Typically the visual novel genre conjures images of dating sims and anime, but some developers are working to change that. Italian Developer, Curtel Games has managed to marry the world building of tabletop gamebooks with the choice-driven mechanics of visual novels to create something wonderfully unique in their Kickstarter project for The Ballad Singer.

It’s exciting to see games using visual novel mechanics to explore richer, lore heavy narratives. This is particularly true as tabletop fantasy RPGs have been receiving renewed interest in popular media. Gaming is the perfect portal to introduce this level of interactive storytelling to the masses.

The game doesn’t just railroad players into a linear epic fantasy story-line. Instead players are able to forge their own path through critical choices. These paths lead players through up to 1700 stories and 40 different endings for their adventurers. Every scene is fully narrated and gorgeously illustrated to bring players deeper into the world.

Every Picture Tells A (Choice-Driven) Story

The choices players make impact not only their current story, but also the stories of those who follow behind them. Death in The Ballad Singer is a permanent predicament. If one of your four adventurers fall in battle it is up to the next to continue onward with an altered narrative path.

Each character has their own goals and limits. Players must carefully weigh these differences before charging headfirst into battle. Decisions made by one character can ultimately compromise the destiny of another. This makes it imperative to get to know each character’s ambitions and limitations beforehand.

With the Kickstarter campaign winding down, the project as already exceeded its modest $29,581 funding goal. However, with both the costs of the campaign rewards and additional funding resting on the dev team I’m sure they’re grateful for every extra pledge. If the idea of a visual novel pulled directly from the pages of an RPG gamebook intrigues you then The Ballad Singer is a worthwhile pick.

About the Author

Joanna Mueller

Joanna Mueller is a lifelong gamer who used to insist on having the Super Mario Bros manual read to her as a bedtime story. Now she's reading Fortnite books to her own kiddo while finally making use of her degree to write about games as Cliqist's EIC.

View All Articles