Japanese VNs

Amnesia: Memories

Long ago I was browsing the internet and stumbled upon some really gorgeous character designs. I immediately started drawing them. They were from a game called Amnesia, but I had little hope of playing it as it was Japanese only. I read route summaries and became a big fan of the game despite not having played it, and then it was announced for an English release! I was ecstatic. Needless to say, the game didn't disappoint. Ukyo is still my husbando.

MC not talking didn't bother me at all, it fit in with the amnesia theme and she does talk in the sequels. It gave room for Orion to exist and I found him a good addition to the game, making it feel quite unique. The overarching mystery of the game was well-executed, although you don't really learn much if anything in routes other than the final one. I liked the difference in tone between different routes and how the game was not afraid to get a bit dark, though in my opinion not to the degree that it got edgy. Toma is awful and we don't speak about him, but other than that I liked all the boys. I found the differences in relationships between characters per route really interesting, and I really loved most of the side-characters, especially Rika in Ukyo's route.

English language VNs



The difference between Western-original and Japanese-original visual novels is often in the amount of choices and the degree to which the narrative branches. Cinders has an immense amount of customisability between different playthroughs. Though it makes a single playthrough feel quite short, it invites you to play over and over again. I think the price point for the game is a bit high, but can definitely recommend getting it when it's on sale.

The game's weakest point is probably its love interests, none of whom are very fleshed out, but that's not really what the game is about so I can overlook it. It's much more interesting to influence Cinders' relationship with her family and to decide how she will alter her fate. I'm an unapologetic weeaboo so the art style isn't my cup of tea, but nonetheless the backgrounds are beautiful and the game looks very polished.


Cinderella Phenomenon

Of all the free otome games released in the West, this one comes closest to feeling like a commercial Japanese release. The artwork is simply stunning, especially the backgrounds. There's the typical Japanese structure where routes reveal a little bit of the mystery at a time and some routes have to be played first to unlock others. The story was quite gripping and I found almost all of the love interests likable, save Rumpel. Fritz was my favourite route, primarily because I love tragic stories and tragic boys (see: my two favourite boys Ukyo and Shiraishi)

Another thing I really liked about this release is the main character Lucette, who is so different from the usual otome heroines we see and really resonated with me. I've seen some who dislike her until she becomes kinder, but no, give me bitchy heroines every day. While all the boys were likable, none of them really became my best boy, but the overall quality of the game was enough to make this a very enjoyable read.

VNs played

One day I'll flesh this out, but for now here's everything I've played plus a tiny opinion blurb.

  • a2 ~a due~
    decent but not particularly memorable

  • Adrift
    difficult but fairly good from what i recall

  • After School Affairs (mobile)
    another mobile game. the guy i picked was pretty nice.

    too tryhard, didn't grab me

  • Alloys over Flowers
    decent, simple nanoreno otome

  • Aloners
    normally a singular love interest puts me off games but this game is so good, the writing is excellent and the story is interesting even without the romance component

  • Always Remember Me
    statraiser, bad

  • Amnesia: Memories
    the one, the only, my love

  • Analogue: A Hate Story
    trying too hard to be deep, it was just okay

  • Angelic Orbs - Broken Memories
    pretty much all i remember is the fact that i played this

  • Autumn's Journey
    the writing wasn't captivating, even though by all means i should've enjoyed the game

  • Bad Apple Wars
    quite disappointing but at least 1 of the boys was good

  • Because We're Here
    i love it, it's great. if you like history and/or tragedy you must play this.

  • Belle Tower
    ah, this was adorable. only sad part is it's too short. lovely character designs, and being able to pair everyone with everyone is so refreshing.

  • Ben and the Devil
    interesting enough

  • Cinderella Phenomenon
    actually amazing for a free OELVN, on par with some Japanese releases

  • Cinders
    i expected more of it, being a commercial project. i still did enjoy it but it could've been more in-depth.

  • Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~
    really good commercial VN

  • Collar x Malice
    absolute favourite commercial VN next to Amnesia

  • Cooked with Love
    very fun nanoreno entry

  • Cupid
    decent for a free game but the writing can drag in places

  • Cute Demon Crashers
    high production values, pretty good

  • Daemonophilia
    i recall having played it, i don't think it was awful

  • Date Warp
    enjoyable plot, would recommend, one of my first commercial VNs

  • Dark Nights
    the routes were quite disjointed from each other, which i didn't really care for. most of the routes also weren't very romantic in my opinion, so i ended up having a mediocre opinion of it even though a lot of work obviously went into it.

  • Digital: A Love Story
    solid, unique presentation

  • Doki Doki Literature Club
    it was bad

  • don't take it personally, babe, it just ain't your story
    enjoyable ride, should play at least once, high level of polish

  • Doppelganger: Dawn of the Inverted Soul
    surprisingly fun, there's a thousand endings and all of them are worth getting

  • Double Romance
    really short, okay

  • Ebon Light
    liked the amount of choices but they also made it annoying to replay because there was no easy way to skip. the art style isn't really my thing and most of the boys weren't my type but it's a good game that i would recommend wholeheartedly for a free release.

  • Enchanted in the Moonlight (mobile)
    on par for a mobile game, eh

  • Faery Tale
    i barely recall this, i don't think it was very good

  • Fetch Quest
    this was really enjoyable! a great nanoreno entry.

  • Froot Basket Valentine
    it was okay? wouldn't really recommend it

  • Frozen Essence
    one of my first and one of my favourites, though its appearance hasn't aged well

  • Get Dumped
    i think it was okay

  • Go! Magical Boy
    i think it was okay

  • Hakuouki
    interesting, well-written commercial VN

  • Halloween Otome
    it was pretty mediocre

  • Hatoful Boyfriend
    it's really good okay

  • Heartbaked
    something about it just isn't satisfying

  • Heartful Chance

  • Hierofania
    interesting in concept, decent but not gripping

  • Home for the Heart
    the writing was boring and the characters uninteresting

  • Homeward
    it's a ride, but i can't recommend it

  • Hustle Cat
    it's just about at the threshold of what i want out of a commercial game to not be disappointed. cute enough, but not too much depth.

  • Ikemen Revolution (mobile)
    one of the few f2p mobile games i've bothered with. better than most.

  • Ishara: Bane of the Seas
    pretty decent from what i recall

  • Juniper's Knot
    very polished, pretty good

  • Katawa Shoujo
    it was okay, too much purple prose, kind of boring

  • Kissed by the Baddest Bidder (mobile)
    about what you'd expect from a mobile game, eh

  • Kitty Love
    i... liked it at the time

  • Knife of the Traitor
    good nanoreno entry, interesting worldbuilding

  • Lads in Distress
    high level of polish, writing could use some work but enjoyable enough

  • Lake of Voices
    really good and complete-feeling story. nice worldbuilding.

  • Last Vacation
    someone's first project, it was eh

  • Learning in Love
    cute little game, good writing

  • Legend of Piper Girl
    pretty good

  • Line of Heroes
    i remember this being quite good, too bad the creator never made anything again

  • Long Live The Queen
    more of a statraiser than a VN, but a fun one (and i don't like statraisers)

  • Loren The Amazon Princess
    highly eh

  • Magical Diary
    very fun, would recommend

  • Magical Otoge Ciel
    simple, cute, fun, recommended

  • Memoirs of an Angel
    only a demo got released but it was really interesting, i've been waiting for a real release ever since (that was 2010...)

  • Misshapen Love
    it's a tiny game, but it's fun

  • Munster Academy
    quite fun, worth a try

  • My Magical Divorce Bureau
    short but fun

  • Mystic Messenger (mobile)
    tried it and didn't like it. the plot was weird and uninteresting, none of the characters stood out and the format of the game is very unattractive to me because i don't want to miss out on anything but also can't dedicate my whole day to a game.

  • Nachtigal
    pretty eh, though others seem to disagree

  • Nanolife
    pretty decent

  • Nicole
    entirely uncaptivating

  • Norn9: Var Commons

    pretty awful for a Japanese commercial release, the translation makes me cry

  • One Leaf Clover
    not memorable

  • Ori, Ochi, Onoe
    played this like 10 years ago and i don't recall much but i don't think it was great

  • Other Age
    fun for a bit, but how do you get a single good ending at all?

  • Our Private Homeroom (mobile)
    you know what to expect from a mobile game, if you like teacher and student stories then you'll like this

  • (P)lanets - the life of normalcy has ended
    even my 13-year-old self could recognise how bad the writing was

  • Painted Walls
    decent horror game

  • Period Cube
    the reviews told me it was bad but i refused to listen. i should have listened. not worth the money.

  • Planet Stronghold
    bland, mediocre writing at best, no real interesting characters

  • PQRS the Game
    another one i barely remember, but i think i liked it

  • Princess Debut (DS)
    i honestly love this game

  • Princess of Ruin
    i was hyped for this but it honestly kind of sucked, what happened VenusEclipse?

  • Pyrite Heart
    a lot worse than it seems at first glance

  • Rapunzel
    kinetic, not very memorable

  • RE: Alistair++
    enjoyable, high level of polish, good for beginners

  • Reflections on the River
    enjoyable nanoreno project

  • Rei
    simple but with really good writing

  • Ripples
    kinetic, okay

  • Rise Against!!
    i only very vaguely remember this, i think it was okay

  • Ristorante Amore
    pretty fun, if at times too lengthy and verbose (the beginning is hard to get through)

  • Robot Daycare
    surprisingly well-written. good nanoreno entry.

  • RockRobin
    i remember waiting for the release of this game for so long! it was quite good, i like the band theme and it's something i would easily recommend as far as free games go. after playing through 2 routes on story mode i felt a bit too burnt out to really enjoy open mode. the main character is the opposite of the typical japanese doormat MC but in my opinion takes it a bit too far to the other side. i found her abrasive character annoying a fair amount of the time.

  • Romance is Dead
    quite fun

  • Roommates
    very uninteresting

  • Sacred Sand
    this was really good, i don't even like BxB and i loved it

  • Seduce Me
    this game was absolutely awful

  • Serafina's Crown
    i liked parts of it but overall it was quite mediocre. Lack of romance and lack of ending variety really disappointed me.

  • Serafina's Saga
    good writing, nice worldbuilding

  • Seven Kingdoms: The Princess Problem
    it's not even done and i've done about 20 playthroughs. what can i say, it's amazing.

  • Shall We Date? Magic Sword + (mobile)
    probably even a little below par for a mobile game

  • Shall we date? Ninja Love (mobile)
    F2P kills my soul but back when i still had the patience for it i enjoyed this

  • so obscure;
    play this if you're nostalgic for when you were 13 and obsessed with fall out boy

  • Summer Found Me
    relatively short, enjoyable enough

  • Sweet Fuse: At Your Side
    interesting commercial VN with unusual characters, recommended

  • Taarradhin
    it was okay, but i don't like this type of PC VN

  • That Cheap and Sacred Thing
    kinetic but really good

  • The Blind Griffin
    quite enjoyable, though none of the characters really resonated with me

  • The Confines of The Crown
    pretty good, not outstanding

  • The Dreaming
    interesting? frankly, can't remember much

  • The Empty Orchestra
    not memorable, boring

  • The Flower Shop: Winter in Fairbrook
    very average, nothing really stood out negatively or positively

  • The Lady's Choice
    bland writing, no character really stood out to me

  • The Photographer
    okay nanoreno project

  • The Thirteenth Year
    i definitely played this and i have no clue what i thought of it

  • Unplanned Amour
    i think this was surprisingly decent

  • Valentine's Otome
    enjoyable but strange, things happen in the plot but the pacing is off and it doesn't feel like you're in it, setting and characters seem like someone's OC world reappropriated to fit into a VN instead of created for one and i appreciate it but it also makes the story disjointed and hard to follow. the story also seems like it's not about the romance at all but something much grander. the romance itself was a little lacklustre? tentative recommend

  • WANTED: Dragon
    couldn't really get into it

  • War of Prayers (mobile)
    pretty decent for a mobile game, got a lil attached to the guy whose route i was on

  • What's Your Name?
    interesting and novel

  • White Box
    really well-written if basic, got me interested in more of ebihime's VNs

  • Wilder (Ran)
    good writing, bit on the short side and could do with a bit more depth. i felt the potential of the setting and story weren't fully explored.

  • Witch Spell
    decent art, not memorable

  • Yo-Jin-Bo
    one of the first ever Japanese otome titles to be translated, this was really good!

  • Zayay