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Visual Novel / Nicole

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Nicole is a Ren'Py-based Visual Novel Dating Sim by Winter Wolves that revolves around the titular character's day-to-day life as a college student. However, as soon as she moves into the dorms, she finds out that there's been a series of mysterious disappearances going on around the campus! So far, three girls have already gone missing and Nicole could be next if she's not too careful — not quite the ideal college experience Nicole had in mind.

As she progresses through her year, she meets four guys — Jeff, Kurt, Darren, and Ted — who are all potential Love Interests. She should be careful who she chooses, though, as one of them is the kidnapper...

Nicole provides examples of:

  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The kidnapper, as he takes part in college life just fine while actually committing crimes on the side.
  • Bland-Name Product: "Rollr" for "Tumblr," and Marble Hornets gets a shoutout. Other bland names involve "Spacebook" or the two potato chip brands "Mingle's" and "Lie's".
  • Brutal Honesty:
    • Ted has zero tact whatsoever. Nicole is brutally honest at times as well.
    • Bethany, a bit character who only shows up in Jeff's route, is a rather nice girl. She is simply very blunt.
      [after Jeff suddenly sprints out of the library]
      Nicole: I'll talk to Jeff later. I-I'm sure he's okay! Don't worry!
      Bethany: We're not familiar enough for me to worry.
  • Dialogue Tree: The scenes with the guys all have them. Answering 'right' increases their affection for Nicole, but otherwise don't influence the scene too much.
  • Dumb Jock: Subverted by Kurt; he comes off this way at first, but if you follow his route, he proves to be far more intelligent than he gives himself credit for.
  • Dump Stat: Three of the four stats you don't need to follow your chosen romance path automatically become this — putting points into any of them is a waste of time and has no effect on gameplay.
  • Good Parents: Ted and his father have a very close relationship. Nicole's parents check up on her as well, expressing concern for her. And while their reaction isn't shown, it's mentioned that they're very unhappy that she kept the little detail of "being targeted by a kidnapper" from them.
  • Guide Dang It!: Figuring out which parameter corresponds with the right guy. Some are easy enough to figure out, others not so much.
    • Nicole can buy gifts for the guys, to increase their affection for her. Out of all the gifts, there are only five which each guy likes. Good luck figuring that out.
    • The True endings cannot be unlocked, until the regular endings with the guys have been completed. Nothing tells you this, though.
  • Heroic BSoD: Jeff, when his potion is failure, although it might be more accurate to call it a Villainous Breakdown.
  • Idiot Ball: Nicole holds it very, very tightly when it comes to the mystery and the kidnapper threatening her that she'll be his next target. Especially bad in the Very Bad ending, where the kidnapper tells Nicole that he's coming to get her and Nicole proceeds to walk into his previously-discovered hideout, with no backup and gets locked up without the kidnapper actually having to come get her himself. She freely walked into his lair.
  • Interface Spoiler: Whatever you do, don't look at the "Gallery" options. The layout of endings makes it pretty clear who the kidnapper is.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Darren's reason for shoving Nicole away. He feels that being with her will only "dim her glow" and hold her back.
  • Karma Houdini: The kidnapper in the Very Bad Ending. Nicole becomes just another one of his victims — kidnapped, held for three days, and then left unconscious in the street. She wakes remembering nothing.
  • Love Redeems: Jeff, if you take his route.
  • Min-Maxing: The best way to "win" is to focus on a single guy, max out his stat, and then do nothing but hunt down clues to max them out at 999. (Or vice-versa.)
  • Multiple Endings: Ten endings in total. A Romance and a True ending for each of the guys, as well as one Bad and one Neutral ending.
    • Bad Ending: If you solve the mystery but don't romance any of the guys, you won't have any backup (or an emotional connection to Jeff that stops him from hurting you) to save your hide.
    • Bittersweet Ending: Jeff's true ending. He goes to jail, but he's on the path to redemption and at least the victims have some answers and closure.
    • Happy Ending: The True ending with each of the guys except for Jeff. The guy rescues Nicole from the kidnapper.
    • The Neutral ending is titled 'Alone', where Nicole did not romance a guy enough and didn't become a couple with him, but also did not advance the mystery plot enough to end up in imminent danger.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: There have been three kidnap-victims at the college, girls who disappear and suddenly reappear a few days later, with no memory whatsoever of what has happened and don't even remember their kidnapping at all. The girls don't seem to have been physically hurt or worse, but they are still missing a good chunk of time for themselves. Then Nicole ends up becoming the kidnapper's next target.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jeff comes to this realization in his true ending. He didn't look at the women he kidnapped as human beings, mainly because he didn't really look at anyone as more than subhuman, but falling in love with Nicole made him realize that there was nothing wrong with them. It was all him.
  • Near-Rape Experience: A variation occurs toward the end of Jeff's route; in this case, it's not a sudden realization of what he's doing, but rather that he never intended to do it in the first place. He just wanted to make Nicole hate him by scaring the hell out of her. Not that it makes it much better, but at least the intent was never there — no matter how she reacts, he'll back down. Hell, the best way to shut him up is to dare him to do it, which gives a +5 boost to the relationshipnote . The implication is that as much as he wanted to scare her off, what he needed was to hear that she knew him well enough to know that it was all bullshit. Still, the scene is genuinely creepy and frightening and wrong on every level, and it's played that way.
  • Obliviously Evil: To an extent. While Jeff is well aware that kidnapping is illegal, in every ending but his own he genuinely doesn't believe he's done anything wrong. He says that it's not as if he hurt the women, and he only picked people who wouldn't be "missed". It's only if he falls for Nicole that he truly understands that she is just like the women he kidnapped — and, in turn, they're just like her: real people who didn't deserve what he did to them.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Nicole does this if she's on the kidnapper's route; after Jeff's potion fails, she holds vigil outside his door until he finally opens it, and then yells at him until he stops trying to talk himself into believing that she's trying to manipulate his emotions. Once he finally accepts that she genuinely does think of them as friends, his response is to tell her to stop doing that. Completely confused as to what his problem is, Nicole demands to know what he's talking about... at which point, in order to make her hate him, he tries to convince her that he's going to rape her; when she calls his bluff and tells him flat-out that she knows he's not really going to do it, he freezes up. The fact that she shows so much faith in him even after he threatens her like that completely unsettles him.
  • Odd Couple: Kurt and Darren, surprisingly enough.
  • One-Word Title: Also a Protagonist Title, as you play as a girl named Nicole.
  • Protagonist Title: Also a One-Word Title, as you play as a girl named Nicole.
  • Right Behind Me: Nicole to Darren. A variation; she's saying nothing but good things about him, and she's being entirely sincere — it's why she's saying those things that's the problem.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Well, kidnapper, instead of murderer: Especially his own ending, where it's made starkly clear that although Jeff has unquestionably done horrible things, he's not acting out of malice, but rather out of a fundamental lack of understanding of how people work — as evidenced by the fact that he genuinely can't understand how not physically harming the women doesn't mean that they weren't still harmed by his actions. He's not a monster or a sociopath, and he is capable of caring about other people; he just operates on the principles of Blue-and-Orange Morality. While he certainly needs to face the legal consequences of his actions, he also genuinely needs psychological help.
  • Taking You with Me: In his true ending, Jeff initially says that he's going to blow up the building, killing himself and Nicole... and then follows it up by saying that it's what you'd expect a mad scientist to say, but the "bomb" he's holding is just a smoke bomb.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Ted says this to Jeff when he finds out that Jeff's the kidnapper. Specifically, that Jeff tried to kidnap and drug Nicole.
  • Villainous BSoD: Jeff has one in his true ending, because falling in love with Nicole made him realize that the people he'd kidnapped were real human beings with feelings and emotions and loved ones, and what he did to them was horrific. The guilt eats him up inside. He initially planned to come clean to Nicole in the decrepit building, vanish, and then likely commit suicide.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: While Jeff and Ted mostly hate each other, there are some hints that it's not nearly as nasty as it seems. Until the end of Ted's route, where he finds out that Jeff is the one who kidnapped all of the girls and put Nicole through hell. After that, it's just hatred.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Jeff takes it to new heights. He has no idea what's "wrong" with him, but it's Nicole's fault and it's clearly a curse.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In the true endings, each of the guys give Nicole an epic chewing out for saying nothing and going off on her own to do such a dangerous thing. Hell, even Jeff calls her out on it, and he's responsible for the whole situation. They all even chew her out for different flaws, and they're all absolutely right.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The kidnapper uses these for his pseudonyms when contacting Nicole via Rollr. "ICANSTEELSEAU" and, in the very bad ending, he uses "CORNING2GETU".
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Nicole beats this into each of her Love Interests on their respective routes.