Welcome to yet another article celebrating Pride Month! Today, I want to focus on GxG visual novels, which are visual novels that focus on romantic relationships between female characters. Rather than focusing on visual novels that have both male and female love interests, I’ve personally picked games with lesbian romances only. In the future, I’ll definitely talk about romance visual novels that feature love interests of different genders.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the games!
5) Flowers Series
Available Platforms: Windows (Steam)
The Flowers series is a pretty set of games that I believe flew under a lot of peoples’ radars. When it comes to the great games JAST has localized, names like DRAMAtical Murder and the mature The Song of Saya are often dropped. But never Flowers.
For the sake of not making this article too long, I’ll only talk about the plot of the first game, Flowers -Le Volume sur Printemps-.
As you can tell from the picture, the game is absolutely stunning. It goes for a soft look, which helps portray a sweet, delicate, and heartwarming story about two girls falling in love. The story isn’t anything new. You play as Suoh Shirahane, who is extremely introverted, so she keeps to herself while she focuses on her goals. However, one goal that she can’t seem to achieve is having a real friendship like she often sees in the books she digests. Every time she wants to make friends with someone, memories of her old classmates bullying her come to mind and immediately shut her down. That’s when she meets Rikka Hanabishi, the popular class rep, and Mayuri Kohsaka, an outspoken girl.
Just like the art, the music is gentle and relaxing. It’s definitely one of those soundtracks you’d find yourself listening to outside of the game when you’re doing work or studying.
Flowers -Le Volume sur Printemps- is a long game, clocking in at 15 hours for a playthrough. While that’s not bad, especially for the price, the game is slow. There will be times the player might get bored until the next story beat hits. As for the translation’s writing, it’s pretty solid. There are minor things here and there that might take the reader out of the game, but it’s they’re not game-ruining issues.
As I mentioned, Flowers is a series. Right now, only three out of the four games have been localized. Each game features a new set of characters, but I do recommend playing them all in order as future titles will spoil what happens. I have no doubt that the fourth game will be released in English given that Flowers -Le volume sur Automne-, the third title, was released in July 2020. Until the eventual announcement of the fourth game, Flowers is a cute, heartwarming set of games that players will find comfort in.
4) Black Closet
Black Closet is a game done by Hanako Games, the developer behind Magical Diary and A Little Lily Princess. Unlike those previous titles, I’d say Black Closet is a bit more serious. You’re Elsa, the newly appointed student council president at an elite school. Along with the rest of the members, you’re all in charge of making sure the school keeps a good reputation by eliminating any problems that arise. These problems can be someone sabotaging an upcoming play, spray-painting graffiti, or bullying. Either way, you must deal with it, and fast. Oh, and did I mention that someone on the student council is a traitor who will undermine you at every turn?
The gameplay is interesting, I’d say. Each week, you are assigned multiple cases that you need to solve, all of which are randomly generated. Let’s say you save at the start of week 2, and by the end of the week, you want to restart because you messed up. When you reload the game, you’ll get completely new cases, something I wasn’t really expecting.
Now, when you’re assigned a case, there are multiple actions to take; questioning, surveying an area, stalking, etc. All these actions are associated with four skills: social, observation, intimidation, and stealth. You can assign as many minions to any given action you’d like. When assigned, the game will do something akin to Dungeons and Dragons where your skill level and a dice roll that determine your success. For example, let’s say you want to question a student, which requires social and observation. The game will take your minion’s observation and social skills against the action or person. Then, a die is rolled. Whatever that rolls is added to your skills. If you have the higher number, you’ll succeed at the action. If it’s too close, then nothing will come of it. If your number is lower, you fail. The system can be overwhelming at first, especially to those who aren’t used to Dungeons and Dragons, but as you spend more time playing, you’ll get used to it.
As you go through each case, you’ll begin to find out just how harsh this boarding school is. Yes, someone should get expelled for bullying another student. But what about things like art? Should you censor the students’ voices because it might hurt the school’s reputation?
The overall storyline of figuring out who is the traitor in your group as well as the mini-storylines for each case make for an interesting playthrough each time. Of course, there’s also the romance aspect of the game. You get to learn their thoughts on being a part of the student council as well as being ordered to harass a student for answers. Some feel guilty about it; others don’t care because it’s what they have to do. Then there’s the traitor who wants to ruin your life. Out of the five characters you can romance, I’ve found Vonne to be the most interesting one. She’s your right-hand woman and there are a lot of paths her route can go down.
For anyone who is looking for a good mystery that changes with each playthrough, you’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of Black Closet.
3) Perfect Gold
A recent release done by Yangyang Mobile, the developers behind my favorite horror game, The Letter. If you’re looking for something dark or heart-wrenching, then Perfect Gold isn’t the title for you. Just like with Love Esquire, which was a comedy dating sim, Perfect Gold is a bold departure that shows Yangyang can make a solid game in any genre.
The game follows Audrey and Marion. At the start of the game, it tells their story of falling in love and confessing their feelings to one another. However, years later, the relationship they once had falls apart. The two are now constantly fighting over the tiniest of things, so something has poisoned their once loving relationship. When the two are brought into detention after a recent fight, they decide to sneak out in order to attend the Sunflower Festival, something they couldn’t do a year ago because of the very thing that made their relationship sour. You’re left wondering how such a promising relationship could have gone south, and you’re given bits of pieces here and there, thanks to the swapping narrations between Audrey and Marion.
Something I don’t see in romance visual novels often is relationship issues. No relationship is perfect, and if it is, it’s usually something out of a fairy tale. Perfect Gold isn’t afraid to be more grounded despite the magical environment we find ourselves in. I think it’s very important to show that relationships aren’t perfect. There will be fights, misunderstandings, and maybe even a breakup. But we learn from those relationships. Audrey and Marion both look back on that day and realize the mistakes they’ve made leading up to it. Personally, I thought it was a fantastic direction to take this game in.
Like many of the developer’s other works, the art is gorgeous. While I couldn’t care less for the animated sprites, something that’s a hit or miss for me, I fell in love with just how colorful this game is! The backgrounds are full of life, whether it be people visiting various stalls or the clouds moving in the sky. I adore little details like that.
If you’re a fan of voice acting, you’re in luck. Perfect Gold has English voice acting, featuring Dani Chambers and Eileen Montgomery as our leading ladies. Even the actors behind the side characters do a phenomenal job. As someone who played The Letter, I’d expected nothing less from Yangyang!
2) My Dear Prince
My Dear Prince is one of many GxG titles that the developer ebi-hime has created. I picked My Dear Prince for this list since it’s super adorable and I like games with cute premises.
Akiyama Momoka lives on a rabbit-filled island called Omorishima with her parents and sister, Mikan. Her life is pretty average; Momoka works a part-time job at a cafe, but she dreams of becoming someone who creates love stories. However, what stops her from going after that dream is that she’s never been in love. How can she tell a compelling, realistic love story without knowing what love is? I mean, that hasn’t stopped me, but to each their own!
That’s when she meets Hattori Aoi, who is visiting Omorishima for two weeks. As the two spend time with each other, a relationship blooms.
Now, the story is pretty straightforward. It’s a coming-of-age story that doesn’t have any choices, so you’ll essentially be reading a set story of two girls going from friends to girlfriends.
The game is absolutely adorable. Seeing someone experience love for the first time is always a treat. Seeing Momoka blush and not being sure on what to do is 100% me, so I connect with her on that level. I also relate to Momoka when it comes to chasing dreams. I think we’ve all had or have dreams where there’s something stopping us from achieving it. A lot of the time, it’s self-doubt or something personal getting in the way. For Momoka, I chalk it up to her not believing in herself. However, with Aoi by her side, she sees a future she thought was so far away. Aoi brings out a more confident Momoka.
The graphics, the music, and even the GUI are cute, perfectly fitting the overall tone of the game.
If you’re looking for a fluffy romance story, My Dear Prince is something to check out.
1) Melancholy Love
Melancholy Love is a Chinese visual novel that follows the trope of the “good girl” and the “bad girl” meeting at an all-girls school and falling in love; those girls being Qianxun and Mianxue, respectively. However, they end up finding something in common: their struggle to meet the expectations set upon them. The game also questions if two girls can fall in love regardless of their status and backgrounds. Of course, they can. However, considering the standards set upon these girls, falling in love with someone of the same gender isn’t “ordinary.” It’s seen as “weird” and even “problematic” to some. However, as these girls get closer, they realize that these expectations set upon them don’t matter.
The narrative is something I believe is both realistic and important. There are definitely people out there who feel like they can’t be themselves because being queer isn’t normal. They have to live by the standards set upon them, whether it be by their family, friends, or society. This story will definitely hit home for some players.
The translation is alright. Because the game is translated from Mandarin Chinese, there are phrases that can be hard to put into English. As brought up in our review for the game, there’s a long, bulky phrase that introduces a classmate in the game. It’s a difficult balance between trying to maintain the meaning in the original language while trying to translate it into English.
With that being said, Melancholy Love is a sweet game that pulls on your heartstrings. If you don’t mind a game that follows a couple of tropes, then you’ll enjoy this coming-of-age story.