VN Game Den’s Most Anticipated VNs of 2022

With 2021 wrapping up, the VN Game Den team is looking forward to the many titles that 2022 has in store.

With 2021 finally coming to a close, VN Game Den is looking forward to the future. Just like the rest of you, we have a lot of titles we’re excited about that are releasing in 2022. We thought it would be nice to share our most anticipated titles with you all. Without further ado, let’s get into everyone’s list!

Aeriel

even if TEMPEST

Release Date: 2022

Synopsis

even if TEMPEST is an otome visual novel about a girl who meets death, but a witch offers her a second chance at life. Fatal Rewind grants her the power to change her past. This is a Nintendo exclusive coming out in 2022.

There are a lot of intriguing characters in this game, especially the sadistic witch with unknown motives. As far as lore and character backstories, this might be one of the most promising Voltage titles yet.

Variable Barricade

Release Date: February 2022 (English)

Synopsis

Variable Barricade is an otome game that follows Hibari, an heiress to a hefty fortune. Her grandfather is determined to get her hitched; he houses her in a villa with four eligible bachelors, all of them going to great lengths to win her affections. But Hibari has no intention of marrying and will do anything to scare these suitors away.

The arranged marriage trope never fails to entertain me, especially with a protagonist who is adamant on refusing love. The story is bound to be full of drama but with a satisfying resolution.

Snail Story: Love Edition

Release Date: June 2022

Synopsis

Snail Story: Love Edition is an otome visual novel that follows the life of an unsatisfied snail, Ms. Escargot. She’s got a plan to escape her dull life in Shelltown, but until then, she’s stuck in a town of snails with a mystery lurking beneath the surface.

The demo is so polished, and the writing is so clever and immersive, I really felt like I was a snail! The demo reeled me in, so I need to know what happens in Shelltown.

The demo is available on Steam and itch.io. You can check out our review of the demo for more information.

Anna

Belle Automata

Release Date: December 2022

Synopsis

Aureve is an android, content with a life of weaving silk tapestries alongside her master in his workshop–but when her master dies, his family sells her off to a wealthy, reclusive buyer due to her being a rogue: a self-aware android.

Thrown into a new home of refuge for rogues, Aureve must find her place amongst them and answer the question once and for all: can an android truly feel?

Belle Automata by Jellyfish Parade was recently fully funded on Kickstarter with just a few hours to spare! I actually got to play and review the demo of the game and was thoroughly impressed! The game features a level of polish typical of higher budget games, but still maintains its indie charm.

Play as Aureve, a nameable sentient android, who finds herself in charge of her own free will. The possibility of what this could mean for her character development and the people she comes across is wildly fascinating. I can’t wait to delve more into the world Jellyfish Parade has created this time!

Belle Automata‘s demo is available on itch.io.

Our Life: Beginnings & Always – Wedding DLC

Release: TBA

It feels like a million years ago that I wrote my first review for Our Life: Beginnings & Always (it was only a year ago). However, I think a lot of people can agree with me when I say that Cove Holden is not a love interest you can really forget about, even a year after meeting him. Our Life has skyrocketed in popularity, and rightfully so.

Our Life is unique in how you build your relationship with Cove as children and that shapes how you view each other as teens and even as adults. It’s a great concept that has endeared many people as you grow up and get to know Cove intimately. Now I and so many others are just waiting for the moment we get to marry Cove in the highly anticipated wedding DLC that will hopefully be coming soon!

While this paid DLC is still upcoming, the base game is currently available for free on Steam and itch.io.

Courtney

Lover Pretend

Release Date: 2022

Synopsis

Chiyuki lives alone, spending all her time studying for university and doing part-time work. She has two dreams in life: to become a scriptwriter—also a dream of her late mother—and to find her father, whom she never met. From clues left behind, it seems that her mother was writing a drama script before she was born. Chiyuki lands a job as an assistant to a scriptwriter for a film that the sons of the drama staff are making. She searches for information while working her new job, but in a twist of events ends up cast in the role of their love interest…? This is a pretend love role, not true love. Can Chiyuki create a script about fake lovers, while not knowing anything about falling in love herself?

I’ve been a fan of Aksys Games since playing Code: Realize, and the premise for Lover Pretend is intriguing. Chiyuki seems lost when it comes to love, but with it being an otome game, I imagine she’ll fall in love with one of the suitors and have a solid script that is no longer “pretend love.” Aside from the gooey romance parts, I’m interested in how the game will tackle the “pretend love” story.

Peachleaf Valley: Seeds of Love

Release Date: March 2022

Synopsis

Peachleaf Valley: Seeds of Love is an otome visual novel that is inspired by farming-sim games. Take on the role of the heroine Seraphina who leaves her old life behind and starts anew. There are characters to meet, and romantic interests to pursue.

I got introduced to Great Gretuski Studios through their otome visual novel Love Spell: Written in the Stars and loved their style! Love Spell was a very well-done game, and as someone who adores farming sims, I was thrilled to find Peachleaf Valley on Kickstarter and had to back it. I’m excited to see what they do with the premise.

We reviewed the demo, which is available to download from Steam and itch.io.

The Radiants

Release Date: September 2022

Synopsis

When an ordinary college student witnesses the death of a young woman, she is thrust into a world she never knew existed — a world alongside her own filled with magic, danger, and a cast of unbelievable characters. Forced to take the place of the woman she tried to save, she must prove herself by passing the trials of the Radiant Council or risk losing her memories forever…

I saw The RadiantsKickstarter campaign and decided this was something I knew I wanted to play. The tagline for the campaign is, “A magical romantic adventure visual novel/otome with light stat raising & multiple endings.”

The demo is available on Steam and itch.io, and you can also check out our review.

Dara

Chromatose

Release Date: 2022

Synopsis

An Indie Visual Novel/Roleplay Game with emphasis on meaningful decisions, character relationships, and a compelling overarching story. Escape the collective nightmare in 12 hours, or never wake up.

I backed this project on Kickstarter and played the demo at PAX East 2019 and have been anxiously waiting for the full release! This visual novel takes place largely in a coma where you have to escape battles, recover lost memories, and survive. The decisions in this game have a large impact with several unique paths and endings. The game’s aesthetic immediately pulled me in, reminding me of the Persona series. In addition to an engaging plot and art style, having met some of the team and lurked in their Discord, the development team is very passionate about the project and very friendly!

The demo for Chromatose is available on Steam, itch.io, and Game Jolt.

Doki Doki Ragnarok

Release Date: February 14, 2022

Synopsis

Doki Doki Ragnarok is a viking visual novel in which you pillage and date villages around the world. It takes place in a ridiculous world where viking raids are like going on a date – with the village!

I am a sucker for visual novels with an unusual premise, and Doki Doki Ragnarok definitely checks off that box. This visual novel has you pillaging villages as a viking, but instead of murder, it’s dating! The charming art style, unique gameplay, and overall ridiculousness makes this a must-play for my 2022 list. It also releases on Valentine’s Day—what could be more romantic?

Check out the demo on Steam and itch.io.

ValiDate

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVDRLf-85jg

Release Date: August 2022

Synopsis

ValiDate is a romantic visual novel about 13 adults in Jercy City navigating new relationships and the harsh realities that come alongside them.

ValiDate is an upcoming visual novel about young adulthood and navigating through finding meaning in life, love, and shenanigans. The social media team for this project has done a fantastic job of creating a social media presence where, without any knowledge of the game, you can appreciate and laugh at their tweets. This game also has an insane amount of content coming, with over 13 MCs to choose from, 60 routes, and about 70-90 hours of content. The project is extremely inclusive and diverse. This project is definitely worth checking out in August 2022!

The demo for ValiDate is available on Steam and itch.io.

John

Saint Maker

Release Date: 2022

Synopsis

While attending a religious recollection, Holly Beltran experiences strange hauntings throughout the convent. At night, broken faced statues and whispered prayers haunt Holly’s dreams — before the recollection is over, Holly may have to face more than her own demons to come out alive.

For those that know me, it’s probably no surprise that I’m extremely excited about Yangyang’s latest game, Saint Maker. As a big fan of their previous horror title The Letter, I immediately wishlisted the game when they announced it. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us when this game releases in 2022.

fault – milestone two side: below

Release Date: TBA

Synopsis

In the previous game, “fault milestone two”, the main character Ritona was trapped in the underwater facility “Vita Domain” ,where she meets a mysterious girl named Paige who has a secret…Will Ritona be able to escape the facility and reunite with the princess she is supposed to protect, Selphine, and her fellow Rune?

I’ve been waiting for the release of fault – milestone two side: below since I played side: above in 2019. I enjoy so much about the fault series—the art, the characters, and the world all had me hooked early on in milestone one. I can’t wait to play this when it comes out!

Call Me Under

Release Date: 2022

Synopsis

Dive into the 1950s and explore an eldritch-horror infested world soaked in dark magic, mystery, and romance. Call Me Under takes place in the mysterious underwater city of Styx, a haven inhabited by humans, sirens, and a host of unknown otherworldly entities.

Call Me Under is one of the many visual novel Kickstarters that I backed this year—I was drawn in by the first line of the description. I’m looking forward to “diving in” to what sounds like an interesting story in a fascinating setting when this game releases in 2022.

The demo for Call Me Under is available on Steam and itch.io.

Kristi

AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative

Release Date: Spring 2022

Synopsis

Six years ago, the right half of a corpse was discovered under mysterious circumstances. The left half was never found…until six years later, when it was discovered completely fresh with no signs of decay, as though the victim was alive until just recently. Now, newly-appointed Special Agent Mizuki and her AI partner Aiba are tasked to solve the bizarre Half Body serial killings…

To say I’m excited for a sequel to my favorite Kotaro Uchikoshi title doesn’t quite capture how much joy I felt when I first watched that announcement trailer from Spike Chunsoft. AI: The Somnium Files is an excellent blend of mystery, comedy, and heartfelt moments that makes for a fantastic experience. I wasn’t sure how the game would move forward, since AI: The Somnium Files’s ending felt definitive. But having Mizuki, one of the shining characters from the first game, as our new main character stepping into the role of an ABIS Special Agent with Aiba as her partner is a smart decision. The cover art for the game has been revealed, which showcases an interesting cast, some of whom are ABIS agents as well, meaning that the once-secret department could potentially be public knowledge now. I’m interested in seeing how these changes to ABIS will impact this second title when this game releases in spring!

Mask of the Rose

Release Date: June 2022

Synopsis

Mask of the Rose is a romantic visual novel set in the same universe as our award-winning games Fallen London, Sunless Sea, and Sunless Skies. It takes place in Victorian London, not long after the city was carried away by bats. In one playthrough of Mask of the Rose you might untangle a poisoner’s motives; uncover the fate of poor, drowned Parliament; or help establish the new Feast of the Rose, a festival that will be celebrated in London for decades to come! But above all, Mask of the Rose is a story about love, in its many forms.

Just like many of my peers, I’ve also backed visual novels on Kickstarter, one of them being Mask of the Rose, developed by Failbetter Games. They’re the same team who created the universe known as Fallen London and the multiple titles that take place in it such as Fallen London, Sunless Sea, Sunless Skies, and now Mask of the Rose. Prior to backing this game, I never knew the extent of this universe, but was intrigued by the premise of having a romance take place in a dark universe where there are countless mysteries to unravel. The team’s track record also shows promise. I look forward to getting into some dark while smooching Milton, who may or may not be the devil.

Saint Maker

Just like John, I too am excited for Yangyang Mobile’s upcoming horror title, Saint Maker. Although I’m not a religious person by any means, I do love horror titles that have religion ingrained in them, like the TV show Midnight Mass, and how these titles approach the rather sensitive topic. The visual imagery shown thus far is similar to The Letter, which has a semi-realistic anime look to it. The art also looks eerie yet beautiful, which I think perfectly captures the tone the game is trying to capture. Although the game doesn’t seem to be as complex as The Letter, with huge branching paths and multiple characters to control, Saint Maker looks incredibly promising and I’m looking forward to getting spooked once again by Yangyang.

Natasha

Made Marion

Release Date: 2022

Synopsis

The tales of Robin Hood have inspired generations of authors and filmmakers. Now it’s time for an otome spin on the legends! Play as Lady Marion, a proud and courageous young noblewoman whose mistakes land her in an arranged marriage far from home. Discover a magical alternate world where the Robin Hood story co-exists with powerful druids, mysterious fae folk, and dark conspiracies. Enjoy a more traditional, swashbuckling adventure with Robin Hood and his gang or try something new as a spy amidst the political turmoil of Nottingham.

Made Marion was extremely successful in its Kickstarter, and it’s not hard to see why: with polished art even in the demo, a cohesive Celtic-inspired aesthetic, and a story that combines familiar (and obscure) Robin Hood mythos with fantasy worldbuilding, it seems destined to be excellent. Protagonist Marion combines her own interesting personality with the player’s choices, and while all not every single love interest may be appealing as a romantic option to every single player, each character is given enough plot and characterization hooks to make it seem worthwhile to pursue their route just to find out what happens.

One aspect that’s particularly interesting is having multiple common routes: one in which Marion joins with Robin Hood and his men, and one in which she instead stays in Nottingham and becomes a spy. These common routes then split into the character routes for the parts of the cast who feature in them. While this isn’t an unknown concept in visual novels, it provides an effective way to both help keep the story interesting through multiple playthroughs and to have a wide variety of love interests without having to squeeze them all into a single common routes that might not make much sense for every character.

The demo for Made Marion is available on Steam and itch.io.

The Sky Left Us

Release Date: July 2022

Synopsis

From the deepest miasma to the shimmering veil, everything is in its place. The Peakborn rule, the Sunken toil, and the Unmoored trade. But Clear Skies Technology could rewrite the atmosphere, and with it the culture of planet Zé.
It all depends on how you use it.

The Sky Left Us caught my eye simply by being a type of story not often seen in games or visual novels: it explores climate catastrophe, classism, and culture, and how the three are intertwined. The planet Zé suffers from toxic pollution and a highly stratified caste system which forces the Sunken underclass to live in toxic air while the powerful Peakborn watch from the planet’s few clean spots and the middle-class Unmoored act as traders between the two groups. Offworlder scientist Spire Risan thinks they know how to fix Zé’s atmosphere to make it livable for everyone, but when they visit the planet and meet people from all three castes, they find that being Zé’s savior is far messier than it seems.

Alongside the interesting story and setting, The Sky Left Us also has great, detailed art, and promises several routes with a diverse cast of characters, spanning different types of relationships (romantic, platonic, and polyamorous). The game seems bound to be a gem for a player looking for something that explores difficult choices and complex intrigue.

The demo, showcasing the game’s opening scene, is available on itch.io.

Softly, with Teeth

Release Date: 2022

Synopsis

Softly, with Teeth is an urban fantasy story about kissing vampires. Play tabletop RPGs with a medieval knight, bake cookies, sell your soul, party it up with frat boys, surpass your humanity as you rage against the consequences of your actions, and live your best life.

Look, you put a cast of attractive vampires in front of me, you get my attention.

That said, that’s not even close to all that Softly, with Teeth has going for it. The writing in the demos is snappy and breezy and altogether enjoyable to read. The protagonist Diana is likable and relatable, and the romanceable cast has a variety of vampire types that comedically mesh with the modern day setting. (One of them, your roommate Madison, uses her family’s ancestral vampire fortune to roll the gacha for her favorite character in the phone game she’s obsessed with.) An urban fantasy comedy-romance, the game promises to show what happens when the extraordinary becomes mundane. While it’s been delayed since its initial announcement, there are still updates, so I’m still hopeful that it’ll release.

Both Softly, with Teeth demos are available on itch.io.

Kristi Jimenez

Spooktober 2022 Visual Novel Jam

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