Eurogamer contributor Geoffrey Bunting bookmarks the rising popularity of visual novels like Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly, the sequel to the 2020 heart-to-heart talking sim played by millions from developer Toge Productions, and Varney Lake, the second visual novel in a series inspired by mid-20th century pulp fiction and ‘80s home computer graphics from developer LCB Game Studio, both titles published by Chorus Worldwide.
“What I can tell you is that visual novels don’t require a huge budget to make but it forces its developers to focus more on character-driven stories,” says Kris Antoni Hadiputra, CEO of Toge Productions. “It’s the perfect genre for small gamedev teams with limited technical skill/know-how but are strong in writing and telling stories.”
Stories are thus pushed to the forefront, rather than being retrofitted into a gameplay loop or lost in the gamification of narrative points. It’s all driven not by a desire to push video games closer to the film industry, but rather, according to Nico Saraintaris of LCB Game Studio, “passion for storytelling and our love of designing mechanics that generate new and interesting gameplay systems.”