A downloadable game for Windows, macOS, and Linux

Carmilla takes a close look at the Age of Enlightenment and encourages us to ask whether—alongside all the progress and benefits modern science has brought about— we might have lost something valuable in the process.

length: approximately 5 hours

Prologue

Dr. Martin Heselius, a German physician, dedicates himself exclusively to those cases that promise to further his inquiry into the relation between the physical—, the spiritual—, and the divine sphere of existence. 
Ada Brunswick edits and translates the doctor's manuscripts.
Under the name Visual Gothic they publish those cases that might benefit a wider public while illuminating the interplay between the rational, the supernatural, and the superstitious.

The Story

Laura, narrator and heroine of the story, lives an idyllic life with her father in an old castle in Styria. Geographically isolated she is often lonely. A carriage accident delivers a mysterious young girl, named Carmilla, to the castle's doorsteps, hence putting a sudden end to Laura's solitude.

The two girls grow close quickly, yet Laura occasionally feels overwhelmed and confused by Carmilla's passionate advances which ignite in her fascination and abhorrence in equal parts. However, these tense situations do little to tarnish the camaraderie that permeates their everyday life.

Too soon this life is increasingly overshadowed as Laura starts to experience disquieting nightly visions and strange physical symptoms ...

What is it About?

Carmilla has often been called a 'Lesbian Vampire Story', which is pointing out the obvious and missing its point at the same time. On its surface it is also a romance, a tale of bonding between two lonely girls in an isolated environment with a dash of mystery for good merit.

Not far beneath this entertaining level of the story, readers who prefer their text to play the role of teacher or moralist will readily discover a lesson here: Do not allow dogmatic rationalism to replace superstition and blind you to the truth!

However, at its center Carmilla is an exploration of the human condition after the Enlightenment cemented the distinction between mind and matter, the so called mind-body-dualism, with its clear preference for mind over matter. Today, this duality is hardly ever questioned. 

The editors have appended a collection of notes that might serve to illustrate the birth of this new paradigm and assist in carving a path to the real heart of the story.

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Carmilla-1.0-linux.tar.bz2 173 MB
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Carmilla-1.0-mac.zip 168 MB
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Carmilla-1.0-pc.zip 185 MB

Comments

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Do you have in mind a sequel or another story within Visual Gothic or this was a one time thing?

I'm not really familiar with the original story, so this pseudo-review really is just based on my own opinion. *Kinda* spoilery, since I'm going to say my opinion on the ending.

I really like that you guys are obviously trying to make something different. Most visual novels seem to do the same things, but I do like how you guys present your story visually. I might not be the biggest fan of the art style, but overall I really like the creativity and it just feels different to most of the visual novels I've played so far, which all seem so cookie cutter and don't really try to play with the visuals of the medium. It makes me interested in what you guys will make in the future. Also, I was *really* intrigued to see where the story was going to go! It had a really interesting set up.

***spoilery part about ending***

My main problem with the story is that it didn't really seem to go anywhere and ended very abruptly, like it all didn't buildup anything after so much buildup. I understand and am intrigued by the themes of rather it is good to go 100% scientific and to completely forgo superstitions if it's right there in front of you, but the story kind of tells you this theme in the first 10 minutes in the framing device, (which the story seems to completely drop), and then doesn't really add anything to that. So by the end, I kind've just felt like I didn't get anything out of it that wasn't said since the beginning of the story.  I really wanted to see where the relationship between the two main characters were going to go, too. Not just in a romantic sense, but I felt like there could be some interesting themes explored through their relationship, especially with the previous themes set up. I feel like there was some lost opportunity there. I really enjoyed what I read for the most part, but felt kind of blue-balled in the end with no additional meaning taken that I couldn't have garnered from the first 10 minutes. Maybe this is just how the original story is written, though, to be fair.

I hope this review doesn't come off as too harsh. I really like the creativity at display here and was really interested in the story and premise, I just personally didn't like the ending, but that is only my opinion. There's so much potential here that I really am looking forward to seeing what you guys make in the future! 

I am not familiar with the initial writing of Carmilla so I will be reviewing this as a work in itself, which applies to the narrative as well.


Not many mediums have what it takes to impress me positively from the very beginning, but you managed to grasp me from before the story was even to begin. The introduction, pertaining to a remarkably competent allusion to spiritual science, is something I should not expect to find in such a work, even if this is technically not a game at all, and it did make me very keen to read on further. The writing itself is quite great and expressive and it does not seem like it was merely stolen from a book. There are a couple of mistakes scattered throughout but it is manageable. The one Shakespeare reference was very well received.


The visuals are naturally excellent, though the moving vistas sometimes do not overlap properly giving it an unnatural staggering. The music well complements the scenes, yet is slightly repetitive, specifically since I took my time reading.  The final track with a vocal presence was not really fit for the conclusion, it should have gone somewhere else. The mechanic of the notebook entries is welcome conceptually, but it did not have nearly enough of them to fully justify it.


Speaking of which, due to the nature in which the story was building up mystery and expectation, the conclusion struck me as rushed. Before I began the final chapter I was to believe that a more dramatic twist will affect the story, but definitely not an end. I was reading the story with care and yet I can not answer to myself certain puzzling elements, such as who the lady transporting Carmilla was and why she specifically claimed to know the General, as well as whether she will return or not. Carmilla's now perplexingly false affection towards Laura strikes me as shallow since her character was not developed enough throughout the story to amount for that, and either saying that is was a charade or a conflicting desire is unsatisfactory . In fact, this was the case with all of the major characters, and through my reading I was specifically envisioning an upcoming change in Laura's attitude towards Carmilla's secret nature, yet which never occurred, making me reconsider the romance as superfluous. There are other letdowns as well, such as the mention of the Schloss' secret passages, certainly a hefty idea to just throw out, but which never actually amounts to anything. Also I did feel like, as I was reading, it was demanded of me to actively partake in solving this underlying mystery, which then proved to be of a mostly factual kind. As the General was unveiling his story the association with Carmilla seemed so forced that the answer surely must have been more expansive...; This is partly caused by the inherent dynamicism of visual novels but it could have been addressed in the writing. 


Another thing to point out is that the spiritual aspects mentioned in the introduction and through the notebook entries ultimately crumble into nothing after the no longer doubted presence of vampires, a purely material manifestation. Yet this opens up the path of their conceptual articulation towards a mythopoeia all your own. So, as far as I am concerned, you will be doing this work a favor by further expanding to the present story, but since this was at its kernel a rerepresentation meant to point towards its more fleshed out narrative predecessor, the least I can ask for is a continuation in style and a retainment of vision.


In essence, I am quite happy with the result and I encourage you to continue making visual novels. You may in fact want to consider writing one that is purely your own. Regardless I will keep an eye on further projects.

Thank you very much for taking the time time to write such a detailed review.

Your impressions are, of course, perfectly valid. Yet, allow me to make one small objection in regard to your last point:

The fact that, intradiegetically, Carmilla (or any vampire) is fully materialized is of no consequence to an allegorical interpretation by an extradiegetic editor.

I'm glad you still liked it.

Yes, certainly that is of no consequence. But, considering I run under the presupposition that the spiritual aspect is merely borrowed from already established tropes (such as may be suggested by the camera obscura mention), it does not tie in with any part of Carmilla's narrative, which makes its inclusion slightly questionable, but nonetheless interesting.

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Wow, it was so obvious that you gave a few painfully generic compliments about the art and music just so you could dive into your ocean of criticisms without looking like a COMPLETE douche. *smh. And btw, there were a few times where your "constructive" naggings would have been much better articulated if you didnt try so ridiculously hard to use as many syllables as you could in each word lol. this is obviously my opinion and not the authors, it just bugs me when i see someone review and it contain a few positive words and then a massive wall of text saying what the author "should have done" to make it better. i mean c'mon girl, EVERYTHING written out there could feasibly be better, right? when you think about it that way, its just silly to say all those things. i mean, NO SHIT this or that or this would have been better if they did or didnt do this or that. >8/ thats just the way shit friggin works lol.     edit: i just realized that now i'm the douche after writing all that. ha! w/e lmao

The flava of your comments is like reading a Raymond Chandler novel (or Sue Grafton, if you will) while listening to Motown records. Quite mesmerizing.

I registered with this site after hearing about it from the likes of John Wolfe and Mr. Kraven for years just to experience your visual novel.  I love Le Fanu's book and this adaptation looks immensely promising.


Is there a place I can donate to encourage you in a more substantial way to create more of these?

Wow I loved it! 

if you are making another one I'll be happy to help you if you need any help :3

(+5)

Based on a recommendation from RagnarRox on YouTube, I'm downloading this to play. I can't drop a tip until tomorrow, but I am following your account now, and I am going to spread the word about this. I love Le Fanu, and this story in particular, and I'm very much looking forward to this!

I'm here for the same reason. Gotta love my boy and his taste in media.

The same for me. I'm just making an account to download (and pay) other games like Faith 2... I love visual novels, so... let's go! Something great about RagnarRox is I discovered him about five days ago for that indie horror games, and I just finished watch his Rule of Rose video.

If you ever want, my own tastes tend towards well otome on here but I still know some pretty deep ones, and also some great slightly otome leaning but still horror visual novels on here. There're so many good ones, and a mix of romance and mystery and just good gimmicks and stories. itch is freakin' great.

(+1)

Just finished this today. I'll admit, I'm not a huge fan of the visual novel genre, but I am a big fan of the original novel and I thought this was a very good adaptation. I've always loved the different interpretations of Laura and Carmilla's relationship, whether there really was a romance or if it was entirely predatory, and how reliable Laura's account actually is (is she hiding her true feelings because she doesen't want to be judged by an 18th century society?) The visuals are fantastic and the music is surprisingly good for royalty free.  All in all, a very fun experience and you just gained yourself another follower!

(+1)

This seriously must be one of the most odd and interesting visual novels I have ever read.Seriously,we need more works like these on itch.io and everywhere else.I am quite surprised and disappointed that there are not so many reviews here.Such effort should not go unnoticed.The amount of work placed here is astounding and the notes are very helpful for understanding the story and the age it was written better.This visual novel due to the amount of research could easily help students through their introduction to Gothic literature and the age of Enlightenment.The art is very good(especially the backgrounds look fantastic) and the choice in music is excellent because it matches the emotions that each scene tries to deliver.Furthermore,the story was retold in a way that makes a successful use of the ren'py engine and makes it  an interesting  read for the modern crowd.For some months,I have been interested on Le Fanu's Carmilla  but I had not the chance to sit down and read it because of studies.Thank you for making this wonderful visual novel for I had the chance to not miss out on such an interesting story.I cannot wait to see more of your works,if you continue to make more,because they are very unique. 

(+1)

I fell in love with this game and the atmosphere, truly. I love the gothic aesthetic and the narrative was extraordinary. I didn't even care about the choices, seeing as this is a kinetic novel.

The music, artwork, backgrounds and narrative merged perfectly, creating a superb experience with philosophical thought and literary analysis while being entertaining and inmersive. I was reminded at times of The House in Fata Morgana, which is an amazing visual novel, except this was much more to tone with gothic literature. Anyway, I'm looking forward to your next works, if you decide to continue making games :).

(1 edit) (+1)

I loved your game, it really engaged me, actually, it engaged me so much I started looking everywhere for more, similar to this genre.

I would love to read / play more of your works, I really enjoyed the way you detaile the landscape and feelings of the characters.

If your next work has choices, (I already read that it will), it will be a real gem for sure, keep up the good work!

(signed in to leave a comment here specifically!)

Hmmm... This is very interesting. As someone who loves literature, especially Gothic novels, I find this a very promising attempt - kind of like combining a kinetic novel with literary analysis and history/philosophy lesson?.. I think it's a great edutainment idea and very useful to promote knowledge - I've been considering to maybe make stuff like this for my teaching purposes in the far future.

The only thing is, I would like more choice, I guess (I didn't realise it was a kinetic novel at first, so it's more like my fault). But I guess multiple choices and endings weren't a part of your vision. And yes, it is crazy how well the original text of Le Fanu jives with the modern medium of horror yuri visual novel. LOL

I'm very curious as to what you're going to put out in the future! Subscribed!

(+1)

Thank you, Crazypreacher.

As a matter of fact, choices are very much "part of my vision". Carmilla was my first project, though, intended as a practice and I tried to keep it simple. The following games will have choices and different endings, as they are important to my main theme which is dogmatism.

If you are familiar with Gothic Novels then you may have noticed that Heselius, his love for Swedenborg, and mind-body dualism are frequently ignored by academic reviewers. I therefore ended up emphasizing those points.

I also wanted to target people interested in literature but unaware of all those hidden gems that have so heavily influenced the visual novel medium.

(+1)

Very beautiful story. Very dark and gothic. About love and paranormal topics. Full of interesting characters. 

Very beautiful art... I mean great sprites, good backgroungs, BGs and GUI, and nice music.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I'd write more but I'm kinda speechles after finishing it 

Thank you very much! 

I have hardly received any feedback, so it really means a lot.