Christmas is almost upon us now, and I think this is the perfect time to introduce the VN I wrote next: The Thirteenth Year.
Based on my novella "Astellis Pilgerschaft" (which would translate to "Astelli's Pilgrimage"), this is probably my most linear visual novel, and also my most unusual one. The story leads you through thirteen scenes, each from the viewpoint of a different character in a world that is vaguely steampunk in a few places and a little less developed in a few others. All these scenes have something in common: the person narrating the story meets a young child named Astelli, apparently on a pilgrimage.
The story is presented a little like an animated picture book, with the pictures behind the text and the option to fade out the text in order to get a better look at the art (which, like the music, was created by my good buddy DaFool). Astelli's pilgrimage tales place in a changing world, one where wars can still start for little reason (and do) and where religion and spirituality have greatly different meaning depending on where you go and who you talk to. Just as Astelli is on a journey to find spiritual enlightment, so do all the other characters of the story have their own opinions and views on religion, and it is in the clash of their views with Astelli's where the story's drama unfolds.
The game has three different endings, defined by the choices you made throughout the story - essentially choices referring to whether Astelli is able to change the views of the people encountered or not. You will be in the shoes of these people, so it is you who makes that choice and gets to see the outcome. Without spoiling much, my point was to explore the question of to what extent religion shapes man and to what extent man shapes religion. And I believe it works really, really well.
In terms of writing, this is probably my finest VN so far. As I converted this from a novella, I decided to keep the descriptive parts in (while most of my other VNs are much heavier in dialogue), and I very much like the effect of having that combined with DaFool's laconic, artsy drawings. I think it's quite appropriate to read that for Christmas and remember where that holiday came from, and what we have made of it today. Get it here for free.