Nicole (PlayStation 4)

Nicole (PlayStation 4)

02/08/2020 0 By Dan Boise
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Nicole tells the story of… well… uh… Nicole who just moved in into a new town in order to attend college. As with college student life, Nicole will need to study, work at a part-time job, and flirt with a few potential love interests. However, not all is perfect as our protagonist will also need to be wary as women have been mysteriously disappearing around town. Will you be able to find the culprit…. or end up dating him?

Nicole is basically a visual novel/dating/life simulator where you have to balance everything a college student needs to: your morale, energy, “healthy diet”, socializing, dating, and even try to solve the mysterious disappearances. If you’re not familiar with the visual novel genre, you’re basically reading a choosing your own adventure type of thing. Throughout certain conversations, you’ll be prompted to make a decision between two different answers; depending on the one selected, the other person can react positively or negatively.

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Nicole does stand out from your typical visual novel games as you have to manage a social life; by working, socializing, managing your stats: morale, energy, zeal, diligence; among others. This can be done by “participating” in different types of activities. Between conversations and classes, you’ll have the opportunity to visit different spots such as a convenience store, gym, cafeteria, etc… Each of these areas will have activities to participate in it; for example in the cafeteria, you can buy a drink, eat a meal or socialize. While going to the convenience store, you can purchase food or observe the clientele to try and find the culprit of the kidnappings.

Unlike most visual novel games, Nicole is a longer experience. Given that you have 4 potential characters to flirt with it, each of them has its own meter which fills up progressively throughout conversational choices. But it’s also part of the problem: the game’s flow is insanely slow and it feels like a chore. Visual novels’ perfect length is usually an hour to 2 hours max. I reached the 13th in-game day and I still barely reached like 5% progress with 3 of the guys. I still hadn’t met the 4th one. And it’s just because you barely come across them.

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Another problem is you’re often stopped from doing certain activities due to a lack of money. It takes way too long for the part-time job option to unlock; it restricts the activities you can partake in a way because you can’t go to the restaurant, take a bath (apparently it’s not free!) or train at the gym for example. It’s a restriction imposed by something that should be available early on; it adds to the game’s sluggish flow.

Additionally, for a game with a crime-solving sub-story, every time you chose an activity that allows you to look for clues, you’re not given any insight on what the clues are as it only increases your clue meter so finding the culprit is influenced by your conversations with your four potential lovers or culprits. The Clue meter is also influenced by points obtained for the Zeal, Diligence, Amity, and Wit meters; again by doing various activities.

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The game looks fine; nothing really outlandish. Bright and colorful; environments look interesting enough and no two backgrounds are alike. The main issue here is that Nicole constantly has an awkward/constipated look on her face; which can come across as she was designed to look uncomfortable all throughout the game. It’s especially cringe-y to see that during flirting sequences with one of the four potential love candidates. The soundtrack is nothing special. Again, the lack of voice-overs is a crucial faux pas here as if you want players to invest in your characters in the long run, you can’t expect them to constantly read. Besides, reading on a TV gets annoying fast. Thankfully, Vita owners can enjoy this reading experience with Remote Play while Switch owners can use the console in handheld mode to make the experience slightly more interesting.

Despite its unique approach to the visual novel genre, Nicole is a boring, slow, and tedious mess. I enjoy the fact that the visual novel genre is getting more expansive and slightly more complex experiences, but the lack of voice-overs is a major problem. While reading for an hour or two is fine, Nicole overstays its welcome pretty quick. Boring characters, questionable facial expressions from the protagonist will quickly take you out of it. I appreciate the effort but this is a mystery better left unsolved.

*This Review Code was so generously provided by the publisher for review*

Developer: Winter Wolves Games  Publisher: Ratalaika Games S.L.
Release date: July 29, 2020
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Platform Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 PRO



Final Score