Release Date: June 29, 2018 (North America)
Publishers: Aksys Games, Itragames Co. Ltd
Platforms: PS Vita, PC (Steam)
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
It’s a Witch-hunt!
Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk conveys the setting of an alluring ‘post-renaissance age’ with a story revolving around the ever famous “witch-hunt” phenomenon that was commonly popular in Early Modern History.
As part of the Psychedelica series where a melancholic finish is a known signature, do not expect to have ten folds of happy endings in this game.
“In a town ruled by opposing clans and overshadowed by superstition and legend,
A child is born with the dreaded mark of a witch.
She conceals her identity until the theft of a mysterious relic
brings to light a series of staggering revelations.
The mysteries she will uncover could restore order
..or destroy everything that she knows..”
ART AND MUSIC
I like Satol Yuiga’s approach to this sequel’s art style. I appreciate how she used and emphasized a lot on colder shades (different shades of black, gray, caramel brown, white) to highlight the setting’s theme of “a town where winter never ends”. The kaleidoscope pattern on each of the character’s head annoyed me at first, but I’ve come to find out later how this was honestly one of the many curious easter eggs that got me fascinated with the whole (Psychedelica) series.
The game’s soundtrack was also very new to me. From the brisk opening theme to its forlorn ending. Everything including the BGM of this game was incredibly surreal. I’ve included a sample of these tracks below (purchased from iTunes):
Mutsumi Tamura “Jed / Eiar” – Kobayashi (Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid) Camilla Pareto (Asterisk War)
Hino Satoshi “Lavan” – Toma (Amnesia), Noiz (DRAMAtical Murder), Leo Crawford (Midnight Cinderella)
Saito Souma “Levi” – Mineo Enomoto (Collar x Malice), Rem Kaginuki (Dance with Devils), Sota (Possession Magenta)
Furukawa Makoto “Lugus” – Adage (Steam Prison), Kyle Ash (Ikerev), Clive (Million Dollar Boyfriend)
Daisuke Namikawa “Hugh” – Takeru Sazasuka (Collar x Malice), Kaga Akira (Clock Zero), Eigetsu/Yougetsu (Saiunkoku Monogatari), Komura Yuuichi (Hiiro no Kakera)
Daisuke Hirakawa “Tower Overlord” – Saint Germain (Code Realize), Laito (Diabolik Lovers), Zain (Period Cube), Nakaoka Shintarou (Hakuoki), Suguri Ohmi (Hiro no Kakera)
Kosuke Toriumi “Lawrence” – Saito Hajime (Hakuoki), Shiki (Period Cube), Rei Mikuni (Collar x Malice), Hideyoshi (Ikesen), Shuu (Diabolik Lovers), John Watson (Code Realize Future Blessings)
Kaito Ishikawa “Elric” – Alan Crawford (Midnight Cinderella), Tobio Kageyama (Haikyu!), Tenya Iida (My Hero Academia)
Morikawa Toshiyuki “Olgar” – Rai (Lamento Beyond the Void), Arles (Black Wolves Saga), Thoth (Kamigami no Asobi),
Oohara Sayaka “Francisca” – Margaret (Persona 4), Kela Hazel (Galaxy Angel)
MAIN CHARACTERS (SPOILER FREE)
Some character’s true ending will only unlock after clearing another character’s route beforehand. For example, Levi’s good end will only unlock after finishing Lavan’s route. Following the walkthroughs, I’ve linked above is the easiest and most convenient way to unlock all of the game’s endings.
- Lord of the Wolf Clan
Lavan is the Wolf family’s first son. He was raised as an heir of their clan from day one so his upbringing was very distinct compared to his brother, Levi. He’s very charismatic & respectable, and almost everyone in town loves him. Besides his handsome features that gets him all the stares from the ladies, he’s also exceptionally skilled in combat and loves collecting weapons (swords).
Lavan is also the only guy in Jed’s harem who knows her cross-dressing secret. The game made this very obvious, so I don’t consider this a spoiler. That said, I sort of feel bad seeing his somewhat unrequited love for Jed unfold as you read through his chapters. I love Lavan’s interaction with the heroine in all his short story episodes and thought it was romantic fluff at its finest. His Masquerade CG is also something to look forward to.
- Short Tempered
- Second Son Syndrome
Levi is the second son of the Wolf family. He’s also the head of the town’s vigilante committee. Although he can be a little short-tempered at times (especially when provoked by the opposing faction), a lot of soldiers from the wolf clan respects him for his outstanding leadership.
He thinks of Jed (the heroine) as his little brother and is always looking out for her best interest. One factor I admire about Levi is how accepting he is when it comes to his flawed characteristics. I also love how there isn’t much of the cliched ‘sibling rivalry’ between him and Lavan in this game. Their brotherly relationship seemed pretty solid throughout the story.
- Lord of the Hawk Clan
- Gap Moe
- Best boi
As the only son of the present Hawk Lord, Olgar, Lugus is expected to do his tyrannical father’s bidding, such as collecting taxes from the townsmen. He doesn’t seem to care what the rest of the town thinks of him as long as he gets the work done, befitting their faction.
Lugus sports a very cold, unfriendly persona upfront but if you get into his good side, you’ll discover a surprisingly sweet & adorable gentleman. I believe his route had the most romantic short episode scenes with the heroine in the entire game. I have a soft spot for gap moes, and Lugus’s route surprisingly delivered this trope flawlessly!
- Mysterious “Traveler”
- knows more than he lets on
Not much is known about this character besides introducing himself as the mysterious traveler who took interest in the heroine’s story. Going through Hugh’s route gives you a lot of easter eggs in the Psychedelica lore.
Tbh, Hugh’s character confused the hell out of me to a point where I had a thousand theories in my head that didn’t really pan out in the end (lol). His character design was beautiful though, and I’m always a sucker for NamikawaDai’s voice acting, so there’s that! (￣ω￣) Hugh was probably the most intriguing character in the game but it was quite disappointing how they never really went into detail about his existence. All they ever drop at you were hints…hints for maybe a third Psychadelica game? Hmm…
- Lazy & Free Spirited
This eye-patched man lives with Jed in the town’s lonely white tower and acts as the heroine’s guardian. Although listed only as a side character of the game, I consider the tower overlord one of the main important characters in Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk.
Because of his free-spirited nature, his interactions with the heroine were always enjoyable. He’s also one of the few who knew about Jed’s real identity and would seldom tease her whenever she dresses up as a woman. Although this man deliberately wears an easygoing facade, inside his happy-go-lucky smiles lies a dark secret that brings out a deeper and more complicated character.
JED / EIAR (Heroine)
- Crossdressing MC
- Best Girl
Born with the accursed red-eye, our heroine was ill-fated as the descendant of an ominous witch, who was believed to have caused the town’s never-ending winter season. Because of this, she hides her true identity and decided to live her life as a man.
If there’s any character in the game that truly deserves such high regard of respect, Jed would be the ONE. . All throughout the entire game, this heroine underwent severe hardships – I couldn’t even put it to words.
Truth be told, it was kinda aggravating playing her character not because she was flawed but because she was just too good of a character that it pains me to see all these misfortune befalling on her. I was totally at a point where I just want to give her a comforting hug, and scream: “Please cut this heroine some slack!”
Aside from the flowchart, the game also allows you to navigate through TOWN MAPS where you can collect “Town Memories” and watch short episodes of sheer fluff goodness. Make sure to switch from Jed to Eiar whenever you can, as both characters trigger different short stories.
Town Memories – marked in PINK (with the magnifying glass icon) are very short episodes where you get to talk to random town folks. TIP: you’ll need these to buy items from the antique shop by the tavern.
Short Story Episodes – marked in BLUE are random short stories where the heroine spends time with the main & side characters of the game.
Will I enjoy Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk even though I haven’t played Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly?
Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk offers a new atmosphere and lore that can easily stand alone on its own. That said, it can be enjoyed as it is, even if you haven’t played, Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly. However, I would still (strongly) recommend playing the prequel beforehand as there were a few tidbits of references from Black Butterfly that were very significant in Ashen Hawk. Playing its prequel first also adds up to the game’s enjoyment level.
In comparison to its predecessor, Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly, Ashen Hawk significantly gives you lengthier gameplay this time around (30-35 hours).
The game was absolutely lovely! It did a wonderful job introducing the main characters and their corresponding motives at the beginning of the story. I also enjoyed how each chapter was gradually building its overarching plot, one that’s very engaging to me that I had a hard time putting down the game for a while.
All the characters (especially the heroine) were very likable to an extent and I love how each of them, including the side characters, seems to have their own compelling backstories to share that graciously warms your heart. Although still low in romance, the game did manage to take the fluff up a notch when compared to its predecessor (PBB).
But just like any other mystery-themed visual novel, it had a couple of plot holes that left me asking more questions after completing the game. I was expecting a proper closure, like the one in Psychedelica BB, but sadly there wasn’t any, which sort of left me a little muddled in the end. One can only hope for another sequel! Ha!
Do I Recommend this game? YES
Consider this title a nice treat to those who’ve played Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly. I have profoundly enjoyed Ashen Hawk’s great pacing and story build-up, not to mention its amazing cast of characters that will probably inflict you all them heavy-feels.
One thing I would like to point out, however, is that this game doesn’t promise a merry ending with rainbows and butterflies, so EXPECT and brace yourself for the angst and unexpected plot twists. All in all, this was such a lovely melancholic game that has become a staple in my otome collection. If you’re like me who enjoys a sheer chunk of beautiful tragedy, go ahead and pick up Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk!