Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Titel: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Autor: Becky Albertalli
Seiten: 384
Genre: Gay Romance
Amazon-Link: https://amzn.to/2L7kG9U

I reread the book after having watched the awesome movie adaptation and wondered why I only gave the book three stars before. Well, before I dive into the book let me just say that I LOVED the movie! It is cute, it is honest, it is everything I ever wanted from a teenage love comedy – why didn’t this come out when I was fifteen?! Anyway, when I read the book for the second time I remembered why I only gave it three stars before – yes, it is funny. But sometimes it feels like this was a little bit to childish for me, a bit over the top. I also have to say that I’m usually not that much into love stories and so some things were too cheesy for my taste. However, I just love these characters SO much! And after the movie, I cannot help but immediately picture the charismatic Nick Robinson when thinking about Simon. I know it’s an unspoken rule between book lovers never to say “the movie was better”, but I really think that watching Love, Simon enhanced my experience with this book a lot and made me fall in love with Simon, Leah, Abby, and all the others even more. So when this book was a 3,5 stars for me and I rounded down to 3 before, I just have to round up this time and make it 4 stars. Because we need more LGBT books like these – books that make you laugh out loud, books that make you happy, books with a happy ending. (This was pretty cheesy coming from me).

Conclusion: A lighthearted LGBT story that handles being a gay teen spot-on, albeit the cuteness can be a little bit of a sugar overload.

★★★★☆/★★★★★
(4/5 Stars)

Review: Rough Animals by Rae DelBianco

Title: Rough Animals
Author: Rae DelBianco
Pages: 304
Genre: Western thriller
Amazon link: https://amzn.to/2tKl96q

I’ve been following the author’s inspiring Instagram channel for a while now and when I heard about her first novel, I was intrigued. Just by looking at her pictures you can tell that she has an eye for aesthetically pleasing photographs and I wondered if her writing was equally mesmerizing. And hell yes, it is! After the first few pages, you will not only be totally captivated by the plot, you are also going to want to dwell on each sentence. If you’re not a fan of flowery language, I guess you won’t enjoy this book. But if you are into metaphoric sentences and like to interpret things – you will love it. Because every word is at the right place and there for a reason, nothing feels forced. That is not to say that the story is convoluted and hard to understand. In fact, it is pretty straightforward and will have you turn those pages until you’ve reached the jaw-dropping ending of this thrilling ride. This book is wild! And quite often not for the faint of heart. If you’re looking for a captivating, lyrical, albeit brutal read – do yourself a favor and pick this up. As Kirkus Review aptly summed it up in one beautiful sentence: “Man, this ‘redneck kid author’ can write.”

Conclusion: An astonishing debut novel that sure as hell doesn’t feel like one! Totally recommended reading!

★★★★★/★★★★★
(5/5 Stars)

Where We Lay Our Scene – Review

Where We Lay Our Scene

Where We Lay Our Scene is the latest visual novel by Cyanide Tea and was a project for NaNoRenO 2016. With four character routes and 13 different endings, it was an ambitious project, but you can tell from the very beginning that it was worth the effort. I want to highlight some things I really liked about WWLOS here:

All of the characters find themselves at some kind of crossroads in their lives and have to deal with certain issues concerning for example identity, profession, or a mixture of both. I’m sure many players will be able to identify with at least one of the characters, because the cast is extremely diverse. Not only do all of the characters have unique personalities, they also develop throughout the game and become realistic and palpable persons. Furthermore, the game features characters of different nationalities, sexualities, and body types.

The CGs fit to the tone of the respective character’s route perfectly and although I wish there were more CGs, I feel like they summarize the essence of the depicted relationship. Speaking of art: I just knew Auro wouldn’t disappoint! The art is top-notch; the sprites and backgrounds are detailed and we get to see the cast in many different outfits and poses, while the GUI looks nice and clean, making the game look very polished.

Where We Lay Our Scene Screenshot

It was very easy for me to fall in love with Christian, Oliver, Sacha and Viola, because they all showed certain features I find in myself, and although Rainier’s route wasn’t as engrossing for me as the other routes, it only proves that the game offers something for every taste. Personally, I liked that the game tackles important topics while being fun and engaging – I think it’s great for people who have to deal with similar problems in their lives, that they can identify with fictional characters and can take away something for their personal real life. There’s no better way to learn something new, to become a better, more open-minded person while experiencing something in a fun way, because like Oscar Wilde already knew, “life imitates art”.

Christian Marino has become a household name, what with his face and body always visible when you open a magazine or look out your subway train window. But now famous model Christian Marino finds himself at a crossroads. What will he do with his life once his well-known and much-cherished looks fade? Is there even anything more to him below the surface that everyone else sees? As he considers these issues of future and identity, he’s suddenly cast as the lead role in a film based on a bestselling novel. With fresh new challenges to face in an unfamiliar environment, this just might be the solution Christian was looking for—to more problems than one.

Do yourself a favor and play the demo of the game! With its $4.99 price tag it has a more than fair price. Also stay tuned for the upcoming Greenlight campaign, so the game can eventually be released on Steam.

Where We Lay Our Scene on itch.io

Cyanide Tea on Twitter

Cyanide Tea on Facebook

Exogenesis ~Perils of Rebirth~ – Preview

You like games with post-apocalyptic themes? With authentic characters and a compelling story? Games like Ace Attorney and Zero Escape? Then Exogenesis ~Perils of Rebirth~ is THE visual novel for you! With high definition art and animations, over 150,000 words and a lot of puzzles, the game outshines every visual novel that is available in German.

It’s 2069. Yudai Sayashi’s ragtag club of “treasure hunters” (referred to as looters by those who know them), Durchhalten, was closer to real treasure than they’d ever been before. Overly eager, Yu’s sister Miho ran carelessly towards the vault, triggering a trap that killed her. Two years later, Yu comes across a startling discovery. The mythical Noah’s Ark, borne of legend by those who believe the Old World can be restored, turns out to be a real thing.

With the help of the kid genius Toshio, Yu learns about the existence of the Lazarus Protocol inside Noah’s Ark – a system that can recreate anything from the past – a machination developed during the time when humanity’s survival was uncertain. Using the Ark, Yu believes Miho can be brought back to life.

Before setting out to find the Ark, however, Yu wants to reunite the now defunct Durchhalten. The group had disbanded after the tragic incident two years ago, and he wants everyone to be there when Miho opens her eyes once more.

The game is being funded through a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. If you’d like to have a German translation, please tell all of your friends about it, so that enough money will be raised to cover all the costs. The game is set to be released in December 2014, and will have full voice acting (in English). It’ll work on several platforms; including Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and others when the stretch goals are reached, for example PSVita, iOS, and Android. There is a demo available on the Kickstarter page. I’d be glad if you’d support this ambitious project.

Kickstarter

Official Website
Facebook
Twitter
Tumblr
YouTube
Soundcloud

Blue Rose – Review

Blue Rose

Blue Rose by White Cat is a fantasy visual novel and otome game. It is the first commercial release by this group and way released on August 17, 2013 in English. A German translation will follow soon. Here is the official game description:

“Deep in the mountains, away from prying eyes
is a refuge unknown to anyone else.
Born of hope
cradled in shadows
this place that only looks forward
is where I found my heart.”

Lena is a Templar of the Blue Rose, living her life to fight and protect what is most important. But what is truly important to her is only just about to reveal itself. Pulled away from the frontlines of the war, Lena finds herself trapped in a secluded, unknown village in the mountains. For the first time she will make her own decisions – and face the consequences.

Blue Rose impresses clearly with its wonderful atmosphere; the graphics and the music go very well together. But what really convinced me in the end were the characters. At first glance, they seem to be quite similar – three of the four boys even have almost the same hair color – but after the first few days in-game at the latest it becomes clear: the characters have all different personalities but don’t become typical cliché characters thereby. For instance, we have the somewhat grumpy Tobias who always backtracks when it gets risky. Or the daredevil Gavin who’s also new in town. It’s also interesting that apart from the four boys (Tobias, Gavin, Simon, and Aran) you also have to option to date Erin who has the dream to turn her small inn into a great restaurant.

All things considered, Blue Rose offers an interesting story full of dragons, templars, and romance. The player has also enough room to do something; you can make important decisions in conversations, which is usual for these kind of games, but you can also decide where the protagonist should go over the day. However, the characters won’t repeat standard phrases but you’ll always get to see a nice, new scene. I think Blue Rose is a surprise hit and I hope we’ll get to see more of these superb visual novels by White Cat in the future!

You can buy the game here for $19,99, there’s also a free demo version to download. The game is for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

Kako no Koi

bdjv2q59

Kako no Koi is an upcoming original German visual novel by Yume Creations.

“The protagonist Naoya Kiriyama is really depressed after his little sister Nagi killed herself. But he was encouraged by his friends especially by his childhood friend Chizuru Futami. They’re really good friends and do almost everything together. He also got help from Chizuru’s friend Tsukasa Hanamiya. Time went on and he fell in love with Tsukasa, but she turned down his confession. But he didn’t give up and finally she became his girlfriend. But the happiness didn’t last long because Tsukasa got in an accident and died. What will happen to Naoya? Will he see Tsukasa and Nagi again?”

Kako no Koi is a drama/mystery/romance visual novel. The game features character art by Deji and is supposed to be funded with crowdfunding. There is a short pre-alpha demo available in German and a English translation thereof by me. For more information and download links, take a look at the crowdfunding page on Indigogo: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/kako-no-koi

The Royal Trap – Review

The Royal Trap

The Royal Trap is the latest visual novel by Hanako Games.

“Madeleine Valois is a prince’s companion. Her job is to guide and advise him, to make him look good so that he can land a royal bride. It is her responsibility to keep him out of trouble – not to let him walk blindly into a political minefield, not to let him get arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, and definitely not to let him fall in love with her. Unfortunately, events are not going according to plan

The game is a mix between action, romance, and intrigue. While the first four chapters are similar for every path, the game divides into four completely different plots in chapter five. Playing as Madeleine, the player can decide which character to pursue. Madeleine’s prince Oscar, the moody prince of Gwellinor Callum, the mysterious Nazagi, and the strange prince Gaston.

But be warned! The game is called The Royal TRAP for a reason. It is full of plot twists and surprising events! The Royal Trap is available at a price of $ 19.95 and can be played with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. A demo, containing the prologue and the first chapter, can be downloaded for free on the official site.

Official Site

Primordia

Primordia is the latest point-and-click-Adventure by Wadjet Eye Games and Wormwood Studios. It is a futuristic, post-apocalyptic game with robots and everything what makes a good sci-fi game. It will bereleased on December 5, 2012. Here is the official description of the game:

Ages have passed since legendary Man walked the planet. Now, in the desolate wastelands beyond the city of Metropol, a solitary robot named Horatio jealously guards his freedom and independence. All that is taken away from him when a marauding foe steals his power source, forcing him to leave the safety of his home and set out on a perilous journey into the wastes – and into his own mysterious past.

I helped with the beta test and I was able take a look beforehand. Primordia is lovely designed and reminds you of the old adventure classics. The hand drawn graphics in retro style are nice to look at and the professional voice acting gives an exceptional depth to the characters and brings them to live even though they are robots.

You can pre-order the game as a digital download or as a DVD here:
http://www.wadjeteyegames.com/primordia.html

Vampires Dawn: The Crimson Realm

Vampires Dawn: The Crimson Realm

Something for RPG fans this time. In Germany well-known and hopefully soon international; a new title of the Vampires Dawn series by Marlex. Vampires Dawn: Reign of Blood and Vampires Dawn II: Ancient Blood were only released in German, but the game for mobiles Vampires Dawn: Deceit of Heretics (short: DoH) was released in English as well. Vampires Dawn: The Crimson Realm (short: TCR) is not yet released but it is supposed to bring the story of the mobile game to an end and link it to Vampires Dawn: Reign of Blood. The game will be released in German and English.

DoH was about the vampire Vince Neras, who had to face the vampire hunter Vincent Weynard and his priestess Ayrene Molana Trevos in the Holy Crusade. He got active support from both of his skeleton servants Romus and Manok, as well as from the only recent changed Lara Vynus. TCR will finalize this story and will partly run parallel to the story of the first game Reign of Blood. You can look forward to a reunion with old friends but also new characters. TCR will be told from different perspectives, which are supposed to cast a different light on the events. Of course, there are a lot of spells, secrets, and monsters, as becomes a good RPG.

For all those who got confused with all these titles; this is the chronological order of the storyline:
Vampires Dawn: Deceit of Heretics (2007)
Vampires Dawn: The Crimson Realm (TBA)
Vampires Dawn: Reign of Blood (2001)
Vampires Dawn II: Ancient Blood (2005)

Vampires Dawn: The Crimson Realm is supposed to be the first commercial title of the series and will be funded with Crowdfunding. Therefore, to realize this project the team will raise money until February 28, 2013. The first screenshots and pieces of music are promising and Vampires Dawn stands for quality since 2001 in the matter of story and technique. After the hopefully successful Crowdfunding project, we can look forward to a new vampire adventure soon. More information and how you can help with the project under: http://www.vampiresdawn.eu/