Venus: Improbable Dream is a visual novel that follows the story of Akane Kakeru, a teenage boy born with a hemangioma below his right eye. This birth defect is a benign tumour with the appearance of large red blisters; it has led Kakeru to suffer from severe social anxiety and depression, resulting in his constant need to shy away from attention through fear of being laughed and gawked at. As the story unfolds, we meet Fujiwara Haraku, a shy young girl often found alone in a music room with her flute. Haraku is blind and therefore cannot see Kakeru's face, which allows for some long-lost confidence to return and a beautiful friendship to blossom.
Venus: Improbable Dream shines in its ability to tell a beautiful story. I often found myself getting caught up in the blossoming relationship between Kakeru and Haruka, becoming fully immersed in the story that develops between the two and watching each overcoming their own anxieties and insecurities was truly touching. The moments shared between the two are tender and reminded me of the early days of a friendship/relationship where you awkwardly blunder through until you realise that no matter your funny little quirks, this person likes you. It’s a beautiful reflection by the developers on how we all have our insecurities but letting them hold us back means that we might just watch life go by.
The curious juxtaposition of the photo-realistic backgrounds in relation to the animated characters is immediately striking, to the point where I often stopped to study each new background when Kakeru moved from one location to the next. They are not straight snapshots as there's a level of brush-up to them, which accentuates focus onto the character in attention - very clever!
The use of classical music pieces is a big bonus for Venus: Improbable Dream as hearing the song that the music club is playing whilst Kakeru begrudgingly partakes in group performances helped to naturally set the scenes. The pieces are predominantly melodic piano, which is fitting as this is the instrument Kakeru plays. The songs are nice and calming, not demanding too much attention away from the unfolding story.
- A beautiful story
- Photo-realistic backgrounds
- Wonderful use of classical music
Venus: Improbable Dream is the most visualest visual novel I've ever played. In the game, there are very limited choices that you can actually make, the majority of which seem to be whether you eat lunch or go to the library. I wish that I’d been given more autonomy over how the story would unfold as quite often, it felt like I was just sitting here reading a book… just on my Switch.
In addition to the lack of gameplay, this is emphasised by the game's slow pace. At times, it often felt as though the story wasn't progressing or at a snail's pace. This can arguably be viewed as character development as this time was used getting to know the characters' intricacies but for a visual novel, the technique doesn't work as well in execution compared to a novel.
Despite my initial praise for the music, it also had me conflicted. I found the repetition of some songs to be very grating. Whilst there are a few musical pieces within Venus: Improbable Dream that are beautiful the first time you hear them, once they’ve played for a little while on repeat, I found myself no longer appreciating them. In the end, I often wanted to turn down the volume on my Switch so that I didn’t have to listen to it anymore.
- Very little gameplay
- Slow pacing
- Repetitive music
Final Score: 7/10
Venus: Improbable Dream is heartwarming and, at times, easily relatable. As humans, we all have our insecurities and the game explores this through the guise of a beautifully blossoming friendship. However in terms of its execution, Venus: Improbable Dream can often be slow-going and its gameplay (or lack thereof) can be a deterrant for many.
Thank you for checking out our Venus: Improbable Dream Switch review, thank you to eastasiasoft for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: