It’s another day, and it’s another Ratalaika Games published visual novel, this time it’s Nicole. When you go to university or college, you expect to experience many new things which include your new found independence, but also the life of living away in a dorm. Nicole is thrilled that she managed to get into her first choice school (I guess her grades weren’t predicted via an algorithm) and can’t wait to move into her dorm room. However, when she moves in, she becomes aware that 3 girls have disappeared across the campus! Obviously, Nicole is concerned with the recent issues on campus and has to be careful, she doesn’t become the next victim.
Nicole is a dating sim that revolves around the day to day routine of Nicole being at college. As part of the experience you can take on part-time jobs to earn some money, explore various locations, take part in extra-curricular recreational activities which also include meeting one of four boys i.e. Darren, Kurt, Jeff & Ted. Along the way, you are also supposed to figure out who the kidnapping culprit is. Nicole is a little different to the visual novels I’ve played recently, you can choose to play Nicole in one of two different modes. One is purely visual novel where you make some choices that affect the story. The other mode is more of an adventure mode with attribute building mechanics. The visual novel experience is smoother to play whilst the adventure mode is more time consuming and doesn’t quite have the same payoff.
The adventure mode of Nicole requires you to make several decisions on a daily basis, things like taking a nap (you can take a lot of naps). The reason you take naps is to rebuild your energy reserves because doing other tasks requires energy. This mode adds some more longevity to Nicole but it can become quite monotonous quite quickly. I couldn’t tell if improving certain attributes changed the plot that much nor whether it has much effect on your romantic choices. The Nicole plot is quite engaging, you get to know the many characters at a slow but involving pace, you do want to know where your choices take you. A lot of what happens in Nicole you can relate to if you’ve been to college or university, especially if you moved away for it. There are 10 endings to find in Nicole, multiple endings are standard fare for visual novels, but Nicole’s are quite varied so are worth replaying.
Graphically Nicole reflects the usual anime inspired visuals you would have found in many a visual novel. Only negative with the visuals is that the expressions seem a little on the lacking side. Musically Nicole follows the usual non offensive, pretty forgettable background music interspersed with random sound effects. Nicole requires more input than most visual novels, especially the adventure mode. You feel like you have a more active part to play with the locations you choose to go to, but it’s never made clear how much this will influence the proceedings.
Nicole is a decent visual novel that requires somewhat more interaction than the average visual novel. The attribute building part of Nicole definitely adds more longevity, but it’s not as much fun as the straight visual mode. If you like visual novels, then you’ll find Nicole will tick most boxes for you. The plot is reasonably interesting whilst the college life is faithfully recreated. You may have not yet played a dating sim visual novel, if that is the case and you want an entry point I’d recommend Nicole as a good starting point into the genre.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Gameplay - 6/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 7/10
User Review( votes)
Nicole is a decent visual novel that requires somewhat more interaction than the average visual novel. The attribute building part of Nicole definitely adds more longevity.