Part of the agreement I have with Popzara that keeps me writing here is that the managing editor owns a chunk of my soul. As a result, I’m technically immortal. It’s nice. You should try it sometime. That’s neither here nor there, though – another part of that agreement is that I need to play every otome visual novel that’s released, ever. Thus, let’s talk about Norn9: Var Commons for the PS Vita.
Otome games, in case you haven’t read the dozens of other reviews I’ve written about them, are visual novels intended for a female demographic. They’ve been growing steadily more common in the West, and the Vita remains a popular choice for VNs in general. In this one, you choose from one of three heroines, each of whom can end up with one of several bachelors in the end. This is a sort of sci-fi/fantasy tale about a mysterious airship called the Norn whose passengers, known as espers, have special abilities. These range from the power to grow plants to directly wiping others’ minds, and the espers are meant to use these to keep the world peaceful.
It’s an interesting premise; naturally, the multiple characters keep the proceedings interesting and encourage replays as well. It ends up feeling a bit like a superhero story, what with all the special powers being flung about. The overall tone never gets especially dark, and Norn9 instead sticks to the usual “kids with special powers” anime style that you’ve likely seen before. The writing is well done, but tends to be a bit wordy, especially given the lack of animation.
Norn9 has some of the best art I’ve seen in a visual novel since Code: Realize, and that’s saying something as that game was gorgeous. The characters and settings are all beautifully done. The music’s solid as well, particularly given that Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu makes an appearance. It’s a visual and audible treat all in all, though again, you’ll do more reading than watching.
Fans of otome titles should enjoy Norn9. Ordinarily I’d talk about the relative scarcity of these games, but we’ve been seeing more and more releases lately with games like Amnesia: Memories and Code: Realize – Guardian of Rebirth. Compared to those, Norn9 feels a bit less “heavy” – it’s generally a lighter and more enjoyable story filled with superpowers, hunks, and fantastic locales. If that’s what you’re after, it’s certainly worth a look, especially given this VN’s significant replay value.