I loved Long Live The Queen and Black Closet, two games with heavily branching and systemic narratives and lots of juicy melodrama, mystery and romance. Now developers Hanako Games have released something new. Night Cascades is a lesbian romance about two women investigating a supernatural mystery in the alternate 1980s, and it sounds great.
“Diane Carter never expected her folklore degree to get her a job offer from the local police department, but when a series of occult-themed fires put the town in turmoil, she’s called in as a as a special consultant on esoteric religion to help find the culprit”, the descriptions begin on Steam. “There’s only one problem: the woman she has to work with. She’s arrogant, beautiful and far too familiar.”
The setting is described as an “Alternative New Age of the 1980s”, where belief in paranormal powers and fears of Satanism are at their peak but “same-sex love is still taboo”.
Long Live The Queen and Black Closet were at least somewhat systems-oriented, with the direction of their story being shaped by the decisions you made about which skills to learn and which relationships to foster. Night Cascades feels like a simpler visual novel, with your actions split between investigating crime scenes for clues and interrogating suspects. There is a fixed ending and the choices you make determine how you get there.
I think the art, and character art in particular, looks great in Night Cascades, but if something puts you off, check out our coverage of previous Hanako games. Alec reviewed Long Live The Queen and thought it was one of the best games of 2013, and the wonderful Katharine Cross wrote a great review on Black Closet.