Visual Novel Review: A Ghost Story? by Licorice Games

 
 

A Ghost Story? is a lovely, bittersweet, beautifully illustrated visual novel about a group of friends who venture into a haunted house, and a boy among them who finds he has a strange connection with the ghost there. Choose from five different romance options and learn the story of the house, the ghost, and everyone’s pasts.


Official Description:

There is a house deep in the forest, right in the middle. People call it “The Heart of The Forest”. 

Some say it’s haunted…

Do you believe in ghosts?

Unravel the mystery of an old house, and create your tale in the supernatural visual novel “A Ghost Story?”

A haunted House in the middle of the forest, a mysterious Ghost with a tragic past, and a Story waiting to be told.

Long Review:

The vibes of this game were perfection! The art and movement and music and whole design all worked together so well.

This visual novel has such a unique, beautiful, magical art style. Just so lovely and colorful and sort of ethereal. Very fun character designs too. Some different kinds of art scattered throughout to differentiate the present story, little fairy tale kinda stories being told, characters talking about their past, scene breaks. And there’s a gallery to go back and see all the unlocked CGs when you finish.

There are also lots of little animations in the art. Everything is sort of always moving. Somehow, it really added to the floaty, ethereal, magical vibes.

The music was so pretty and really enhanced the emotion.

A Ghost Story screenshot showing a cute, stylized line drawing of a young boy holding a doll with its eye falling out, excitedly thinking about ghosts, bats, and hockey masks as him mom hands him a horror movie or book.

Then there’s the story, which turned out to be so twisty and interesting and good and went in directions I was not expecting! I loved how everything came together in the end. It doesn’t make sense in a scientific sort of way (it’s not meant to), but it does make sense in a creative, sci-fi/fantasy sort of way. As in, there were explanations for everything, and it was just very cool when I understood it all.

The story also made me feel rather emotional. I almost cried a few times! Which I consider a good thing, I love when stories can make me feel that much. But keep in mind, a lot of this story does sort of revolve around death. One of the main characters is a ghost. The most emotional parts for me were the parts about his life before he died, his death, his difficult relationships with his family, and his family’s grief. Especially anything with his brother. It’s not an overly sad story, it doesn’t try to drag you down, but it’s sort of bittersweet (how bitter or sweet kinda depends on the ending you get though), and there are some tearjerking moments.

A Ghost Story screenshot showing Lucian, a ghost, looking sad saying, 'I'm so tired of being alone, Elliot.'
Image Text: “I’m so tired of being alone, Elliot.”

Speaking of endings, there are seven. The overall plotline stays the same though, and some of the endings are basically the same, just you end up in a romantic relationship with a different character. I think focusing on Lucian is the way the story makes the most sense. It feels the most canonical. And, admittedly, I didn’t fully understand some of the endings, some of the romances felt forced (though still sweet), and there were some parts where every character said very similar things in order to move the story where it needed to go. But I liked doing the different character endings anyway because you get to know a bit more about each character with little heart to heart moments, and you learn more about how everything is connected.

The characters were all super sweet (even Lucian, who was prickly on the outside but soft in the middle), and I loved them.

Also, the game is just casually queer, since you play as Elliot and can romance (or sorta romance) guys, girls, and a nonbinary character.

A Ghost Story screenshot showing Elliot and his four friends standing in a house. They're all smiling except Audrey, who is currently translucent and has an annoyed look and is saying, 'Tell him that I'll possess him if he doesn't shut up.'
Image Text: “Tell him that I’ll possess him if he doesn’t shut up.”

I have a few sort of technical issues to point out:

– There are small grammatical errors throughout, mostly mismatching verb tense or a word not being used quite right. I’m guessing English is not the first language of the game dev. I just adjusted in my head as I went, and it was fine. The writing still portrayed the vibes and the emotion and the story.

– There was no distinction between what the player character was saying aloud vs thoughts/narration, but I got used to it the more I played.

– Text might be hard to read for some people as it’s white on a background that isn’t always very dark. (But self voicing can help with that problem. And it’s easier to read in full-screen in the game than in the screenshots I shared.)

A Ghost Story screenshot showing artwork of Lucian, beautiful but lying on the ground with glassy eyes and flowers around him. Text from Elliot's POV reads, 'There was a body right underneath his window... His body...'
Image Text: “There was a body right underneath his window… His body…”

But I’m not trying to scare anyone off from playing! Just making sure my review is honest and letting people know what to expect. For me, it was worth dealing with what I consider minor issues in order to experience this wonderful story.

It took me about 6 hours to do my first playthrough, and about 10 total.

Overall, this was a lovely visual novel with beautiful artwork, a twisty, emotional story, and lovable characters!

*Source/Cost: I purchased this on sale for $3.34 on itch.io.*

A Ghost Story screenshot showing a black screen with a white line drawing in a cute chibi style of Elliot messing with a little radio device while a typical blob-looking ghost peeks at it from behind him.

Short Review:

– Gorgeous, colorful artwork.
– Pretty music that enhances the vibes.
– A twisty, creative, bittersweet story.
– Made me almost cry.
– Lovable characters.
– Some grammatical errors.
– Various endings.
– Overall, a wonderful, emotional, aesthetically beautiful visual novel!

Accessibility:

(May not include everything)
– Fully accessible for blind / visually impaired players and screen reader users, as far as I can tell, with Ren’Py self-voicing mode (press V to toggle). Game text and menus will be read aloud. There’s even a different sound that plays when you increase a relationship with a character or worsen it (but if you can’t see the color of the heart that pulses in the corner of the screen, just know that sometimes a choice will increase the relationship with a character different from the one you’re talking to, it should be obvious enough who it is). Increase is sorta twinkly sounding, worsen is string instruments. There’s no extra description for images, but I don’t think you’ll miss anything important, except the following two things that are worth noting. One is that Ollie is clearly not human. They have two sets of eyes on their face, one below the other, and sometimes a little planet orbits around their head. The other thing is best read after you finish the game. *SPOILER* In the end, when it repeats the story of the witch in the forest, there’s a silhouette of Lucian on screen while it’s talking about the witch, and then a silhouette of Elliot and his friends on screen while it’s talking about the boy from town with lots of friends. *END SPOILER*

More Info:

itch.io

 
 
 
 

Talk to me!

Have you played A Ghost Story?
Have you ever been really drawn in by the artwork of a game?

 
 
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Your Thoughts

 

2 thoughts on “Visual Novel Review: A Ghost Story? by Licorice Games

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  1. Cristina.B

    I finished this game recently, it grabbed my attention with its the wonderful artwork and was pleasently surprised with the interesting bittersweet story. Thats why its a bit sad that its seems to be somehow an obscure visual novel as yours is the only review I have found about it so far.
    I agree with you that Lucian feels a bit like the more canonical route, given how central he is to the plot and how interacts with the protagonist too (its also the first one I did and enjoyed the most). Also totally concur that the text is kinda hard to read, I got good eyesigh but strugleed with that while playing… xD

    1. Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight)

      Yay, someone else who enjoyed this! It is a game that’s flying under the radar, which is a shame because yeah, it’s really visually unique and beautiful and has a nice story. *Spoilers* The Lucian endings make the most sense and I did really like them, though even the good one was so bittersweet because of how no one else remembered, and now there’s a big age gap between Lucian and the MC, so unlikely there will be any relationship between them. Whereas the Iris ending seemed the happiest because he saved Lucian and it seemed like Lucien maybe remembered, and the MC gets to be with the person he likes romantically (Iris).