Hate Plus

Something of a reunion, this one- back when I first conceptualised BBLC as a forum game instead of a blog, the first game I was told to play was Analogue: A Hate Story, the prequel to Hate Plus. It’s a game I never would have just naturally picked up to play, but one I enjoyed immensely, and my go-to reference whenever I need to talk about how successful this ruleset is in making me actually play the games I’ve bought. That said, Hate Plus is a direct sequel riddled with spoilers, and is 100% reading, so I didn’t record a stream for it.

Making your way back home to Earth with your computer girlfriend/platonic co-investigator/completely illegal harem, Hate Plus is very much more of the same. Analogue had you reading the log files of centuries-old colony ship Mugunghwa, who now drifts through space entirely devoid of life. The log files slowly revealed the events that led to the extinction of its populace, meanwhile creating an incredibly rich and lived-in world; I compared it to stumbling upon a cluster of LiveJournal entries from a group of friends who knew each other, and piecing together the microcosm that they occupied until one day vanishing from the internet. Of course, that mystery is resolved in Analogue, and so I’m not sure yet what exactly I’m solving in Plus, whose logfiles are dated earlier than those found in Analogue… making it a prequel, of sorts? It’s confusing.

It’s sure to be harrowing though, as already we’ve got discussion of a presidential election rife with corruption, voter suppression, the denial of the true winner, claims of fake ballots, violent subjugation of protesters, and the ultimate collapse of democracy directed by those in leadership positions to establish an Emperor who rules over all.

yeah playing this game in mid-november 2020 hits a little different

Fin or Bin:

It’s a tough recommendation. You absolutely shouldn’t start here, for sure; Analogue is a game that I adore and would recommend to anyone who can stomach reading a lot of apparently-unrelated log entries. It’s dense and there’s a lot of worldbuilding to get accustomed to in a short space of time, but it’s worth it if that’s your sort of thing. Hate Plus is lining up to be just as dense, though with the advantage of being set in an already-established world. The writing is top class, and I’d already be playing more if the game hadn’t instructed me I need to wait 12 hours in real time before I can Finish it.

(It’s important to mention- both games handle some heavy topics, including rape, sexual assault, forced marriage, abuse, and PTSD. These subjects are handled unflinchingly, but without glamourisation or glorification; they are discussed in stark tones and perpetrators are roundly condemned. They may be a difficult read for some folks.)


BBLC on: YouTubeDiscordTwitchPatreon

Subsurface Circular

From the developer of Thomas Was Alone comes a story about robots. Mike Bithell clearly spends a lot of time thinking about AI.

It’s a short experience and I finished it within 2 hours (spoilers for the end of this post- my apologies). The player character is a detective Tek whose directive is to ride the Subsurface Circular underground trainline for eternity, keeping an optic out for any unusual goings-on and report them to Management.

It feels a little bit like Mr Bithell had a story to tell, but didn’t really know how to turn it into a game. For the most part, you speak with other Teks about the things they’ve seen, and use Focus Points gained from certain conversations to trigger new dialogue options in others. At that point it’s basically a visual novel, but then come the puzzles- and while they’re fun, they feel pretty awkward and shoe-horned in. They’re also largely skippable if you just want to experience the story without any (non-investigative) roadblocks, which I think is a valid choice.

There’s a pretty sudden and jarring change in direction about 4/5ths the way into the story, which may or may not be to your liking. I won’t spoil it, but from reading other reviews it seems like a Marmite moment.

Fin or Bin:

Of course, I Finished it, and am glad to have done so. It manages to weave some compelling world building from the confines of a single underground train carriage. I’m not super jazzed about the way it went towards the end, YMMV- I think it’s worth finding out.


Kokurase (Episode 1)

A secret organisation operating beneath the shadows, the team known as ‘Kokurase’ brings together four diverse talents to perform elaborate heists. The cost to hire them is lunch, and their target is the greatest treasure of all:


A group of four students pull strings behind-the-scenes to help lovelorn classmates make their feelings known. It’s another one of those essentially-a-visual-novel games made in RPG Maker which I clearly have a soft-spot for, and this one is definitely one of the better ones.

Gameplay involves ‘Key Phrases’, snippets of dialogue each of the playable characters remembers, to be used later on. It’s somewhat similar to the Investigation parts of Phoenix Wright games, preseting the right evidence to the right person at the right time, although the puzzles are far less complicated in Kokurase.

Fin or Bin:

It’s hard to talk about these games since the story is what makes them- I’ll just say the first chapter is free and tells a complete story within an hour, with additional chapters available for purchase if you want to see more from the team. Definitely recommended if you have a tolerance for these ganes. Fin!


Pyrite Heart

Keeping this one short and sweet, like the game was.

Princess Ahri is dared by her brother to spend a week at a pleb school for plebs, in hopes she might learn some humility, and in doing so she falls in love with one of two outrageously handsome boys. As one does.

Both routes take 30 minutes, less if you skip the parts that repeat, so this was done within the hour. There’s a few choices to make but it’s usually pretty obvious which one is The Right Choice for the boy you’re chasing. Ahri herself is awful but that’s kind of the point.

Fin or Bin:

Ryuu best. Each story was very sweet, and it’s worth Finishing at least one of them.



One of the many short, weird, artsy, vaguely-horroresque one-person RPG Maker games to come out of Japan’s indie scene, LiEat focuses on Efi, a little girl with the curious ability to see and eat lies people tell around her. Since her guardian, Leo, is some kind of private investigator, that sure comes in handy!

The package on Steam is actually a bundle of three separate stories, the first of which I have been able to finish. Though there are battles in a technical sense, the nature of these games is to use the medium primarily as a story-telling method, in this instance simply reflecting Efi wofling down the tasty lil lies she finds in the world.

Fin or Bin:

This kind of thing tends to go right over my head, but the premise is interesting and it’s short enough that I don’t mind pushing through. I think other people would get more out of Finishing this one than I will, though.


Fault- Milestone Two Side:Above


Holy shit.

It’s highlighted a weakness of my format- I played Milestone One some time ago and my initial impressions were positive, if muted. Further play revealed a story that went places I wasn’t at all expecting and I ended up having a really great time with it, with no real way to go back and update that “6/10″-feeling post.

So, let me fix that here- Fault Milestone One is great and if you have any kind of stomach for kinetic VNs and probably-too-much-impossible-to-pronounce terminology, you should definitely go experience it.

Milestone Two, then, and already I can’t really say anything about it. The story starts hard, and I couldn’t possibly explain anything about it without spoiling what made it so great. Let it suffice that I was left open-mouthed gawping at the screen just five minutes into Milestone Two. Legit mindblown. This isn’t a VN that is happy to stay constrained within the usual limits of the genre, and that’s commendable.

Fin or Bin:

Yeah, I’m on this ride until the end. There’s another part of the story that hasn’t come out yet, titled Side:Below, so I’m sure this one is going to end on a big juicy cliffhanger. Can’t wait! Fin!

(Edit: I should probably re-read old posts if I’m gonna link to them, huh. I remembered being kinda “meh” when writing up Milestone One, but having actually read it again it seems I raved about that one too. Well, let it be testament that this series is really good, even on first impression.)

(Steam link, but get Milestone One first)

Amnesia: Memories


I bought a lot of visual novels back when I was trying to convince myself I enjoyed them- despite not ever really playing them (and certainly not playing any of the ones I bought). This one is especially baffling to me as a person who typically has no interest in dating boys. Thankfully the premise is actually quite interesting- a fact I did not know when I purchased it.

Protagonist-Chan unintentionally gets possessed by a wandering fairy called Orion, who accidentally knocks all the memories out of her brain and has to help her piece her life back together. To do so, she must date one of five horrendous fashion disasters and figure out where exactly in her life they fit.

The decision is made before you’ve met any of them, simply by choosing one of the suits from a deck of cards at the start of the game. By choosing Spades, I ended up with narcissistic playboy Ikki, who (in the hour I’ve spent with him) has primarily flirted with 5 other girls and told me he has magical eyes that make girls swoon for him- every girl except me, which he enjoys as a challenge.

Yeah. Bell-end.

The amnesia angle is played well, although unfortunately Orion needs to comment on every single action I or another person takes in reference to it. Hearing his theories on what exactly it means when Ikki says he walks me home from work drags. Protag-chan is silent so all of her thoughts are communicated via Orion and honestly I could happily do without him. The game would also be 80% shorter without his constant theorycrafting about my life- stuff which as the player I’m already going to be thinking about.

Fin or Bin:

Argh. I’m sort of invested by now, but I’ve looked into how long the game is and each story takes about 6-8 hours. I feel like there’s got to be a lot of hooks and stuff to come so if I’m gonna bail out I should do it now rather than later. I genuinely can’t decide if I should bin it or just finish Ikki’s story and call it done there. So I’m turning it over to you guys! Fin or Bin?


Having slept on it, I’m now less invested than I was in the moment. midgi also had a good point about playing games I actively enjoy is a better use of my time, so I’m now feeling comfortable enough to Bin this one.

Dysfunctional Systems


Another visual novel. I sure bought a lot of these things considering I can never convince myself to start them, huh? Just a cursory glance over my Steam backlog shows there’s another three or four waiting for their turn.

Right off the bat- the protagonist is annoying. Not necessarily a negative; she’s a fourteen year-old girl and fourteen year-olds are annoying (source: I was one). Taken in that context, her characterisation is convincingly written, but nonetheless I feel like a good 1/3 of her lines could be stripped out without really losing anything.

She and Cyrus are Mediators, who travel to paralel/alternate worlds (the game hasn’t actually fully explained this yet) in order to balance chaotic events happening in them- war, and the like. They restore order, but not necessarily in a heroic way, Cyrus’ plan in this case being to assassinate someone.

Fin or Bin:

I was feeling a little disinterested on this one right up to the point it dropped a bomb (in a sense, literally) and the tension suddenly ramped up real high. I’ll be Finishing at least one branch of the story- there are apparently two distinct endings to reach, and depending on how the first resolves I may or may not try the second one.

Recommended to:

I can’t stress enough how annoying Winter is, and you should also know that there’s a sequel in development-hell at the moment and it looks like it’ll never see the light of day. I don’t know if this one ends on a cliffhanger, but if it does, be ready to never see it resolved. If you can stomach all of that, and VNs are your thing, this one’s at a cheerful enough price-point that it’s worth a crack.


Doki Doki Literarture Club

I’ve largely managed to avoid spoilers for this title, beyond the rampant “Just Monika” spam that followed its release. I don’t have much context for what that means, but I do know that the three separate content warnings before the game loads aren’t jokes. People are legitimately freaked out by this game for reasons I didn’t encounter in the hour I played it.

The trouble with games like this (and any other medium, really), where they present themselves in a certain manner and then pull the rug out from under your feet, is that it takes time to get to The Good Bit. The part of the story where things turn from run-of-the-mill to something really special comes much later, meaning you need to enjoy what it’s presenting itself as in the first place.

‘Generic Boy Joins A Club Full Of Cute And Single Girls And Has To Pick One’ isn’t a genre that holds any interest for me. (The inverse is also true, though rarer.) I know it’s deliberately lampooning that style of game in order to set expectations, but as it stands, I’m playing… at least one hour, possibly several hours, of a game I’m not interested in, so I can get to the interesting bit later on. If I was already a fan of these sorts of games it’d definitely be worth it, but personally speaking I don’t have the endurance.

Fin or Bin:

I do really like the poetry system as a means to choose which girl’s path you end up on, it’s a lot more interesting than just choosing the dialogue option they’d obviously like best. However, even that isn’t enough to keep me interested. It’s a shame because I know everyone’s raving about this game and from what I gather it gets REALLY GOOD once the beat drops, but like a poorly-made sandwich, the good bit is in the middle of all this plain white bread I have to eat through first. I’m gonna put it in the Bin and grab a hot pocket instead.

Recommended to:

Hatoful Boyfriend did something similar, although in that one the Gotcha comes from not expecting a goofy pigeon dating sim to get that dark. If you enjoyed the twists in that tale, you might like this too. Regardless, it’s free, so give it a chance if it sounds interesting.

Fault- Milestone One

Apparently I’ve bought a lot of visual novels over the many Steam sales I’ve been through, only to then always say “nah, not really in the mood for that” any time I’m looking for a new game to play. Certainly, the first time I tried this BBacklog Challenge, I was matched with Analogue Hate Story, a game I know for sure I’d never have played if not for it being nominated, which I ended up loving to death.

Having rolled Fault, that same “wehhhh I don’t wanna play this” feeling came up. Maybe I should stop buying VNs, but that’s another matter. So, then, I gave it an hour…

This is some next-level shit right here. The presentation is off the charts, far beyond the usual static anime portraits- there’s camera pans, dramatic zooms, and CGs are used in such a way that parts of the story almost feel like they’re fully animated. There’s a LOT of artistic skill on show here, above and beyond the visuals by themselves.

It’s pretty heavy-handed with terminology, going so far as to include an excyclopedia that can be referenced at any point during the game. A lot of not-really-mainland-european-language words too that are hard to read, with lots of Ks and Vs and Hs in places they oughtn’t be. I haven’t made much headway into the story yet but I do enjoy the two main characters, one a blonde princess who is obviously my fave, and her bodyguard Ritona who is too badass for words.

Fin or Bin:

I really don’t think VNs as a whole are for me, despite wishing they were. This one does have the advantage of not being played from Generic McNiceboy’s perspective, which is something I dislike about the genre. It’s kinetic too, so there aren’t a hundred story branches to go back and follow. I’ll be Finishing this one, then.

Recommended to:

VN fans, and fans of cute princesses.