The Widow’s Boutique is a Nordic noir Visual Novel. This demo is a short preview of the game. Here the first three turns are available.

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The game is currently being translated from Norwegian to English, and new art and story elements is being developed. The finished game will be available on Steam, itch and all mobile platforms. 

The Widow's Boutique Demo 

You play as Widow Sem, recently widowed and back on the social scene of Christiania. Having inherited a drapery business from your late husband, you must maneuver prejudice as well as the challenging economic times. The game is closely inspired by history, actual persons and happenings.

In this game you must balancing smuggling and espionage, with running your drapery boutique while, also navigating romantic interests,

There are 15 unique endings and your choices matter!

What you choose may draw you into shady deals and social intrigue with dire consequences… So choose your friends wisely…

All feedback is appreciated!

To read more about the game, and also about 1820´s in Norway and the women running business at the time:

widowsboutique.com

Development log

Comments

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(+1)

I love your demo so far! I like how the LIs all have interesting personalities. The severe customs official with the heart of gold vs. the elegant adjutant who suffers from possibly PTSD related depression vs the saucy rich tradeswoman who's also a crook. One of my few issues is that the music can be a bit samey, but I didn't mind it too much.

I'm of two minds about the LI's introductions. On one hand, I like the choice to introduce them in a not particularly flattering way (like d'Albedy's drunkenness or Busch's sexism), because that's the 1820s, baby. But on the other hand, I can see how that would turn off potential players.

It would be nice to know the LI's first names, though it's true that first names were rarely used in this period. What are their first names, btw?

One idea that might be considered, is that the conversations with Mrs Dunker could be tailored to the various romance options. Like you could have an option to discuss d'Albedy, Busch or Weissmann with Mrs D. and that could cement your romance path, if that makes sense.

Another possibility that might be fun is choosing different outfits for different events, like Ambition: A Minuet in Power. Of course this would also add a lot of work for you guys. Possibly this could be a potential stretch goal if your KS does well?

Anyway, this was a lot of fun, and I hope you meet your goals. I will be telling as many people as I can about this!

The incredibly slow revealing of text in the demo and repetitive music makes it impossble for me to even continue to watch the demo.  Please just show text and let the user read and move on.  I noticed the storyline said the dead husband wanted to sell imported machine textiiles from England but all the descriptions of materials I looked at while waiting for the text to load.... seemed to be all about homespun.  So is the widow trying to import machine textiles and disrupt the social norms of the national homespun culture?

Hi PopVirtGames, 

I am sorry you had some technical issues. Please try restarting your browser. It is also possible to adjust both text speed and audio in the settings menu. The button just beneath the Almanac. More music tracks are coming _very_ soon.

Good catch in regards to the prevalence of imported vs domestic textiles. The industrial revolution arrives later in Norway, and there is great pressure both for purely fashion reasons, but also for economic reasons. 

The main character is not challenging norms, in that regard, she is instead an early entrepreneur. 

Kind regards, 

Maria

Wow! On your prompt we went and checked our textile descriptions and realised we are to textile nerdy... We will update the descriptions.  

(1 edit) (-2)

I was really hopeful for this game as I love these Jane Austen Period piece games but the music being played over and over again and being the same piece really got on my nerves.  And that you really have no choice but to become a bad person to be able to succeed also dampened my mood. I do not want to smuggle or be a part of criminal behavior but your game kind of forces me to do bad things.  Also there is only one romance the French guy whom is worth romancing the other two guys are just buffoons. 

Also I would love to be able to socialize with your cat but I can't, your relationship with Mrs. Dunker is basically useless and doesn't really offer anything interesting except the same parlour chitchat and what is the point of the embroidery if it doesn't do anything?  So I really hope you add more to this game and the ability to play as a good honest business women but sadly I don't think this is the case for this game.  

This game has such potential so I hope it does get fleshed out some more.  Also please make your characters actually people you want to get to know they don't really have anything interesting to them and you don't feel anything for them at least I didn't even the mc I didn't really have anything to like about her she just didn't seem real enough.

Thank you for you in depth feedback! In the early demo, only the first three rounds are available, whereas the full game is 24 rounds.

The game content, including music, art and script, are being improved as part of translating from the original Norwegian game. We think it would be interesting if you could name the cat, and interact with it in other ways.  Who knows, perhaps its escapades may lead to other romantic adventures too...

Your comments are printed out on the dev-wall and will be followed closely. :)

(3 edits) (-2)

Thank you for not being offended by my constructive feed-back.  I have high hopes for your game to develop into something enchanting.  You should play Rose of Secunda and also watch some of Jane Austen movies if you haven't already or read the books to get a feel for the characters and how people acted and reacted back than.  

Also allow the main character to make money not being on the brink of poverty all the time and making it such a struggle your game is about relationships and this portion should really shine not about trying to fight to put food on the table which is more realistic but most players are not here for realism especially not in a visual novel.  Add more charm and charisma to the other romances make them not sexist, or drunk and weak looking.  But real men that someone would swoon over.  Give it a real romance story book.

Name the cat and allow one to socialize with your darling pet.  Make embroidery worth something like being able to sell it perhaps if you have it in game.  Also  give the option of having your main character wear a few different outifts or be able to dress her up for certain occassions with outfits she makes herself people love that ability if you have the skill to do this. 😊 

Also the French guys name is just too weird and not relatable give him something dashing and French that one can actually pronounce.  I can't wait to see more of this development and will be following closely. 😍  One more thing also if you're dear friends with someone you don't call them Mrs. Dunker but by their first name makes her more relatable as a real person and not just some stranger.

(+2)

Feedback is the only way we get better! We especially appreciate concise analysis as it pertains to gameplay and appreciation of the VN genre.

Now as to the Jane Austen factor-- we, the team, love the books in fact I visited her museum in Bath this summer.

It is safe to say we take our history seriously. The game script is largely written by a professor of history, and you will find that all clothes and other trappings are vetted by experts. 

We draw on numerous sources. The customers are collected from the recollections of Vilhelmine Ullmann, the daughter of Conradine Dunker whom herself was both a prolific and witty author.

Nearly every newspaper article is drawn from the national library and every named character met along the Promenade is a historical person that lived in Christiania in the 1820s. Temperature, weather, and moon phases are based on contemporary diaries.

While the narrative is imaginary, the setting is not. We are happy to challenge modern sensibilities by portraying the zeitgeist, intellectual spirit, of the era.  You will be happy to know that there are no right answers, just cause and effect. 

We believe that history needs no makeup. But stories do. For that reason, you have given us another good post to print out and hang up on the board. Thanks!

Kind regards, 

Maria, lead illustrator