I loved Long Live The Queen and Black Closet, two games with heavily branching and systemic narratives and a lot of juicy melodrama, mystery and romance. Now developers Hanako Games have released something new. Night Cascades is a lesbian romance about two women investigating a supernatural mystery in an alternate 1980s, and it looks great.
"Diane Carter never expected her folklore degree to get her a job offer from the local police department, but when a rash of occult-themed fires sets the city on edge, she is called in as a special consultant on esoteric religion to help find the culprit," starts the descriptions on Steam. "There's just one problem: the woman she's assigned to work with. She's cocky, beautiful, and far too familiar."
The setting is described as an "alternate New Age 1980s", where belief in paranormal powers and fears over Satanism are at their peak but "same-sex love is still taboo."
Both Long Live The Queen and Black Closet were at least somewhat systems-driven, with the direction of their story being shaped by decisions you made about what skills to learn and what relationships to foster. Night Cascades seems like a more straightforward visual novel, with your actions split between investigating crime scenes for clues and interrogating suspects. There's one fixed ending and the choices you make shape how you get there.
I think the art, and character art in particular, looks great in Night Cascades, but if anything about it is putting you off, check out our coverage of Hanako's previous games. Alec reviewed Long Live The Queen and thought it was one of the best games of 2013, and the wonderful Katharine Cross wrote a great feature about Black Closet.