Hidden Gems #5

Hidden Gems #5

“Hidden Gems” is a monthly post series highlighting visual novels that have fewer than ten reviews on itch.io and/or Steam and have been available for at least one month. This series doesn’t seek to fully review these games, but to highlight the unique characteristics that make them worthy of the spotlight.

Blue Moon – Chapter 1

Platforms: Windows (itch.io)

Price: Free

Blue Moon is an LGBTQ+ visual novel with a comic book art style and a linear story. Supers are humans with special powers which they eventually decide to use for good or evil. In a world filled with heroes and villains at war, a catastrophic event leads to the destruction of the majority of the Supers.

Blue Moon has a very rich narrative and strong world-building; right from the start of the game, we dive into a prologue that paints a vivid picture of this fictional world. It’s evident that the author is very creative in storytelling and has likely been an avid reader of comics. Aside from that, the artwork and UI design make the game feel like an actual comic book. Another great thing about this game is that the cast illustrates varying skin tones and body sizes, so I give the author credit for maintaining diversity.

Comics and superheroes have always been popular; that’s why Marvel movies and superhero comics dominate theaters and pop culture. I’ve seen more and more visual novels being made with a comic book art style, and this is one of the few I’ve seen with a superhero story to match it. My favorite aspect of Blue Moon is that it features a lot of female characters and is LGBTQ+, which are not common factors in many popular comics. Blue Moon is released in chapters running about an hour long each.

critter CATCH!

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

Price: Free

critter CATCH! is a visual novel where you interact with and take care of cute critters: you’ll meet ducks, rabbits, frogs, raccoons, and more! The game features point-and-click elements and map navigation for a more engaging experience.

There are so many animal friends you encounter, and the pet names for the animals in this game are so cute. There’s a rabbit named Fig, birds named Twig and Soup, and a duck named Satchel. Adorable, right? The art and characters in this game are beyond lovable. It’s cozy and wholesome, almost like a children’s storybook, but one that is enjoyable for adults too. It’s has a nostalgic essence, but also a modern tang to it with the lo-fi hip-hop beats and a simple but one-of-a-kind story. The creator is an expert at building the atmosphere of the world in critter CATCH!, and there’s no doubt that this game is a gem. I could even see critter CATCH! expanded into a really popular mobile game.

There are countless reasons to fall in love with this game. With such a wholesome narrative, cozy artwork, immersive SFX and ambiance, excellent writing, and a fresh music track, it’s amazing that it was created in just seven days for the GJL GameParade Spring 2022. The creator is a digital artist by the name of phobamour swag, and they’ve done an impressive job on their first game—it’s my new favorite!

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