After my last post about visual novels (just scroll down a little), I invested a whooping 6 Euros (I wish I could get a book for that little money) in a professional visual novel I found online. This one, to be more precise:
I’ve been through it several times by now, it takes something between 30 and 45 minutes to finish it. The anime style is quite average for this kind of program (they come from Japan, after all) and I rather like it. It is a mystery which you (the reader / player) have to solve in the end (and I rather had some problems solving it for the first time).
Yes, you actually have to work to finish a visual novel. There are various times throughout the story during which you have to decide where to go, what to talk about and so on. This is one of the main points that sets a visual novel apart from an ordinary novel or a comic book (which also has the combination between graphics and text). You have to make decisions and actively decide the fate of the characters.
In fact, the “Phoenix Wright” and “Apollo Justice” games for DS are some kind of visual novel, too. I realized this last Friday when I decided to give “Apollo Justice Ace Attorney” another chance. I put it aside some time ago (when I received the “MCF”-game for the DS, if I remember it correctly) and started it up from the beginning.
(The characters are quite unique, starting with Apollo, a guy who thinks he needs vocal cords of steel to be a good attorney. Then there’s the prosecuting attorney at episode 2, 3 and 4 who is also a rock star [and during episode 3 a murder actually happens backstage during one of his concerts – I think you can guess what kind of mood he’s in afterwards]. Apollo’s employer – Phoenix Wright, as it is – also is quite a strange guy, a former star attorney, bar pianist and boss of an agency that consists of him [bar pianist and poker player], his daughter Trucy [15, stage magician] and Apollo [attorney]. And compared to some of the other people that turn up, they seem even quite normal…)
So, what is actually the good idea about those visual novels? Well, they’re visual, which might help some people to approach reading more. They are something you very actively go through, not just turning pages, but also deciding where to go from here. The have sound (most of them), though usually no voice-overs. They can be saved at every step. They can be replayed, because of the different decisions you can make and that will lead to different endings (maybe).
I don’t think those 6 Euros were bad spent. I will be having fun with this novel again in a couple of weeks or months when I have forgotten most of the story and can enjoy it again as something new, pretty much as I do it with ‘normal’ novels. And I now see the visual novel as a medium of its own right.