Hidden Gems #2

Hidden Gems #2

Welcome to the second edition of our Hidden Gems series. This series of articles aims to promote visual novels that may have been overlooked by the community, but are still worthy of the spotlight. These novels (whether full releases or demos) have fewer than ten reviews on itch.io and/or Steam, and have been released for at least one month.

Mechet by Arbit

Price: Free

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux (itch.io)

Mechet is a kinetic sci-fi visual novel with boys’ love romance. Chet has just graduated from the Academy and is expecting to be the sole pilot navigating the BALLS, the Brainwave Ascension Launch-Liftoff Spaceship. His dream of being a lone space explorer is crushed when a rival pilot is unexpectedly assigned to be his co-pilot.

The story is sprinkled with point-blank suggestive humor, and it’s remarkably clever and witty—so much so that it gave me more than a few chuckles at its hilarity. The writing is very creative and does an excellent job at driving the story from one beat to the next, keeping me thoroughly hooked with each line of text. The characters are distinct and lovable, and I enjoyed seeing Chet’s fiery personality contrast with Sol’s demure nature. It’s a one-sided enemies-to-lovers trope that’s excellently done. The violin staccato enhances the tension between the two characters in a playful way, audibly complimenting the writing.

I usually tend to gravitate more towards female protagonists and otome games, with a leaning preference toward fantasy and supernatural themes. So with that in mind, sci-fi generally isn’t my first pick when it comes to visual novels, but I think Mechet is an absolute gem and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it.

Waterborne by lazytiger

Price: Free

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux (itch.io)

Waterborne is a horror/mystery visual novel that follows Sam on a cabin-in-the-woods weekend with their friends. This game is a cinematic and hauntingly atmospheric point-and-click adventure where the protagonist’s weekend getaway quickly turns grim. While the developer has listed this game as currently in development as far as technical features, they have noted that story-wise, the game is complete.

The protagonist’s name is changeable, and the way the game allows the player to input it is ingenious and smoothly blended into the story. The immersive experience doesn’t end there, so prepare to be quizzed on your movie, video game, and music pop culture knowledge. As far as the atmosphere, I love listening to the strum of the acoustic guitar; it is serene yet somehow hair-raising simultaneously. The dialogue exchange is very natural and authentic and the choices and story flow together in perfect harmony.

Cinematic visual novels have always caught my attention. Waterborne is eerily cinematic from the second you launch the splash screen as the visuals synchronize with the audio in perfect cadence. Once you start the game, the exquisitely nightmarish journey begins with the ominous drumming of rain and Beethoven’s Fifth blasting. This is lazytiger’s first release as a visual novel developer and I’m wildly impressed; it’s become an instant favorite for me.

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