Micro Visual Novel Reviews


My micro read list on itch

A peek at my micro read list on itch.io


What Do I Mean By "Micro"?

Most of the time, I'm looking for visual novels that take a few hours per playthrough and need multiple playthroughs to get the most out of the experience. If a VN has less than 10k words and takes less than an hour to complete, I think of it as a micro story. Like all short stories, they're meant to be brief. Only so much is going to be covered and shown, and that's okay. They can paint quite a picture and provide an engaging experience in that time. Sometimes there are jams where the rules state you can only submit entries that have a certain amount of words (like less than 1k). I have a whole itch.io list just for micro reads, and I hit it up when I want something quick to read during a break.

A Bit Tied Up by Natasha Luna

I love how narrowed-in the premise is: you're tied up and need to figure out what to do next, and you have a limited amount of time before your nemesis notices. I enjoyed Thalius' internal monologue, and the options he has are fun. I was also glad to see more captioning choices available for the sight-impaired. All in all, a fun little romp!

Her Gilded Stage by waffrus

I haven't read Maurier's Trillby and didn't recall the story when I started this, but I wanted to see what I could get from it going in blind. It was a little confusing at first, but that was on me and I was able to get the gist. Looking it up afterward helped, though.

The music is lovely and the art works well overall. I think that putting the shadow in the box nearest to the stage would help, since it's hard to notice in its current position near the text box.

I appreciated that the narrator doesn't understand what he saw so he can only give a vague description. (I'm calling the narrator "he" but gender isn't established in this VN.) The moment is all the spookier for it, with vaguely sexual undertones and the sense that something very wrong happened. I also enjoyed the shift in the narrator from shock and concern to obsession. The connection that's severed comes off as nearly supernatural.

I liked the choices offered and think it's neat to play through options that weren't chosen in Trillby. As an English major with a Master's in lit, I love seeing things like this.

Love, I'm not good for you by dmeow

This was a little too realistic in the back and forth! I had to go back and play a few more times so I could step back from the frustration. Looking at a breakup moment from the outside like this is a good exercise. You see how vulnerable folks are and how much they hope to keep what they have, even if it's not great. And seeing the subtle manipulation is frustrating in a different way from the outside than from the inside. But it actually does end up for the best.

Stillwater by Studio Clump

Stillwater starts on a nicely spooky note but in the next scene, the tension quickly dissolves as the main character, Hugo, banters with his fellow private investigator, Noah, over breakfast. They're cute, but the big shift in tone threw me off. Given what I saw in the trailer, I'd been expecting something more evenly dark in its tone - and that's what I'd been hoping for. I should have paid more attention to the art examples, which show the novel's cozy side.

Then we meet Nina, whose grandfather has been receiving threatening notes. She just wants to them to figure out who's threatening him, and she can pay for their discretion. Why wouldn't they take the job? While you're on the case, you find clues, but you aren't spoon-fed any major answers. Why did all of this happen now? What was it you actually saw? You're mostly left to figure it out on your own. This will likely appeal to mystery fans, but I was left feeling like some key pieces were missing.

I noticed grammatical mistakes early on and throughout, but they didn't seriously interfere with understanding. I also felt unusually antsy as I read it. The scenes leading up to the on-site investigation flesh out the characters and their relationships but felt so long, and looking into the mystery felt too short. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood. It's also possible that the lack of choices was an issue for me, since you're only asked to make one.

This VN was made in a short period of time for a jam and appears to be the creator's first, which is impressive. I didn't encounter bugs, a whole story arc is there, it takes less than an hour to play, and it looks good. The heart of the story is sweet and kind, and it has some moments of creepy ambiance. I also liked the storybook art style, which is simple but charming. If you're looking to fall in love with an investigator with a heart of gold, this might be for you!

The Flower Arrangement by waffrus

This little fairy tale is fun, expressive, and sweet. The tale of the town and its tradition works well and even brings a touch of realism; people have done similar things IRL. The main character is being dutiful but she isn't a fool and she has more choices than initially meet the eye. Her initial moments with the the Lord of the Forest made me smile because she was so human and adorable in her surprise. Everything worked well for me and this was a delightful way to take my morning coffee. Thank you for making it!

Unwanted Exchange by Leo Azari

I love the art style and the design for Zlch (the demon who's summoned)! He's a bit more human, and his attitude is so much fun. You actually want to hear what he has to say, even if you're not sure how much of it is lies. If any of what he says about hell and the world is true, there's some interesting lore to build on.

The single music track sets up this intimate little atmosphere that's perfect for a conversation. The saxophone that comes in gives it this noir undertone that's perfect for a double-cross. I wasn't sure about it at first because it also goes against what you expect from a summoning scene, but it totally works. My hubby heard it while I was playing and noted that he liked it, too.

I was having trouble getting to the third ending but I wasn't even mad. I'll get it eventually. And the web version seems to be working well for me so far.


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