Mushi no MeA pretty good example of a doujin game that becomes less interesting as it goes on. I was quite engaged with the game throughout the first half, but the latter half is largely composed of exposition and flashbacks, failing to capitalize on the potential of the characters and setting. Frankly, it came across to me as a hodgepodge of individual ideas (some of them very good ones!) and hype moments that never really coalesced into anything greater and didn't really have anything to "say." And from a purely plot perspective, the villain being an extremely cliche character who was only properly introduced more than halfway through the game really didn't help in terms of like... caring about the central conflict at all.
Overall, I think the game had a lot of potential that it failed to realize. It would have definitely benefited from having someone step in to cut the chaff (the game has WAY too much text for how small-scale the story ends up being; it could easily have been done in half the text) and hone the focus of the game. As it is, it's ultimately just... derivative, and I don't think it will resonate with you unless you're already attuned to the same wavelength as the creator. But, you know what, maybe that's what doujin games should be. You certainly can't fault the creators for a lack of passion.
I do appreciate that it had a pretty satisfying epilogue, and the yuri elements with Nii and Sancha were good throughout, so my score is a bit higher than it would be otherwise. The voice acting in Matsuri is also quite good for a doujin game.
I'm glad Nii has an (rot13) vaprfghbhf xnzvfnzn TS by the end of it all, if nothing else.
Shiika o Tashinamu ReI have some issues with the structure of the story, but this is a great example of just how creative and provocative VIPRPGs can be. It's both a great introduction to the culture and a solid game in its own right.
Musicus!Setoguchi saved eroge, but he also killed it. (This is mostly just a snarky one-liner since I think Musicus deserves more than a brief comment on vndb, but I can't deny that in a lot of ways it feels like "the last eroge" to me, even if it obviously isn't...)
Nukige Mitai na Shima ni Sunderu Watashi wa Dou Surya Ii Desu ka? 2I'm not fully on board with how the main scenario was presented, but I think the authors had their hearts in the right place and the very ending was wonderful. They did a much better job of depicting the whole utopia vs. dystopia theme in this game than the original, imo.
Otherwise, it's what you would expect after playing the original. Absolutely insane in a good way.
Akai ItoSuffers from very abrupt endings and an onerous branching system, but the actual writing is incredibly effective; at times evocative, at times informative, and always compelling. Possibly the best example I can give of a VN where the text itself absolutely carries the work and brings everything together. The folklore/mythology elements are also very competently presented, with TIPS that are simultaneously edifying and entertaining. I think Touhou fans will get a kick out of it in particular, and vice versa. The yuri elements are lighter than I would have liked, but you can clearly feel the influence it had on later yuri works, so I can't knock it too hard. (My favorite pairing is Kei/Uzuki, but I liked the good ending for Nozomi the most). Also, Matsuki Miyu's voice acting as Kei, the protagonist, is absolutely wonderful. If you like her, you owe it to yourself to play this.
Eve: Burst Errorhttps://twitter.com/moogy0/status/1147902132387024897 Less endless conversations about how men and women are programmed to yearn for one another or whatever bullshit please
GabyoudenIf you're a TS fan, it's honestly worth playing this just to see the wokest game engine of all time. Every aspect of it is incredibly bizarre and seemingly designed to make it impossible to actually make anything good with it. As a result, the gameplay is incredibly kuso, but in a funny way -- it helps that the game is only a few hours long, so it ends before it has a chance to become offensive. It also has the classic TS character interactions and humor... though it very much leans toward the Erumani side of things, despite being made after OtoZ. All in all it's a game that can only be described as "dank."
Tobira no Densetsu: Kaze no TsubasaThere are individual elements of this game that other JRPGs do better, but nothing that brings everything together quite the way Tobiden does. The highlight of the game (for me, at least) is the way it manages to spin together so many disparate plot threads into a cohesive whole; watching it all come together over the course of a 100 hour adventure is really an experience you can't find elsewhere. And while the combat itself isn't always interesting, the gameplay actually manages to stay pretty fresh throughout, if only because there are so many systems and approaches crammed into the game, lol. It's probably worth studying for anyone who wants to make their own RPG, in that sense. I do feel that the central theme can be a bit overbearing in places, and the author's own voice comes across probably too strongly at times, but the storytelling itself is consistently varied and engrossing enough that it's not a big deal. You do need to have a high tolerance for brutal violence and tragedy, though; don't be fooled by the cutesy exterior.
Evenicle 2Honestly, I liked this more than the original, even if most people probably won't. Alex is honestly a pretty cool protagonist (once you get past him being Horny) and the scenario felt a lot more ambitious than the previous game, even if it didn't always knock it out of the park. It's hard to recommend to people who aren't diehard JRPG/Alicesoft fans, though, simply because it's quite long (70-80 hours if you do everything) and requires a lot of grinding with a relatively high encounter rate. It is not the highly-accessible JRPG-lite that the original was, and while that didn't really bother me, I feel like it was the wrong direction for the series to take, especially since the systems themselves weren't really meaningfully updated. If there's an Evenicle 3, hopefully they can get things back on track.
Amazing Grace -What color is your attribute?-I won't say AmeGure is perfect, but I really loved the writing, ambition, and general atmosphere of it; it's one of the few recent eroge that really grabbed me from the get-go and made me want to play it just from seeing the OHP. Fuyuakane Tom is a great writer in a technical sense and is really great at constructing and utilizing characters such that they maintain their agency in the world/narrative, so I'm really looking forward to his next game with Cabbage. Also, AmeGure is pretty good if you're interested in western art history; for better or worse, it's a lot more frank and straightforward about the subject than something like Sakura no Uta.
Saiaku Naru Saiyaku Ningen ni SasaguThe setting definitely feels like it was constructed specifically for the sake of telling this particular story, and as such a few plot elements come across as artificial. But I'll be damned if the story told within that setting isn't compelling. Sasasagu manages to tackle a lot of heavy subjects without feeling like an after-school special, and it makes the most of its status as a console game to present its scenario in a way that's meaningfully different from most visual novels. I particularly love the final scenario and how it ends; I feel like a lot of works would have shied away from ending on a note quite that heavy, but Sasasagu sure didn't. The presentation, while limited in some ways, also shows how well scenario and visuals can work in harmony when the same person is handling both, and the voice acting for Kuro is fantastic. I believe R is working on another game for Kemco; hopefully it's just as ambitious.
Shunkyoku no Tyrhhia ~What a Beautiful Dawn~Despite having a bunch of different writers, this is actually one of the most consistently well-written VNs I've read... the text more or less manages to carry a narrative that would be a bit shaky otherwise; you can tell that this was based on a short story, and expanding it to "feature length" didn't really work out all that well, with a lot of characters and plot elements just sort of falling by the wayside by the time all is said and done. At least Tesla's appearance is decent fanservice for Steampunk series fans.
HeartiumIn many ways, a much more "standard" narrative than TS's past work, and it does reiterate a lot of ideas from OtoZ and Subaru. Personally, though, I saw it as a refining of some of the concepts he had worked with previously, and proof that TS is versatile enough as a creator to pull off more or less anything that he wants to. The map and combat design are also quite tight; it was his first time making an FE clone, but I think he nailed the balancing for the weapon triangle and durability systems while also managing to make every unit pretty distinct. Honestly I enjoyed the gameplay in this a lot more than FE3H lol.
Yaminabe KikakuSuper impressive to me on multiple levels; it manages to be both incredibly entertaining at all times on a scenario level and actually pretty good as an SRPG despite being made in the cursed SM95 engine. TS's strengths as a creator are on full display here and there's really nothing else like it; if you enjoyed his other games at all there's basically no chance you won't love Yaminabe. And while on some level I do think Mahosho should remain a "standalone" work, I can't deny that it was absolutely wonderful to see Chiyo and co. again. Akari in particular is so good in this... Also, Shii is an amazing protagonist, and The Masked Man somehow ascends from meme status to become a pretty great antagonist as well. Man, what a game.
Subaru no KishiNot as "unique" as some of TS's other games but very fun in its own right. I think it does a good job of capturing the highs of shounen manga without getting dragged down in the lows. And Sirius is honestly a really cool dude; if you want to have an 俺TUEEE male protagonist, *this* is how you do it.
Erumani【E R U M A N I D E F E N S E F O R C E】
If you can get past how very... Erumani every part of the game is, I honestly think it's a lot of fun. You definitely need a certain mindset to appreciate it, though.
OtoZThe amount of SM95 jank and genuinely poor presentation of a lot of elements of the scenario made it hard for me to enjoy this, but it does really shine in some ways, so it depends on what you look at, I guess. The final duel with Chaco and Koten is great either way.
Mahou ShoujoI have too much personal investment in this game to really score it objectively but whatever. It's kami, play it.
Karigurashi Ren'aiI forgot I even played this. It's by ASa Project so it has a lot of dank memes and genuinely funny boke/tsukkomi humor but you probably won't remember anything about the game a week after playing it lol
Rance 10More than just an incredible conclusion to the Rance series, it's an incredible love letter to Japanese games as a whole. I know a lot of people are unable to get past the Rance series being, well, Rance, but this game is really something special and I think anyone seriously interested in the Japanese gaming industry *needs* to play it. Also, would you believe me if I said it actually becomes a wholesome family story by the end? Probably not, but it does!!!!