Introduction: Interactive Fiction Review
So before I get started, I want to explain a little bit about what The Wayhaven Chronicles actually is. Instead of a traditional novel, this series is an interactive fiction one. Interactive fiction covers a range of games that also includes visual novels. A VN is usually presented in the form of a simulation game, where character art and backgrounds are given for different scenes but the majority of the game is text based. The text presents situations and conversations in which your character must choose actions and dialog options that drive the conflict of the story. IF is similar, but lacks the visuals and is entirely text based, thus reads more like a novel than a VN. IF is very much like “choose-your-own-adventure” games.
What is The Wayhaven Chronicles: Book One about?
The Wayhaven Chronicles are about you: the Detective. You are a detective working in a small town called Wayhaven (no country specifically, but the novel is written in British English so it is implied the story takes place in Britain). You were just recently promoted and are a relatively young detective, and your first big case? The first murder in your town. As the detective you find yourself trying to solve an unusual murder when your mother–Agent Rebecca–offers you the assistance of her team Unit Bravo. The Unit consists of four very attractive team members, A, M, F, and N. With the help of the team, you stumble across a supernatural cause to your murder case and are introduced to a whole new world of vampires, powers, and shady Agencies.
As the main character, you control a lot of the show. Your detective is fully customizable! You can be male, female, or non-binary; gay, straight, or bi/pan; you can choose your own name (first and last); you can choose what kind of style clothes you wear, whether you like coffee or tea, what your apartment looks like, and customize your appearance (hair and eye color in the first book). Additionally, several dialog and action options are available to you throughout the book that alter your stats. The core stats are: Charming vs Intimidating, Impulsive vs. Cautious, Sarcastic vs. Genuine, Friendly vs. Stoic, and Easygoing vs. Stubborn. You also have traits such as Heart vs. Mind, Optimist vs. Pessimist, and Team Player vs. Independent. You also have professional stats that reflect what your specialties are as a detective, as well as if you’re more by the book or bend the rules.
Unavoidable in this discussion is that Wayhaven Chronicles is not only focused on the adventure and supernatural experiences of the detective, but romance as well. Unit Bravo consists of four attractive romantic interests and you have five potential romantic routes (though you are free to choose not to focus on the romance as well). You can romance A, N, F, or M or you can go a love triangle route with A and N. The romance is unique depending on each character; A is highly slow-build, N is mildly slow-build, M can be very sexual (but you always have the choice whether or not to engage in that), and F is somewhat middle of the road. Your detective can flirt or be friendly with all four characters throughout Book One, before reaching the point where you lock down one of the routes. Once that route is chosen, the detective still interacts frequently with all four characters, but flirtatious moments are only available with the romantic interest.
Unit Bravo: Who are they?
Unit Bravo consists of four people. Depending on your detective’s gender and sexuality choices, each member may take one of two appearances. A is Adam or Ava, the leader of Unit Bravo, who is considerably stoic and firm. N is Nate or Nat, A’s closest companion and a genuinely kind hearted individual. F is Felix or Farah, an upbeat and boisterous member of the team who engages in some casual flirtation with the detective to begin with. And lastly is M, Mason or Morgan, the darkly sarcastic and stoic member of the team with the most sexual energy.
This series is fun, addictive, and totally replayable! I’ve played it so much, and have definitely justified the five dollars I paid for unlimited playing. I really enjoy playing as new detectives, creating different characters so I can explore different options. There are so many variables! How well do you get along with the team? Your mother? Your friends? How much do you love your town? Are you a rebel forced to join the police force to avoid jail time, or do you genuinely love what you do? There’s so many options! I also enjoy that there’s a lot of text in this game. It’s legitimately like reading a novella, with interesting plot points and character arcs. Of course, in only the first book you don’t see that much development outside of your own character, but it’s still very interesting and enticing for what comes next!
I only really wish this book were longer! The work that the author has put into the game as a whole is fantastic, and I whole heartedly admire her for the degree of options that she gives. The fact that even if you are playing for the romance aspects you can always choose how you want to engage with the love interest is pretty great. I also enjoy that a variety of personalities and reactions to various topics are possible.
I cannot gush about this game enough. I like the author’s games in general–she put out a regency romance visual novel that I adore–and this one is absolutely my favorite interactive fiction novel. I love all the characters, have played all the romance routes, and I enjoy making different detectives each time I play. The customization options are wonderful, and I think it’s great that this is a series and the author is so actively passionate about producing the rest of it!