Argent Games is an independent visual novel studio that focuses on creating diverse narrative games. The studio is run by writer and programmer, Dovah, and editor and marketer, Gamma. The pair has released several games including Red Embrace, Pale Cachexia, Self-Checkout Unlimited, Your Dry Delight, Chess of Blades and more! They are currently working on a new addition to the Red Embrace franchise, Red Embrace: Paradisus.
Dovah and Gamma sat with us to talk about how they founded Argent Games, the Red Embrace universe, diversity in visual novels, and more!
Can you tell us a little bit about who makes up Argent Games and how you found yourselves working together?
Argent Games is co-owned by me (Dovah) and Gamma. We actually met at college, when Gam hopped on as an editor for the Requiescence script. We realized we were a perfect match (I like design/writing stuff, and Gam is into programming/business management), and formed Argent Games once we decided to keep working together.
What inspired your game development journey?
It started very innocuously. I’d played a lot of Japanese BL visual novels and adored them, since I’d never seen that type of game in Western markets before. They were super inspiring because I loved to write and really wanted to make games, and VNs are fairly simple to develop on a technical level. Nobody was really making big LGBT visual novels in English at that point, either, so it felt like a fresh and exciting market to delve into.
Where did the name Argent Games come from?
The name is actually pretty random and meaningless! We just liked the periodic table of the elements, and argent/silver has a nice ring to it, haha.
Can you speak a bit about Gallium Games and where the idea for this side label came from?
Gallium Games sprang up around our NaNoWriMo 2018 project, Delusion Gallery. It was our first real creative collaboration, and therefore it seemed unfitting to put it on the AG label, which we keep for our sole creative designs. Afterwards, we came up with the idea of expanding the GAG label to a publishing/VN collab side endeavor, so we could continue working with other creators and expanding our genre library!
How would you define the games that you make?
We’d define AG games as narrative-focused, exploratory titles. We’ve always been LGBTQ+ inclusive, but we’re now actively striving to present more diverse characters, backgrounds, and themes in our works as well.
You mentioned actively trying to add more diversity in your games. Can you let us know how you’re doing this and why it’s so important for your studio to include this diversity?
Yes! When it comes to new character design, as we develop an NPC’s identity and life around their personality, we’re focusing on portraying a wider variety of representation–POC, LGBTQ+ folks, women, disabled chars, a range of ages, and other aspects. Since RE:P includes a large cast of characters, it’s been a perfect opportunity for us to research and develop a diverse set of backgrounds, and we feel like the game’s world has been vastly improved because of it. We’re also tailoring our character customization options to be more inclusive, so a greater number of players can identify better with their MC.
Is there one particular genre of game Argent Games leans towards making?
We definitely lean towards story-based games. It’s hard to pinpoint a more specific genre, but interactive fiction is probably the best way to describe most of our works!
You’re currently working on Red Embrace: Paradisus. Can you tell us a little about the game?
Red Embrace: Paradisus is a narrative RPG set in 1999 Las Vegas. You play as a newly-turned vampire trying to find your footing among the insidious, chaotic schemes of the underworld. The game uses a skill system (your character’s active abilities) and a personality trait system (how you respond to situations/dialogue) for immersive role-playing, allowing you to find a unique path through the story.
What can players expect from the Red Embrace world?
The Red Embrace world is dark and unforgiving, but it’s also a chronicle of vampires who still cling tightly to their human beliefs. It explores the way different characters deal with their isolating, undead curse, and how most of them still have good intentions even if they end up with tragic results. There’s a lot of humor in the RE universe, though, and RE:P in particular aims to take itself less seriously than its predecessors. It’s also a world that aims to be inclusive for everyone, and RE:P presents a wide variety of characters (as well as allowing the MC to be heavily customized) so that all kinds of players can feel at home.
You have quite a bit of games out already! Do you have a favorite that you’ve worked on? What about a least favorite?
Our favorites would probably have to be Red Embrace: Hollywood or Pale Cachexia. We put quite a bit of effort into polishing both titles to the fullest! Our least favorite would probably be Chess of Blades–the people we worked with were great, but the game’s story content ended up being a lot more topical and fluffy than we intended it to be.
Are there any visual novels or studios you’ve drawn inspiration from for any of your current or upcoming games?
For one of our upcoming VNs, we found some inspiration from Robobarbie’s Blooming Panic, specifically in the chat/video chat system UI they implemented. Made Marion by Velvet Cupcake Games, while not a direct inspiration for anything specific yet, has a delightful mood and route split style that we’ve really enjoyed and taken note of. And though it’s definitely not a visual novel, the work of Studio ZA/UM on Disco Elysium was quite impactful on the development of Red Embrace: Paradisus’ narrative mechanics.
What future projects can VN Game Den readers look forward to learning more about?
We actually have two visual novels in development right now! They’re both currently planned to be BL, but in the future we’ll likely have more amare titles. One of the VNs is a modern game focusing on digital relationships and feelings of isolation, which many of us experienced during the pandemic. The other is more of a fantasy romp, with magic and pretty boys abound! Both games will likely be announced this summer.