Skip to main content

This visual novel is also a puzzle about getting the characters out alive

A still from visual novel Bad End Theater
(Image credit: NomnomNami)

It's a trope in visual novels that there are more than a few ways to fail, die, get offed, or generally meet up with what is colloquially known as a bad end. Recent release Bad End Theater plays with the idea that Bad Ends are to be avoided, or that they're bad at all. It does that by embracing the puzzle-like metagame of the visual novel, where players like to map out and tweak the world for precisely the ending they'd like.

Oh, and fair warning: The art is cute. The story, however, is pretty violent. It's definitely for adults.

In Bad End Theater, you explore the stories of four protagonists with interlocking stories. As you move through them you'll find all manner of horrors that befall the characters, but you'll also find the places where the stories interact. By manipulating the story, and the characters' interactions, you might just be able to find a way to save all the characters. Or not.

Either way, you're going to see a lot of bad ends along the way. 40+ of them, accompanied by some 600 pixel art scenes and 16,000 words of text.

Bad End Theater is the most recent release by indie developer NomnomNami, and the first to come to a platform other than itch.io. You can find Bad End Theater on itch.io and on Steam.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.