5 of our most anticipated visual novel releases of 2022

2021 proved to be a great year as far as our niche interests were concerned, but what’s even better is just how much we can look forward to in the coming year, too. The upcoming otomes, visual novels and anime in particular are catching my attention especially, and boy do they look promising!

Here are 5 of our most anticipated visual novels set to arrive in 2022 — and I think you may take a passing interest in them, too.

Corpse Factory

Visual novels of 2022: Corpse Factory

Corpse Factory is a horror and psychological thriller created by River Crow Studio. Featuring stunning character designs and amazing sprite work that looks especially polished and appealingly anime inspired, the plot offers plenty of intrigue and sounds distinctly Hell Girl-inspired.

Within the world of the game, people can place requests on the Corpse Factory website for someone to be murdered. The victims are sent a photo of their own decomposing body shortly before they are killed, and players are put into the position of the perpetrator known as Corpse Girl.

Actually a corporate employee called Noriko Kurosawa, her desire is to bring her alter ego, Corpse Girl, to online notoriety and fame. The cast of Corpse Factory is bound to make the events of the game all the more tense and dramatic, with standout members including Kojiro, a morgue attendant who idolises Corpse Girl; Aoi, an innocent school friend of Noriko’s on the sidelines; and Tomoe, a bully who seems to have a massive impact on Noriko’s behaviour and goals.

There’s a notable cast of voice actors involved, including Erika Harlacher (Ann Takamaki from Persona 5 and Elizabeth Lioned from The Seven Deadly Sins) as Noriko; Faye Mata (Petra from Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Aqua from KonoSuba) as Tomoe; Aleks Le (Zenitsu from Demon Slayer and Akira from Astral Chain) as Kojiro; and Kaiji Tang (Yasuhiro and Gonta from Danganronpa, plus Ichiban from Yakuza: Like a Dragon) as Junpei. And there’s many, many more!

The title is estimated to take 10-15 hours to complete, and has a promising soundtrack composed by Alec Shea that delivers on the eerie tone the title is going for. The game is expected to come out sometime next month, so be sure to wish-list it on Steam or keep an eye on when it comes to the Switch eShop to stay on top of its eventual release!

Afterlove EP

Visual novels of 2022: Afterlove EP

Afterlove EP was love at first sight for me. Not only does the product scream originality, it’s also developed by Mohammad Fahmi, the designer, writer and developer of the excellent Coffee Talk and What Comes After.

While its soft colour palette and manga panel-inspired artstyle — the work of talented creator soyatu — may present a somewhat comforting appearance, it also tackles difficult subject matter, with the main character’s journey exploring him coming to terms with the passing of his girlfriend.

It comes across in a similar vein to Spiritfarer: another relatable and genuine video game experience that will comfort the player. But the game also meshes various mechanical genres into the visual novel-style narrative to make it truly stand out from the pack, such as sections featuring rhythm game and point-and-click mechanics. It also advances through a timeframe system similar to that of the Persona series, with a sleep schedule Morgana would be thrilled with.

The title is set in Jakarta, the vibrant capital of Indonesia, and its music is brought to us by the Indonesian based indie band, L’alphalpha. It looks to be a product crafted through pure love and refreshing creativity, and I’m extremely excited for it to ultimately deliver!

If you also feel like you might be partial to what the game will be exploring, be sure to look out for its release on PC via GOG and Steam, as well as the Switch’s eShop.

AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative

Visual novels of 2022: AI: The Somnium Files - Nirvana Initiative

It’s no secret just how much I love Kotaro Uchikoshi for the simple fact that anything with his name in the credits is almost always a masterpiece — and AI: The Somnium Files was my personal game of the year for 2019.

The reveal of that wonderful game receiving a sequel was enough to get me through 2021 alone, and alongside the announcement was a collector’s edition reveal to boot. To say that I am excited for this one to eventually come out is a gross understatement – I can barely contain myself!

nirvanA Initiative feels like a natural follow-up to the first game, as players are now in the shoes of Date’s successor and daughter figure Mizuki, who is now a newly appointed Special Agent and the current holder of Aiba. Things feel like they’ve escalated somewhat from the first entry, with our new serial killer now halving bodies indead of just taking eyeballs. It looks like it will be another humorously dark time — but the real treat is that it stars one of the best supporting characters of the original title. It’ll be a joy to witness Mizuki kicking ass as the new leading lady.

Expect the title to drop sometime in the Spring on multiple platforms – PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Slow Damage

Visual novels of 2022: Slow Damage

It’s no surprise that two BL titles have made the list since I really enjoy the genre. Slow Damage is developed by Nitro+Chiral, responsible for some of the best and most infamous titles of the genre, including both sweet pool and DRAMAtical Murder, which means it’s a fair bet this is going to be a good time. And reassuringly, the staff credits paint an even better picture to reinforce this expectation.

Its director and scenario writer Kabura Fuchii and artist Uiro Yamada, have both worked on multiple titles that are among the company’s best works, such as Togainu no Chi, sweet pool, and DRAMAtical Murder. Better yet is knowing it is highly rated on vndb, and is frequently labelled as a masterpiece by many of its players of the Japanese release.

Its story stars an antihero main character who feels neutral about everything in life other than his one and only hobby: painting. Set in a fictional ward of Shinkomi during a recession, the title deals with dark matters, psychological themes, and is relatable to current times and present societal issues.

There will be search sections in the game consisting of map movement and character interaction, and it’s said to have an especially gut-wrenching true route. I can’t wait to feel overwhelmed with all the emotions that come with the experience that may very well be the very best BL of Nitro+Chiral — if not the greatest one ever seen in the west from what has been said in existing reviews of it. Keep an eye on JAST BLUE’s store page for future updates.

Tokyo Onmyoji

Visual novels of 2022: Tokyo Onmyoji

Moonchime Localization, a localisation company that specialises in bringing otome, BL and joseimuke titles to the west, has been treating us wonderfully of late, with the release of both I Love You! and My Dear Frankenstein last year. Their first localisation of 2022 is the hotly anticipated BL Tokyo Onmyoji, a game that blends alternate timelines, historical motifs and supernatural themes.

Set in a world where Japan did not experience the Great Air Raid during World War II, Onmyoji business is thriving due to otherworldly beings attacking people at an ever increasing rate. The truth behind these mythical creatures seems to be a lot darker, with their origins being back in human form.

The game has quite a notable number of endings (27 to be exact!), with many of these being “bad”. For any BL connoisseur, it sure sounds like it will not disappoint with its tasteful art style, fully voiced production, and varied love interests.

I’m expecting this one to be a must-have for any BL player. Be on the lookout for its listing on both Steam and JAST USA’s store ahead of its release next month.

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Lilia Hellal
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