Hidden Gems #6

These are some visual novels you might not have heard of but they are worth playing.

“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.

Eternal Flower: Prologue

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

An old folktale recounts the story of a wizard who created a magical watch known as the Chronos Watch. This watch gives users the power to turn back time and change the past. Scarlet’s father will stop at nothing to find this watch, but his efforts only bring turmoil to her life. The prologue and main story of this fantasy visual novel have each been released for the past two NaNoRenO game jams. Since they are both standalone releases, this article will focus on the prologue.

There is so much to fall in love with in Eternal Flower. The artwork is similar to something you’d find in a manga or webtoon, especially in the CGs and the cover art featuring Scarlet and Carmine, which is what initially drew me to the game in the first place. I love the concept of the story; it’s very imaginative yet simple at the same time. All of the characters have an aura of mystery to them, which keeps the story engaging, but the character I was most drawn to was Carmine, a florist and family friend of Scarlet’s who leaves the player with an ominous warning.

I won’t spoil the story because the some of the events and characters really threw me for a loop, and I think potential players would be pleasantly surprised at how the events unfold. This part of the game serves its purpose as a prologue; it ends on a cliffhanger and leaves you dying to know what happens next. Once you finish the prologue, you can read the next part and the main story, Eternal Flower: Red. This game is a gem: it’s a refreshing, well-done fantasy story packed with action!

The Twilight Tank

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

The Twilight Tank is an unconventional pet simulator where you play the role of a kid who has just received a pet goldfish. Unfortunate events lead to the fish’s untimely death, only for him to reanimate as a skeleton fish! You keep your fish alive by feeding it and protecting it from your pesky cat.

The Twilight Tank is a visual novel/simulation game hybrid. My favorite part of the story is how you can talk to your fish. The concept of this game is genius and so well done with how it’s designed. It showcases one of the best minigames I’ve experienced in a visual novel. It’s clever, quirky, and really fun to play. Did I mention that the fish poops gems that you can collect so that you can buy more pet fish? It also puts me in summer vacation mode with the tropical tunes that play while you’re feeding the fish.

There are some minor bugs and navigation flaws I found while playing, which isn’t too surprising, since this project was created in a time crunch for a game jam in January 2022. We can likely expect updates to the game; at least, I hope so, because this game is a masterpiece and I’m shocked that it has yet to be discovered by more people. It’s clear there’s still work planned for this project, as the end scene hasn’t been implemented and a few game features are evidently missing. My only complaint is that I wish there was more dialogue from the fish, because he seems like an interesting character, so I hope that any patch updates add more story and features. Even so, I think that the complexity and replay value that the minigame holds would make The Twilight Tank a potentially successful mobile game, because I couldn’t stop playing it.

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