BlackberryNOVA Review (3/5★)

Table of Contents

BlackberryNOVA is a yuri visual novel about Kotori’s first year in college and her quest for love.

Adult Content?
(F, FxF)

No. Woot! Woot!

Two hours.

Patch Available?
From Novab12.

Foreword: published December 31st, 2021

I received a free copy of this game for review purposes — thanks Nova B12! For the purposes of this review, I will only be discussing the patched game.

Gameplay: published December 31st, 2021 (3/5★)

Unlike BlueberryNOVA, BlackberryNOVA is divided into “episodes”; the order in which they are completed and the decisions you make within them will result in one of five endings. There are a few straight-forward routes to accommodate the most obvious romantic routes, but the more interesting endings are unreasonably elusive.

The other two endings require such specific player-input, it’s unlikely that you’ll see them without first consulting a guide. Unfortunately, one of these endings is imperative to gain a full understanding of the characters. You don’t need to see each ending to enjoy the game, but you’ll missing out on a major plot reveal.

Sexual Content: published December 31st, 2021 (4/5★)

I love the artwork! They are a big improvement from BlueberryNOVA‘s sex-scenes, which appear a little amateurish in comparison. There’s better build-up in this game, and there’s bigger consequences. They still feel hamfisted when they happen, but at least the story doesn’t need to resort to rape to include them.

Sex in BlackberryNOVA is an emotional climax; there’s typically only one scene per playthrough, so booting BlackberryNOVA with a plan to fap is. . . optimistic.

Story: published December 31st, 2021 (3/5★)

Nova B12 writes, “BlackberryNOVA is a sequel of BlueberryNOVA.” After playing through BlueberryNOVA, I found it only offers minor background for the characters of BlackberryNOVA. A few flashbacks harken back to scenes from BlueberryNOVA, but you won’t see them unless you pursue hidden routes.

Kotori is Aiko’s sister, and she has feelings that are “much more stronger than a regular sister’s love”. A year after confessing, she joins her big sister in college. Since then, Aika has found a new soulmate. Even though Kotori has been reunited with her big sister, she finds her life isn’t as “enriched in gold as expected.” Kotori didn’t attend college for an education, “Romantic relationships are [her] priority”! Kotori meets new romantic prospects, including Yukino, an old friend of Aika’s. Now it’s time for Kotori to grow up.

BlackberryNOVA handles heavy subjects better than the previous entry in the series, BlueberryNOVA. This game deals with jealousy, betrayal and coming of age. The dialogue and pacing are far superior, and the characters are more interesting (but not by a large margin). It’s clear Nova B12 has dramatically improved their writing since the previous game! However, I suspect the writing is negatively impacted by a translation.

The English isn’t bad, but BlackberryNOVA is more complicated than most of the endings would lead you to believe. I spent two nights wracking my brain to understand the furtive “Hidden Berry” ending, and I’m left frustrated. The dialogue is cryptic, and the stock artwork used between both games will only lead you to incorrect solutions. Now that I know BlueberryNOVA and BlackberryNOVA are Russian games, I’m convinced the confusing ending is the product of imperfect translation. Perhaps, in its native language, “Hidden Berry” is well orchestrated twist. If I had to bet, the translator wasn’t familiar with the story, only translating the script in front of them without regard to a plot twist.

Sound: published December 31st, 2021 (3/5★)

There’s a variety of nice music to keep your ears entertained, but the tracks loop too quickly. Considering BlackberryNOVA is a reading game, it’s likely that you’ll hear each track one too many times between transitions.

Visuals: published December 31st, 2021 (3/5★)

I have a feeling Nova B12 used stock art for the backgrounds. Normally, I wouldn’t complain, but they do a disservice to the deceptively complex story. As I retraced my steps to understand the “Hidden Berry” ending, I was consistently mislead by the assets.

BlackberryNOVA looks better than BlueberryNOVA. The characters look similar, but they seem to be more polished in this game. I wish there was more variety between outfits and poses but they all look adorable! There is a stylistic shift in artwork between mainline gameplay and full-art CGs (but BlueberryNOVA has the same issue). If I had to guess, the characters are premade and the art was commissioned.

Verdict: published December 31st, 2021 (3/5★)

I thought I was in for a sweet yuri (or lesbian porn), but instead I went to bed somewhat distressed. BlackberryNOVA reminds me why some people choose to close their hearts. Unlike its predecessor, BlackberryNOVA does an okay job handling complicated themes such as loneliness and growing pains. If BlueberryNOVA was a middle-school writing project, then BlackberryNOVA is high-school writing project. BlackberryNOVA tries to be more than it should be; without the “Hidden Berry” ending, BlackberryNOVA would be a short and bittersweet romance. Instead, I’m frustrated by an unexplained plot twist. As long as you don’t bother with “Hidden Berry”, BlackberryNOVA is an okay read on a sale.

Questions, requests or comments?