Release Date: October 8, 2020 (North America)
Publishers: Aksys Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: +17 M (Mature)
Be warned: Piofiore: Fated Memories has a very strong theme of violence, bloodshed and abuse. If you are NOT comfortable with these particular aspects in fiction, this game is probably not for you.
The story is set in the year 1925 and takes place in the fictional town of Burlone, Italy. A place that’s known throughout the world as the “backdoor to Europe” and a town prominently controlled by three mafia organizations.
We have the Falzone family, which controls the largest district known as ‘Falce’, an area that spans across 60% of Burlone. It is a known fact that the Falzone held their bloodline sacred. Their leaders are succeeded by direct descendants and inductions into their family are limited to Italian heritage only. Commoners are kept out at all costs. Only those with the Falzone blood are assigned to their upper ranks.
In the southeast district of Burlone, known as ‘Creta’ resides the Visconti family, who’s originally founded by a group within the Falzone family who rallied against the bloodline rules and soon formed their own organization. Unlike the Falzone’s, they recruit members not through one’s heritage but according to one’s skills. They are known to have vast connections with other countries, such as America.
The third mafia organization, known as the Lao-Shu, is a branch of the Chinese Mafia who’s originally from the criminal organization called the “Liu Huang Hui”, an underground society of the Republic of China. The Lao-Shu family has a reputation for resorting to violence. They rule the district of Veleno, an area considered as one of the most dangerous places in Burlone, where the crime rate is unusually high in comparison to others.
The story begins when our heroine, Liliana Adornato, a church orphan who resides in Arca (one of the neutral places in Burlone) was taken by one of the mafia organizations. She’s then suddenly pulled into the criminal world she has no bearings of, through a series of unexpected incidents. Exactly why is she being targeted?
ART AND MUSIC
One of my favorite guilty pleasures when playing a visual novel is gawking at a game’s beautiful artwork and by no means, Piofiore: Fated Memories cops you out of these indulgences. Every CG of this game is just breathtaking!
Piofiore’s character design and overall artwork were done by Japanese artist/illustrator RiRi. Some of the projects she’s worked on previously were also popular Otome visual novels, such as Yunohana SpRING!, Library Cross, Binary Star, and Desert Kingdom.
Another absolute delight was the game’s soundtrack. I loved all of the game’s OST especially their OP song, “Nocturnal” performed by Mao and Kaori Oda.
Fun Fact: Both artists, sang “Nocturnal” live during 2019’s Otomate Party after a Piofiore skit.
The game’s soundtrack was arranged and composed by Shunsuke Wada who’s music is widely known in Japan’s 2.5D Musical scene. While I enjoyed all of Piofiore’s BGMs, my favorite was probably Yang’s theme. That melodic sound of the erhu and pipa in this track really suits his maniacal character to a T!
Ryohei Kimura “Nicola Francesca” – Kageyuki Shiraishi (Collar x Malice), Kuo (Diabolik Lovers) Arthur (IkeVamp), Gil Lovecraft (Cupid Parasite), Kasumi (Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku)
Kaito Ishikawa “Dante Falzone” – Alan Crawford (Midnight Cinderella), Dimitri (Fire Emblem Three Houses), Il Fado de Rie (Cafe Enchante), Hikage (Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly)
Toshiyuki Toyonaga “Orlok” – Seiji Kobayashi (London Detective Mysteria), Takeru Totsuka (Kamigami no Asobi), Natsume (EPHEMERAL)
Nobuhiko Okamoto “Yang” – Hansel (Code Realize), Manabu Souda (Collar x Malice), Zack (Angels of Death), Hiroya (Period Cube), Pearl (Black Wolves Saga), Iris (Iris School of Wizardry – Vinculum Hearts)
Showtaro Morikubo “Gilbert Redford” – Impey Barbicane (Code Realize), Souji Okita (Hakuoki), Toa (7’Scarlet), Jocus (Period Cube), Reiji (Utapri)
Shinnosuke Tachibana “Direttore” – Louis Howard (Midnight Cinderella), White Mask (Bad Apple Wars), Kousei (Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku), Rollan Crydelle (Jakou no Lyla)
You can only play either Dante or Nicola in your first playthrough. Yang and Orlok’s route will only be available after completing your first route. You cannot play Gilbert’s route unless you finish the previous four. Once all the five main routes are completed, the Finale Route unlocks. For best story experience, my recommended play order is: Nicola ► Yang ► Dante ► Orlok ► Gilbert ► Finale.
- the flirt
- loyal to death
Nicola is the underboss of the Falzone family. He’s also Dante’s cousin and was taken in by Dante’s father since he was a kid. He treats Dante as his younger brother and remains very loyal to him and the Falzone family. Upfront, he’s a smooth-talker and is very popular with women but in actuality, he hides his true feelings, so it can be pretty difficult to get a read on him.
Nicola’s route was a good introductory narrative on how the mafia operates in Burlone. Plot-wise, it’s no doubt the story with the least spoilers in the entire game, so I think it’s ideal to play his route first. I, for the most part, seemingly enjoyed Nicola as a character. He’s very clever, cunning and he always makes sure his plans succeed at all costs. He may be a little selfish sometimes, but his dedication is quite respectable. I had fun with this route despite it being somewhat forgettable (to me anyway).
There were a lot of melodramatic scenes between him and Lili in this route, and you will either be pleased with it or not.🤷🏻♀️ I personally liked it, but I’m not too crazy about it either. I did appreciate how natural their feelings for each other unfolded (o˘◡˘o). I thought their relationship was nicely developed. However, I have this nagging feeling at the back of my head that Nicola will always choose Dante over Lili. 😅 Idk, he’s just that kind of guy. (laughs) I’m not complaining since I like seeing his love for Dante 🌈 shine anyway. 😆Ha! I also wanted to bring up how his story randomly went haywire at the end with an arbitrary villain. Like, where did that come from?😲
- sex, sex!
Yang is the boss of the Lao-Shu family. He was originally a member of the Lui Huang Hui group and was sent to Italy to lead the Chinese mafia in Burlone. Because of him, the Lao-Shu became a known presence in Burlone. Yang’s background is shrouded in mystery, and unlike the other mafia bosses, he rarely shows himself in public. He is violent and always sports a “couldn’t be bothered” attitude. He’s also a very skilled warrior and lives by his own rules.
This route was perhaps my fav. in Piofiore. 😬 Yes, I love me some hot garbage ikemen who wears a freakin’ changshan! Yang is not your typical uwu otome love interest, and he will easily break your trusty red flag meter as you go through the first few chapters of his route. 😂 In short, his route is not for everyone. But heck! I did not expect to find him such a fascinating character. If unpredictability is your type, try this one on for size! It was absolutely impossible to read him, and because of that, it was really fun trying to get a reaction out of him on every choice/decision Lili makes. I was literally feeling the heebie-jeebies while playing his route 😅 (but in a good way). *cackles*
I also thought Yang was the smartest out of all the mafia bosses. He’s always in the know, can easily read situations and predict certain affairs brewing around the corner. Another interesting factor about him was that he never changed. All throughout his route, he remained his own cruel, unpredictable self even after realizing he’s madly in love with Lili. Call me crazy but I really enjoyed the romance in this route to the fullest! I believe his romantic relationship with the heroine was the most realistic out all the guys in comparison. I mean, we’re talking about falling in love with a vile, ruthless mobster after all, and the scummiest scum at that.😂 I also thought his feelings for Lili were utterly genuine and he showed it in his own way, as how his character would.
If you’re uncomfortable reading triggering factors such as drug abuse and human trafficking (they really go hard especially on the drug abuse part), maybe avoid this route for your own sake? Otherwise, you’re probably going to be A-ok!👌 Yang’s route is also the smuttiest if I may add! lol 🥵💦
- soft, kuudere
- true route-ish but not really… ┐(￣ヮ￣)┌
Dante is the “Capo” (boss) of the Falzone family. He was appointed as boss at a young age, immediately after his father passed away. Although he appears cold and intimidating at first, everyone in the Falzone family knows how deeply he cares for all his subordinates, hence the reason why they follow and respect him as their leader.
I made a mistake of going through Dante’s route on my first playthrough. I never expected his route to have all these info-dumps regarding the overarching story of Piofiore, – that was wild! 😅 As for Dante’s character, I really adored him to bits! (*/ω＼) It also doesn’t help that I am such a sucker for kuudere characters so the attraction I felt for him, came almost instant. 😙 For a man of his caliber, you’d never expect him to be this shy type, sweet-tooth, loving husbando who gets flustered all the time when Lili gets a little assertive towards him. ❤️
I like that Dante’s route pretty much deviated from the mafia plot and went straight to Piofiore’s actual story. I won’t be expounding more on this due to spoilers but know that there’s a lot to take in from Dante’s story, and this route was surprisingly paced and written quite adequately. His romantic scenes with the heroine were also such a breeze. I appreciate how their love for each other naturally blossomed. I’m pretty sure his route will be a fan favorite to many.
Orlok is an informant who deals with various organizations. Very little is known about him as he pretty much just comes and goes most of the time in the main story as well as with other routes. He doesn’t talk much, though he appears to have this sense of urgency of wanting to protect Lili at all costs. Orlok is also a very skilled fighter (hands down, the strongest and the deadliest out of everyone).
Orlok’s character was quite mysterious and you won’t exactly know who he is nor what he does until you step into his route. He is socially clueless to almost every simple pleasures in life. For example, he doesn’t crave any type of food and would personally choose to ONLY eat when necessary (even if it’s just a piece of bread in a day). It broke my heart to see him so happy when Lili decided to prepare food for him. 🥺🥺🥺 Please get this poor bean an all-you-can-eat voucher to pastry heaven!😭
The events in his route were truly unforgiving. I had to actually take a breather and pause the game for a hot minute because there was so much angst thrown around, not that I didn’t enjoy it of course! 😅 Orlok’s story also had a lot to do with Piofiore’s main plot but unlike Dante’s, his was pinned with more tragedy than fluff. As far as the romance goes, I enjoyed his sweet innocent exchanges with Lili. This felt more of a “young love” type deal than the mature ones we get from the other LI’s. I guess my only gripe was that he didn’t get a kissing CG until his bad end and that particular ending was rather… grim (and not for the faint of heart).😢
- Mr. Congeniality award
Gilbert is the Italian-American boss of the Visconti family. He spent a couple of years in his childhood living in Chicago before he moved to Italy with his mother. He’s a very skillful leader who’s impressively savvy when it comes to business. His charisma is second to none and he’s exceedingly friendly to everyone. Because of this, his subordinates and the townfolks in Creta remain loyal to him.
My search for a vanilla route in this game has finally ended! Everyone, meet Gilbert Vanilla Smackmybottom Redford! For a fourth locked route, his story sure is light-hearted. I meant this in a good way. If Orlok’s bloodbath events turned my weaves dead and gray, Gilbert brought them back to life and gave me a perm! His route was truly refreshing. It sorta reminded me of reading those good ol’ John Grisham 😙 books. I admit, considering the amount of suspense the previous four routes throws at you, Gilbert’s story was a little lukewarm for my taste but it was a nice change of pace and was still enjoyable, regardless.
Out of all the guys, Gilbert was probably the most gallant. I love that he pays a lot of attention to Lili, takes his time explaining situations to her, and even considers her as an equal when making certain decisions. He’s the perfect gentleman and I’m sure Morikubo (his VA) fans will be pleased.( ´ ∀ `)ノ～ ♡
So after finishing the five main routes of the game, a secret story unlocks! It follows Gilbert’s route until the fourth chapter, then jumps to a completely different story, The Finale.
If you’ve already finished at least three routes in Piofiore, you’ve probably noticed a mysterious guy that randomly makes appearances in the prologue. His name is Henri, and he’s either going to end up as Lili’s love interest or as the character that moves the plot forward towards Piofiore’s true ending. I personally think the “finale end” was more ‘canon‘ compared to Henri’s romantic ending. Though I could understand that some may think it’s the other way around. Technically, it’s your pick and I’m actually glad we are given these options to choose from.
I honestly have mixed feelings regarding Henri’s route. His grounds for carrying out his revenge (which was solely based off on hearsay and conspiracy theories) did not sit with me well. Like, how are you so smart to have risen through the ranks in the govt. and can’t do proper research?🙃 I didn’t think his romantic relationship with Liliana was convincing either. Idk man, it felt a lil’ forced if anything. I enjoyed the extra scenes with Leo and Yang’s murder twins in this route though, so I guess it wasn’t so bad after all?🤷♀️
LILIANA ADORNATO (Main Heroine)
I absolutely adore Lili in this game. Considering the time period (early 20th century) and her upbringing as a church orphan, I thought she was a well-thought-out protagonist. She’s fairly smart, very compassionate, and is adept at critical thinking when a dangerous situation arises. I admire her strong resolve in Dante, Orlok, and Gilbert’s route. But I believe it was in Yang’s route that brought her into the spotlight for me.
In this route, she was pitted in a situation where one wrong move can instantly get her killed. I thought her decisions were very realistic, not to mention logical. She did what she had to do to survive and I really appreciate the writers for writing a heroine with such believable characteristics. I guess it was only in Nicola’s route where she wasn’t so proactive all the time (?) considering how cryptic Nicola can be during his events. lol
Lili is also a great cook and one helluva pastry chef. There isn’t a single route where all her ikemens won’t swoon over her homemade Italian goodies. As the saying goes “A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” and Lili pretty much got this in the bag that even the side characters like Leo and the twins, Lan and Fei would clearly do anything for her desserts!😋
Lastly, can I just say how much I love Lili’s outfit and hairstyle changes in almost all of her CGs! They were all so beautiful that I couldn’t take my eyes off her and her aesthetics. (ﾉ´ヮ`)ﾉ*: ･ﾟ
SYSTEM AND LOCALIZATION
The localization was a great improvement from Aksys’s previous entry (CxM Unlimited). I read pretty fast so I only noticed a few typos each route and maybe two or three faulty line-breaks in the entire game. I don’t think there was anything prominent that will completely take you out of the experience.
The game’s user interface was so pretty! Piofiore’s system appears similar to any other Otomate games as far as the overall game compendium. I appreciate the classical design that was used for the game’s UI which gave me that 1920’s European vibe.
My favorite category in the “Extra” section was the Dictionary since almost all the entries were names of Italian pastries and I had a lot of fun googling these confections only to discover how gorgeous and delicious they look! This game seriously gave me the munchies! Now, I’m on a hunt for the best sfogliatella in my city! ahah!
I spent a total of 60 hours completing the entirety of Piofiore: Fated Memories. Though considering the number of thrills and suspense the game offers, it seriously felt like time just skated by. There are three lengthy endings you can unlock in Piofiore:
Best End – is perhaps considered the game’s canonical ending where the heroine happily ends up with her love interest.
Good End – are normal endings with less romantic events.
Bad End – they mostly end up pretty gruesome and were surprisingly longer than I expected.
I love that there is no linear storyline in Piofiore, and all of the routes were very different from each other. They all focused and explored their own specific theme while keeping the main characters’ personalities consistent. I find it very amusing how your judgment of certain characters sporadically changes depending on which route or faction you’re in. For instance, Roberto de Feo was such a trip in Nicola’s route 😆 but I’ve actually learned to like him in Gilbert’s route. Another example was Lan and Fei, where I just couldn’t stand how vile they were until I started Yang’s route and found them too adorable for words!💕 Tbh, this goes the same for everyone in Piofiore including the main casts. The game obviously, lets us relentlessly explore different standpoints in every story.
Another aspect I enjoyed in Piofiore was that some of the events they brought up were so well-grounded in its time period. It was interesting to read a couple of real-world references that were hinted at in the game. It goes to show that the devs did thorough research on these topics and I really appreciate that. A few examples were; the Prohibition period in the United States (Gilbert & Finale end) which paved way for bootlegging in America facilitated by American mobsters. Was Gilbert referring to Al Capone when he was trying to import alcohol to Chicago?lol😁 The lawless state of KWC or Jiulong cheng zhai (九龙城寨) was also brought up a few times to a point of describing the poverty-stricken environment of the place, which was similarly true to KWC’s gruesome reality in the 1920s. There were also hints regarding WWII and how it’s looming around the corner.
But enough about the history lesson. Let’s talk about the guys in Piofiore instead. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed all of the routes and their stories but the one that stood out to me was Yang because he’s tier-trash, knows it, and struts it around like a supermodel! His route was like walking on eggshells and his personality was just so unique in a way that my love and hate for him bounced around all throughout the game.😂 My least favorite LI was Henri since I really don’t find his relationship with Lili very convincing.
While the story-build up on every route in Piofiore was immensely thrilling, I was a little disappointed with how it ended conveniently with a character that wasn’t too involved in the story until the last two routes. I guess the finale just wasn’t that mind-blowing nor even close to one and that to me was a letdown. Still and all, it was a pretty decent ending that I’m sure most fans would come to love and enjoy.
Do I recommend this game? YES
If you’re looking for a plot-heavy otome game that equally offers shocking suspense and irresistible romantic events all at the same time, you will love Piofiore: Fated Memories.
While the overall story did not come in full circle for me, it wasn’t anything unforgivable. Think of it as the missing cherry on top of a very scrumptious zuccotto (haha – lame pun intended). This game was super entertaining that I would readily recommend this to anyone who loves a well-grounded mafia story accompanied with very fluffy romance. There is a lot to love about Piofiore: Fated Memories, such as its gorgeous art, a beautiful and well-written setting, and a large cast of characters suited for everyone’s taste and preferences. If you don’t mind an otome game that borders a slight bit on the mature side, I’d say grab this game now and play it!😘