I’ve recently started playing a nice game I’d like to recommend here as japanese practice. A lot of you might already know it, but here it is: it’s The Gray Garden, by Deep-Sea Prisoner.
I’m only at the very beginning of the game right now (and playing at least 10x slower than a native…), so I haven’t seen a lot of the story yet, but I’d recommend playing it for the following reasons:
The japanese is simple. Like, simple enough that I can easily get by with Jisho.com open on the side, while being just challenging enough that i learn new words. That’s a lower-intermediary level I’ve had difficulty finding elsewhere. For reference, I’m level 18 at the time I’m writing this post.
The story is interesting. It’s not simply one of those basic stories you find in textbooks that get boring after 5 lines (looking at you, 時をかける少女). It’s a full story, with a real world, and real characters, and twists, and everything you could ever ask for in a story. There’s actually a pretty big fandom around this game, and i’ve heard a remake and a sequel were planned.
The world and the characters are adorable. Like really. Fluffy and cute. 10/10.
It’s free! That’s right! The creator gives it away at the incredible price of 0¥, all legally! I don’t entirely understand how they earn money, but I think they do it through commissions.
As for the story, what is it? Well, I can only give you half-useful info, because I hate spoilers and I’m too lazy to read the description. Basically, from what I’ve played: the story takes place in the gray garden, a place where demons and angels live together in harmony. Long ago, there has been a war between the two species, but both the cause and the solution of the conflict were lost to time. In the present day, we follow Yosafire, a happy demon, and her friends, as they live out their daily life in the garden. All goes well, until a strange bat appears…
All of this said, I have to give some words of warning:
Deep-Sea Prisoner’s games are known to get really violent and fucked up, even if they start out super cute. I’ve heard this game was less violent than the others, but I don’t know how much so. I encourage the commenters below who have played through the whole game to give more detailed CWs.
The game was made using old tools, and because of that, it has locale issues, which makes it hard to install. I followed the instructions from the Yume 2kki wiki to install it. On Windows 10, it consists of installing the RPG Maker 2000 RTP and setting the locale (note: locale, not language) of you computer to japanese. It’s not very complicated, but it requires some setup.
All of this, I’ve found this game very enjoyable and good as japanese practice and I highly recommend it to you.