Vengeful Heart – Review
Follow Genre: Visual novel
Developer: Salmon Snake
Publisher: Top Hat Studios, Ratalaika Games
Platform: Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Tested on: Switch

Vengeful Heart – Review

Site Score
Good: A well-written gut wrenching tale
Bad: Lack of interactivity makes us wonder whether this should be a visual novel in the first place
User Score
(2 votes)
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Rating: 7.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Visual novels typically seem like a perfect fit on the Switch, because they’re usually rather lengthy affairs, and plowing your way through one on a TV or PC screen can get rather tiresome. Because of the portability factor of the Switch, however, they are great to enjoy on the go, as an alternative to a classic book. As we had a rather lengthy plane trip coming up, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to get stuck into a new visual novel. As luck would have it, Salmon Snake’s sci-fi visual novel Vengeful Heart recently arrived on the Switch, almost two years after it made its debut on Steam. As aficionados of the genre, we were more than happy to discover what Vengeful Heart had to offer.


As usual with a visual novel, the majority of the joy comes from reading and discovering the story for yourself, so while we’ll be discussing the premise, we’ll be avoiding any spoilers. Vengeful Heart is set in the near future of the year 20XX, in a world where water has become the most precious resource on the planet -even more valuable than gold. It’s a class-based society, with the social ranks of its citizens represented by on what floor of the massive skyscrapers they live. This take on upper class vs. lower class felt a bit on the nose at first, but it helped to wrap our heads around what kind of society we were dealing with. Living in the lower middle class of this society is our protagonist, Josephine, an engineer for Nepthys, the world’s largest supplier of water. Of course, Nepthys is a shady corporation, and with water being a limited commodity, they are determined to cut off the water supply of the lowest echelons of society, in order to drive up profit. When Josephine discovers this, she becomes determined to fight back against this injustice, which inevitably means that Nepthys puts a target on her back…

We weren’t expecting Vengeful Heart to deliver an emotional gut-punch in the way that it did. The story definitely is a slow burn and it takes its time to explain the rules of its futuristic world. Dialogue is wonderfully written, with a bunch of likable characters -as well as several that you’ll love to hate. We did notice that the in-game text suffered from the occasional spelling and grammar error, but they didn’t bother us enough to stop us from continuing to enjoy the story. It’s a fairly lengthy affair too -clocking in at roughly seven hours for a single readthrough, and with two dramatically different endings, you’re looking at a decent amount of content. Of note here is that the characters are presented as humans of flesh and blood, and that Vengeful Heart isn’t afraid to get dark -to the point that certain elements made us feel genuinely uncomfortable. So, if you’re faint of heart, perhaps this one isn’t for you.


The unique visual style utilized in Vengeful Heart is one of the visual novel’s standout features. The most noticeable element here is the use of a limited but striking color palette, which uses unconventional color choices to bring everything to life. Combined with the character designs, who look like they stepped straight out of a late ‘80s anime, you’ve got a title that certainly knows what it’s going for aesthetically. The result looks like a strange hybrid between DOS-era graphics and more modern visuals. We’ve seen people refer to the game as having PC-98 style visuals but the graphics here look just a tad more primitive than what you’d expect from a product that emulates that specific era. The pixel art isn’t taxing at all on the Switch, so there aren’t any performance issues. What did irk us a bit was the lack of overall variety present here. The visual style can get a bit tiring to look at for longer stretches of time, and because of the way the graphics are presented, Vengeful Heart doesn’t really ‘feel’ like a graphic novel in the same vein as titles like Across the Grooves or Stilstand. Instead, Vengeful Heart feels more like an extended series of cutscenes from an older generation game.


There is no audible dialogue present here, although we didn’t really miss this, and there also aren’t any sound effects of note either. The entirety of Vengeful Heart’s audio consists of keyboard music. That said, this music does convey the right atmosphere and it sounds like it came straight out of an ‘80s sci-fi flick. It does mean that there isn’t a whole lot we can say about the audio -and if you prefer to listen to something else while you’re reading, then you won’t be missing out.


There isn’t a whole lot we can say about Vengeful Heart in terms of gameplay, because there is almost none of it. It is a bit of an inherent limitation of the genre, of course, but we’ve taken a look at plenty of other visual novels where the course of the story changes depending on the choices you make, and a fantastic example is Seers Isle. Other visual novels take on a completely different approach in order to provide the player with some form of interactivity, like Necrobarista. Vengeful Heart’s approach isn’t similar to either of those. Instead, the player is presented with a single choice -which we won’t spoil here of course. Granted, said choice is a significant one, and it completely alters the story and provides players with a completely different ending, but we still felt like this was a missed opportunity.

When looking at a visual novel, we usually ask the question of whether or not the story actually improves when it is presented the way it is, rather than as a classic graphic novel. There are certain elements that simply don’t work in print in the same way as they do when presented digitally. In this regard, Vengeful Heart is a corner case. The story is definitely worth getting into, and the visual style benefits from the digital format, but the lack of interactivity hurts here. We would’ve preferred it had Vengeful Heart been released as a pair of graphic novels -one with each branch of the storyline- and with more dynamic visuals rather than just quasi-static talking heads.


We’re having mixed feelings about Vengeful Heart as a visual novel. The story is fantastic and really delivers an emotional impact -although it could have used some extra proofreading to weed out the textual errors- and although we really enjoy the visual style by itself, the overall lack of visual variety did get tiresome after a while. Additionally, the lack of interactivity made us doubt whether this story really needed to be told in the way that it is right now. If you’re looking for a dark and impactful tale, then you could do far worse than Vengeful Heart, but if we’re honest, we far prefer the way other developers handle their visual novels.

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Rating: 7.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Vengeful Heart - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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