I find that manga, anime, and visual novels all bring unique elements to the table. For instance, entire volumes of manga can be consumed much more quickly compared to anime or visual novels. Anime offers voiced lines, animation, and soundtracks (which does overlap a bit with visual novels, admittedly).
As for visual novels, they offer engagement. The readers / players can choose which choices to select and which routes to pursue. Depending on the game, they can click on various objects (or even characters) to proceed with the story. This is something anime and manga fundamentally cannot present to viewers and readers. It just so happens this is one of the several strong points for the visual novel, BAKED:MAGIC by Red Chan (and others).
BAKED:MAGIC is a short visual novel that largely revolves around Lana, a witch who runs a bakery. Other notable characters include Elliot (Lana’s bumbling yet well-intentioned apprentice), Jayne (the straitlaced knight who swings by Lana’s bakery every morning), and so on (spoilers certainly won’t do).
As mentioned earlier, the interactive nature of BAKED:MAGIC is both charming and notable. The player inevitably ends up helping Lana look for ingredients as well as assisting Elliot in mixing bowls with magic, which really does help the player feel more engaged in my opinion. Should one replay the game in an attempt to see all possible scenes and bits of dialogue, these immersive minigames might prove to be a bit repetitive, but I personally didn’t mind.
I think the story is actually quite well-written. It dives enough into the (very important) character’s backstories so the reader has solid context in order to understand why the characters are doing what they are doing, yet it still leaves enough to the player’s imagination. In short, the story reveals as much as necessary without being extraneous or skimpy.
I have to give credit to Red Chan for drawing such interesting (and pretty) characters, as well as writing a strong story, and programming the whole thing. Wow! Nerupuff did an excellent job proofreading considering I didn’t spot any typos. thiskidthatkid drew some lovely chibi figures, Shoko composed some solid music, and Jeff Penny was on point with the SFX. Very well done by all!
If I had to complain about something, then I would wager that I’m finding it very difficult to unlock the Gallery feature on the main menu. Perhaps I haven’t seen all the possible choices and endings quite yet so the fault may actually just lie with me. I’m pretty sure I downloaded the completed version, too, but I don’t know…
All in all, if you have an hour or two to spend and you’re into a relatively chaste visual novel about baked goods, possibly unrequited love, and magic, BAKED:MAGIC would be a great visual novel to pick up (which you can do so over here on itch.io). I had fun with it and I hope you do, too!
(I’m sorry for dropping the ball on promoting BAKED:MAGIC, Red Chan)