I needed a good offline game for the Switch for a visit to my in-laws over the weekend. I ended up grabbing Will: A Wonderful World and giving it a couple hours.
You play as the amnesiac goddess Myth who, aided by her dog/pet/servant Will has the ability to change the stories of humans who pray to her.
To describe it as a visual novel would be an insult to the word “visual.” It’s closer to a Twine game. You are told a short story. Certain sections of the story can be moved around to change the outcome. An example from the tutorial: a busted lightbulb at a tennis court causes a student to forget her keys and be locked out of her apartment. Move the line about the broken lightbulb down in the story, and now it causes her to avoid a dark alley and instead take an alternate route home, stopping to play arcade games on the way.
The key is that you’re getting requests from multiple people, and if their stories are at the same point in the timeline, events can be swapped between them, whether the actual events are intertwined or not (early on some are and some aren’t but I get the feeling they’ll all connect eventually).
My problem with the game is that it takes the butterfly effect to ludicrous levels. In the tutorial example, the student changes her route, which also causes her to catch the attention of a stalker which leads to her ducking into an unknown neighbor’s apartment and interrupting his suicide attempt. That’s not exactly something you could predict from changing a broken lightbulb.
You can try to get S Ranks on every story for every character, but Will warns you that this isn’t necessarily a desirable outcome. There’s no penalty for retrying sections until you get the outcome you want, but once you decide to stick to a path, there’s no going back. That basically leaves the game as a statistical exercise. Figure out all the permutations, try them all, pick your favorite.
Still, while the unpredictability of the outcomes doesn’t leave me feeling like I’m directing the story so much as just choosing which story I want, the writing is strong enough and the characters compelling enough that it’s pushing me to keep at it.