PSYCHEDELICA OF THE ASHEN HAWK
Release Date: June 29, 2018 (North America)
Developers: Idea Factory, Otomate
Publishers: Idea Factory, Aksys Games
Platforms: PS Vita
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
…and finally! The last title for Aksys’ Summer of Mystery Promo.
It’s a Witch-hunt!
Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk holds true to its testimonials of a very engaging gameplay with a plot setting that’s intriguingly rather different compared to its prequel (Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly). With the game’s time period set to a Post-renaissance age, the story revolves 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. The artist showed a lot of emphasis on colder shades (different shades of black, gray, caramel brown, white), to highlight the game’s setting of ‘a town where winter never ends’. The Kaleidoscope pattern on each of the character’s head annoyed me at first, but this was one of the easter eggs that got me really absorbed in the game.
The game’s soundtrack was also very new to me. From it’s brisk opening theme to it’s forlorn ending. Everything including the BGMs were incredibly surreal. I love the Middle Age vibe it’s rendering. 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
- One-Sided Luurrv
As the Wolf family’s first son, Lavan was raised to be the heir of their clan from day one. He’s a very charismatic, respectable man and almost everyone in town loves him. Besides his handsome features that gets him all dem stares from the ladies, he’s also exceptionally skilled in combat and loves collecting weapons (sword). 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 as a spoiler. That said, I sort of feel bad seeing his unrequited love for Jed unfold as you read through chapters. I love Lavan’s interaction with the heroine in all his short story episodes though, it’s romantic fluff at its finest. Plus, his Masquerade CG is 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 leadership. He thinks of Jed (the heroine) as his little brother and is always looking out for her best interest. One thing I really like 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 the game. Their brotherly relationship seemed pretty solid all 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 displays a very cold, unfriendly persona upfront but get into his good side and you’ll discover a surprisingly adorable gentleman. Not only is he the poster-boy of the Psychedelica AH, he’s also the game’s bias as most of his short story episodes contain an overwhelming amount of doki-dokis compared to the rest of the guys in the game (laughs).
- Mysterious “Traveler”
- knows more than he lets on
Not much is really 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 million theories in my head that didn’t really panned out in the end. His character design was beautiful though, and I’m always a sucker for Daisuke Namikawa’s voice acting, so there’s that! (￣ω￣)
- 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 as one of the main important casts 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. Though this man deliberately wears an easygoing facade, inside his happy-go-lucky smiles lies a dark secret that brings about a deeper and more complicated character.
JED / EIAR (Heroine)
- Cross dressing 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.
Alright, so if there’s any character in the game that truly deserves high regard of respect, Jed would be your gal. I have never felt so sympathetic towards a character until Jed. All throughout the game, this heroine was too good – I couldn’t even put it to words. She’s kind, very independent and above all, doesn’t wallow on any BS. Truth be told, it was so aggravating playing her character not because she was mundane (she’s not!) but because she was such a good character, it pains me to see all this 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 offer different short stories.
Town Memories – marked in PINK, with the magnifying glass icon. (you’ll need these to buy items from the antique shop by the tavern); these are very short talk episodes with the town people.
Short Story Episodes – marked in BLUE, are short stories of the heroine’s encounter with the main & side characters of the game.
TRAILER / OPENING MOVIE
Will I enjoy Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk even though I haven’t played Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly?
Psychedelica AH somehow created its own new lore which can stand alone on its own. That being said, it can be enjoyed as it is, even if you haven’t played Psychedelica BB. However, I still (strongly) recommend playing the prequel beforehand as there were A LOT of references from Black Butterfly that were very significant in Ashen Hawk. Playing its prequel also adds up to the game’s enjoyment level.
OVERALL THOUGHTS? (*°▽°*)
With lengthier gameplay this time, It did a great job introducing the main characters and their corresponding motives at the beginning of the story. I also like how each chapter was gradually building its overarching plot, one that’s very engaging, – I actually had a hard time putting down the game for a while. All the characters were very likable and I love how each of them (including the side characters) seem to have their own backstories to share as you progress through the game. 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 confused… Will there be another sequel that will give me answers? Please…I need to know!
Do I Recommend this game?
Consider this title a nice treat to those who’ve played Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly (whether or not you’ve enjoyed it). Ashen Hawk had great pacing and story build up, it won’t take you that long to get absorbed in the game. However, it doesn’t promise a merry ending with rainbows and sunshine, so EXPECT and brace yourself for the angst and unexpected plot twists.
I guess, if you view the Psychedelica series as a visual novel rather than an otoge, you may appreciate it more. (* ^ ω ^)