Visual novels are fairly new in this country, but thanks to the popularity of the iPad and other tablets, they're quickly gaining ground. A crossover between graphic novels and games, they emphasize story and give players the power to alter it to varying degrees. Blue Rose, the new visual novel from White Cat, has everything an A-list visual novel needs: nice graphics, pleasant music, and player choice—but it also boasts a collection of bothersome flaws that prevent it from rising to that same level of greatness.
Blue Rose makes a good first impression with 2D graphics that are clearly indebted to Japanese anime. Men and women are attractively androgynous and have the typical anime googly-eyed, tiny-nosed, heart-shaped faces. Blue Rose is indebted to anime in other ways as well, such as in its melodramatic approach to storytelling. Anime stories are characterized by save-the-world plot lines filled with noblemen, magic, reluctant heroes, love triangles, and corny humor. Blue Rose has it all.
In this scenario, you're Lena, a young Templar. Your story kicks off with an action-filled scene on the edge of a cliff. You and a cohort of Templar veterans are battling a dragon, desperately trying to protect a noblewoman called Lady Adale. Two kingdoms are at war, and it's hoped that the Lady can perform some critical fence-mending. During the battle, however, you're knocked unconscious and awake in a strange room. The owner of it is a handsome but defensive young hunter who seems to want to get rid of you. To his chagrin, you discover his village which is hidden in a mountain area believed to be inhabitable. Who is this surly young man? How has a village full of people kept itself a secret? After battling a dragon, why are you even alive?
Blue Rose sets us up to solve these and many other interesting mysteries. It also serves up the promise of romance. Despite his hostility, the young hunter's obviously your first suitor. The antagonism between the two of you goes into typical Taming of the Shrew territory as it's clear the guy's being a jerk because he likes you. If he isn't to your taste though, you've got other hunky options. If you're not into the hunter, then why not the sly, wise-cracking rogue, or the stern-but-sexy Templar officer? Read more »