Wintertale is a short visual novel by the iichan.hk Eroge-team. It serves as a kind of teaser/prelude for Everlasting Summer. Normally a VN like this wouldn’t really be notable enough for a review, but Wintertale was one of the first visual novels available on the Android market. The Android version also appears to be the only way you can read this in English — an English Win/Mac/Linux version supposedly exists, but is unfindable.
Some guy, who remains unnamed, mopes around and vaguely alludes to his life being different before arriving at the camp he’s currently at. It’s quite incomprehensible until you read the description for Everlasting Summer (from vndb.org):
One day, Semyon, while taking a walk through the streets, boards the bus number 410, where he suddenly loses his consciousness. When he comes back to his senses, he finds himself in a soviet pioneer summer camp. Semyon gets involved in a routine life of soviet youth and meets several attractive girls… But he still wants to understand how he got there and maybe find a way out, back to the real world.
Ah right, so I guess that’s what’s going on. That really needed to be in the VN or at least in the description somewhere.
These events are vaguely alluded to during one of the protagonist’s (Semyon’s?) rants. He really loves to ramble semi-coherently and complain about his life. The dubious quality of the English translation certainly doesn’t help. Every other sentence is oddly worded, wonky grammar everywhere. The text is still entirely comprehensible, just not particularly pleasant to read.
The protagonist — referred to as ‘Me’ in the text box — spends his days reading, moping around and occasionally exchanging a few words with each of the girls at the camp. He comes across as a self-important asshole, emotionally disconnected from the rest of the world.
Each of the girls gets a short one-on-one scene with the protagonist. These scenes are a bit too short to flesh out their personalities, especially with the protagonist acting like a mopey asshole. It’s what you get when you write scenes just to include certain characters, even when they don’t really fit into the story.
Normally this would be something I’d put under a spoiler tag, but as it’s basically the only event of note within the plot there would be very little left to talk about. Well, the protagonist, while acting entirely uninterested, suddenly and without reason confesses his love for one of the girls. There’s no buildup to this, and no justification afterwards other than it being some quaint attempt to drive away boredom. She doesn’t take it particularly well, running off and hiding behind some furniture like some type of small rodent. It’s not that she’s scared or anything, just embarrassed. It’s a kind of moé-moé uguu anime reaction that doesn’t really make sense in the relatively realistic and serious setting.
…And then it just suddenly ends. Keep in mind Wintertale is primarily just a teaser for a larger project, so some fandisc-level writing is to be expected.
The sprites are rather nice, though some of the character designs can get a little too extreme (especially Alice who sports thunderbolt-shaped twin-tails). Backgrounds are incredibly detailed and with convincing day/night variants. The music is rather pleasant too. The sprites are good, backgrounds are good, music is good, there’s just this one thing that bothers me about Wintertale’s presentation (at least for the Android version)…
Holy fuck the textbox is absolutely gigantic. There’s a giant grey-blue rounded rectangle covering up half the artwork. WTF man, WTF. And no, it’s not necessary to read the text on a small screen. No ADV textbox needs to display 5 lines at once.
The preferences screen also appears to have been a casualty of the port. There’s no preferences button on the title screen and the hardware menu button asks if you want to return to the main menu (titlescreen). This unfortunately leaves you with no option to change the text speed.
I hoped it would be able to stand up on its own, not just as a teaser for the larger project. It doesn’t — it’s forgettable, shallow and the one thing that happens (the ‘romance’) has very little payoff.