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O2A2 2023—VN Jam Game Report #5

For those who are unaware of what the O2A2 VN Jam is, it’s an acronym that stands for Only One of Any Asset, a development jam designed for all developers to make a micro VN (flash fiction.) Teams are restricted to using one of any asset (i.e. 1 background and 1 sprite or 1 CG, 1 music track, 1,000 words) to create their story.

As one of the Fuwanovel staff members who took part upon covering O2A2 VN Jam submissions. I honestly got perplexed what those titles managed to convey within their given limitations in mind. Many times, those so-called limitations, are used as fuel to spark some creativity we don’t often see.

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So within my picks, I chose five submissions who stood out the most visually. Mostly sapphic, horror and artsy games. How did they end up performing, you ask? You’ll see in a second.

This game was inspired by Eugene de Blaas’ painting The Rose.
Rascal Devworks does an impeccable job solidifying Dear Rosalia as a literature marble in the VN medium. It presents whimsical tunes in order to convey all the heart ache left due to its everlasting longing, and it reads like a love poem of bitter angst. Though there are only one thousand words, each line is imbued within a romanticized, historical atmosphere, beautifully crafted by Rascal Devworks’ illustrious writing.
It portrays a sapphic rendez-vous memory from the past, full of insistent and bittersweet longing.

Dear Rosalia really captures that feeling of stepping back in time while wandering around through vast green fields of endless mundane days. It feels quite insightful, given the attention to detail the author shows while writing, not only because of its beauty, but also how vividly this longing is described — stirring desires here and there with a triumphal delicacy.

Regarding Rosalia herself, she is a woman lost in thought; rambling proses full of what ifs that will never come true. She leaves us with an aftertaste of bitterness though the air, rhythmically composing a poetic harmony within visuals and sound. In the end, the most fascinating of all was the shape it took, upon the inspiration within Eugene de Blaas’ painting, The Rose — hiding thorns beneath its beauty.


You can read the visual novel on itch.io.

Status: Released
Platform: HTML5
Author: Rascal Devworks
Genre: Visual Novel, Interactive Fiction
Tags: amare, Female Protagonist, Historical, Lesbian, LGBT, Romance, sad, sapphic, short
Average session: A few minutes

milk+ visual is a doujin visual novel studio specialized in developing darker yuri titles (which, unfortunately, are quite a rarity nowadays.) Their renowned for their horror masterpiece soundless, a work that contains such grotesque content that it’s deserving of trigger warnings.

Fair to say, I’d never imagine what milk+ would create, given these limitations. That’s when Flotsam Song got my attention — the pastel-looking mystical creature from the cover, in particular.

Surprisingly, this game stands out by how polished it felt compared to their peers, albeit it still has some downsides such as the exclusive necessity to download it from the site. Needless to say, as soon you boot up the game it welcomes you with the O2A2 slogan, followed by trigger warnings advising the player’s discretion. There’s an option to disable its gruesome imagery, fortunately. The UI itself is also very intuitive, with shortcuts and toggles to fulfill the readers’ needs. Furthermore, the visuals are fantastic, with a dynamic white canvas as the dialogue box, next to their sprites.

This story revolves around Selinuntius and Melos, as they bond and find solace in each other from their life as outcasts. A lovely story, under the dystopian sea and the oblivious blue sky, ruling over all. Flotsam Song evokes a symbolic ambiance with illustrious subtlety to retell Melos’ dreadful past events, and Selinuntius’ timeless loneliness. The stoic and gloomy writing shows the harboring feelings within sounds of crashing waves and the cries of seagulls, showing a glint from what was left of their story.


You can read the visual novel on itch.io.

Status: Released
Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android
Author: milk+ visual
Genre: Visual Novel
Tags: Anime, Fantasy, Female Protagonist, Historical, Lesbian, LGBT, mythology, Queer, Yuri
Average session: A few minutes

This is a prequel to the events in the Let’s Misbehave! demo. It revolves around a simple question, while hitting all the high notes in the young couple’s life, so full of roundabouts due to their current relationship. It’s a jazzy session intertwined with bitterness, skepticism and unease.

This story is carried by Gilda’s enchanting voice, which steals the show (by Rita Amparita). She sets the stage for many of the couple’s past interactions or some unfinished baggage, they have still to figure how to deal with.

On a side note, Gilda’s imponent demeanor, along with James’ paranoid and comical monologues, make for a nice contrast. A Simple Question offers a complex look at how the couple deals with each of their problems, without needing to slow down nor hide their mannerisms (which, personally, is where I find the prequel shines the most.)

Since I haven’t played Let’s Misbehave!, there isn’t much to add besides the expectations left after this fascinating prequel. The young couple’s chemistry and the overall ambience delivered pleasantly among my picks.


You can read the visual novel on itch.io.

Status: Released
Platform: HTML5
Author: illegalileo, ElysianLys, KitsunePlush
Genre: Visual Novel
Tags: 1920s, Historical. Josei, prequel, Romance, Singleplayer, Story Rich
Average session: A few minutes

G.C. Katz is a developer who specializes into crafting unforgettable narrative experiences, which is shown through Mandala. Their newest project ended up being one of the surprises I experienced among my picks, due to how artsy and abstract it felt. The provocative amalgamations from their visuals and atmospheric soundtrack set your mind free into transient thoughts, but it also brings the readers back to reality, allowing themselves to healthily immerse.

Mandala presents an evocative poem from their earthy elements, following a cycle of seasons while morph hues correspond to dawn and night, repeating at the end. A circle of life, aiming to reach the spiritual nirvana beneath the prose within these reflective insights. It rejuvenates, inspires, and brings a sense of enlightenment.


You can read the visual novel on itch.io.

Status: In development
Platform: HTML5
Author: G.C. Katz
Genre: Interactive Fiction
Tags: Animals, artgame, Atmosphere, Cozy, nature, Short
Average session: A few minutes

Browsing through O2A2 entries I came across Girl’s Day, a title showcasing a geisha. As I start theorizing what it could symbolize, I inspect the tags and see “transgender;” without even thinking twice, I added this to my O2A2 picks.

When it comes to Nice Gear Games repertoire, I’m not the most knowledgeable person out there. However, I know that with only 776 words, this falls into the shorter side, even for this kind of jam.

It tries to make up for it by offering three distinct routes with different perspectives from the long-distance relationship between mother and son, valuing its replayability.

The game gathers all your attention for this crude and somber tale, with no better way to describe the page-flip act as exploring brief memories, while dealing with traditional gender norms enrooted in most cultures. Every word reflected dread through the story.

It’s quite an odd and moody read, if you ask me. However, it does require a specific mood to appreciate and notice all the details, since there are no visual or audio elements to immerse yourself in.

Regardless of the mentioned downsides, I strongly believe it deserves to have its merits talked about as it delivers its aimed message and tells a story that felt personal to me… the writing, when you are in the right state of mind, evokes some disturbed thoughts.


You can read the visual novel on itch.io.

Status: Released
Platform: HTML5
Author: Nice Gear Games
Genre: Interactive Fiction
Tags: Experimental, Indie, LGBT, Multiple Endings, Narrative, Queer, Short, Text based, Transgender
Average session: A few minutes

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Yuzu

Innogrey fan here, besides horror and yuri be my passion. Oh also mechs, they are pretty cool. Guess I tend to stick with those things, but that does not mean I'm closing any door to whatever sparks my interest. If it shows impressive writing, I'm all for it.

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