure.

If you can successfully complete a quest objective you’ll get a large bonus to fame and/or fortune. But if you fail the quest after choosing to accept it, you’ll lose a great deal of fame or fortune as well.

Before leaving the docks, you’re given time to buy supplies, and sometimes you will find new crew members who wish to join your expedition. You can only take 5 members at any time, so if you find new members you wish to recruit, you will have to part ways with someone else first.

While out exploring you are shown a map with perhaps a few areas uncovered, but largely, hidden from your view. You click around the map to move and explore. Points of interest or interaction are designated by a white question mark symbol. As you approach, they will reveal themselves to be one of several different locale such as:

Native Villages: Here you can recruit members for your expedition, buy, sell, trade, rest to restore sanity, compile research, complete various quest objectives, and more. Your likelihood of success depends on the villagers feelings towards you. These are determined by how long you’ve stayed in the village, as well as decisions you make to story prompts both inside and outside of the village, as well as certain class roles of your crew, and any special status conditions possessed by your crew, and lastly, the amount of trading you’ve done with the village thus far.

Caves: If you have a torch, or a class member with “perception” skills (blue dice roll with white eye symbol), you can usually safely explore the caves. If you choose to loot treasure, you may anger the gods, villagers, or spring a trap, but it’s almost always worth the risk, as you can trade the treasure in for fame or fortune after you return home.

Stone Circles: You can use these monuments to reveal more of the map.

Temples and Pyramids: Similar to caves, mostly used as a place to loot treasure which usually has some negative consequences as mentioned above, but still is imperative in raising your fame and fortune which is how you ultimately win the game.

There are different types of maps / expedition areas such as:

Icelands, Jungles, Drylands, Deserts, Mountains, etc. I find the Jungles to be the easiest to traverse. Icelands can be conquered with Snowshoes and sled tickets. Drylands and Deserts requires you to carry more water.

While exploring your food and water rations deplete, and also your sanity begins to dwindle (rapidly). You must eat or sleep or drink to restore these meters. If you ignore them, you will suffer a lot of negative random scenarios, such as killing your crew, sometimes you’ll eat them though which will restore your sanity at least lol.

Encounters with various “monsters” (typically wild animals), happen when you enter an area designated by a red border, you can also see a circle icon representation of the beast in question as he also moves around the map. Should you draw attention, he will likely chase you, and be faster than you. Sometimes it’s better to face your opponents head on. If they sneak up on you, they get a free combat round before you can react.

Combat takes place using various dice rolls. Different items in your inventory, and different class roles of your party members, determines which dice you have available.

Each “turn” consists of 3 “rounds”. Each “round” allows you to either keep or re-roll dice. If you have a combination of dice that result in a combo move, they will shake on your screen. Mousing over a shaking die will show the other dice needed to activate the combo – they will shake too. If multiple combos or other dice had been shaking, their shaking will stop when you’re moused over a die from a combo they don’t belong to.

You can activate your combos each round.

For example, your first roll could reveal that you have 3 dice that activate a combo. You can click on those dice to “hold them” once all three have been held a dialog box will appear – click the box to activate the combo, then select reroll. Your next roll may have another 3 dice that activate a different combo, you can again play this combo in the same way, and roll again for your final round. Each time you hold dice, or activate a combo, however, will remove those used dice from your available dice pool, making it less likely to get good combo rolls as the rounds go on.

If you survive, you may be given items, or fame and fortune. If you should die, you will be taken back to the main menu where you can reload your game. Should you die again, when returning to the main menu you will notice there is no longer an option to continue and you must start a new game.

Also as you explore and fight your way to glory, you will be able to promote your party members to make them stronger. There are also numerous random events that may impact your party members’ skills, stats, and abilities.

Return home with your treasure. You can choose to donate to the museum for fame, sell for fortune, or hold onto various items. When you return home you’ll also be presented with any applicable quest rewards and allowed to select one “perk” from a handful of randomly generated ones. Some of these perks are really neat and significantly alter your gameplay, such as allowing you to do culture studies on native tribes, giving you additional dice rolls, permanent boost to max sanity, increased viewable map areas, or more benefits. After choosing your perks and preparing again for your next adventure you’ll again have an option of 2 expedition areas to explore and be shown a random quest.

Survive all six expeditions and have the highest fame to win the game.

Story: 5/10 – You write your own story. This game plays much like Oregon Trail, Horizons New Dawn, or Banner Saga, so if you’ve played any of those, you have an idea of what to expect here. Unlike Banner Saga, however, Curious Expedition is not very well written, nor engaging, simply because it is almost too random, and at the same time not random enough, so that when you hit subsequent playthroughs, it becomes a bit repetitive. I know the game is only just now at patch 1 point something, but after being out for 2 years now, that’s rather concerning too that there hasn’t been more big content updates. It needs more scenarios and random events, but even that can’t save the story because of the nature of the brief random encounters and quest. Lacking a central story, does not detract from how fun and enjoyable this game is, but for those looking for a solid story and great characters, look elsewhere.

Characters: 8/10 – There are a lot of randomly generated characters including various races, classes, genders, likes, dislikes, stat bonuses, ailments, and little quirks, that really make your party more interesting. There are a few, but not many, scenes that may endear some of these characters to you, but most of the time, they are of little consequence from a story standpoint. As mentioned earlier in the review, I am quite pleased to see the inclusion of many female and minority historical figures as playable characters. Curious Expedition is a great game with great rolemodels and unique characters inspired from historical events.

Graphics: 7/10: Pixel graphics are hot right now. I understand they’re not to everyone’s taste, but as an older gamer myself, I enjoy retro feeling games such as this. I did deduct a few points in this area though simply because of the “sameness” of all of the maps / areas / npcs / etc.

Sound: 6/10: The soundtrack is also extremely retro which gives it a fun 80s feeling with lots of nostalgia. But ultimately, the soundtrack is just not too memorable overall.

Replay Value: 9/10: Although it desperately needs some more variations, more options, and more items, npcs, places, and skills, the game does indeed present a fun randomly generated gameplay element that makes each playthrough unique. The challenge of the game also dictates the need for subsequent playthroughs.

Overall: 58 / 80 73% C “Good Game for Girls”

Other Games You May Like Include Horizons New Dawn on SNES and Oregon Trail Classic or Banner Saga on the PC.

Curious Expedition – Indie PC Game Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Sekai Project Visual Novels Featured in New Humble Bundle

Sekai Project is one of many companies localizing Visual Novels into English. And for the next 2 weeks you can get 17 Sekai Project Visual Novels for $12. That’s less than $1 a game. (or pay less and receive less games) And it supports charity too! Feel good and score some awesome Visual Novels with the new humble bundle.

https://www.humblebundle.com/sekai-project-bundle

Pay just $1 to receive:

Fault Milestone 2
KaraKara
NekoPara Vol 0
Ame no Marginal – Rain Marginal

Beat the average (currently $10.16) to receive:

All of the Above PLUS
NekoPara Vol 1
Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru Part 1
Marcissu 10th Anniversary Anthology Project, Plus Season PASS DLC
Fault Milestone two side:above
Sound of Drop -fall into poison
Highway Blossoms (a Yuri game (girl x girl game))
Japanese School Life

Pay $12 to receive it all:

All of the Above PLUS
NekoPara Vol 2
Wold End Economica – Complete Edition
Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru Part 2
Memory’s Dogma Code:01
Robot Double – Before Crime After Days Xtend Edition
Sunrider: Liberation Day – Captain’s Edition

That’s a whole lot of visual novels for not a big price! I only had 3 of these currently in my collection (and almost all of them wishlisted). I am super excited about this bundle and can’t wait to start playing.

Robot Double sounds incredibly interesting to me from the brief description. It states that unlike traditional Visual Novels, there are no clear cut choices, but instead you control the story purely through your emotions.

If you’re interested in grabbing this bundle for yourself, check out https://www.humblebundle.com/sekai-project-bundle.

Sekai Project Visual Novels Featured in New Humble Bundle was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Beyond Two Souls Similarities to Stranger Things

I just did a guest post over on thenerdmentality.com regarding my thoughts on the PS3 game “Beyond Two Souls“.

Did you know this game has many things in common with the TV Series “Stranger Things”?

For example, both Beyond Two Souls and Stranger things focus on a young girl with strange powers. In both cases, they are raised by a government figure who at first treats the girl as if he was their father, in order to gain the girl’s trust and help her learn to use her powers. In both cases, the government uses the girl to open a portal to the other side which has unintended consequences of letting spirits cross over into this world. Also in both cases, the girl runs away, only to be hunted relentlessly by the government throughout both stories.

As for the actual gameplay, story, graphics, and soundtrack itself, and how it compares to Quantic Dream’s other games such as Heavy Rain, why not head over to thenerdmentality.com and check out my full review of Beyond Two Souls.

Thank you to the nerd mentality for letting me guest post for you guys, and thank all of you readers for looking!

Beyond Two Souls Similarities to Stranger Things was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Stardew Valley Review

As mentioned in another post here, I spent much of this past weekend playing Stardew Valley on the PC. Stardew Valley is a game that harkens back memories of popular retro games such as Harvest Moon and Rune Factory. The game is fun and relaxing… however, like most games in this genre, the gameplay can get tedious and repetitive at times. Stardew Valley also suffers significant development delays and setbacks, which is not surprising considering the entire game, from the graphics, to music, to programming, was all made by just one person. It doesn’t get anymore “indie” than that. Despite these few small flaws, the game is one of the highest rated Steam games of all time with nearly 50,000 Overwhelmingly Positives since its release in February 2016. If you’re still wondering if Stardew Valley is worth playing, read my Stardew Valley Review below.

Title: Stardew Valley

Developer: ConcernedApe

Publisher: Chucklefish

Platform: PC (also recently released for Xbox One, PS4, and soon to be released for Nintendo Switch)

Genre: Farming Simulation

Where to Buy: PC Version on Steam Here.

Release Date: February 2016

Geeky: 2/5  –  This is a low budget indie game, so you won’t see triple A graphics here. And given the genre and nature of farming simulation games there isn’t much action going on. I also feel the controls and UI are clunky, to the point of detracting from the gameplay (read more about that later in this review). However, given that 1 man made everything in this game, that’s pretty impressive and worth an extra star at least for effort!

Sweetie: 4/5  – Everything about this game exudes charm and cuteness. However, the characters feel impersonal and the story a bit lacking, costing it to lose 1 heart for “sweetie” factor.

Overall: 60/80 75% D- “Average Game for Girls”

Concept: 8/10 It’s hard to believe this game has been out for less than a year; it’s so wildly popular and became an instant fan classic, that even games by fully staffed development teams have not made nearly as successful games or seen as many sales or positive reviews in years worth of time. And day by day new fans come to experience Stardew Valley for their very first time and fall in love, and continue to share their experiences. I was somewhat late to join the party, starting back in maybe July of 2016.

At that time, people were growing restless with lack of progress made on features that had been promised such as multiplayer. Here we are another 6 months later, and there’s still no word on when multiplayer will be added, just simply that it is in the works. The game has received several updates and improvements, including finishing “routes” for “new” characters (The characters were already present, but now you can date more of them).

And that’s important because really… the game of Stardew Valley is like the game of your life. Stardew Valley’s open sandbox environment and multiple choices and decisions that you will make, all shape what will happen. Will you get married? have kids? Choose a life of adventure exploring dungeons, fishing all day, or focus on rebuilding your grandfather’s farm? Or maybe just sit at the tavern, playing games, and wasting your virtual life – the choice is yours.

Although the game starts slow, once it picks up, there will be numerous choices you must make (which you’ll start to notice around maybe Fall of the first year or so)… Things such as deciding if you want to let fruit bats live in the cave near your farm or if you want to use the cave to grow mushrooms. Hopefully by Fall of the first year you’ve had time and resources to upgrade your house or add new buildings that let you craft new recipes and add new gameplay elements such as making pickled vegetables, fruit preserves, wine, cooking meals from your crops in your new kitchen, etc. Characters at times may also ask you questions which may impact the game or change their friendship towards you, such as asking you what types of books you like to read, etc. Lil bit by lil bit you will begin to see how YOUR farm in Stardew Valley differs from that of your friends’ farms. (Or how it will differ for you on subsequent playthroughs).

There are also numerous in-game events held throughout each season such as festivals, cooking contests, dance parties, and more. If you’ve been working on your social skills in the game and making friends, or even romances, these special events will be even more special, having someone to share them with.

You start with little in way of resources to begin the game and with little to do. When I first started playing, it was tedious. It felt like work, like real life. It was made somewhat worse by bad controls and UI… However now, as my first year in Stardew Valley draws to a close, the game has me firmly hooked. I couldn’t believe I stayed up until 1am playing it lastnight, and I want nothing more than to go home and play it again as soon as possible. — Soon you will be able to take Stardew Valley with you everywhere you go with the Nintendo Switch! For many, this means starting all over from scratch though and replaying through these tedious first few hours of gameplay as I seriously doubt it will sync your game saves — though it would be awesome if it did!

Stardew Valley is slow paced, and definitely not for everyone. There is some combat; however, at least on the PC, the combat is simple and basic at best, and involves no strategy, and just mindless clicking. The controls also make any actions, from combat, to fishing, to farming, a real pain at times. However, despite these flaws, Stardew Valley shines because of the charming retro vibe and relaxing gameplay mechanics. It’s one of the best casual games around and guaranteed to make you feel warm and fuzzy. It is just simply a “Feel Good Kind of Game”.

Gameplay: 6/10 If you’ve ever played a Harvest Moon or Rune Factory game then you will be right at home in Stardew Valley. The basics of gameplay include planting, watering, and harvesting crops, conversing with townsfolk, dating/marrying a townsfolk, upgrading/decorating your home, exploring dungeons, collecting and crafting items, and joining in various events. — It was also marketed as an “Online or Multiplayer” farming game (which drew many fans who have long dreamed of an Online Harvest Moon — however, that feature, which arguably is the game’s MAIN feature, is still no where to be seen and with no estimated release date a year later.

I’m critiquing the gameplay for the PC version right now since it’s the only version I have played as of time of review. While the features of the gameplay would get high marks here in terms of the vast amount of things to see, do, choices and consequences, and customization, the score ultimately suffers due to terrible controls and UI. Please note for this review I play on a laptop and do not use a mouse. I am a keyboard only user. As such, there are some things that just DON’T work. Period.

Like for example, I read that to put bait on a fishing pole you left click the bait then right click the fishing pole, but nothing happens when I do this. Luckily, you can fish without bait, but with some tools you aren’t so lucky. I assume that loading the slingshot with stones also works in the same fashion but can’t figure out how to load it with ammunition either which makes it completely useless to me. At the fall grange faire, the controls for fishing were different than fishing on the main map too! In the main map I can use my button shortcode which is C as opposed to mouse clicking, — this for some reason does not work at the fall grange faire and you have to use the mouse (in my case keep in mind, I’m using my laptop’s “touchpad” which you can click/scroll/operate like a mouse.) —

I have read that PS4 controllers will now work in Steam so I may have to try that and hope they are supported in Stardew Valley. I also do have a usb mouse – but given that I play largely from my bed, it makes finding a place to put the mouse a challenge. I am surprised because quite simply, this is a casual game. If I were expecting to smoothly play a triple A title without a mouse, from my bed, well that would be my own fault for having unreasonable expectations… but the truth is, there’s nothing here that should require finesse or skill.

And it’s not just a little bit cumbersome, it’s that things completely don’t work in some cases as illustrated above at worst. At best, I find myself constantly turning away from my target while fighting in the dungeon, or watering an empty square next to the plant I’m trying to water. Or I’ll forget I have an axe equipped and accidentally kill a crop I’m trying to work with (OK so that last one is my fault 🙂 lol).

The gameworld is not that large, but you walk really slow, which makes it seem a bit larger (Please note for this review, I’m critiquing the default map, not the new ones added in after release). You will also find that you get weak from exhaust and/or injuries easily when you first begin playing, and that even adding new weapons, armor, and accessories, doesn’t seem to speed up combat as much as you might hope.

Despite these weaknesses, the gameplay is actually fun and enjoyable with a wide variety of things to do and see. In fact, there’s often not enough in-game hours in a day to do everything. I love rainy days in the game so I can go fishing or explore the dungeons without wasting half a day tending to my crops. I also love that as you continue to do something in game, such as fish or fight monsters, you gain levels of proficiency with different skills and at certain levels, these skills branch off and force you to choose a path, with different pros and cons, which further customizes your experience from that of your friends – and also greatly adds to replay value.

There could be some other features added that would further enhance gameplay, difficulty and challenge, such as making certain foods expire – would also create need to use the preserve machine — or making for example icecream melt after so many in-game hours. As it stands right now you could buy or grow an item in year one, and eat it 5 years later without risk of getting sick, etc. They could even add a temporary debuff “Food Poisoning” that would wear off after so many in game hours.

Story: 6/10 – Well the story is that you write your own story. You decide exactly what you want to do, who you want to be with, and shape your own virtual life. It offers a ton of customization and the story does branch and reveal different routes based on who you date and other decisions you make within the game, but largely, by the end of the first year, the story has felt weak and bare bones at best. The in-game events do help to spice things up however, I suspect that after the first year they will be less exciting since you’ve already seen them. — However, it makes up for this in the amount of customization, freedom, and exploration that these open world sandbox games are best known for. Watching slowly as your farm takes shape and beginning to set a path for yourself and discover how to make your farm uniquely your own is truly the best aspect of this game, and that will become even more of a big selling point once multi-player finally gets implemented so you can visit friends’ farms.

Characters: 6/10 – Well, there’s a lot of them, but none of them are terribly interesting… They will recycle through the same dialog over and over. In the beginning, as to be expected, many of the characters are distrustful of you (You’re a stranger afterall!), and so they do not talk about anything meaningful or overly deep. Getting close to people, just like in real life, takes time. Relationships take work, and Stardew Valley is no exception to that rule… I have yet to see if the characters, or story for that matter, get more interesting past the first year, but with well over 30 hours of real life put into the game, that’s more time than one should be expected to “wait and see” if things improve.

Right now my highest relationship, according to the fortune teller at the fall grange fair, is with Shane, one of the newly added routes in a recent update. He is sorta the Tsundere type. Rough on the outside. He often plays guitar in the tavern. He likes Hot Peppers, Spaghetti, and Pizza for presents, and he is a cold unfeeling jerk lol. At least initially. I think there may be more to him, which is why I was curious to pursue him. I think his route shows the most promise for “character development” if written correctly. It will be nice to see him warm up and hopefully be less of a jerk over time lol.

Other characters seem to pay homage to various Harvest Moon games, there’s a guy named Linus (not dateable) living in a tent who reminds me of Gustafa from Harvest Moon on the Gamecube. There’s Harvey who is a doctor, Demetrius a scientist (who at time of this review is not dateable), Sebastian who is a stereotypical Emo/Goth guy, Alex a fitness nut,  a Magician (I don’t believe he’s dateable either), Clint who is a Blacksmith, and Elderly couple. The tavern workers, a Museum worker, a Carpenter (female), Goth girl, Librarian (female), and a handful of others.

Despite not having much “depth” to the characters (at least after almost a whole year of time passing in game), the characters themselves are charming, and always busy and on the move. They breathe life into the game and keep it feeling active and bustling year round. Not only these human characters, but the animals on your farm, the monsters in the dungeon, and even just little touches like birds and butterflies randomly flying or a squirrel quickly climbing a tree, or a rabbit running through the bushes, they all make the game seem… living. It seems as if every character has a mind of their own and a life of their own. This is a big plus and part of the game’s unique charm.

Graphics: 8/10 – Keep in mind, this is an indie game that wanted to go for a retro-vibe. If you’re not a fan of “outdated” graphics, RPG Maker style games, and Isometric Top-Down view style games, then this is not the game for you. — That said, Stardew Valley is for you if you grew up with the 16 bit Harvest Moon games, don’t mind “indie-retro” games, like to customize the appearance of your character, and like “cute” bright graphics.

Everything about Stardew Valley is exceptionally charming. And there is a lot of work that went into everything from the tile sets used in town or your farm, to the dungeons, character portraits, or animations. As mentioned above, the environment really feels almost like it’s alive somehow, with so many small details and little touches, falling leaves, wind, rain, animals, and background animations that really add to the charm and little extra love that was poured into this game.

I’d like to see maybe a tad more detail on the character sprites, and even more options added for character customization and more interior decorating items, or more various monster designs and not just recolors – but that’s just a wishlist, already, the artwork is pretty great if you’re a fan of pixel style games.

I did take off a few points for the following:

  • It gets pretty hard to see where I’m going at night. I dunno if it’s my monitor settings – and I am well aware you can craft items like torches and etc to brighten things up, but I get pretty lost.
  • Also some items can be hard to see if they’re behind trees, or other tall graphic items, and this too, can at times cause you to feel “stuck”.
  • Lastly, back to the UI again, it is just a lil bit clunky and could use some refinement.

Music: 10/10 – The soundtrack is one of my favorite things about this game. It is infectiously catchy. Not only does it feature great music, but sound effects are skillfully used to further create immersion and once again give rise to a game world that feels bursting with life. Sound effects for weather effects, animals, monsters, and machines and tools all help paint a picture of what life in Stardew Valley is all about.

Replay Value: 10/10 – Despite myself criticizing many things in this game such as terrible controls and user interface, lack of promised features and development setbacks, and a rather barebones story and characters who are dull and cliche, there’s just something indescribable about the gameplay itself. It is just a fun game. It’s not a perfect game… but it is one that I would recommend. I can seriously see myself sinking hundreds, or even thousands, of hours into the game, a single playthrough takes probably a hundred hours or more, and if you want to try a different profession or pick a different husband or wife, you’ll be starting a new farm, as the game autosaves every night which takes the freedom of creating multiple save files from a single playthrough out of your hands.

When I play Stardew Valley, I feel like I’m living a second virtual life, I come to care about my character, her friends and relationships, the farm, the city, and everything that’s going on in the game world. It offers me a challenge with several aspects being only discovered later in the game, and that too keeps the experience feeling fun and fresh and wondering what will happen each time I play.

Stardew Valley is a game that pulls you in with all of its charm — However, it could do with some fine tuning to greatly improve certain gameplay and story aspects.

Would I play it again? Absolutely. Given the sheer amount of things to see and do, it is impossible to accomplish everything on a single playthrough and no two farms are exactly alike.

It is that feeling, that my farm, my village, my animals, my crops, my house, my little virtual family, that they are unique and truly unlike anyone elses’ that is the driving force that makes me want to sit down and invest my precious time and energy into this game. That and the kawaii cute graphics and charming nature of the game that seem to just suck you right in.

And once Multiplayer gets implemented, kiss your real life goodbye, as the 50,000 people who think “Overwhelmingly Positive” things about the game, as well as thousand of new players, will be busy visiting their friends’ farms and experiencing brand new gameplay elements.

Stardew Valley is constantly evolving with new maps, new characters, new skills, new recipes, and new fun!

Overall: 60/80 75% D- “Average Game for Girls”

Stardew Valley Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Humble Bundle Birthday Sale = Free or Heavily Discounted Games for You!

Humble Bundle just kicked off their annual birthday celebration which will run for the next 11 days featuring hundreds of discounted digital PC games from both AAA studios and indie developers. Some of the savings are up to 75 or even 90% off. In fact, they’re even giving you a free game just for visiting the website and registering or logging into your account.

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Princess Maker 2 Refine – Now Available in English on Steam

I reviewed Princess Maker 2 awhile back, one of my all-time favorite games. You can check out my review of Princess Maker 2, here.

In that review, you will see that I say the game was never released in English – because at time of my writing that review, that was true – although the game was fully translated and a leaked copy could be found online — with age and technology, it became increasingly difficult for some people to get that old dos copy of the game to run on their newer machines…

It seemed Princess Maker 2 was destined to just fall into obscurity – although many similar games (typically by English speaking fans) both indie and commercial have come out in recent years… Princess Maker 2 never saw the light of day…. Nor did any of the sequels….

Until this happened…. It appears while no one was looking, somehow Princess Maker 2 has had a commercial release in English at last!! It is now available for $19.99 on Steam. – You can also get the soundtrack for $9.99 if you feel so inclined. Here is how to get the game or soundtrack on the steam store: http://store.steampowered.com/app/523000/

Being out for just shy of 5 weeks now, the game has overwhelmingly positive reviews from hundreds of gamers.

I believe the gameplay to be left largely unchanged – however, the game has been “enhanced” with new graphics – while the overall designs of the characters have been left more or less unchanged, the artwork has been made more clean and crisp — In this (and the old 90s PM 2) game, the daughter has frizzy brown curly hair — much like myself in real life. I always mused that if I were an anime character, that’s pretty much how I would look lol. Still not a big fan of that look – compared to newer versions of the Princess Maker games — but none the less — perhaps this long awaited gem will usher in the following sequels in the series which have never before had an English translation.

Future is looking a lil bit brighter for gamer girls and otome fans.

Princess Maker 2 Refine – Now Available in English on Steam was originally published on

Sonicomi Communication with Sonico English PC Game Review

Title: Sonicomi Communication with Sonico

Genre: Visual Novel / Idol Simulation / Rhythm Game / Photography Simulation / Dating Sim / Raising Sim

Platform: PC

Developer: Nitro+

Publisher: JASTUSA

Where to Buy: Jlist – use Coupon Code: MOE-22Y-E8BNV5 to get 5% off!

Geeky: 4/5 – High quality anime style graphics. This version of Sonicomi is the original PC version; however, for the US release, they integrated the new improved graphics from the Playstation version which adds a lot more visual appeal to the game. Sonicomi comes to life with fully animated and expressive movements. Unlike other visual novels which show only static images, the graphics in Sonicomi definitely do impress. There are multiple game modes and tons of achievements to unlock as well. Like most visual novels, this game is light on gameplay, however, there is some challenge to see how high you can score each photoshoot, and the appeal of unlocking new outfits for Sonico. There’s also 18 different endings and a surprisingly touching story.

PC Game Review: Super Sonico Sonicomi Communication With Sonico
PC Game Review: Super Sonico Sonicomi Communication With Sonico

Sweetie: 5/5 – Sonicomi is very cute! And the ability to customize her with hundreds of different pieces of outfit and tens of thousands of combinations for those outfits, makes this a game that girls are sure to love, just as much as guys who like the busty and sexy appeal of the pink haired gravure idol.

Overall: 76/90 84% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 10/10  As I mentioned when I announced the preorder bonuses for the game here, this game basically is like combining Princess Maker (which I reviewed here) with Pokemon Snap (a game in which you photograph pokemon). Of course, Sonico’s lusty and busty figure make this game a lot more “Ecchi” or perverted than those games, but the game mechanics are like a perfect mashup of these two gaming gems. You determine Sonico’s fate and what direction her career will take (similar to Princess Maker), while the gameplay itself is a visual novel with about a dozen different “levels” each defined by a photo shoot. On these photo shoots your client will request different images, from sexy to sweet and innocent, or even weird. You must try to recommend different locations, outfits, and poses to meet the needs of your client. At different points in the story you will be presented opportunities to respond to Sonico in different ways (hence the name of the game), your responses, as well as choices made and how well you perform the various photo shoots will lead you to one of 18 different endings. Each time you play the game, you keep any outfits you unlock and continue to add new items to use to dress up Sonico however you’d like. There’s different difficulty modes, and even a free play mode where you can just photograph Sonico without worrying about a timer or any requests from your clients. You can save and share these images to show off how cute Sonico has become.

Gravure Idol Simulation PC Game Super Sonico Communications with Sonico Review
Gravure Idol Simulation PC Game Super Sonico Communications with Sonico Review

Gameplay: 8/10 The story unfolds like a visual novel at different points you can talk to, or even touch Sonico in various ways which raises her affection or changes her mood or even changes how the public views her as an idol. The main gameplay however comes in the form of photoshoots. You start by choosing an outfit for Sonico by combining different pieces and parts, such as a jacket, top, pants, skirt, jewelry, handbag, shoes, socks, hair, skin tone, etc. In these shoots, you must complete all “takes” (ranging from 1 to 3) without wearing any duplicate items from the previous takes, all while taking into account the client request. Once on set, you’ll see Sonico frolicking around and soon begin to see blue and pink “rings” on your screen. It’s your job to mouse over these rings and click them right as they turn pink. Clicking too soon or too late will lower your score. Clicking at just the right time will allow you to “chain” “perfects” which gives a large boost to your score. Getting perfects will also begin to fill up a gauge on the screen which when full, left clicking will open a number of options such as Communication, where you ask Sonico how she’s doing – she may tell you she’s tired, thirsty, nervous, fired up/excited, or able to still go on. Another option is to give Sonico a break which will help refill her stamina, and if executed correctly will extend the time you have in the photoshoot. If you let Sonico get too exhausted you will fail the photoshoot so you must be careful. The remaining options let you change Sonico’s pose and position from standing, sitting, or lying down. If Sonico is “excited and fired up” and you select Communication, you will activate a special mode with new poses and bigger chances for bonuses. After each take you’ll see your score, and after completing all takes, you’ll receive a letter grade which you need to pass to move on to the next scene.

I deducted a few points because this game is impossible to play without a mouse or game controller. I bought a mouse just to play this game. I think a lot of casual gamers, especially those on laptop devices may not have a mouse? I didn’t because I played in bed anyways so where would I put a mouse? (Hint: I ended up putting it on the wrist/rest area near the touchpad, below the keyboard.) The touchpad on my laptop was totally laggy/nonresponsive – which was something weird caused only when playing this game. I couldn’t even get past the tutorial and it wasn’t from a lack of skill, my pointer on screen would not move where I wanted it, and even when it did, I found I couldn’t “snap” the photo, just nothing would happen when I clicked the “mouse button” (built into my touchpad). This seems like a weird glitch or bug? But now that I’m using a mouse, there’s no problem 🙂 And I’ve used the mouse in some other more actiony games too so it’s all good. Mice are cheap enough anyways *under 10 bucks* but I just can’t help thinking that the touchpad should have worked, or my touch screen on my laptop, but both were very laggy and made it impossible to play. Bad controls = bad gameplay. So you’ll want to make sure you have a mouse or steam controller or similar input device.

However, the gameplay is very engaging, and the hunt for new outfit pieces (all of which carry over into any new games you begin) as well as unlocking the achievements and all 18 different endings keeps you playing over and over. The in depth tutorial at the beginning of the game lets anyone just pick up and play the game, but some of the higher difficulty settings offer a large challenge even for more seasoned rhythm game players. The free play mode is really cute and fun too, especially with the ability to take and share steam screenshots, or collect the images in an in-game photo album.

Story: 5/10 I get the feeling that there’s only “illusion of choice” for very much of this game. Yes, there are 18 different endings, but it seems to me that they are determined more in how you do on photoshoots than how you respond to the story prompts. Although those DO impact the game also. I only suspect this, because on multiple play throughs, when I skip “previously read text” I’m skipping about 75-85% of the story. There is a decision later in the game to take Sonico’s career in different directions, such as being a commercial model or a high fashion model, but even that seemingly important decision does little to change the story – though it does change several of the different photo shoots in the later part of the game.

The story itself is pretty cute, but way too short and simplistic to really rank this score any higher than “mediocre” – but it’s a Gravure Idol Sim, people don’t really play this for story. — The story isn’t bad, actually I was pleasantly surprised that it’s very touching and hits close to the heart at times, but that’s mostly attributed to the strong character interaction which I’m scoring separately below. The story has a lot of comedic moments and some truly wtf moments as well which makes it highly entertaining.  Perhaps my biggest complaint against the story is that it starts strong, but just as it’s taking off, the game comes to an abrupt and unexpected end, and that’s not from getting a “bad end” but instead it just feels like the second half of the game is rushed, and that more could have been done which could have added not only more story, but more photoshoots and more gameplay too.

Cameo Appearance: Danny Choo Mirai Culture Japan Smart Doll Smartdoll
Cameo Appearance: Danny Choo Mirai Culture Japan Smart Doll Smartdoll

Characters: 10/10 The biggest and most pleasant surprise to me was how endearing and likable all of the characters were, especially Sonico. I had heard of Sonico, and seen cameo appearances in other games, but I honestly knew very little about her. As I played, I couldn’t help but think, OMG Sonico is JUST LIKE ME!! Since I related to her, it increased my enjoyment of the game and story and made her even cuter to me. She loves cats, I love cats (like REALLY love cats), She loves her grandma – I love my grandma, we’re like best friends. She loves sweets, I love sweets. She loves shopping, I love shopping. She’s really really naive and ditzy… I’m sadly also really naive and ditzy. She’s clumsy and hurts herself often, I’m clumsy too! It was like seeing myself as an anime character. Of course I’m not as cute or sexy as Sonico, but her pure heart and bubbly happy go lucky and laid back personality are very similar to my own personality and attitude.

Sonico wasn’t the only character who I found likable either. I also really liked Cutie Q who mysteriously turns up and gives you advice throughout the game, and Pandagawa, an idol manager who’s also a cute (and perverted) panda. And Sonico’s rival Angie, who is pretty much like Sonico’s exact polar opposite (and who I think should have her own game, right? she’s pretty amazing). All of the characters are really unique and quirky. Even Danny choo and his Smart Doll Mirai makes an appearance in the game which was a huge plus since I’m such a huge Smartdoll / Dollfie Dream / ABJD fan.

Pandagawa - Super Sonico - PC Game Review - Sonicomi Communication with Sonico
Pandagawa – Super Sonico – PC Game Review – Sonicomi Communication with Sonico

Graphics: 8/10 It’s already been said how cute and sexy Sonico is, and already been said that there’s literally tens of thousands of different outfit combinations possible to make Sonico look however you’d like. The environments and poses and background art is all very lovely. In the photoshoots it’s all 3D, and in free mode you can even adjust lighting and other touches to make the environment look as you please. In the visual novel, the backgrounds are done in an a more anime style. Sonico is a full body and fully animated figure. Her expressions and movements are just like a real person, which makes this visual novel stand out from others that just use static sprites or images. However, and where the game loses some points, is that Sonico is the only character who we ever “see” in the game or any of the photoshoots. There’s at least two occasions where you’re “supposedly” photographing another model with Sonico – and it would have been cute, awesome and AMAZING to have both models in the photoshoot at the same time, playing together, dancing, and frolicking around. — But okay, maybe that’s asking too much, but it would’ve been nice to see some better sprites for the other characters. In true visual novel fashion, every other character in this game, is just like every character in every other visual novel, just a chest and face with a few different expressions, and always over some background, like out of a comic book, which I guess is kinda cool in a stylistic way, but it definitely makes them seem less “alive” or “real” than Sonico. Also the clients and Sonico’s manager always have a mask on, which is just weird to me and makes them kinda unlikable honestly to me even though it also does add humor and make them memorable in a way too.

Angie Gravite the Black Ship - Super Sonico - Sonicomi Communication with Sonico PC Game Review
Angie Gravite the Black Ship – Super Sonico – Sonicomi Communication with Sonico PC Game Review

Music: 7/10 – The soundtrack, while being actually pretty good and not at all irritating, even on multiple playthroughs, just frankly, doesn’t have enough tracks or variation in it to score much higher than this. Each photoshoot has the same soundtrack, regardless of location selected for the shoot. Or if they were in fact different, it wasn’t noticeable enough for me to remember. The music is good, but you will hear the same tracks over and over when walking Sonico home, or at different key moments in the game.

Voice Acting: 9/10  I’m actually surprised how close the English voice for Sonico comes to capturing the original Japanese voice actress’ same “personality”. A bubbly, cute, and somewhat ditzy / brainless type of voice. The English voice actress for Sonico really put a lot of emotion into delivering her lines, which you can tell from how she enunciates or emphasizes different words or phrases. Even her laugh and other mannerisms are quite similar. I thought she did such a good job that I’ve played in English every time except for twice now. The Japanese voice actress is of course cute and adorable and does an excellent job, but that’s usually just a “given” when it comes to Japanese voice acting. They’re all pretty much amazing right? But that’s not the case (typically) with English dubs. (sorry to dubbed anime fans out there). While I think everyone should play the game at least once in it’s native language, you really in this case don’t miss much by playing it in English. I’ve gotten used to the English Sonico now, and actually, surprisingly, prefer her voice over the original Japanese one now. Also I’ve heard that this same voice actress does the Sonico in the anime (which I’ve never watched). But the good thing is, that no matter what you prefer, English or Japanese, they left both tracks in the game for you to choose! — It’d be nice if you could switch this option while playing the game but I think you have to save, exit, and select the option when starting back up. Also if I remember correctly, Sonico is the only character who’s voiced in this game, which is a little disappointing (and why I deducted 1 point).

Sonicomi - Free Style Game Mode - Sonicomi Review for PC - Sonicomi Communication with Sonico
Sonicomi – Free Style Game Mode – Sonicomi Review for PC – Sonicomi Communication with Sonico

Replay Value: 10/10 This game is super addictive! As if 18 endings weren’t enough to keep you playing, there’s also achievements, and new outfits to unlock through multiple playthroughs (which carry over into any new games you start), and sonicoins to earn which unlock even more outfits, and a free play mode that lets you enjoy uninterrupted time with Sonico in any location or outfit or pose that you’ve previously unlocked. You can then add the freeplay images into an album in game, or use the steam shortcut (F12 by default) to take pictures and share via steam or social media so you can spam your friends and share Sonico’s charm. There’s also different difficulty modes which let you challenge yourself as you become more familiar with the game. With so much to do and so many different dressup combinations and such a cute and charming idol to control, this is a game that will keep you hooked!

Overall: 76/90 84% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

Sonicomi Communication with Sonico English PC Game Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Cat President – a More Purrfect Union – Visual Novel PC Game Review

I received this game for free in exchange for writing an honest review. I played through Frisky’s route and received his Normal Ending.

Frisky Lives Up to His Name
Frisky Lives Up to His Name

Title: Cat President

Genre: Otome Visual Novel

Platform: PC

Developer: Oh a Rock! Studios

Where to Buyhttp://store.steampowered.com/app/474980

tomcat

Geeky: 3/5 – On the fence with this score… Production values are fairly low and it shows, also not much “gameplay” as is the nature of visual novels. But it does earn a few points for geeky internet “meme-like” humor.

Sweetie: 5/5 – High marks for being an otome game (a game with a female protagonist) and for having cute cats. Also has pretty good character development and surprisingly good writing.

love confession from a cat?!
love confession from a cat?!

Concept: 8/10 Cat President is an otome game in which you get to help one of 6 different cat candidates (spoiler: one of them is a dog) become the nominee of their political party. You might also fall in love with your chosen candidate by the end of the game. Like most visual novels there is little to do aside from click and read. I like this genre of games a lot, but if you’re not used to this format, it may not be your cup of tea. On the plus side, Cat President takes a fun, whimsical, and light hearted approach to the visual novel genre. Most of the routes are short (around 2 hours each). There are multiple endings including normal, good, and bad endings which adds some more replay time. If you get all of your desired endings in one try, I estimate this game will take 12-15 hours to complete. Because of the light hearted nature, and short length of this game, it may be a purrfect game to give visual novels a try. However, if you’re a visual novel veteran, you might be disappointed by the “fluffy” nature of the plot, or by the somewhat amateur artwork, especially given the lack of poses of each sprite.

Pretty Sure This is The weirdest Line Of Dialogue I've Ever Read in A Game
Pretty Sure This is The Weirdest Line Of Dialogue I’ve Ever Read in A Game

Story: 9/10 You play as a young girl who has been out of work for some time when she decides to attend a debate with her best friend and you are called upon to give a question to the candidates. You mention how you’ve lost your job and want to know how the candidates will help people like you. They all have the purrfect answer, by offering you a spot on their campaign team. These are no ordinary candidates however, as they are all cats (and a dog). This is how the game opens. The backstory explains that politics became so corrupt 20 years ago that humans are no longer allowed to hold any type of political office. It’s also eluded to pretty early on that cats can (and most do) become human (if they can afford it). Although the story does take itself lightly, and has some genuinely WTF moments, it’s not without more serious and delicate moments as well such as relationship drama, political scandals, and very likeable characters who have very human-like flaws. I was very surprised by how relateable the characters felt to me. I could see qualities in them and in myself, in my cats, and surprisingly most of all, in my past relationships with other humans.  I went into this not expecting much other than comedy, so I was really surprised when I felt myself identifying with or nodding in understanding/agreement with many of the characters and situations in this game. Plus, if you like comedy (who doesn’t like comedy right?) and even more-so if you like cats, and are familiar with the internet memes, then you will really appreciate the humor in this game.

Characters with Real Feelings and Emotions Help Drive the Story in Cat President
Characters with Real Feelings and Emotions Help Drive the Story in Cat President

Gameplay: 5/10 – Unfortunately, as is the nature of visual novels, there’s really no “gameplay” per say, however the game does have all of the basic functions one expects in a visual novel such as being able to review different scenes or endings and gallery items. It does feature a lot of different endings and have high replay value. I’m not really so much of a fan of the “choose which route you want at the begining of the game” it seems to me only cheap “mobile games” use this mechanic, while “real” visual novels like Clannad for example, let you dip in and out of different characters’ routes, so you might experience different parts of the game each time you play. Locking into a route right out of the chute, limits then which stories and experiences you can enjoy in each play through. I’ve noticed this mechanic becoming increasingly popular, but I’m just not a fan of it. I like the “challenge” in trying to get with the guy (or cat in this case) that I want to be with, and putting me on his route right away takes away this challenge, and therefore, in my opinion, diminishes the fun a little bit for me.

Make Choices to Help Your Cat Become the next President or Fall in Love
Make Choices to Help Your Cat Become the next President or Fall in Love

Graphics: 5/10 – This is probably my biggest complaint with this novel. The game could have been really “cute” I think if it had “anime” style drawings for the characters and cats in the game, similar to Dandelion Wishes Brought to You, or other Otome games featuring cats and animals. The photographs of the cats are cute, but my biggest complaint is they are COMPLETELY static, they needed to have more photos in different poses, or different expressions. As a cat lover and owner, I find my own cats and those we watch on youtube etc to be extremely expressive. These static sprite images don’t capture much emotion or charm of these cats. They could have used different poses or angles, or tried to get their cats to be more expressive for some of the shoots (but well cats do what they wanna do so I understand maybe it was more difficult lol). I did critique the artwork when I left a brief steam review, and I was told that it was intentional to be more humorous and fit the theme and feeling of the game, and also because the creator wanted to include his friends’ real life cats. I did write back and suggest maybe just adding some more varied photos/poses would help – but I still think anime, ultimately is the way to go – it’s what the target audience wants, and what we expect. I am not a “graphics whore” – and I play all sorts of indie games (sprite based etc) and retro 8 bit and 16 bit games — but with a Visual Novel, the art work becomes highly important, because you don’t have that “gameplay” you need the artwork to help tell the story, hence the name “VISUAL” Novel, right? So the art was disapointing, if for no other reason, than it felt too still / stiff and wasn’t emotive or expressive. Although the writing was full of charm and did a great job defining the characters, the art didn’t help draw out that charm in any way.

Cute Kitties but Very "Stiff" Feeling Artwork due to lack of poses and expressions. Also the "light" being from different angles when the cats are together like this can make the artwork feel disjointed and mashed together.
Cute Kitties but Very “Stiff” Feeling Artwork due to lack of poses and expressions. Also the “light” being from different angles when the cats are together like this can make the artwork feel disjointed and mashed together.

Music: 6/10 – Music “gets the job done”, the main track is Hail to the Chief, the official presidential anthem of the USA. It’s really the only track I remember hearing consistently throughout, but I do remember hearing different tracks, including a vocal track even, but they’re ultimately not very memorable. The good news is, since each route is short, they can get by with a very limited number of music tracks, and the music itself does its job by providing background noise while not distracting or detracting anything from the focus of the story.

Frisky Loves the Ladies
Frisky Loves the Ladies

Replay Value: 10/10 – The replay value is exceptional here due to there being 6 dateable candidates, and each one having multiple endings. The characters are also diverse enough that each route feels like a fun and unique experience. The relatively short nature of each route makes multiple playthroughs easy and enjoyable.

Is there an ending where Frisky becomes human? Must play more to find out!
Is there an ending where Frisky becomes human? Must play more to find out!

Overall: 51/70 73% “C Good Game for Girls” – If you love games like Hatoful Boyfriend, and love cats, furries,  internet humor, memes, youtube, or just want a fun, light hearted visual novel with great characters and a surprisingly warm and touching, though ultimately hilarious story, then you need to check out Cat President – a More Purrfect Union.

Cat President – a More Purrfect Union – Visual Novel PC Game Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Romantic Diary Anime Otome Dressup Game Dating Sim with Cooking and Crafting

I just discovered, Romantic Diary, an anime Otome Dating Sim which is part Dressup Game, part Visual Novel, part Cooking Game, and has an extensive crafting system. At the core, this game looks quite similar to Hello Nikki! Which I reviewed here. However, it seems to have more robust features, and a heavier emphasis on story telling and dating elements. It’s also a “Stat-Raising” game similar to Princess Maker (which I reviewed here) or Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side (which I reviewed here).

Are you thinking about playing this game? If so please use my friend code (input it later after the tutorial at the “friend” screen). We’ll both get free stuff! ❤ Use Invite Code: 82477180

Title: Romantic Diary

Price: Free

Platforms: IOS and Android

Where To Get Romantic Diary:

Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/…

Apple App Store: https://itunes.apple.com…

Genre: Otome Visual Novel Dating Sim (With Stat-Raising Sim elements)

Publisher: NGames Interactive

Geeky:  3/5 – Technically speaking, this game is more advanced than about 95% of other Otome Dating Sims. It uses Live 2D to make the characters fully animated on dates, like Ensemble Stars or NekoPara. It also has much more to offer than just “dating” or “just dressup”.

Sweetie:  5/5 – One of the cutest games you’ll ever play.

Overall: 78 / 90 87% B+ “Very Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 This is fast becoming one of my favorite mobile games because of the wide variety of things to do from dressing up yourself, or one of several boys. It has full voice acting, and uses Live 2D to bring the characters “to life” – It has sky high production values. But not only that, but it’s a ton of fun. You can cook sweets to give to the boys to boost their affection, or plan a date by selecting different locations. You can work part time to earn in game currency, or study different subjects to boost your stats which helps unlock new event scenes, jobs, or even new guys to meet. There’s TONS of in game events too, which makes you want to keep playing, and an interesting story too.

Gameplay: 10/10 This game is unlike any of the other “dressup” games out there – it’s also equally different than some of the voltage/ntt solomare/kyonplete etc visual novels which have “dressup” components to them. This is more like a brand new genre of gaming that balances both dressup challenge type gameplay, with otome multiple ending/branching plot gameplay, as well as throwing in “Stat-Raising” gameplay ala Princess Maker or Tokimeki Memorial. It really captures several of my favorite genres here.

The basics of gameplay begin in “Story Mode” – here each “level” will present a new dressup challenge. You’re given hints at each level as to what to wear to pass to the next stage. For example you might be asked to wear “Pretty and Pure” clothes or “Mature and Sexy” or “Casual Streetwear” or “vintage” just to name a few. The different items you can get in the game all have these different traits (Once again like Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side), and when combined, you can create different looks. At the end you’re scored on how well you met the requirements. As you progress, you learn more about the strange fantasy world and explore deeper the character backgrounds and story.

But Gameplay doesn’t stop in story mode, it’s only beginning. From the main menu you have many different options, from cooking sweets, to tailoring or upgrading your own clothes, to dating, to playing various daily minigames to earn free items.

Story Mode helps you unlock new recipes for cooking or tailoring your clothes. (PS: the cooking and tailoring modes don’t open until later in story mode). Story mode is also how you meet new guys to date. As you play you keep unlocking new ways to play the game, making it an exciting and fresh experience on multiple playthroughs.

It even has a Skinship feature on the dates. If you don’t know what Skinship is, you might’ve heard about the recent controversy and removal of Skinship from Fire Emblem Fates which I covered in a news article here. But if you haven’t heard, Skinship is a concept common in many Japanese dating games, in which as your affection grows between you and the characters, you can “try your luck” at “petting” them in different parts of their body, stomach, arms, hair, face, lips, ear, etc. But if you are too bold or too forward, the affection will decrease, but if you are “petting” appropriately, it helps you bond with the character and thus, your affection will increase.

There is really a lot of things to do! You could play this game for hours a day, or devote as little as 20 minutes a day to collect your login bonus and free items for the day. It’s up to you.

Story: 7/10 – I think the story is cute, and SURPRISINGLY the translation is NOT terrible – I say surprisingly because if you look at their googleplay or itunes app store page…. their English is VERY poor. They must have outsourced the game’s translation or hired an editor though because there is little beyond minor typos which you see in almost all games with heavy text.

The story itself is about a girl (you) who is summoned into another world. When she first arrives, she can’t speak the language or understand what is happening. A young man casts a spell on her so that she may understand the native language of the world, and another young man begins helping her collect emblems as she begins life in the new world a “transfer student” in a magical school.

You learn that by helping others with their problems or concerns, you can extract magic shards from them which are causing their anxiety (and also which are valuable in this new world.) The events in the story focus on helping others and learning about why you’ve been summoned to the strange magic world.

Characters: 7/10 The characters are cute, both how they are drawn, as well as their personalities. There’s also ample character depth and progression as you increase affection with the different guys and turn that Tsundere or Shy boy into hopeless romantics for you lol. The characters also have unique fantasy elements to them, such as the main “cannon” character being an “elf” which is similar to a “druid” in that he can shapeshift – and sometimes not always “at will” similar to anime such as Fruits Basket or Ranma 1/2.

Graphics: 10/10 — I love this game’s graphics. Dozens of dressup options, high customization, you can make your own makeup, and combine different pieces of clothing, from dresses, to stockings, shoes, hair styles, hats, purses, jewelry, and more. Things have a soft, sweet, “dreamlike” vibe, and lots of pinks are used making it super cute and girly. Plus, as I mentioned, when you enter the dates, the game uses Live 2D which is a relatively new technology that can create fully animated models which appear 2D or anime like. — This sets it apart from other games which just use still images, which still, unfortunately, is the norm for almost all games of this type.

Music: 7/10: There’s a lot of cute and catchy tunes in this app, but a lot of them do get reused pretty often.

Voice Acting: 9/10 The game has the original voice acting in tact. I could be wrong, but I think it’s Chinese voice acting? It’s definitely not Japanese. It may be Korean, I dunno — That said, regardless of what it is, it’s highly expressive and further helps bring the characters to life. I deducted a point (maybe somewhat unfairly) because I didn’t like a few of the voices, but I’m not overly used to hearing Chinese (or whatever language this is). I just felt some of the voices were a little “jarring” on my nerves. Might just take some getting used to though. At least they kept the voice acting in so yay. Similar games such as Hello Nikki were originally fully voiced, and the voices removed for US release, so I really appreciate that this game kept the voices in tact.

Replay Value: 10/10 – I’ve said throughout this review, but the multitude of different things to do, from cooking, crafting, dating, minigames, dressup, questing, and in game limited time events, and of course exploring the story, keeps you wanting to play each day. This game is a huge time sink, but an enjoyable one!

Overall: 78 / 90 87% B+ “Very Good Game For Girls”

Romantic Diary Anime Otome Dressup Game Dating Sim with Cooking and Crafting was originally published on Geeky Sweetie