So this friend of mine, Froey, sent me a message on Facebook not long and said that she was making a short visual novel called A Night Out and that she'd love it if I'd play through it and review it. "Sure," I said. I mean, I just played through six handheld Army Men games over the course of about a week; no matter how good or bad, it was guaranteed to be one of the best games I'd play this week. Fortunately, however, it's really quite good. I'm not just saying that as her friend; it's legitimately a compelling story.
A Night About is about a trans girl named Elle who's at the very start of her transition. She's not out to her parents yet, but she knows who she really is inside. After making up some excuse to skip church in the morning, she pretends to go to bed sick Saturday night, dons her feminine attire, and sneaks out of the house to catch a Lyft to a concert, presenting in public as female for the first time. The story from there is her night out as as female, her anxiety about passing as female, and her thoughts about the prospect of coming out to her devout Christian parents.
The characters are all drawn by Froey, and while they may not look quite as detailed as some of the commercially sold visuals novels on Steam, it's worth noting that this was made start to finish in a month for Trans Gal Jam. While there's not a whole lot of music in the game, what music it does feature is excellent. Some of the instrumental music heard in the game was done by another good friend of mine, Rose Estrada, and the song played at the end is a track by Madison Turner. The art direction here, both visually and musically, is really fantastic.
Going into the game, I wasn't sure what to expect. You always want to support your friends, but I'm sure we've all had that friend who's really proud of something he or she has written or made or whatnot but it's really just...underwhelming or sometimes even outright bad. To my immense delight, this was FAR from that situation as it honestly is excellent. Still, the quality aside, I wasn't sure if I personally would be able to get into the story simply because, as a cisgender male, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to identify with a transgender female protagonist. Most folks have a hard time getting hooked into a story if there isn't a major character with whom they personally can identify, and I'm no exception to that. In what I consider to be a testament to Froey's writing quality, despite being from a totally different world as the protagonist here, I got hooked within the first five minutes. Part of that might be because, thanks to the number of transgender friends I have, I can sympathize with the character even if I can't empathize with her. Either way, once Elle was sneaking out of her window, I was at the point where I had to know what happened next.
A Night Out might not be everyone's cup of tea. I know that a lot of folks just don't do visual novels as they're a fairly non-interactive genre. There are bound to be some with the same concerns about being able to identify with the protagonist that I had. There are going to be a LOT who, either consciously or subconsciously, go "Eww, transgenders, gross" and don't even give the game a shot. I totally get folks in the first group, I 100% understand folks in the second group, and folks in the third group can go fuck themselves cause y'all are ass holes. But for the folks in the first two groups! I would urge y'all to give it a chance. It only takes about half an hour to play through, and it's absolutely free. Just follow this link to Froey's site for it, and give it a download. You won't regret it.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.