I love visual novel games. It’s an unique genre that is hugely popular in Japan yet is only known in America by otaku. It’s probably because of this cultural oddity that I find myself fascinated with the genre. Since learning Japanese, I would occasionally import a game and play through them in their native language. Just recently, I’ve been playing The Idolmaster SP import on my PSP system. In college, I gave my final presentation in Japanese pop-culture studies about this genre of video game. I even wrote an essay about the Phoenix Wright series and its impact on American otaku culture on this blog a year ago.
We very rarely see visual novels translated into English and released into the US, so when one does come around, I usually play through it with a lot of praise and fanfare. So when I was offered a review copy of Ignition’s American release of the Nintendo DS game Lux-Pain, I gave them quite an enthusiastic “yes!” at the opportunity.
Lux-Pain puts you in the position of a paranormal investigator in search of the truth behind a series of unexplainable murders and suicides in the quiet Kisaragi City. Your special weapon, Sigma, is the ability to erase through the physical world and uncover the Silent, little psychic worms of tragedy and despair. Going undercover as a typical high school student, you search around the city for these worms left around the crime scenes or buried in the psyche of your friends and classmates.
The game play is a rather passive experience, but that’s common with the genre. As the term “visual novel” would imply, you spend most of the time reading dialogue between you and the other characters. It’s like reading a manga where you see the story through the eyes of the protagonist. The story is a typical murder mystery, so it is not particularly deep or meaningful. But because it is so detailed and gives you that first-person perspective, you do find yourself being drawn into this fictional world. 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Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi - Nintendo 3DS
Video Games (Aksys)
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