For this article, I decided to take a break from survival horror adventure indie games. Instead, I’m going to talk about a survival horror dating sim indie game. Yes, what bold new strides I am taking. But wait! It’s not any game, an original .exe game called: Anime Novel.exe being developed by Falonsinho on GameJolt. For those who don’t know; a .exe game is a ‘haunted’ game. Usually, they target childhood games and give it a good dose of demon possession. Most .exe games are based on creepy pasta (internet horror stories), but Anime Novel.exe isn’t based on any nostalgia. Just a ‘haunted’ game taking the form of a dating sim.
Most .exe games have the budget of a ham sandwich, but the bread is moldy, cheese is made from paper, and the ham has the flavor of ear wax. What I am trying to say is that most .exe games aren’t good. My expectations were low as Konami’s revenue, so I was pleasantly surprised with the vibrant manga art style. It’s not as eye catching as Huniepop, but it’s still pleasant to the eyes and clear there’s passion behind this project. The character drawings are simple and the backgrounds are nicely done. However, I think more can be done with the generic character designs. If I didn’t play this game and just saw a still shot of the characters; I would label it as generic anime dating sim. Anime Novel.exe does, however, add horror elements to help make it stand out.
Anime Novel.exe plays like a typical dating sim. All girls/guys are attracted to you because you are the main character in the fictional world that has put your character on a pedestal. You interact with other characters and choose dialogue options. Depending on your choices; dialogue will change and how the character interacts with you. This is typical game play but there are two moments where the demo really excelled and came to life. I won’t spoil them here, but if you are curious you can download the demo on GameJolt. Warning: The game does claim to be a little haunted, so play at your own risk.
This being a demo; the story is incomplete and none of the major plot points are revealed. For now, the game plays out like a regular dating sim and plays out the way you think it’s going to play out. You go to high school, flirt with girls, and have a long time best friend who has obviously secret crush on you. The characters do have that over the top anime vibe that makes them charming and enduring. However, I wasn’t really invested in the events that were happening until the end; where it got me the most excited. I won’t spoil it but does give me the impression there is more than meets the eye to this game. Perhaps, after setting up the characters; the game will focus on more being a dark mystery horror thriller that also happens to be haunted.
Anime Novel.exe is a short demo, but it’s as long as it needs to be. The demo does its job of setting up the full game. No release date has been announced yet. If you are planning to play this when the full game comes out; expect the unexpected because remember the game is ‘haunted’. Now if you would excuse me; I got to go get my laptop exorcized.