ReviewsReview: Venus: Improbable Dream

Review: Venus: Improbable Dream

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The world can be a cruel place, and your mind can be your worst enemy. Anxiety and low self-esteem can be the most debilitating ailments, and to make matters worse, the surrounding world is blissfully unaware of your suffering. Venus: Improbable Dream explores this touching and taboo subject in its immersive story.

Developed by Borealis and Ratalaika Games and published by Eastasiasoft Limited, this is a sombre visual novel. This moderate to long read comprises twelve tough and emotion-packed chapters. You’ll witness the power of friendship, music, and love as the protagonist’s world evolves alongside the story.

Anxiety can be crippling.

Venus: Improbable Dream offers minimal choices. 

The visual novel genre is renowned for its plot changing choices. Players have the chance to influence the character’s dialogue and your decisions change the course of the story. However, Venus: Improbable Dream steers clear of this staple mechanic. Subsequently, it’s a little unorthodox and may leave some gamers reeling. I, on the other hand, enjoyed that lack of input. The beauty of this visual novel is its immersive plot, and too many choices would have broken that connection.

You see the world through the eyes of Kakeru, a young man who was born with a birth defect that he hates. He cannot shake the negative feelings that haunt him, and depression and anxiety cripple his life. You follow his timid steps as he joins the school music club, where he tries to exorcise these demons. Here he finds friendship, serenity, and like-minded individuals. Can you guide Kakeru through this dark chapter and help him to dream again?

Laughter can be the cure.

Taboo subjects.

Though many people are more open-minded, taboo subjects still touch a nerve. Fortunately, however, Venus: Improbable Dream doesn’t shy away from its tough subject matter. Its beautifully worded script captures the clichés and common misconceptions. But it also makes light of these mistakes. There are undertones of an educational element running through the plot, and this was great. Luckily, though, it wasn’t preachy or in your face and it didn’t detract from the strong sense of emotion.

The twelve chapters fly by, mainly thanks to the lack of dialogue choices. Therefore, it was easy to become swept up in the situation thanks to the wonderful characters and excellent environments. Moreover, the developers did brilliantly to avoid the usual OTT and “shocking” Anime/Manga animations. The use of “normal” in your face elements was refreshing, and this helped to maintain its touching charm.

Venus: Improbable Dream lets its script do all the work. 

Visual novels have to keep you interested throughout, and most use bright colours and vivid imagery. Venus: Improbable Dream doesn’t! It’s a much more laid back and sombre affair, and this was fantastic as it matched the subject matter. The use of earthy tones and plainer characters gives a more grounded impression. Though the developers used an Anime/Manga style, it was scaled back, and I appreciated its simplicity. The normal over-sexualising of every character was avoided, and this was key because of the theme.

As expected, the audio followed suit. The calmer and emotive soundtrack enhanced the touching story. The low key music plays softly alongside the unfolding plot and helped you to connect with each character. You may worry that it was depressing, yet it certainly wasn’t. It’s true that it touched a nerve, but you can’t help but love how it supports every sad and happy moment.

So many beautiful locations.

Plays and reads like a book. 

Avid readers will recognise the relaxing and trouble-free experience of reading. You sit back with a drink, some food, and allow the book to take you on a journey. Venus: Improbable Dream does just this with its simple control setup and lack of dialogue options. You’ll watch the story unfold, build a rapport with the characters, and become wrapped up in the drama. It won’t be for everyone, but I loved its relaxed approach. 

Much of this visual novel is excellent, however, its replay value is sadly lacking. One playthrough is enough to uncover every subplot, and there are no alternative endings. This was disappointing and was a surprise. I expected it to have multiple outcomes, like its peers. Luckily, though, its wordy story will keep you interested and this proves to be great value for money. 

Venus: Improbable Dream had me hooked.

I love a great visual novel, and Venus: Improbable Dream had me hooked from the start. Its touching plot, relaxed approach, interesting characters, and varied landscapes all combine brilliantly. It tackles many taboos in a tasteful way, and I recommend you to buy it here! Watch Kakeru come out of his shell as his closed world slowly opens. 

SUMMARY

Venus: Improbable Dream is a touching visual novel. Set around taboo subjects, you will experience some tough moments. However, it's colourful characters and wonderful scenery will captivate you throughout.

+ A lack of OTT graphics.
+ Excellent landscapes.
+ Calm and sombre music.
+ A well-written script.
+ Moderate to long play time.
- Lacks multiple endings.
- No replay value.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: [email protected]

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