Visual novels are a wide and varied genre, but there are a few themes we keep running into as we dig through the vast anime mountain. First off you’ve got your action-themed VNs – Fault: Milestone Two and the like. Then you’ve got your fanservice, like pretty much all the Sakura games.
Today’s lesson is a high school visual novel – one of the more popular subgenres – called No One But You, a Kickstarter-funded game from Unwonted Studios who are also known for 2015’s Written in the Sky.
No One But You follows Hidekai, a veritable walking mass of anime tropes: he’s the new kid at school, he’s got amnesia and he’s surrounded by girls. The amnesia thing is a key point, since Hidekai’s memory of his childhood is largely missing. Much of the game revolves around finding out what exactly went on in Hidekai’s childhood as well as discovering the hidden secrets of his new friends…and wow, what secrets they are.
The game’s style might not suggest it, but this is one of the less cutesy visual novels out there, so you might want to move on unless you’re ready for something dark. I’m serious – this goes places where a lot of visual novels won’t, and it certainly goes places other genres won’t touch. This came as a bit of a shock, frankly, as the pink aesthetic saturating the game would suggest it’s more of a friendly harem game. That’s absolutely not the case, so you should know what you’re going into.
No One But You lasts around six hours for your first playthrough, which is about average for a higher-end visual novel like this. It’s got choices to make and paths to explore, but doing so is straightforward enough so you aren’t likely to miss any endings. Fully completing the game shouldn’t be an issue and won’t take long beyond your first playthrough.
The art is typical for the genre and I wasn’t taken aback by any especially poorly drawn scenes, so that’s a plus. The game also boasts fairly decent writing, particularly when it comes to Hideaki himself – he says ridiculously dumb things to the point of self-parody and even comments on it. Other characters play close to their roles, so aside from the sudden and extremely dark swerves in the plot it’s a fairly standard VN.
As long as you know that this isn’t going to be your feel-good story of the year, No One But You is a visual novel that’s worth a look. It’s an interesting take on the high school subgenre, and several of the routes are certainly surprising enough to get your attention. Just don’t let the pink hearts fool you. Trust me.