An Unexpected Gem: Sengoku Rance
So, you may have seen me prattle on about Sengoku Rance for quite a while now, eh? Well, this post is designed to inform you of what the best VNs I've ever played is.
Sengoku Rance is the 7th installment of the Rance series, which follows Rance (Duh), a swordsman who's purely driven by his er...lower half. He's accompanied by his slave Sill Plain, a pink haired mage who's very loyal to Rance despite his abuse to her. While yes this is a sequel in a long line of games, knowledge of the previous installments isn't necessary to fully enjoy this ero- game/VN/whatever it's classified as.
The story starts with Rance and Sill taking a hot springs vacation to JAPAN (Spelled in capital letters). In a bizarre twist of events, Rance meets Oda Nobunaga and his little sister Kouhime. Things happen, and Rance is made secret controller of the Oda family. From there, he sets out to conquer all of JAPAN, and get laid while doing so.
There are 4 possible routes to take in Sengoku Rance, but initially you can only access the True Route, the route that is considered canon. This route involves the rise of the Demon Xavier, who wants to see all of Japan suffer. The other three routes focus specifically on one of three potential love interests for Rance: Uesegi Kenshin, Yamamoto Isoroku, and Nanjou Ran.
Sad thing is, that's only a light description of all the horrible stuff Rance does.
You're only given one small territory and a scant amount of commanders at the beginning of the game. Obviously, the goal is to unite all of JAPAN through the power of the sword or pen...mostly sword though. You have a limited amount of actions each turn in which you can declare war on neighboring countries, increase affection with your commanders (With enough affection, commanders receive a bonus of your choice), search for dungeons to explore for treasure, etc. etc.
That blue-shaded area is your starting territory. Good luck expanding!
The enemy countries also have turns of their own, although they only declare war on you once certain flags have been raised OR you declare war on them first. Once you are at war with a country, both sides are free to attack each other's territory during their respective turns.
This is a shot of a normal battl-HOLY JEEZ WHAT IS THAT THING?!
When you launch an attack on enemy territory or when the enemy attacks you, you are given the chance to choose your commanders for the battle, their formation, and the option to scout the enemy to determine their lineup.
Each commander falls under a unit type such as Warrior, Foot Soldier, Miko, etc. Each unit offers their own unique contribution to the battlefield: Warriors are the main melee DPS of an army, Foot Soldiers Guard the units on the same row as them, tanking the damage if their allies are attacked, Tacticians can buff armies while debuffing the enemy while Mikos are the only units capable of healing other units. And this is just a fraction of the many unit types out there. Each commander has a limited amount of Action Bars (The white squares). When they run out of Action Bars, they are unable to take any more action for the rest of the battle.
Oh, and units are only as strong as the amount of troops they have on them. The more damage they take, the less effective they are in attacking, defending, healing, buffing, etc. although some skills have the same effect regardless of current troop status.
Battles are on a timer (The bars in the bottom middle half of the screen, each bar represents one turn) and there are two ways of winning. The first is to completely wipe out the enemy armies (Most obvious way) while the second is to have the Battle Rating bar (The bar on the top of the screen) to the right of the yellow arrow. The bar is moved by damaging armies, wiping an army out, or by using special skills.
There's also a dungeon battle system, but it's basically just the commanders that go in themselves to clear out the dungeon. Battles are basically the same.
While yes, the turn-based strategy constitutes half of Sengoku Rance, the VN portions is what makes up the other half. There is a COUNTLESS amount of scenes out there. I'm currently on my 6th playthrough and I'm STILL finding scenes that I can't skip because I haven't encountered them before. Although I should mention that yes, despite the cool gameplay, it's still an eroge, which means that there are lots and lots of H-scenes. So yeah, if you don't like that sort of thing, steer clear of this.
Although Rance is an asshole (To put it lightly), the story more than makes up for his...actions. There are so many families, each with their own unique commanders, that multiple playthroughs will be necessary to see all of them. But the gameplay will be so good, you won't even notice that you're replaying the game (Besides lamenting the fact that you start from square one). Oh, and there's a FFA mode once you beat the game once. If you found yourself liking one of the families from the story, you can actually select them (or any other family in the game) and start your quest to unify JAPAN!
So yeah, there you have it. You now know why I speak so highly of Sengoku Rance. Even moreso than Katawa Shoujo, and THAT'S saying something.
Oh, and the OST is amazing as well.