Dead Wishes is independent developer VIOLET Studio Games's first visual novel in Steam and itch.io, featuring an adult romance thriller supernatural narrative, a genderless protagonist with a customizable name, and a large cast of male and female characters.
Story and Characters
The story begins with the main character (default name is Dante) on the verge of being kicked out of their rented apartment for being late in their rental payments. Dante will then get to know the residents of the unnamed city and develop a relationship with them, taking you through various scenarios depending on the choices you make. Maybe you will join the mafia where you uncover a heated love affair gone wrong, become allied with a team of murderers, serve as a caretaker for two dysfunctional sisters, end up on the streets, or become an honest man yourself. Your decisions throughout the story will dictate whether you find love and happiness, or face a dire outcome, but playing through all the routes will piece together the full story.
The characters are sufficiently different from one another, each with their own backstories. Some characters will know others to varying degrees, and they will react differently to Dante depending on the route chosen. Some romanceable characters may also turn up as enemies in certain character routes, adding to the thriller aspect, and the degree of immersion into the game.
I must admit, I love romantic comedies, honest to goodness stories, and happy endings, so I like Clement and Festus's routes for fitting into this category. Most of the other character routes and endings tend to be darker and may involve killing other characters or Dante. Still, I can appreciate the scriptwriter for taking the time to explain the character motivations for killing someone, giving each character variable shades of grey in their personalities, and allowing Dante to change that character for the better to add a further degree of immersion into the story. As such, I also like Allegra, Anise, Eira, Nanako, Ophelia, and Sergio's routes despite the darker and violent storytelling. The remaining characters are too dark and yandere-ish for me to appreciate fully, although I would still give props to the scriptwriter for exploring this aspect.
Audio and Visuals
The BGM is decent with each character having their own musical track, and over the course of the story, there is a mix of pleasant, sinister, or fast-paced music appropriate for the amount of tension in the scene. I like Morning Espresso (Allegra's theme), Omertà (Sergio's theme), Snowy Fair (Eira's theme), Baked (Clement's theme), and The Last Dance (Anise's theme) for bringing out the respective character's mystery and nature. The other BGM such as Twelve, Introspection, Past, A Moment's Peace, A Lonely Alley, Mistake, and One also help to convey the mood in the story.
The CGs are fine for the most part, although since this visual novel places more emphasis on storytelling, each character is limited to 3 CGs that are more or less predictable after completing a few character routes.
I also like the developer for using a different coloured diamond shaped icon with an arrow moving to the left or right when a dialogue choice is made to show the change in that character's disposition towards Dante.
This visual novel has 12 character routes, most of which have 3 endings altogether, and a memories section to help players keep track of the endings unlocked. A downloadable PDF guide is also available at the developer's website to help players obtain all endings and learn more about the characters. As the story progresses, the mysterious person on the title screen will show themselves and reveal a surprise and additional post-ending story for all 12 characters, giving that motivation to attempt all the endings and enjoy the high replay value in the game, despite the absence of Steam achievements. It is a shame that the game only has 24 save slots even though there are so many routes, dialogue choices and endings in the game.
After spending close to 10 hours to read and listen through the text and dialogue, Dead Wishes is an interesting plot-focused adult thriller romance visual novel with dark supernatural themes and additional surprises spanning multiple playthroughs in a modern Western setting. Although this visual novel is hardly ever discounted on Steam to attract attention from players who only buy discounted games, the engaging plot, diverse cast of characters, replayability and playing time is worth buying anytime if you like this genre of storytelling and can forgive a few minor issues in the game.
Initial playthrough with author narration and commentary on YouTube by HusbandoGoddess
- Interesting narrative
- Diverse cast of characters
- Unlockable post-ending surprises
- Guide available
- Decent CGs and BGM
- Limited save slots
- Some players may be offended by frequent use of coarse language