Linds and Alben
A Visual Novel
released in English by Hanako Games
in 2010. Take a sprinkling of Otome Game
, a dash of Speculative Fiction
, a lot of sneaky references to a certain movie
- and serve over a bed of plot twists that make it hard to describe anything much about the story without giving too much away.
Our heroine is Janet, who is on her first date with a boy named Bradley. A storm leads them off their path, and their car breaks down. They find a mansion and ask to stay until the storm passes. The following morning, when they try to leave, they find a forcefield keeping them inside. You can find the game here.
This visual novel provides examples of:
- All-Loving Hero: Rafael, who takes a pretty shitty backstory with a sunny smile and unshaken faith.
- Alternate Universe - Janet discovers that she and Bradley are in an alternate universe where The American Revolution never happened, and the country is called Atlanta. However, it isn't quite that simple.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: When Janet finds out about how much Nathaniel loves Bianca she wishes that she was his princess instead. In his bad end, her soul ends up being stuck in Bianca's body.
- Bi the Way - Linds. You could place him in Anything That Moves, or the Ethical Slut.
- Camp Straight: Alben used to be like this, when he was a boy.
- Chekhov's Gun: The gun that Bradley threatens the others with at the start of the game plays a key part in finally ending the "Groundhog Day" Loop.
- Closed Circle: Once the force fields come up, the mansion becomes one for everyone but Bradley.
- Curtains Match the Window - Alben and Bradley
- Dark-Skinned Redhead - Janet. (She's Indian.) Her hair is purple, which would traditionally be the "muted personality" type of dark skin and dark hair, but her personality is more fiery.
- Does This Remind You of Anything? - Free health care? Forging immigration papers?
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Janet can sometimes dream about herself with pale skin and blue eyes. This foreshadows Nathaniel's bad end, where her soul gets stuck in Bianca's body.
- Driven to Suicide: Linds, after Rafael's heroic sacrifice.
- Earn Your Happy Ending - Before unlocking the true ending, most of the outcomes are bittersweet at best.
- Equivalent Exchange: In order for Bianca to gain a soul and come back to life, someone else's soul needs to be sacrificed in exchange. That someone is usually whichever girl gets trapped in the "Groundhog Day" Loop.
- Making the tradeoff even worse, the fact that the loop keeps looping shows that most of the time the sacrifice doesn't even work.
- Failure Is the Only Option: To get a good end, the Bianca experiment has to either fail or get called off. The only exception is the true end.
- Fanservice: Most of the guys appear shirtless at some point.
- You wouldn't expect it from a novel with a female protagonist and male romanceable options, but there's a bathroom scene in which the player gets to see Janet in a bra. Linds ends up walking in on her; Janet can choose to either freak out or pretend to be cool about it.
- Fiery Redhead - Bradley, who also has red eyes
- Forgets to Eat - Linds, according to Rafael.
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: Janet and Bianca in Nathaniel's bad end.
- Golden Ending: Bradley's true end. Janet and Bradley manage to get home, Bianca and Susan are saved and none of the other victims of the "Groundhog Day" Loop go missing.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop
- Half-Identical Twins - Alben and Bianca, who couldn't be more different.
- Heroic Sacrifice - Rafael in one of the endings. This does not lead to a happy ending for everyone else. The theme of what's worth sacrificing comes up multiple times.
- Ill Girl - Bianca
- Innocent Cohabitation: The setup that Linds and Rafael have. Much to Janet's disbelief.
- Insufferable Genius - Janet used to be one of these, and it came very close to screwing her over. In the backstory we learn at the start of the game, Janet's classmates previously bullied her because of her Genius. Because of that, Janet wouldn't join any extracurricular activities with the girls, which is understandable. The "Insufferable" part came into play because Janet ended up not joining any extracurricular activities with anyone, and she forgot that the college she was applying to strongly prefers girls with lots of social experience on their applications, so Janet almost didn't make it into college as a result.
- I Take Offense to That Last One: Linds is perfectly fine with being called a creepy pervert, but call him little...
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In one of the endings, soon as Janet finds out about Nathaniel and Bianca she decides to give up pursuing him and instead focuses on helping to cure her. In this particular ending, it only partially works: she wakes up in Bianca's body and Nathaniel is overjoyed at getting his lover back, but since it's Janet in Bianca's body and the real Bianca is gone... This leaves us hanging on the implied Morton's Fork: does she tell him the truth and crush his heart, or does she live out a lie and crush her own?
- Kids Are Cruel: The characters have a long conversation about this. Numerous examples happen in-story, like the kids who bullied Janet and Alben as well as the kids who tried to rough up a sick and homeless Rafael.
- Like Brother and Sister: The reason why Janet didn't date much at in high school. Because their community was so tight-knit, she regarded most of the boys as bratty siblings.
- Lonely Rich Kid: Nathaniel's childhood in a nutshell. Even though now he's not a kid, he still qualifies.
- Love at First Sight: Nathaniel and Bianca.
- Moment Killer: Linds in Rafael's route.
- Morality Pet: Rafael to Linds. Rafael's Heroic Sacrifice is even the cause for Linds committing suicide.
- Multiple Endings: 11 of them, to be precise. A Bad Ending for each of the five boys, a Good Ending for each of the five boys, and a True Ending for Bradley that you can only obtain if you got all the other endings first.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut - Subverted. If Janet reveals what she read in Bianca's diary, Nathaniel will reveal that he and Bianca had already talked about it, and he doesn't care because he loves her.
- Played straight in that if Janet spends the night with Linds, you not only get his bad ending but what is probably the worst ending in the game.
- Word of God is that the writer didn't intend for this to be seen as an indictment against having sex. It's just that sleeping with Linds makes Janet too distracted with romantic drama to focus on what's happening.
- Adjusted in the silver release so there's now a choice afterwards which determines the outcome.
- Optional Sexual Encounter - With Linds. With the other boys, it doesn't really go beyond kissing.
- Pan Up To The Sky Ending - The true ending.
- Parental Abandonment - A rare justified example! Rafael's parents abandoned him...but only so he could have better access to health care than his parents were capable of providing. In fact, when Janet criticizes Rafael's parents' abandonment, Rafael responds in bitterness, but unlike usual examples of this trope the bitterness is in their defense, saying he's sorry they weren't perfect.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning - Mostly averted with Bradley. Although he seems like he plays this trope straight at first because upon entering the mansion, he threatens everyone with a gun since he thinks they all did something to his sister. The aversion occurs because after he's neutralized, he never does anything else wrong and that gun pays off in one of the endings.
- Relationship Values: All of the guys have one. Bradley's is the only one that can reach the 'love' status. The highest the rest of the guys go is 'like'. Word of God states that the reason for this is that Janet isn't in the mansion long enough to establish such a deep relationship with them.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Linds is sometimes guilty of this.
- "Shut Up" Kiss: Alben plants one on Janet after she confronts him about Bianca. Unfortunately, this is a clear sign that you are on his bad end.
- Techno Babble: Makes up around half of Linds's lines.
- Teen Idol: Rafael becomes this in his good end.
- Together in Death: Bradley and Janet. In Bradley's normal end they decide to sacrifice both their souls in order to bring Bianca back to life.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The opening video makes a dramatic reveal of Bradley and the gun which doesn't happen until several minutes later.
- Trapped in Another World: Janet and Bradley. Happens to the rest of the guys in Alben's bad end.
- What the Hell, Hero?: If Janet, after reading Bianca's diary, chooses to tell Nathaniel that Bianca wasn't the pure woman Nathaniel thought her to be, and that Bianca actually slept with multiple guys before she and Nathaniel started dating... well what made Janet think Nathaniel wasn't already aware of this? He and Bianca had already talked about this and decided to move on like adults, not like a child like Janet who sneaks around and snoops into private diaries. This is a strong enough What the Hell Hero that it plants you firmly along the path to Nathaniel's bad ending.
- Yaoi Fangirl - Linds thinks Janet might be one.
- You Can't Go Home Again: Janet and Bradley get stuck in Atlanta in most of the endings. In Alben's bad end, the rest of the guys get trapped in their world instead.