Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the category “Winter Wolves”

Roommates (Winterwolves.com)

When Anne and Max signed up for dorm living at their college, they had no idea how chaotic it would be.  Can they accomplish their goals while dealing with their crazy roommates?

Remember when I said that this game was a spiritual successor to Summer Session?  Believe me when I say that this one is a huge improvement.  One of the differences is that instead of a shy guy trying to get a girlfriend, you can play as shy girl trying to break out of her shell or a rebel guy trying to make sure his band gets a big break.  Anne and Max both have four romance options with Rakesh and Isabella being romance able for both while Dominic and Sally are only romance able for Anne and Max respectably.  Anne and Max can also romance each other and the story differs depending on whose point of view you play from.  One thing I really like about this game is that the characters are unique in their own ways.  They’re also considered attractive in their own ways instead of following one standard of beauty.  In the games Always Remember Me and the first two Heileen games, Marie and Amy were both considered average looking at best.  Anne is not a case of Hollywood Homely but rather I’m Not Pretty.  The difference between the two is that the former has the other characters agreeing with the character that says she’s not pretty.  The latter has only the character thinking this while everyone around him or her disagrees.  Another thing I like about this game is how characters like Isabella and Sally are portrayed.  Any other writer, such as the writers of That 70s Show, would portray a woman like Isabella as a bitchy slut with no morals or standards.  Instead, she’s portrayed as a woman who acknowledges her sexuality but will not do anyone who asks or do whatever her current significant other wants.  She’s just a sexually active young woman and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Sally is a vegan animal rights activist who would either be portrayed as a nutcase for her beliefs or as in the right all along and everyone should follow her example.  Instead, like Isabella, she’s just different and there’s nothing wrong with that.  The other characters are also different, such as Dominic with his rule upbringing and Rakesh with his art.  The only things that bother the other people about them is that Dominic is too strict while Rakesh has no respect for people’s boundaries when it comes to his art.  Anne and Max also develop throughout the game without changing their core identities.  I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just leave it at that.  However, I will say that Anne’s a nice change from the female characters that usually star in dating sims, at least the ones made by Winter Wolves.  Many of them, like Nicole, are outgoing and love fashion.  Anne is shy and prefers the comfort of a quiet library to a loud party.  I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with Nicole but it’s nice to have something different and more relatable to me for once.  In addition, there’s this one scene where you find out that Dominic likes video games and Anne admits that she herself has played them.  It’s a welcome change to shows like the Big Bang Theory where even the scientist girls have no interest in video games, D&D, or comic books and makes a big deal about them doing those things for the first time.

The game play is that of your typical dating sim.  You have to plan the schedule of the character you’re playing while trying to romance one of the other characters.  You do have the option of skipping events in order to save energy.  If you want to successfully romance a character, you have to raise your stats high enough for them to take an interest in you.  You can do that through part time jobs or pay to partake in certain activities.  You can also attend class and study in order to keep your grades high.  Max and Anne’s storylines are sold separately in case you would rather just play as one of the characters instead of exploring the game through both of their perspectives.

This game is addictive and hilarious.  I give it 10 out of 10; it definitely didn’t disappoint.

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Nicole (Winterwolves.com)

Nicole’s excited about the college life only to discover that it wasn’t all she imagined it to be.  Three girls have been abducted from her campus and messages from the culprit tell her that she’ll be the fourth.  Can Nicole find romance while keeping herself from becoming the next victim?

For those of you who haven’t played the game, I have to warn you that there are spoilers in this review.  This game is not your typical dating sim.  From the very first scene, it’s clear that there is far more going on then hooking up with boys.  You have to solve a mystery while pursuing a guy. 

If you go there alone, you don’t get to solve anything.  I like to think that this is less about a knight in shining armor saving a damsel in distress than it is about saying that there is safety in numbers.  Celso Riva is working on the yuri version of this game so we’ll just have to wait and see.  The guy’s you can pursue are Ted, the hotheaded southerner, Jeff, the eccentric scientist, Darren, the shy computer geek, and Kurt, the social football player.  My personal favorite would have to be Ted because he has a touching storyline about his family and his temper’s not to the point where he gets abusive.  Kurt, on the other hand, had a scene that was used as a joke but it made me feel uncomfortable.  In that scene, he was trying to kiss Nicole even though she was saying no and she had to throw an alarm clock at him to get him to stop.  Maybe they were just playing and I took it the wrong way.  Jeff was also another love interest I had trouble with because he was way too easily forgiven.  True, he never killed anyone but he did experiment on humans like they were guinea pigs and pretty much ruined their lives.  I know that, as the player, I was the one to make the choice, but I think a far more interesting ending for him would be Nicole doubting whether she could trust him.  I like screwed up relationships but I would prefer if the author admitted that they were screwed up.

The game play is similar to Always Remember Me with a few differences.  In that game, you only tried to raise a particular stat if you wanted the special ending for a certain guy.  In Nicole, you have to raise a certain stat for a guy if you want their normal ending.  The only way to get the special ending is if you max out the clues stat and view all of the mystery scenes. 

You visit difference locations and do certain activities in order to raise each stat.  You also have to choose between two responses when having scenes with certain boys.  If you pick the correct one, it will raise their affection level.  Another thing that separates Nicole from Always Remember Me is that you have to buy five gifts for a certain boy if you want any chance of pursuing a relationship with them.  In Always Remember Me, you only had to buy a few stat-raising items and one thing for only one of the guys and even that wasn’t necessary.

This game is romantic with a hint of mystery.  I give it 9 out of 10; some of the suspense scenes had my heart racing.

Summer Session (Winterwolves.com)

When a shy student signs up for summer classes, he didn’t know what to expect.  Maybe he’ll finally have a girlfriend, or maybe he’ll remain as lonely as he’s always been.

This is not exactly an interesting premise.  In fact, the only reason I bought this game is that Celso Riva is working on another one called Roommates that he claims is sort of a successor to this one.  As I said, the plot is some shy guy trying to find a girlfriend in six weeks while still trying to ace his exams.  He can pursue the outgoing Rachel, his teacher Jenny, the studious Midori, the athletic Tanya and the eccentric Emma.

The game play is about choosing your schedule for the week and making the correct dialogue choices when pursuing a character. 

You can study to do well on exams, work for money, go partying, play sports, play video games, rest or exercise.  No matter what, you have to attend class every day.

This game is addictive but not that interesting.  I give it 3 out of 10; compared to Celso Riva’s later games, it falls short.

Heileen 3: New Horizons (Winterwolves.com)

Heileen is shipwrecked on a mysterious island with Robert and Ebele. They are saved by a ship called the Morning Star led by the pirates Morgan and Juliet.  Not only does Heileen use this opportunity to find her friends, she also needs to discover her destiny.  Will Heileen find love or will she find her true calling?

At first, the story is about Heileen searching for her missing friends and family.  After everyone’s found, the story changes depending on which character you pursue or which colony activity you partake in.  In the original game, Heileen can choose between Morgan, John, Jonathan and Sebastian.  Purchasing the female romance expansion extends her choices to Lora, Marie, Juliet and Ebele.  My favorite of the guys is Sebastian (though I hate to admit it) and my favorite of the girls is Juliet.  With Sebastian it might be more out of relief that Elias was going to be the romance option but he was voted out by Celso Riva‘s followers.  He also had no intention of adding Juliet to the mix but popular demand changed his mind.  I much prefer the plots where Heileen partakes in colony activities because at first she’s clueless about what she wants to do with her life.  As she continues, she realizes that she found her true calling.

While the first two games were pure visual novels, this one is a dating/raising sim.  During the game, you can do basic activities on the ship or colony activities on land.  You have to raise attributes from the former in order to participate in the latter.  You can invite one of the characters to do the colony activity with you and if you raise your stat high enough, you can qualify for the profession attached to it as long as you have the right sin or virtue.  There will be some cut scenes in the game where you have to make a choice that affects your alignment with good and evil.  It also affects your relationships with certain characters.  Some cutscenes are story-driven while others are just you inviting someone out or vice versa.

This is definitely my favorite of the Heileen series.  I give it 8 out of 10; it ended with a bang.

Loren the Amazon Princess: The Castle of N’Mar (Winterwolves.com)

While Loren’s on a quest to find her mother, vampires have captured several of her people.  To top it off, her sidekick has to help everyone on his or her own personal journey.  Thankfully, three other people and a hellhound have joined them in their quest.

This is an expansion to the original game.  On each character’s side quest, you find out more about what made them what they are.  You also have an option to spare sacrificing anyone at the end of the game.  You can now recruit Sauzer, Mesphit and Chambara on your quest.  Only the final two are romance options for either gender.

The game play is the same as the last one with options to go on personal quests.  When you’re finished with each one, you can get a special item that only a certain character can use.  You also have more achievements to win along with more options to take in different locations.  You can avoid some fights if you want to.

This is nothing more than an extension of the original game.  I give it 8 out of 10; taking a fourth option took out some of the emotion for me.

Planet Stronghold (Winterwolves.com)

A new recruit is sent to the greatest outpost a human could ever be assigned to, Planet Stronghold.  Their decisions will shape the fate of humanity and the rest of the galaxy.

The game takes place in the future where humankind is at odds with every other alien race.  A king rules the humans and your job is to find the missing prince.  After that, you have to decide if you want to achieve galactic peace or conquer the galaxy.  You do have romance options, but you won’t have access to them until you make a decision.  Even then, they write it hastily together with side quests for every single character in order to get to know them better.  To me it just seems like info dumping about each one and who you romance has no effect on the plot whatsoever.


All it does is change a few lines in the epilogue.  In Loren, the romances slowly grow and connect to the plot while in this game they’re just there for the sake of having them.

When you start the game, you have a choice between a male and female character.  Which one you choose only affects whom you can romance.  You also have a choice between four classes: Soldier, Guardian, Scout, or Psionic.  The choices you make affect your relationship with the characters.  Every battle you win and every quest you complete will give you experience points.

When you level up, you have to choose how to distribute them.  You can also earn achievements based on what you do in the game.

The game is fun but doesn’t offer much in romance and character development.  I give it 8 out of 10, the story elements have a better use in Loren, but this one has better game play.

The Flower Shop: Winter in Fairbrook (Winterwolves.com)

Requested by kristi78968

Natalie just finished a semester in college and all she wants to do is relax.  If only her parents didn’t insist that she get a job and become more responsible.  Fortunately, her roommate Clara manages to get her a job working in Susana’s flower shop.

Like Steve, Natalie is a slacker whose parents want her to grow up.  Unlike Steve, Natalie actually has a choice about where she wants to work.  Many of the characters from the previous game return along with one extra, Ryan who runs the General Store.

Natalie also has her own romance options, the timid Jacob, the bold Trent, the reserved Ryan and the hard-working Steve.  Steve has changed since the last game and it shows.  He’s taken a more responsible role in his family’s life, yet still retains his joking nature.  His relationship with Natalie is my favorite because they bond over their similar situations.

Like the last game, the boys have lives outside of you.  Your job is to become a part of their lives while having your own.  There are even a couple of scenes showing that, like the show Friends, many of the characters have bonded with each other over their screwed up families.

The game play is similar to the first game.  When you get up, you have to grow flowers in the morning.  You can use your weekly scheduler to decide what to do in the afternoons.  You hang out in the library, go running with Steve, go to the general store, stay at the flower shop, rest or continue working.  Like the last game, you need to have a life outside of the boy you pursue in order to raise a stat they particularly like.  Jacob likes determination, which is associated with Steve, Trent likes empathy, which is associated with Jacob, Ryan likes culture, which is associated with Trent, and Steve likes intelligence, which is associated with Ryan.  This time you only need to raise over four hundred dollars to get the special endings.

It’s addictive and can be funny at times.  I give it 9 out of 10, even better than the first one.

The Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook (Winterwolves.com)

Steve just got his grades back from college and they didn’t turn out as well as he hoped.  His girlfriend, Jill, is tired of his slacker ways and dumps him.  To top it all off, Steve’s dad sends him to go live with his uncle on a farm so he can learn responsibility.

Steve’s definitely a slacker type and it shows.  At first, all he does is complain about his predicament.  Then he develops into a hard-working guy.  There are four women Steve can hook up with, Clara (the small-town girl with big dreams), Susana (the vegan with a temper), Marian (the shy librarian), and Jill (your ambitious ex).  These women actually have something that you don’t normally find in a dating sim, a life outside of you.  They have their own problems along with their own hopes and dreams that you have to help them through.  My personal favorite is Clara’s relationship with Steve because they both bond with each other over their hatred for Fairbrook.

Every morning, you wake up and work on the farm.  When you’re finished, you do the activity you scheduled for that day.  You can rest, go jogging with Clara, go to the library, go to the flower shop, stay home and call Jill, or continue working on the farm.

As I said earlier, the girls have lives outside of you.  If you want to win any of their hearts, you have to have a life outside of the girl you pursue.  Each girl has a particular stat they admire, Clara likes coolness which you can get from talking to Jill, Jill likes determination which you can get from jogging with Clara, Susana likes culture which you can get by going to the library, and Marian likes romance which you can get by going to the flower shop.  You can get a normal ending and a special ending with each girl depending on whether you raised over a thousand dollars while playing.  If you don’t meet the requirements for any of the girls, you get the alone ending.

The game is fun and has a good story.  I give it 8 out of 10, some similarities to Harvest Moon.

Always Remember Me (Winterwolves.com)

Amy’s a simple girl with an ordinary life until her boyfriend Aaron gets into a car accident.  Not only does he not remember her, but Aaron’s ex-girlfriend Abigail lied and said they were dating.  Will Amy help Aaron regain his memories or will she find love in another man?

The story’s simple, there are no demons, no aliens, just a city girl trying to live her life.  Amy works at an ice cream shop, she dreams of being a writer and she has her own blog.  Amy has four men to choose from, her shy co-worker Lawrence, the chivalrous pervert Hugh, the workaholic doctor Eddy, and her amnesiac boyfriend Aaron; so it’s like an interactive soap opera.  You can tell that the game sees Aaron and Amy as the official couple, especially when you listen to the theme song.  In my opinion, Aaron seems like kind of a jerk because in one scene, Abigail called Amy average looking right to her face and Aaron doesn’t rush to defend her.  You can argue that Aaron doesn’t remember Amy, but if my boyfriend said something like that to another guy’s face, I’d be pissed.  There’s also a scene where Amy said that Aaron would get jealous if she so much as associated with other men.  Amy also believes that her looks are average and in some scenes wonders if she belongs with Aaron; then again, that could be Abigail and Osher’s (Aaron’s father) fault.  Lawrence seems sweet, but he’s too much of a dogged nice guy.  There’s one scene where he secretly follows Amy, but you can’t call him out on it because it lowers your relationship level with him.  In another scene, Amy screws up at her job and Lawrence takes the fall, but if you try to set the boss straight, Lawrence gets mad at you for not acting like a helpless damsel in distress.  Eddy and Hugh seem more normal compared to them.  Hugh’s just a tiny bit more controlling because he ordered pizza for Amy without asking her if she wanted any.  No, you can’t call him out on it because it lowers his relationship level with you.  The worst Eddy’s ever done is get ready-made food and try to impress you by pretending he cooked it himself.

Every weekday morning you have to work at the ice cream shop.  Other than that, you have free range until after sunset.  You can update your blog, work overtime, go shopping and more.  Some of these activities actually increase a stat that helps get a special ending with the character that stat is associated with; Eddy’s discipline, Aaron’s romance, Lawrence’s culture and Hugh’s creativity.  You can also talk to each character at their respective places, the hospital (Aaron and Eddy), the mall (Hugh) and the ice cream shop (Lawrence).  If you’re on Eddy’s path, you can eventually talk to him at his house.  Each character has scenes that activate in various locations and can give you more relationship points based on how you respond to them.  If you pursue another character besides Aaron, you get an extra scene where you have to decide to give up on him completely.  The scene’s supposed to be heartbreaking, but it’s hard to feel sorry for Amy when you haven’t gone to see Aaron once in your entire play through.  If you fail to win any of the other character’s hearts, you get the alone ending.

An escapist video game that doesn’t offer anything to people who prefer girls, but if you prefer guys this is your game.  I give this game 5 out of 10.  If it weren’t for this, I wouldn’t have a blog.

Loren the Amazon Princess (Winterwolves.com)

When Queen Karen of the Amazons disappears, Loren sets off on a journey to find her. On the way, she discovers her destiny and is in the middle of a huge conflict that only she can bring to an end.

You might think you’d play Loren in this game, but you don’t. The character you play is her sidekick. When the game begins, you have a choice of playing as Saren (a human male slave) or Elenor (a female elf servant). When being presented to Loren, you can choose your character’s background.

You also have a choice of romance partners for each character. Both Saren and Elenor can romance Loren and the reserved Nomad Amukiki. Saren can also romance the half-elf fire mage Draco and the enchanting druid Myrth. Elenor can romance the bad boy elf Rei and the miserable Queen Karen. There are some graphic scenes in the game, but you can choose whether to view or skip them. You can also choose to have your characters wear more or less of their outfits.

This game might seem like just another dating sim, but you couldn’t be more wrong. The battle system in Loren is unique. Instead of a 2D battle, as I’ve come to expect from most independent RPGs, you have this.

Not only do you gain experience points through battle, you also gain them through completing quests. If you gain enough points, you can level up your characters. You do so by giving each character a number of attribute points for their strength, will and skill. You can also pick a new talent for them to learn. How many points you get while leveling up depends entirely on what time of game play you choose. You also have choices throughout the game that affect your relationship with the characters. During the game, you can retreat to camp to recover your health. It’s also a chance for you to build up your relationship with certain characters. There’s also achievements you can collect throughout the story.

The story and characters have their own charm. The game is not only about the war that’s brewing in the world of the game, it’s also about prejudice. Not only is there prejudice between the humans and the elves, there’s also prejudice within their own groups and a prejudice Amazons hold for men and the rest of the world. It’s because of this that the demons find it so easily to manipulate everyone. There’s also prejudice between the characters that fades over time as each of them get to know one another. Princess Loren is the one selected by a mythical sword to lead everyone to the demons, a role she is reluctant to take due to her belief that the Amazons should remain neutral. Her relationship with Saren or Elenor is also quite special as she starts to view her slave as an actual person and starts to become friends or more with them. Her romance with Saren is the most character developing story arc out of all of Saren’s romances because she actually has to take a good look at her culture and how they enslave men much like women were little more than slaves in Earth’s history. My favorite romance path of Elenor’s would have to be Rei because she truly gets to explore her Elvin heritage. I can’t say more about the game without giving it away, but at the end one of the characters sacrifices themselves and I choked up a bit during it.

This game has an amazing story, intriguing characters and is nonstop fun. I give it 9 out of 10, can’t wait for the expansion and it promises a sequel.

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