Anyone who uses Steam regularly knows they have a big end of the year sale in December. This year the sale is quite small, compared to last years, when there were 1600 games with discount varying from 10% to 75%. I usually wait for this sale to make big purchases. I’ve bought a few games already and my favorite of the season is Magical Diary. It’s an indie visual novel game by Hanako Games.
You play a female freshman at a magical academy. There’s customization for her looks, but her personality is set. In the first days of school she says she doesn’t like studying and prefers gym class. In other games, like the Princess Maker-series, the girl doesn’t say such things explicitly. You can choose your classes though, even though your character (default name is Mary Sue) says she prefers one over the other. I made her a study geek, maxed out blue magic and made sure she got fifty merits. That’s about the complete opposite of what the story says. Not that it matters much.
Every two months you’ll get a magic exam. The teacher will send you into a dungeon and you’ll have to find your way out. Each dungeon has it’s own obstacles and you need different types of magic to get out. Going for one type of magic, without taking any of the other classes will result into a failed exam, most of the time.
The dungeons are a puzzle element in this visual novel, but the story is still what this game is about. You get to choose your friends, your crush, your way of ending this school year. Do you want to run for class president, the treasurer or marry a teacher? Or do you prefer the bad boy life sucking vampire demon? Maybe one of your roommates? Every play through will be different.
This game is heavily inspired by japanese visual novels where the load and save buttons are always available (and do use them before making your conversation choices!!) and the fast-forward button to speed through all the story parts you already know and want to skip. My first play through was about four hours. My second three. I skipped most of the story I already knew, but every route has a different story. Every character a different background. If you choose their path, they will tell you all about it. So you’ll have to play it multiple times to know all the why’s, how’s and what’s.
I’ve been a fan of these visual novels or dating sims for a long time and I’m very happy that a few companies, like Hanako Games and Winter Wolves are making proper English dating sims. It saves me time translating all the story in Princess Maker 4 or 5. I can enjoy this game to the fullest and I’m planning to play through all the possible routes. This game is definitely worth its money.