THE CHARMING EMPIRE
Release Date: March 29, 2018 (North America)
Platforms: Steam, Nintendo Switch, Mobile (iOS and Android)
ESRB Rating: M+17 Mature
STORY (From Nintendo Eshop Page)
“Our heroine, Amane Kosaka, was living a simple yet happy life in the countryside until one day she was suddenly taken away to live in the empire, summoned by her brother Soshi Amazaki — the current ruler. Though she was unaware of the underlying circumstances, she finds herself brought to this lively and palpable central city.
Living in the immaculate royal palace, our heroine comes to learn that the empire might not be as joyful as it seems.
Her brother is no longer the gentleman she once knew…
A corrupt organization secretly runs things behind the scenes…
The heroine’s fate guides her down the path of love.”
The Charming Empire’s artwork was done by the artist, Fuji Mitsuya, a well-known mangaka responsible for most of the beautiful art covers of popular JP Drama CDs (e.g. Midnight Jiangshi, Majestic Crown). If you admire her works, you’ll definitely love the CG’s for this game. Although they fall rather short as expected due to the game’s plotline, they were all undeniably beautiful.
MUSIC AND VOICE ACTING
I like how catchy The Charming Empire’s intro music was. Their BGMs were pretty good too, an improvement from what they had with the Yoshiwara series. But what initially attracted me the most was the game’s voice acting from top-ranking seiyus in the industry.
Tetsuya Kakihara “Toki Tanba” – Victor Frankenstein (Code Realize), Shin (Amnesia), Karasuba (Psychedelica BB)
Toshiki Masuda “Kei Yoshimine” – Ieyasu Tokugawa (Ikemen Sengoku), Yukimura (SLBP), Iori (IDOLish7)
Takuya Eguchi “Koichiro Sera” – Kazuki Hoshino (Collar x Malice), Nomura (Hakouki), Nagi (IDOLish7)
Toshiyuki Toyonaga “Kagemitsu Togawa” – Junichirou (Bungou Stray Dogs), Yuri (Yuuri on Ice)
Kenjiro Tsuda “Soshi Amazaki” – Chikage Kazama (Hakuoki), Hattori Hanzo (Nightshade)
ROUTES AND CHARACTERS
While playing the game, I noticed how each route mostly follows the exact same story pattern: Get whisked away to the capital – become a royalty – romance with the guy you choose – a rebellion occurs – conclusion.
All of the routes were short that it barely gets you that connection to the guy you’re romancing. If it weren’t for their profound voice acting, the stories would’ve fallen quite flat and somewhat boring due to zero character development.
The only recurring characters of the game are Sochi Amazaki and Kagemitsu. The rest of the guys only appear in their routes alone.
TOKI TANBA – Bad boy, Robinhood, Best Cook, Baumkuchen!
Toki is the handsome cafe owner you bumped into one day while you were secretly strolling off town. You became acquainted with him due to his friendly & flirtatious personality and eventually tried to help him out in his cafe by waitressing and washing the dishes (lol the things you do for a handsome stud). He is rather popular in town and is loved by his customers. He appears very kind towards you but actually has hidden motives which you’ll get to discover in the middle of his route.
KEI YOSHIMINE – Hot tutor, Smart, Talented, Tsundere as hell, Prince Charming, Pinky Swear, Best Boy!
Kei would have to be my favorite route in this game. Kei was a prince abducted from a land which Soshi’s family conquered and destroyed. He became a prisoner in the capital after the said incident and now he’s currently living as your private tutor with a fiery grudge against your own brother. Unlike the other main characters and their respective routes, Kei was probably the only one that developed a realistic romance with the heroine. His story didn’t feel too rushed and the intimate relationship he had with the MC was more believable. Kei’s story is also a good choice as your first route in this game.
KOICHIRO SERA – Silent, Cold, Serious, The Bodyguard, Samurai, Best Soldier, Sketchy af
Sera is your faithful bodyguard who will watch you 24 hours a day and will never leave your side, ever! In his route, he was appointed by your brother Soshi, as your trusty guard who needs to be with you wherever you go. This man is very devoted when it comes to his job. His bushido code is prioritizing your protection 24/7. I felt bad while I was playing his route mainly because of how Sera was starving himself just to watch over you (the guy eats one riceball every meal) Sob! During his story, it was revealed that he was part of the rebellion group who plans to overthrow your brother’s regime.
I didn’t quite like how it felt as if he was only using you so they can put an end to Soshi’s dictatorship. In the end, It feels like Sera’s feelings for you weren’t really genuine because he was way too distant to even develop a relationship with the heroine during his story’s transition of events. Oh well! (shrugs)
KAGEMITSU TOGAWA – Childhood Friend, Substitute Tutor, Mr. Nice Guy, Boring.
Kagemitsu is your childhood friend and also your brother Soshi’s best friend and right-hand adviser. I was kind of interested with this character at first but was surprised at how bland his story turned out. Since you’ve always known him and liked him for the way he was, his route poorly falls into the typical childhood friend trope cliche. Again, the romance felt too forced. The only interesting part about Kagemitsu’s route was how involved it was with Soshi’s underlying story. It may be better to play this character prior to Soshi since their stories felt somewhat connected.
SOSHI AMAZAKI – Has Trust Issues, Cold, Cunning, Bipolar (but not really), Incest (but not really)
Soshi probably has the most interesting story among the main characters. Mainly because he was considered the bad guy in other routes. By playing his route you’ll get to discover his side of the story. Soshi also offers a little bit of character development as he starts cold towards the MC (you) but then, later on, develops warms feelings as he tries to open up to the heroine. I kinda like Soshi’s story. It had a couple of plot twists and I was satisfied with the way it ended. The only downside in his route was how pathetic the heroine was in this story that it gets overly annoying playing her character. (Rolls eye)
I really couldn’t say anything more other than how simple this game was. Perhaps if you’re looking for an easy short read that’s not too engaging (you can literally finish one route in an hour), this game is a good candidate.
Personally, I love the voice acting best as well as this game’s art style. But story-wise, it’s painfully predictable that it gets boring at times to a point where you literally don’t care how it ends. I really don’t think it’s worth the full price. So if you’re concerned with getting your money’s worth, I don’t recommend buying this game unless it’s on sale. Despite the mediocre story writing, the game had a few pros up its sleeve such as having very little typos, and I did enjoy two routes (Kei and Soshi). On a side note, if you’re a fan of the seiyus: Tetsuya Kakihara or Kenjiro Tsuda, this game won’t be so bad as you think it’d be.