Cabin Fever – A Slice-Of-Life Visual Novel
Written by Christopher Dimitriadis - Contributor
I’m in the middle of my second full playthrough of Cabin Fever as I’m typing this up. It’s just so incredibly good. This is the first visual novel I have ever played. And might I say, I love it. It is most definitely going up there on my favourite games list.
If you don’t know what a visual novel is, let me explain: A visual novel is a text-based story, interactive video game genre. They feature a narrative-like style of literature with sprite-based visuals. The sprites most often use an anime art style as they originate from Japan. There is one thing clear about visual novels: Your choices matter throughout the story. Make the wrong choice and you may get a bad ending.
Cabin Fever is a visual novel developed by Steamy Buns Games, a company involving some members from Sad Panda Studios. Released on July 12th, 2021, Cabin Fever is a short western styled VN that has a story that is rather appropriate to our current pandemic situation. It is set mid-pandemic, years after an unknown virus, VIVID-22, has overcome the world. It probably has a storyline that is significantly more pessimistic than our current world, which is shown through various backgrounds and dialogues throughout the novel.
The main character, whose name and voice are completely up to you, is one of those self-sufficient types who lives in the mountains and has a pretty spacious cabin upon the hills, far away from the city, filled with all kinds of off-the-grid amenities, a garden full of fresh produce and drones to deliver your online orders. No need to run into humans who may or may not have the ever-spreading virus all up in their immune systems. Everything seems to go along smooth-like until their solitary lifestyle is interrupted by the arrival of a 21-year-old woman who accidentally gets caught in one of the main character's animal traps.
Whilst I was playing this the first time around, it made me look back to March of 2020. We were quarantined for a good few months. Barely going outside to reduce the chances of running into someone face-to-face. Which does indeed bring up a good point in how this is a direct connection to our current situation with COVID-19.
Something to keep in mind is that this visual novel was made while the artists and development team were in quarantine, just like the rest of us were. But in the case of Cabin Fever, it represents what the world would be like if COVID-19 was even more deadly than it already is.
We learn that this virus in the novel has been around for quite some time, as brought up by the protagonist in Chapter 1:
“I don’t remember much about the world before the sickness. I was just a kid when it started, too young to fully grasp all the changes happening across the globe.”
The character’s age is 20-22 years old, so to know that the sickness has been around since they were a kid is honestly something I don’t want to ever imagine happening. It was a massive shock to learn that we were entering a pandemic last year, and it is still a shock. To know that one day we could wake up and discover that COVID-19 will not be going anywhere for years is terrifying to even fathom. If that were to somehow happen, who knows what we would do?
Do we start gardens to avoid grocery stores that could be packed full of probably contagious people? Maybe we will avoid going outside as a whole and order any necessities we may need online. This nightmare comes to life in this well-written visual novel that is set in a world where the virus has made it happen.
In conclusion, Cabin Fever is a fantastic short visual novel with great voice acting, CG, an incredible soundtrack, visually pleasing character sprites and particularly, a unique art style. The soundtrack along with the diction from voice actors pulls you in and almost “plays” with your heartstrings. Lasting roughly 2-3 hours of full gameplay, it won’t take much time to get all of the endings and achievements. That being said, I feel that the brief experience is definitely worth having, one that has both lighthearted and emotional moments set in a world that is darker, but somewhat similar to our own in various ways. It is available on Steam and the Nintendo Switch.
Now, if you don’t mind, I will now go back to finish off my second playthrough of my new favourite game, Cabin Fever.