Visual novels are traditionally seen as a Japanese specialty, but Moscow-based indie developer SovietGames are hoping to change that. With Love, Money, Rock’n’Roll, they’re bringing a Russian twist to the ever-popular genre. To top things off, a 1980s setting, rock soundtrack and a playable demo almost demand a closer look.
To be honest I’m not really into visual novels, but as a fan of both anime and 80’s rock, the pitch video for Love, Money, Rock’n’Roll had me intrigued. However, beyond the graphics and music there’s a notable lack of details in the video which is disquieting. Playing the demo is more reassuring as it’s well put together, features some great artwork and provides over an hour of gameplay. However it did also remind me why I don’t generally like visual novels.
Despite the interesting premise of a Russian-born teenager in Tokyo and hints of political intrigue, it all became a bit cliche. As expected it all seems to come down to your relationships with the four main female characters. They all have names but I only remember them as Clingy, Sulky, Ice Queen and Spoiled. My other criticism was how slow and unexciting it seemed, especially compared to that energetic video.
Love, Money, Rock’n’Roll definitely shouldn’t be written off though. SovietGames’ first title Everlasting Summer was also a visual novel that reviewers criticized for having a slow start. Yet that slow start apparently escalated into a far more entertaining game. The fact it currently has a 94% positive rating on Steam is testament to that. And if anyone’s curious to find out more they can experience Everlasting Summer themselves as it’s free to download from the Steam platform.
The fact that this is SovietGames second title (although their first commercial release) also means there’s less risk involved for potential backers. The campaign page for Love, Money, Rock’n’Roll indicates most of the development is actually already completed and that most of the funds will be used for a high-quality English translation. With this in mind the $30,000 target seems a sensible amount and with only a few days gone Love, Money, Rock’n’Roll has already raised over $5,000.
Despite the Russian influence and 1980s setting, Love, Money, Rock’n’Roll doesn’t seem to be radically different from the majority of visual novels. I imagine fans of the genre will lap it up, although I have no desire to further explore the story. The soundtrack is a guilty pleasure though, and I’ve already listened to the 14 tracks available on the Kickstarter page more times than I’d care to admit.