VIDEOVERSE is an online network simulation-themed visual novel from Kinmoku that was released today, on August 7th 2023, on Steam and Itchio. After three years of development, VIDEOVERSE is now available at a price of $12.99 USD. Let us take a look and start our Gaming console.
As Emmett, a young video game fan and aspiring artist, dive into this fictional video game era, where the Kinmoku Shark gaming system and its online social network, Videoverse, were still popular. Strengthen Emmett’s friendships, share fan art and browse the lively gaming communities. Make decisions that will change how Emmett grows, his approach to Videoverse and, ultimately, the final outcome!
Will your actions help Videoverse thrive, or will you get caught up in teenage drama, video game fandoms and corporate conspiracies?Steam
Warning: VIDEOVERSE contains swearing, online abuse and later self-loathing/depression.
The full list is available in the game under “Preferences”, but it will contain spoilers for the game.
The characters are that what makes VIDEOVERSE what it is.
Each time Emmett enters Videoverse and roams through the boards of the forum, reads the comments, and sees the artwork his friends uploaded, we get this nice feeling.
For someone such as I — who never had this “forum experience”— it was a new experience and I now understand better how people in those years felt.
Emmett is a pretty nice character, but this doesn’t mean your options are all nice and friendly. Some become unavailable depending on Emmett’s traits — it depends on how much you change him! Overall, it’s a nice trial and error thing.
Fun fact: Emmett lives in Frankfurt (Germany), which explains the German words that keep popping up while playing. It’s a nice touch.
The story is written by Kinmoku, the developer behind this game.
Making a story that simulates a very classic and nostalgic era of the Internet is a fascinating idea. As the story progressed, it was nice to get to know the users better and experience how Emmett interacts with others.
Some of the conversations or better chats Emmett had later on made me smile and were amazingly written. It felt like meeting your friends and helping them with their stuff.
Vivi — don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers — was an especially intense trip for me and I was almost in tears at the “end” and what happened after. The way they interacted with each other and how it turned out really got to me.
The story is about 6 to 8 hours long and gives you the opportunity to replay it in order to change some of the decisions you made in the first playthrough. I’ll go into more detail in the next part.
The programming was also done by Kinmoku with the help of DragoonHP.
The mechanics of making a whole visual novel in this style were very satisfying to see. The different layers of Videoverse, the login screen and the whole community with triggers when you comment on something was amazingly well done. Oh, and of course, I just loved the chat windows.
Emmet’s table outside the console was also a nice mechanic.
There, you can find a to-do list and some notes, including Emmet’s sketchbook later on.
What really surprised me was the Steam achievements: you have about 45 to unlock.
If you play it for the first time and just focus on the main story, you will get about 15 to 20 of them.
Usually, visual novels only have achievements for basic things, like finishing a chapter, but this feels more fitting for VIDEOVERSE.
A little thing to remember: if you want to make some changes, don’t forget to save in different slots from the normal “VN mode”, since you don’t have a skip function in the Shark hub. You make many decisions, so be aware.
The art for VIDEOVERSE is absolutely fantastic. Seeing all the different styles in the community posts was great too. The sprites of the characters while chatting were beautiful and the whole Feudal Fantasy sequences are excelent in that “limited” pixel style of the early days.
Kinmoku also did this art with many beautiful sketches. It really shows how many different style one person is able to recreate.
As you read, VIDEOVERSE spends most of its time in the Shark Hub. There, you have no typical VN background art like forests or cities. That alone is pretty rare. It also presented some “real life” CGs of Emmett as a nice contrast.
The soundtrack is made by Clark Aboud. It’s a very comfortable collection of tracks to listen to while exploring the community and interacting with the other members. If you love music from the older times (or you are a retro lover) this one is a perfect fit for you.
Besides that, it highlighted Emmett’s journey very nicely.
The narrator is voiced by Mark Takeshi Ota (Live a Live, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles), which is very surprising to see.
The only criticism I have is that sometimes you go through the boards of the community hub and you need to make a specific interaction with a post to trigger the next event (like an upcoming message, let’s say.) Sometimes I missed those triggers and wondered why nothing happened. That can get people stuck for a bit, making it a bit frustrating.
Out of the pile of posts and messages, you could miss them. Though, to be fair, it only happened twice ─ you just have to keep those peepers open!
First of all, making an online network simulation VN with coming-of-age themes such as finding yourself and helping others find themselves is an incredible idea.
The mix of the retro style and themes that are important to this day are excellently done. I dare say some themes explored here are even more pertinent nowadays than ever.
It seems that VIDEOVERSE has gotten a lot of buzz too! It made it as a nominee for the Critics Choice Award at the Indie Cup; it was part of the Steam Next Fest, where I discovered the demo, and is also present for the Tiny Team Festival that started last Thursday (August 3rd) and will continue until the 10th, this Thursday.
Ultimately, VIDEOVERSE’s goal is to fill the player with warmth, love and a better understanding into how we can all make video games and online communities friendlier, happier spaces. I hope you’ll enjoy the experience!Lucy “Kinmoku” Blundell
Kinmoku did a fantastic job creating this game, with its relatable humor and great character interactions. I’m definitely looking forward to their next game!
Speaking of the developer: we have plans to conduct a little interview in the
near future (as soon as the Kinmoku is available), so stay tuned to learn more about VIDEOVERSE and its background work.