EDITOR'S NOTE:
As with the page for the Corpse Party games, we've kept the warning pages for each game in front of their respective games. Some have warnings for spoilers, others have warning for the Very Obvious Horror ahead, and at least one has an alternate page offering different screenshots. Despite the fact that Gaming Hell is made entirely of gaffa tape and the collective will of its staff, we have offered you, the reader, the choice to make your own destiny. Or something like that. Enjoy.

There's only the thinnest of straws connecting these Nippon Ichi games together...

But we're gonna grasp for it. Grasping is what we do best!



Nippon Ichi isn't a company we really know too much about, having little interest in their Disgaea series- nothing personal, but we're not qualified to even glance at strategy games unless we've signed a health waiver. As a result, aside from their early jigsaw games (no, really, they made a lot of those) and Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (yeah, that seems like the kind of thing we'd be into), our main engagement with them is through their mini horror games, all released on Vita (so far) with some on Windows, PS4 and Switch too. These games mostly seem to spring from an internal event ran every year at the company, referred to in the announcement of The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince there and called the 'Challenge Plan', where all employees submit video game concepts, one of which will be fully realised. The first such game was htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary, announced with pomp and flair- a lavish special edition was announced upon the reveal, and they couldn't resist a mention of Disgaea, with the producer- Masayuki Furuya- having worked on the animation for the chibi versions of the Disgaea characters used in those games. Aesthetically the game was a real charmer, telling the story of Mion, an elk girl protected by two firefly spirits in a dangerous, ruined world full of mystery and danger, and generally it was an unusual game to come out of Nippon Ichi.

The next game that won this little internal competition was Yomawari: Night Alone, which has a bit more info about where the idea actually came from- it was submitted by Yu Mizokami, as mentioned in this interview with her, that also explains she had the idea after being scared driving late at night as the Nippon Ichi offices are apparently in the middle of nowhere. As the introduction to that interview jokingly suggests, while these game concepts come from different people, there is a definite running theme- cute girls in horrifying situations. This one felt a little more down-to-earth, at its core being a story about a child coming to terms with mortality, while also tackling with (less relatably) horrifying abominations of the night, the endless twilight in a has-been town in the Japanese countryside. Again, the presentation was top-notch, with special attention given to its sound design which was intertwined with the game design itself.



Both these games got sequels, spiritual or otherwise- Furuya followed up htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary with the aesthetically and thematically-similar A Rose in the Twilight, and Yomawari: Night Alone got a direct sequel in Yomawari: Midnight Shadows- and the Challenge Plan created a third game, The Blind Prince and the Liar Princess, which is more fairytale in tone but still has that edge to it like the other games, so it's fair to say Nippon Ichi has made a habit of making these small, scary things every now and then. As suckers for this kind of thing, we jumped on htoL#NiQ as fast as possible, importing the Japanese special edition, and while that game didn't quite manage to endear itself to us (for many reasons, as you will see), A Rose in the Twilight was an improvement, but the MVP here is Yomawari: Night Alone, which really surprised us with how good it was. As such, we've found ourselves covering all these games by happenstance, thus we are doomed to cover all of them now. We hope you join us on this journey into the dark night.



Before we begin, just gonna field a few quick questions:

Why's the version reviewed listed? Isn't Gaming Hell usually a no-holds-barred kinda place, looking at every version?
You are correct, normally Gaming Hell covers every single reelease of a game. This is a bit trickier with modern games where we can't get all versions especially cheaply or emulate them, so we've had to prioritise. We've done our best to keep things as consistent as possible- keeping the Masayuki Furuya games on PS Vita, and the Yomawari games on Windows. The main unfortunate inconsistency is that The Firefly Diary's review is based on the Japanese PS Vita version, with no English screenshots available- the English version, as we understand it, came pre-patched with button controls, but that's the main difference. More pressing is the Windows version of the game which has mouse support, which seems like a much better way to go. Let's just say it's on our wishlist, and that one day, when the scars have healed and the discount is strong enough, maybe we'll go for it.

Is there any deep lore connecting these games together?
No, only the Yomawari games share story elements. htoL#NiQ -The Firefly Diary- and A Rose in the Twilight share a director and art style, but are otherwise unconnected, and neither have any connection to the Yomawari games beyond the developer and publisher. However, there are some little connections outside the game- htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary and Yomawari: Night Alone were sold in English territories as both a digital and physical bundle, which came with an exclusive crossover illustration. That's it, though, they're otherwise unconnected.

When's the article for The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince?
When the Editor gives me back that twenty quid he owes me. I want the Switch version, after all.
(Eventually, we promise.)



Children of the Grave:
Nippon Ichi's Pocket Horror Games



htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary


(Japanese Release - 2014)
(English Release - 2015)
(Version Reviewed: PS Vita)

A Rose in the Twilight


(Japanese Release - 2016)
(English Release - 2017)
(Version Reviewed: PS Vita)


Yomawari: Night Alone


(Japanese Release - 2015)
(English Release - 2016)
(Version Reviewed: Windows)


Yomawari: Midnight Shadows


(Japanese Release - 2017)
(English Release - 2017)
(Version Reviewed: Windows)

As they say, children of tomorrow live in the tears that fall today. Back to the index!