Heart of the Woods from Studio Elan and Sekai Games is a charming Yuri visual novel on Nintendo Switch. Check our Heart of the Woods review!
In Heart of the Woods from Studio Elan and Sekai Games, you’ll be taking on a visual novel of the Yuri variety. What this means is that you’ll experience a story with a ton of text to read as you learn more about the story between the female lead characters. They are Maddie and Tara, and together, they have a show called Taranormal. If the name doesn’t clue you in, it’s an online show that deals with paranormal activity. Unfortunately, something seems to have gone wrong, and Maddie has made it clear this is the last trip they’ll take together.
Maddie is the manager/video editor for Tara and Taranormal, always behind the camera and working behind the scenes to make everything work, keeping Tara from getting into trouble with every step she takes and every show they’ve recorded has had some issue to solve. As you can probably guess by now, Tara is very charismatic and outgoing, with a lot of energy to spare. This does mean that she’s brash and intrepid, so she’s a big magnet for trouble, and she’s never one to miss an opportunity to flirt.
They’re invited to Eysenfeld by Morgan, who is a fan of Taranormal. She told Maddie that there were certainly some supernatural elements in the village, so the two travel more than 12 hours by train to the remote land to find out more. As they arrive, Morgan greets them and takes them on her family’s horse carriage to the cabin where the two will be staying. During this trip, she talks to them about weird storms that pop up and disappear, mysterious lights, her talking cat, and a spirit she spotted in the woods one time. You’re going to be in this village for a month, so you better get comfortable… oh, and do write down the wi-fi password!
Before you start to play the game, you’ll get to select from some accessibility options for the experience you’re about to dive into. You can decide to enable or disable screen shake, enable or disable audio cues, or enabling or disabling additional information that will display alongside some visuals. There are also additional options you can change around, such as text size, color, or font, which you can check at the options menu in order to make your experience with Heart of the Woods as pleasant as possible. You could change the balance for sound and music volume, the volume for each character’s voice, change the textbox opacity and spacing, change the text speed and the speed of the auto-forward feature, and decide if skip text will skill unseen text, continue to skip after making a choice and skip through scene transitions.
Something I was not expecting was for Heart of the Woods to have English voice acting. It’s usually the case that visual novels make their way here either without any voice acting or with the voice cast from the original language in which the game was released – usually Japanese. Maddie, Tara, Morgan, and Abigail – the forest spirit that I mentioned before – all have very distinct voices and personalities that help to make each one of them stand out. Because of this, you won’t only get to read the dialogue – and the inside monologues of each character -, you’ll also get to hear them!
With this being a visual novel, it’s easy to expect an Extras section where you can check out the music tracks you’ve heard during your time with the game, as well as review the CG images you’ve unlocked. At first, the Music Room section will only have a single song to listen to, but this will quickly grow as you progress through each story chapter. The Gallery section will only have three images to check, but more will be added for each chapter, with some including variants you can check by pressing the L and R buttons. You can also change the zoom by pressing the X button and use the left and right analog stick to move the camera around so that you can check each image as you please.
Heart of the Woods is a charming supernatural Yuri visual novel on Nintendo Switch. It’s a bit slow at the start, but once it gets going, it’s going to keep you engaged until the end. There are different endings in the game, several accessibility options, a good art style and detailed backgrounds, voice acting for the characters, and an adventure that should take you around 8-9 hours or so to complete. Heart of the Woods is out on Nintendo Switch with a $19.99 asking price.
This Heart of the Woods review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Sekai Games.