BLACK WOLVES SAGA ~ BLOODY NIGHTMARE
Release Date: April 26, 2012 (Japan)
Developers: Rejet, Otomate
Platforms: PC, PSP, PS Vita,
CERO Rating: D (+17)
This blog has been on hiatus for months (been playing too much rpgs that my otome gaming has been paused for as long as I can remember), but alas! Here we are, trying to get back on track for another otome review. Today, I’ll be reviewing, Black Wolves Saga (Bloody Nightmare). Take note, this will probably be my last PS Vita Otoge review. I will be covering otome games for the Switch going forward unless they’ll release a new one for the dead vita console which I highly doubt at this point.
Read the game’s synopsis here.
The PS Vita version of BWS contains two games, Bloody Nightmare, and Last Hope. They basically follow the same story, except that Bloody Nightmare focuses more on the cat bois while Last Hope leans more on the wolf hubandos’ POVs. Please also note that this visual novel is ‘Japanese-only’ and does not have an official western release. That said, it took me months to finish this game because I can’t kanji 😭(sob!). Thankfully, there was an unofficial fansub released back in 2016 which was a huge help, if you’re like me who constantly struggles to understand certain kanji phrases. Don’t forget to give the translators a big thank you if you’re using their fansub!
I know this is kind of a hard pill to swallow, but since this is a Rejet game, I don’t think it’ll ever get localized. Rejet is *kind of* one of those companies that don’t like localizing their games due to piracy issues. ┐(‘～` )┌
ART AND MUSIC
Everyone who’s played Period Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ would instantly notice Black Wolves Saga’s similar art style, and yes! you’ve guessed it right! It’s done by the same illustrator, Kuruyoki. I am a BIG fan of this artist, so I have nothing but full praises of her works. You can visit her Pixiv profile here.
Fun Fact: Black Wolves Saga’s opening theme, Dear Despair was performed by (our beloved seiyuu) Yuki Kaji, who also voices the character, Rath in the game. Listen to this awesome OP track below:
Kishou Taniyama “Guillan Guinor” – Ikki (Amnesia), Ren Tsukimori (Kiniro no Corda), Natsuki (Utapri), Gunji (Togainu no Chi), Vince Lugan (Jakou no Lyla)
Miki Shinichirou“Nesso Galland” – Hijikata (Hakuoki), Mr. Buckethead (Bad Apple Wars), Yuzuki Murakumo (7’scarlet)
Toshiyuki Morikawa “Arles V. Felnoir” – Carla Tsukinami (Diabolik Lovers), Lizaru Shanasa (Jakou no Lyla), Moutoku (Sangoku Rinseki), Rai (Lamento Beyond the Void)
Yoshimasa Hosoya “Julian” – Yamato (Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly), Loki (Kamigami no Asobi), Yukimura Sanada (Ikemen Sengoku), Yusuke Asahina (Brothers Conflict), Kira Rintarou (Kenka Banchou Otome)
Yuki Kaji “Rath Vogart” – Kei Okazaki (Collar x Malice), Kanato (Diabolik Lovers), Finis (Code Realize), Souma Kazue (Hakuoki), Kakeru (Norn9)
Hiroyuki Yoshino “Auger von Garibaldi” – Heisuke (Hakuoki), Heishi (Norn9), Sendo Kiyoharu (Vitamin X)
Takahiro Sakurai “Mejojo von Garibaldi” – Ruki Mukami (Diabolik Lovers), Alma (Bad Apple Wars), Astrum (Period Cube), Rui Sagisawa (Nil Admirari)
Akira Ishida “Zara Skeens” – Kent (Amnesia), Kotarou (Starry Sky), Kiryuu (Sangoku Renseki), Kuota (Yunohana Spring)
MAIN CHARACTERS & ROUTES
I have to say I was overwhelmingly impressed by how deep most of the characters could go in their routes (especially dem cats). I think the stories are more inclined with their own development as a character rather than a romantic partner to the heroine. Truth be told, I actually found it fun deciphering and piecing together their true individual nature as well as their main goals regardless if it’s inherently aiming for a good cause or the worst turn of events.
My recommended route order would be the following:
Mejojo — Auger — Julian — Rath — Arles — Guillan — Zara — Nesso.
I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum but here’s my spoiler banner to remind you all to read or skim with caution!
MEJOJO VON GARIBALDI
- major inferiority complex
- Dom af
Mejojo von Garibaldi is the crown prince of Weblin. Fiona often describes him as this beautiful and perfect prince of the kingdom. However, despite his princely exterior, Mejojo seems rather self-important and single-minded. He also has this unhealthy obsession of wanting to obtain the heroine as his bride and will stop at nothing to see that through.
I picked Mejojo’s route first because all I ever thought of was “Sakurai voices him, this route must be immensely good”. Boi, was I wrong! LOL
Well, actually, let me take that back! (laughs). It’s not that I didn’t enjoy this route. In fact, I REALLY love Mejojo’s story! It’s his romance with the heroine (if there was any) that I had a love-hate relationship with. Mejojo was very possessive from the get-go and this possessiveness was consistent all throughout his route. He’s an absolute control freak and this was all explained in the common story as to why and apparently expounded more as you go further towards his endings.
I feel like his “feelings” for Fiona simply gravitated on the fact that she was a vessel of something he could never obtain before, and acquiring her was his way of satisfying a deeper accomplishment. More than anything, It’s as if the heroine became somewhat his trophy wife. Both his good and bad endings have no redemption and I actually applaud the writers for portraying him as is.
As far as the heroine’s POV, at one point I can actually understand how she felt towards Mejojo. How Fiona still has this trickle of hope that she can one day, change him when in reality there really isn’t anything she can do. He will continuously show his good side, so long as she remains his possession. It’s very intriguing how this somehow resembles an abusive relationship in real life, where the ‘abusee’ tricks herself to believe that everything’s fine and that life is good with her partner when on the contrary, it clearly isn’t.
Anyway, I enjoy a good problematic character route and Mejojo’s story definitely takes the cake. This was actually one of my favorite routes in BWS (laughs). The complexity of his backstory vehemently piqued my interest for some reason that I found it fascinating how much substance this character has.
AUGER VON GARIBALDI
- sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whip excite meee!♪
Auger von Garibaldi is Mejojo’s younger twin brother. A care-free young lad who has no interest to rule Weblin and would rather spend all of his time doing his beloved older brother ‘s bidding regardless of how morally reprehensible they might be. He seems to enjoy it most that way.
After finishing Mejojo’s story, I already knew what I was getting into, doing Auger’s route next. I can probably write a three-page essay about this character, explaining his rather, hedonistic actions but to make it less spoiler-ey, I have to say, Auger has THE most interesting personality of all the major characters in this game. There’s absolutely nothing romantic or anything of the sort in his route. I still think to this day about Auger’s driving force in doing all the questionable (not to mention disturbing) things he’s done and I could come up with a couple of theories that would possibly fall into the same category. Total Madness.
His good and bad endings gave me several impressions of how far long gone his humanity has receded from view and if there are any shards of it left, there’s probably no way to put em all back to place. As to why Fiona chooses him in his route, I have absolutely no clue nor words to defend it since no sane person would ever fall in love with a sicko unless they are sickos themselves too! lmao.
I expected f*cked up events going through Auger’s story and his route definitely delivers it with flying colors! Again, I applaud the writers for not even making any effort on excusing Auger’s behavior because I believe, this was the point of his story. Cutthroats don’t need reasons to be ruthlessly cruel. This character literally belongs in an asylum with barred steel doors. Fall in love with him and you get Auger’s route in a nutshell.
- broken cinnamon bun
- Some major spoilers ahead!
Julian is a gardener in the kingdom of Weblin who also became Fiona’s caretaker and her only friend when she started living in the castle. He is a soft-spoken young man who’s very kind and gentle to the heroine. Although he’s a very polite persona upfront, it is apparent that he possesses a lurking dark mystery around him that makes Julian more than meets the eye.
It was kind of nice to get into Julian’s route, after clearing the problem twin’s out of the way. It was a breath of fresh air to finally see the heroine having great relationship dynamics with a love interest. But good gawd! His psychotic tendencies were pretty horrifying and I’m not even talking about his “broken state”.
Just like Mejojo and Auger’s route, Julian’s story was a terrific character study where you can definitely see great depths of an abnormal psychological background. It was safe to say that his instant switch from being a calm, cuddly bun-bun to a disturbing psychopath stems from the torture he received from Mejojo and Auger and that it only activates when they’re around. What’s funny is that going down his “true ending” gave me more chills and goosebumps than finishing his good and bad end. The game made it very clear that Julian’s broken-ness definitely took a toll on him all the way where he can never be fixed.
Julain’s True Ending
Yes, he remained loving and gentle to Fiona. His true ending could’ve never been a perfect romantic story for the heroine. She and her love are finally free from torment and Weblin is a non-chaotic place again. But, here’s the catch, is Julian really cured of his broken state? Is it safe to assume that with the help of the heroine, he was finally healed from the mental suffering he for so long endured? I think this demented ending was honestly clear of depicting a person who can anytime become unhinged, unknowingly. Can’t say I didn’t enjoy it fully! (laughs)
- fluffy munchkin
- a good boi
Rath Vogart is the younger brother of Arles V. Felnoir, the leader of the wolf pack. Rath was separated from his big brother after their family was slaughtered under the command of Mejojo and Auger during the time when the entire kingdom of Weblin turned against the wolf race. In the prologue, we can see both wolf brothers reuniting after many years.
Rath is a very quiet character and remains very impassive towards the world and almost everyone in BWS. He has pretty much accepted the unfortunate fate of the wolf race and that changing their destinies is never a possibility in his point of view. His body also suffers from Zodiva, an uncured illness that was said to have come from the wolves, threatening almost everyone in Weblin.
I’ll get straight to the point here and say, Rath’s route in Bloody Nightmare was completely copped out that it basically ended in the middle of his story! Wth! I want my money back! I guess this is due to the fact that ‘Bloody Nightmare’ merely focused on establishing the cat’s backstory while ‘Last Hope’ does the same for the wolves. I see what you did there Rejet!
Though this game campaign positively worked in getting you really immersed in Weblin’s storyline, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed how Rath’s route ended. He didn’t even get to confess his feelings for Fiona sob! It’s a shame because he was also the character I was gunning for this whole time. He was such a mysterious, sweet and adorable character, (top it off with Yuki Kaji’s voice acting *cries*) and the build-up of his story was really interesting only to end up abruptly in an open-ended phase.
Guess, I’m gonna have to muscle through the kanji off Last Hope to know what actually happened next! (laughs)
ARLES V. FELNOIR
- the silver wolf king
Arles is the leader of the wolf pack. He’s now known as the “King of the Wolves” after the wolf raid in Weblin. Before their unfortunate fate, he was a well-known knight in Weblin but was later labeled a traitor who fled the castle for his crimes. His main goal is to get revenge on the Garibaldi twins and ensure justice for his people. Despite Arles’s, hatred towards Weblin and his brooding anger for Mejojo, he still possesses a gentle personality towards his family and his wolf brethren. Hence why everyone in the wolf clan respects him and follow him as their leader.
I believe I have liked Arles’s character more than I expected in this game. His backstory, although frustratingly sad, was also really bittersweet. You’d be able to tell why the character resents everyone in the kingdom so much, that he’s turned himself into a murderous monster, just as how Mejojo has spread the lies around the country about the once fallen knight of Weblin.
The heroine, who later on finds out about Arles’s gentle side, develops a sense of attachment towards him which was seemingly believable even though they obviously lacked some relationship build-up in this route. Though I’ve quite enjoyed his interactions with Fiona, his scenes with her left me unsatisfied as it was always cut short. In the end, I kept wondering whether Arles’s feelings for her were genuinely true or was it all because she resembled his dead fiance, Elvira and that protecting her was some kind of redemption he needed to accomplish?
Same with Rath’s route, Arles’s story lacked so much in both depth and romance because Bloody Nightmare’s main focus is on the cat faction. Thankfully his good ending didn’t end as awful and short as Rath’s (or else I’ll go completely ballistic! *laughs*). In fact, I believe I’ve actually enjoyed how realistic it (his good end) turned out to be.
Guillan is Arles’ right hand or rather, the second-in-command captain of the wolf faction. Very little is known about this character’s past nor background except that Guillan is very loyal to the wolf clan. He respects Arles as his leader and even proves his devotion to his king (in Arles’s route).
Despite his bloodthirsty exterior, we can all assume that Guillan’s personality is actually rather childlike that the heroine has even pointed out how he looked cute when she pats his fur (in his wolf form) or whenever he asks for her praises.
Guillan literally acts like a kid or I guess, I should say, the playful cub in the wolf pack. He’s pretty much like this all throughout his route. Romantic wise, this is perhaps a yay or nay depending on your preferences. Do you really want to romance someone who acts like a child? lol I mean it’s cute and all, I even thought of it as adorable to some extent. My main problem with his route is the fact that he gets no kind of backstory. His sudden shift from a bloodthirsty mad man to being a cuddly puppy wasn’t really clear to me either. Did the writers just outright design Guillan’s personality like this from the jump? I also wanted to know how he came about knowing Arles and why he devoted his life to following him. It may seem that Guillian’s little backstory will be covered in Last Hope, but since he’s an exclusive Bloody Nightmare love interest, I’m not too sure now (shrug).
His “True Ending” left me all (⊙_⊙)……….!
- childhood friend route
Zara Skeens is a war orphan whom the earl, Edgar Galland, the heroine’s father took in many years ago. He was appointed as Fiona’s caretaker while she lived alone in the tower her father built for her. Although Zara was only a mere butler in the Galland family, he was treated as a brother by Nesso and Fiona, to a point where his closeness to the Galland siblings are compared to none.
Zara has a natural talent for medicines and herbology. It is also because of him that the heroine was able to stay healthy all this time despite being a Lobeira (a person with a very weak body).
What can I say? I really liked Zara’s route but it was *kind of* too vanilla for this game. I guess this is a good thing because almost all the routes so far have been very edgy, so going down Zara’s story was such a relief! All throughout his route, and even on other’s, Zara was able to remain level headed, witty and very refined that I actually trust he wouldn’t do anything bad towards the heroine.
His backstory, though it wasn’t explored much was still very satisfying to read. You’ll basically understand where his motivations are coming from and why he decided to remain loyal and faithful serving Fiona and the Galland family. His relationship with the heroine was clearly established by the writers as the usual childhood-friend trope and although I am usually not a fan of these tropes, Zara’s was done unexpectedly good. It was also nice to see Fiona, discovering her own true feelings for him instead of just thinking of Zara as her butler. I had so much fun playing his story that I believe this was the only route where I didn’t get to twitch my eyebrows due to any odd or weird occurrences the game throws at you 😂 (laughs). Oh and I love both his good and bad endings. Zara’s story is one example of vanilla routes done right in an otome game. Kudos!
- oniisan route
- implied yand?
Nesso is the heroine’s older half-brother. That being said, he was born of the Earl’s first late wife. Nesso is also Weblin’s strongest Royal Knight and captain of the Gefreiter, an elite band of soldiers known for their incredible strengths and achievements in the kingdom of Weblin. Because of this, Nesso is always away on missions and spends less time visiting his half-sister Fiona in her tower in Sharlmessen.
Nesso has absolutely no qualms of declaring his love for Fiona and would even talk about wanting to marry his half-sister one day, (this may be a bit ‘eye-rolling’ but this is apparently acceptable in the Black Wolves Saga lore). He’s also very overprotective and is greatly in favor of keeping Fiona in the tower for her own safety as well as to keep her away from Mejojo, whom he knew was obsessed with his little sister.
I liked Nesso as a character in general. His route, however, just didn’t work for me. Even though it was perfectly explained how this ain’t a taboo in BWS… I just can’t with incestual routes, nope! It was a shame because I do believe Nesso was a great character in the game but as a love interest? Hell naw. Some “romantic” events in his route only made me uncomfortable that I just couldn’t wait to finish it. Ha!
Setting the incest aside (lol), I believe what actually made me enjoy playing Nesso’s story was his voice actor, Shinichirou Miki (voice of Hijikata in Hakuoki). I’ve been a big fan of this seiyuu since the first Hakuoki franchise so I guess I’m just being biased here when I say I “enjoyed” the route even though it literally made me feel awkward. Har har! Oh well! ┐(︶▽︶)┌
FIONA GALLAND (Main Heroine)
Born as a Lobeira (a person with a very weak body), Our heroine has been living in an enclosed tower of Sharlmessen for as long as she can remember. This was decided by her father, Edgar Galland and her half brother Nesso to keep Fiona away from harm and to preserve her weak body from contracting any disease that may end her life. Because of this, Fiona is completely oblivious to the madness and bloodshed that’s happening outside her home and all over the kingdom of Weblin.
I couldn’t really get myself to hate or dislike Fiona for her naivety and innocence because the game purposely implied her to be like that from the get-go knowing she grew up literally sheltered and ignorant to the darker side of life. I’ve expected her to be just another one of those standard otome heroines, but after finishing the entire Bloody Nightmare story, I strongly believe she isn’t. Quite the contrary, I feel that her character was well though-out. We sometimes judge heroines for their weakness and for making really dumb stupid decisions, but in Fiona’s case, it’s entirely different.
Her fate was already decided for her when she was born. People say, she could’ve been physically stronger but as a Lobeira, what choice could she possibly have? I also think her lack of common sense isn’t to blame for some of her mistakes (esp. on the twin’s route). Her sheltered upbringing played a big role with her being extremely naive and completely inexperienced and I think the writers were even relentless when showing this in the plot. Imagine growing up only knowing the good things in life (not to mention being confined in a secluded place due to health reasons), stepping into the real world for the first time literally means being thrown into the wolves… or crazy cats for that matter! (Pun unintended haha)
TRAILER / OPENING MOVIE
OVERALL THOUGHTS? (ﾉ´ヮ`)ﾉ*: ･ﾟ
It took me such a long time to finish this game. Frankly speaking, this is entirely my fault after taking a break from otome gaming for months. However, gameplay-wise, I believe it’ll take you 30 hours to finish Black Wolves Saga Bloody Nightmare and another 20-30 hours to finish Last Hope. There were eight routes altogether and while I wouldn’t say it was a chore to finish, its linear storyline made it really mundane and repetitive after the third and fourth playthroughs.
Story-wise, I thought it was very good. The fantasy plot of Black Wolves Saga goes very deep in its roots regarding Weblin’s dark political history. However, since Bloody Nightmare’s all about the cat faction, I feel like the endings of other characters who aren’t, well… cats, were quite detached from the storyline. For example, in Zara and Nesso’s ending, it was never mentioned how Weblin’s ongoing war between factions was concluded. Did Auger and Mejojo completely eradicated the wolves existence? Where there any wolf survivors? Did Mejojo just let her bride which he was overly obsessed with for years, escape just like that?
Perhaps the writers intended for us to theorize our own closures and while I don’t mind this at all, I’d much prefer canon conclusions than letting my imagination run wild (cackles).
The routes/characters I liked in Bloody Nightmare were Rath, Arles, Zara and a special mention to my scum husbando, Mejojo lol. Rath and Arles’s route were cut short towards the end but I still enjoyed them nonetheless as main characters. Zara’s story was adorable and although his good ending was completely detached from the main plot-line, he still wins best boi in the romance category. Mejojo was a trash love interest but his story was extremely fun and interesting to explore.
Do I recommend this game? YES
I have to warn you though, this visual novel is not for the faint of heart. If you’re looking for a nice fluffy, romantic otome story about cat bois and wolf husbandos look elsewhere as Black Wolves Saga ~ Bloody Nightmare is not that kind of otome game. I don’t even think it fits perfectly well as an “otome” title because the plot still works as it is, even if you take the romance out. That said, this game gives you that fascinating “ick” feeling when playing it. BWS is edgy and off the chain but I can assure you that the experience is definitely worth it especially if you’re into dark romantic thrillers in fiction.
If you’re curious enough to even consider picking this game up, I dare you to do it and experience the wild ride first hand. *wink*