Monochrome Valentine, developed by Raseruuu, is a manga-inspired visual novel created for the Valentine’s VN Jam. It explores Blake N. Lawrence’s journey with overcoming a broken heart and discovering what it means to love again.
Monochrome Valentine is a five-chapter story that spans about two days of Blake’s life—a couple of days is all he needs to change his outlook. After Blake is broken up with, his heart is in shambles and a chance encounter changes everything.
Here enters Selena, a fun-loving and stubborn girl who is able to get Blake to not only open up but jump out of his comfort zone. The two spend a serendipitous night together after Blake agrees to help her pack her luggage to move and a heavy rainstorm knocks out the power.
The story of Monochrome Valentine is sentimental. The writer does a fantastic job weaving a tale of heartbreak, self-discovery, and the hope of finding a new budding romance. Despite how quickly the two characters meet, I found Blake and Selena’s relationship to be believable and even relatable. Sometimes you just meet someone that seems like an adventure, and you have to follow them to see where they’ll take you.
The story is not perfect. We have to remember that this was created in a single month for the Valentine’s VN Jam. There are some moments that seem a bit too convenient, but I was willing to overlook them because what the writer was able to come up with was pretty good overall.
What’s most interesting about Monochrome Valentine is not the narrative, but rather how closely the game resembles a manga. The game’s resolution is vertical, similar to an ebook. When you advance through the story, it looks as if pages are turning.
Text appears on-screen as thought or speech bubbles, which means there’s no designated textbox with character names. The only downside of this is that there are no skip, auto, or quicksave buttons anywhere on the screen. You’ll need to know the hotkeys to do each.
The character art is done well and in a style that fits the game’s overall aesthetic nicely. When a character is far away, they’ll appear on screen as a smaller sprite, and the opposite is true if they’re standing in front of you.
The game’s music is peaceful and calming. I felt really relaxed playing the game, as if I was curled up reading a book. Which brings me to my next suggestion… a mobile port. A game like this seems like it’d be best enjoyed on a tablet or phone. A missed opportunity, but forgivable because of the jam’s one-month deadline.
Overall, I’d recommend checking out Monochrome Valentine. The developer utilizes Ren’Py in a creative way to emulate the experience of reading a manga from your computer screen. The story is heartwarming and will be sure to leave you feeling emotional by the end. If you have a few hours to spare, I recommend downloading the game for free on itch.io!