Tag Archives: Interactive

Lie In My Heart (2019)

Lie In My Heart

Developed by Expressive Gamestudio, Lie In My Heart is a 2019 interactive visual novel with autobiographical elements about a man who loses his ex-wife and copes with both the loss of his son’s mother and how he and his son deal with it.

Autobiographical games are probably the hardest to talk about. After all, its someone’s life so there is no right or wrong to the story. Lie In My Heart is a cause and effect sort of story where the decisions made will affect the story. Its primarily a visual novel which means that there is a lot of reading. However, it also gives dialogue choices which will effect the outcome of the event as well as some timed actions, which probably will also have an effect by the end. At the end of each chapter, there will be a little note that pops up saying how many choices the player made that was the same as the real story. Of course, this leads to many ways to play the game again if the story intrigues the player, giving achievements of finding the complete path that the developer took or on the other hand, seeking out the completely fictional one as well as finding perhaps the good ending.

Lie in My Heart

As a one-sitting sort of game at about an hour or so in length (depending on reading speed), it paces itself quite well. There is reading but choices are also quite frequent as well as having some other actions to do. Its a neat little game that tells a rather poignant story about loss and mental illness. There are some trigger topics here so its not a suitable match for everyone or for people who are more sensitive to these topics. However, this has the autobiographical elements so makes it more real as well. Just like games like That Dragon Cancer, Lie In My Heart will be aim to make its players think a little. Games like these are reliant on how it connects with its players and that varies to the person.

Lie In My Heart

Lie In My Heart is a small game with a big heart to share their own story and experiences. The art style looks like hand-drawn like sketches with colored pencils. The music is paired very well with the story at hand. There isn’t a lot of shortcomings in the game mechanics either as everything is responsive. The choices in dialogue sometimes feel slightly odd but then, it might be done in a deliberate way to emphasize emotions and such with the punctuation (like exclamation points). Some of the reaction bits are very rare and its not very apparent what to do at first (but not hard to connect the dots). However, visual novels, especially ones interactive to a certain level is on rails so perhaps one thing here is that it may say x number of choices were similar but its easy to lose track where those choices were as it always felt less. The replayability here gives room to try again and its a quick game to play through even though, the themes here are heavier.

Bottomline: Is Lie In My Heart worth a playthrough? Absolutely. Is it something to play over and over again to discover the different endings even if its quick to play and has a poignant story? Maybe not (at least for me).

Review: 3.5/5

Lie In My Heart is currently available on Steam as of today (October 4, 2019).

*Key provided by developer*

The Mind’s Eclipse (2018)

The Mind’s Eclipse is a 2018 interactive sci-fi visual novel adventure set in a fallen utopia called the CORE developed by Mind’s Eclipse Interactive.

https://youtu.be/rj7ia4iyP24

The Mind’s Eclipse enters the story as a first person experience playing as Dr. Jonathan Campbell who wakes up in a science facility with no clue of what has gone on. He does remember that his wife died however and that there is a mysterious companion called L that ends up accompanying him as he leaves the facility and onto the streets of this fallen utopia set in the future called the CORE. Through small puzzles he moves from one place to the next in this empty city and through the notes he finds left behind in different places, the story starts to unravel as the pieces fall together and he realizes where he needs to go and what his research was leading to.

THE MIND'S ECLIPSE

A key aspect of The Mind’s Eclipse is its visual novel format and it chooses the correct way to portray this story-driven game very effectively. If you’ve read books like The Illuminae Files series, it is reflected in a similar way where the story is heavily focused around these journals and chat logs that help build the world and the dilemma/conflict at hand. Mind Eclipse Interactive does craft The Mind’s Eclipse very thoughtfully as they choose to have a very interactive experience where you can interact with a fair bit of objects which helps progress the story however never actually being in the point and click adventure genre. This interactiveness keeps the game engaging as it is not just listening to a story unfold and your only task is clicking through a static story like some other visual novels. At the same time, the atmosphere is greatly enhanced by choosing a black and white palette paired with a sketch style which feels like reading a picture or comic book but still matches the gloomy empty city that we are exploring.

THE MIND'S ECLIPSE

The story does start with a frequently used game trope like the previously mentioned main character waking up with memory loss. However, The Mind’s Eclipse works effectively to use it to its advantage to uncover the secrets of what caused the downfall of the city. In the first person perspective, the story flows with very much a conversation between Dr. Campbell and L and if not, there are a few narratives scattered about. The world building here has a lot to give credit for the immersiveness that the CORE has to offer. This setting is new and creative with plenty to discover.  

The Mind’s Eclipse delivers a well-paced story paired with a great art choice that works together effectively to immerse its players into this fallen utopia and uncovering the story of Dr. Campbell and what happened.

The Mind’s Eclipse was released on January 25th on Steam and Itch.io.

Score: 4/5

One Night Stand (2016)

One Night Stand, developed by Kinmoku, is a 2016 interactive visual novel that simulates the morning after a one night stand. Our character is hungover and naked in an unknown bed and room, next to an unknown girl with no recollection of what happened the night before. One Night Stand is also a 2017 Independent Game Award nominee for Excellence in Narrative. It is currently available on Steam.

Interactive visual novels are stories told in a choose your own adventure format. Upon closer inspection, visual novels, more commonly abbreviated as VNs, are plentiful across all platforms. Some have reigned in plenty of success like Steins Gate on Playstation consoles which has a sequel on its way. Then we have all lengths of different indie VN experiences on Steam from free one shots to kinetic to some like these ones which are more interactive and choice-based. Talking about VN is similar to looking at a book. Our focus is the storytelling: Whether it is immersive and believable. It usually is in first person narrative and begs the question of whether it creates a bond with our character and what choices we want them to make? One Night Stand ticks all the boxes of an immersive and interactive environment. Some events won’t make a difference but there are others that will dictate the path to one of the twelve endings to discover. One choice can change what happens. Aside from twelve endings to unlock, there is also a myriad of achievements. Some of them are downright hilarious. If you have played it, you probably already know what we’re  talking about. If not, we don’t want to ruin your experience.

This leads us to the next level of interaction. Our character can examine many of the items in the room with his own analysis. These items will open up another conversation arc that we can further talk with our lady friend to create a bond. However, the choice is up to the player whether to pursue the conversation more. Technically, the option to go home is always available within certain limits. This makes for a flexible and realistic situation and each playthrough gains further knowledge especially when our character has woken up with no recollection of the night before or even the girl’s name. It helps creates immersion and believability as well as a goal. The story is still predetermined based on the combination of our choices but it makes for a flexible situation and see which endings are good or bad.

Another great addition is the art style that Kinmoku uses for One Night Stand. It looks like pencil sketches, very similar to games like Nintendo DS’s Hotel Dusk 215. Adding in the objective to find a way to leave or decide to learn more about this girl adds extra layers and depth, giving us a chance to make our personal choice especially in the first run. The fact that we also have an objective to not only learn more but try to figure out her name creates a clever twist.

Overall, One Night Stand delivers on many fronts from its hand-drawn visuals to its flexible conversation arcs and multiple endings and achievements. All this adds together in a beautiful package that encourages its players to dive in over and over again to uncover more. While One Night Stand is a short game for one playthrough, its ability to truly make our choices feel meaningful while telling an intriguing story of a one night stand morning after experience will garner interest to try to discover the other endings, giving it a lot of replayability value.

Score: 4/5