Release Date: February 25, 2021 (North America)
Publishers: HuneX, Dramatic Create, MangaGamer
Platforms: PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
STORY (From MangaGamer’s Official Website for Steam Prison)
There are two kinds of people: the rulers and the ruled.
The Heights are a gorgeous utopia. The Depths, a filthy industrial wasteland. Our heroine, raised in the Heights, has nothing but contempt for those below. Now an observation mission requires her to descend into that world, and the gears of fate have begun to turn.
ART AND MUSIC
It actually took me by surprise when I found out that the artist of Steam Prison was the same artist who worked on the light novel and anime, Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens. Hako Ichiiro was also the talented artist/mangaka behind the angst-driven light novel, Rental Oniichan (Brother for Rent). You can view this artist’s pixiv page here.
Now, what makes the Nintendo Switch version of Steam Prison so special is the added new soundtrack of the game. This switch port gets a new opening theme, as well as new tracks for each character’s “Happy Endings” (ED theme) performed by the voice actors themselves. While I do like the original Opening song of Steam Prison, back when MangaGamer published the game in 2018, there’s just something ultra special when the seiyuus perform a game’s opening track! You can listen to both OP tracks below.
I personally adored the new opening theme “Brilliance“. Wow, this song’s literally stuck in my head and i’m not complaining! And the added ending themes sang by the character’s VAs were sooo good! Shirai Yusuke singing?! YES PLS!!!
Shirai Yusuke “Eltcreed Valentine” – Watson (London Detective Mysteria), Amemura Ramuda (Hypmic), Ars (Period Cube), Usui Masumi (A3!), Scarecrow (Bustafellows), Miki Hiraizumi (Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome)
Tomohito Takatsuka “Ulrik Ferrie” – Minori Watanabe (iDOLM@STER Side M), Sousei Arakida (Stand My Heroes), Taira Akira (Loopers)
Makoto Furukawa “Adage” – Lugus (Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk), Allan (Cupid Parasite), Minamoto no Yoritomo (Bilshana Senki), Kazuma Kamikubo (Lover Pretend), Reo (Princess Closet)
Tetsu Kimishima “Ines Heinrich Heine” – Tomoki Fukushi (Dynamic Chord), Hyuga Shouta (SA7), Yamazaki (Mob Psycho 100)
Yasuyuki Takase “Yune Sekiei” – Kurama Shindou (Gaist Crusher), Yoshida (Re-Kan!),
Tarusuke Shingaki “Fin Euclase” – Caramia (Ozmafia!!), Kennyo (Ikemen Sengoku), Date Kaname (AI: Somnium Files), Mirio Togata (My Hero Academia), Nathaniel Hawthorne (Bungou Straydogs)
If you want to slowly unravel Steam Prison’s story starting from a route with the least spoilers to the ones with the most, I suggest playing in this order: Eltcreed → Ulrik → Adage → Ines → Yune → Fin → Grand Ending. Typically, the bodyguard routes (Eltcreed & Ulrik) are the ideal starter routes for this game, followed by the Warder routes (Adage, Ines, and Fin) which are stories that’ll more or less give you tidbits of information regarding the events that happened during the common route. The servant route (Yune’s story) explains in great detail the divide between the Depths and the Heights and offers more backstories about Steam Prison’s general plot & setting.
If world-building is important to you, make sure to play these routes back to back (right after each other): Eltcreed & Ulrik / Adage & Ines. I’m suggesting this as their stories build up one another, which I think makes the narrative experience more worthwhile.
- naughty pasta man
- fanboy of “The Heights”
The head of the Valentine Bank, and current leader of the Liberalitas District of the Depths. He’s a flirty gentleman who loves to joke around lots of times. Despite only ruling his district for two years, he’s very well-versed in politics and strives hard to lead Liberalitas peacefully without igniting any conflict with the other districts. His charisma is like no other, and almost all of his people respect and trusts him as their leader.
I was really smitten with how the game introduced Eltcreed’s character. You can never go wrong with a man who can walk the talk! I find his oozing confidence extremely sexy, and you can’t change my mind!😤 That aside, I do believe Eltcreed has layers and walls around him. At first glance, you can probably misconstrue his flirtiness as borderline creepy, but this is only at the surface, and I love that his character gets a lot of depth that you won’t exactly know and understand who he truly is until you go through all of his endings. I personally loved his “Long Future” ending, especially the part where we get to see that heart-rending backstory about his father. That scene was a tear-jerker! 😭
On the flip side, I find his romance with the heroine a little disappointing. Honestly, I thought Elt was such a great LI, but Cyrus being so devoid of any emotional comeback or amorous response soured their compatibility.🙃 It was such a wasted opportunity to balance out their relationship, and at the same time, see growth in the heroine acquiring basic human emotions such as love, lust, and the intense longing of being loved in return. I wanted Cyrus to explore more on those *feelings*. But oh well!🤷🏻♀️ While I still enjoyed their glorious banters (esp. with Ulrik), I just don’t think Elt is the perfect match for Cyrus.😔 He is the perfect match for me though! Nyahahaha!
Move over Ms. Tistella, Chlo Valentine coming through!! 🤣🤣🤣 (cackles in pain).
- baby tsun
- with a sweet tooth
An elusive information broker who seems to have gained Eltcreed’s brotherly trust. Although he calls Elt his employer, it appears that they share this natural love-hate bond and togetherness which makes them seem like family. Since it’s his job to get all kinds of information circulating the Depths and the Sanctuary district, he is very much in the know with everything. He is rudely argumentative, not to mention, sarcastic and for some reason, hates everyone from the Heights with a passion.
Ulrik’s route introduced a couple of details (and revelations) regarding the big divide between the Heights and the Depths. I was impressed that this route had more lore to offer, and I thought the backstory regarding his ancestors cleared certain aspects in the common route (e.i. why the Depths are more advanced in technology than the Heights). My beef with this route however, was it’s so oddly paced that it failed to highlight Ulrik as a character he deserved to be. The game relentlessly introduced him as this excellent informant/spymaster who’s overtly cautious towards others due to his past. For once, I was glad we get some flashbacks explaining why he isn’t too trusting on others, but as far as being masterful of his craft (spy work), not so much.The fact that he inadvertently trusted a random villain (because he thought Vice was dumb enough not to try anything) is just way out of character for someone who’s supposed to be street smart.🤷🏻♀️ Don’t get me wrong, I thought he was brilliant in other routes, just not in his own.
Now, the lovie-dovie part was a breath of fresh air. I thought he and Cyrus got some good chemistry going! Nothing in their relationship felt awkward as both of them are about as inexperienced as the other when it comes to romance. I thought their exchange in the underground library was super cute! I love watching their relationship blossom, and it was such a delight to see this baby tsun’s inner musings when reflecting his feelings for Cyrus. (ﾉ´ з `)ノ I do want to point out that I’ve also enjoyed Eltcreed and Ulrik’s bromance in here.😂 Is it weird to want more content about these two without the heroine being involved??? 😅
- frustrated chef
- loves to wash the dishes
A doctor living in the outskirts of the sanctuary district that’s outside the HOUNDS-controlled territory. Although he sports a very blunt personality, his medical knowledge and expertise are exemplary, and a lot of people in the sanctuary district highly depend on him for treatment. He was exiled to the Depths due to a crime he committed in the Heights.
My first impression of Adage was “Who are you, and why didn’t you appear in the common route?!” 🤯 I honestly almost forgot that this LI existed till I went for his route. I thought it was a weird choice not to introduce one of the non-locked characters in the earlier parts of the story, though I did see a bit of him in Eltcreed’s route, so I guess I wasn’t too let down with this aspect. Anyway, on to Adage’s route… Oh boy! Where do I start? First, I will admit that I wholeheartedly enjoyed the slice-of-life feel at the start of his story. Adage was unexpectedly such a funny character. His blunt, matter-of-fact way of conversing and his insistence on cleaning the house because he’s a neat-freak dork made me cackle a bunch of times.😂 His exchanges with Cyrus were also quite amusing to an extent, and it was nice to finally see the heroine trying to explore her feelings and emotions towards the opposite sex. Their pretend marriage scene made me grin from ear to ear. 🤭
On another note, I was not expecting the sudden tonal shift from the fluffy slice-of-life introduction to a much darker finish, in this route. Finding out about Adage’s past was truly crushing and probably the saddest story I’ve encountered in this game. One thing I’d like to give props to the writers was that Adage’s story somewhat intertwines with Cyrus’s. However, I thought they could’ve executed the *big reveal* better by adding more refined reactions and nuances from the characters themselves, most especially from the heroine, Cyrus. 😕 Her not having that strong, intense reaction (when she finally found out who killed her parents) ruined the impact for me. 🤷🏻♀️
INES HEINRICH HEINE
- omelette man
- princely farm-boy
The second commander of the HOUNDS. Unlike their ruthless first commander, Sachsen Brandenburg, Ines is more level-headed, reasonable, and serious. This somewhat gentle attitude makes him stick out like a sore thumb among the merciless majority of the HOUNDS. For some reason, he has connections with Adage.
I gotta hand it to Mister Ines Heinrich Heine here!😍 Despite his uber long name that made me think of ketchup, I believe Ines’s route was very well put together as far as balancing the plot and romance while tying them up neatly to each other. I like that this route had solid pacing when it comes to the overarching narratives involving the Height’s, it’s crooked system, and the HOUNDS. It even gives us a touching backstory about Sachsen Brandenburg!😭 I guess my only gripe about Ines’s story was that Cyrus never had an opportunity to thoroughly investigate her parent’s death (when she got back to the Heights), and the murder case was immediately resolved because she lucked out with her circumstance. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I thought the conclusion that lead to this route’s ‘happy ending‘ was good, albeit rushed.
Romantic-wise, can I just say that (to me), this was probably one of the most satisfying romance-path I’ve got from Steam Prison as far as the heroine’s perspective? I’m reaaaaally happy about Cyrus in this route because for once, she did not act like a clueless robot, and she actually took initiative with her feelings towards Ines here. She was even the first one to develop a huge crush on Ines, and more importantly, it felt very natural! My homegirl is finally thirsting, and it had me screaming for joy!!!😭 I also liked that their love story played with my fav. guilty pleasures in otomes; the ‘fated lovers‘ and the ‘forgotten first meeting’ tropes. 😋 Welp, it was a lil bit corny, but I shamelessly bought everything! Sue me! (cackling). I think it’s also noteworthy to point out that Ines and Cyrus both have the same unwavering sense of justice, and I like that the two seemed to click together in that aspect.
- dateable pope
- tony stark??? 🤯
A mysterious young-looking lad who’s considered a ‘saint’, and is revered by everyone in the Heights. It is a known fact that Saint Yune is so loved by the world that he can never get hurt under any circumstances.
Yune was such an odd character, to begin with. At first, I really wanted to call him ‘Saint Germain lite’ due to the fact that he’s a saint, has silver-white hair, and is immortal! My yand bells were ringing left and right!😂 Surprisingly, Yune’s story took a turn I wasn’t fully expecting. Before playing his route, admittedly, I had mixed feelings about him, and how he was portrayed in the other bachelors’ stories. I liked him in the bodyguard routes 😢 (esp. during Elt’s backstory about his father), but I wasn’t a big fan of him in the Warder routes because he was partly to blame for the Heights injustice and hostility, and how their faulty system got out of hand. I thought it was interesting to finally hear his side of the story, going down his path.
I like the romance aspect here too, except for the part where the heroine’s actual rival is the tesseract!😂(cackling). But in all seriousness, I’ve enjoyed Yune as a love interest quite a lot! His easy-going personality won me over despite having such a heavy theme in his story. His bonding with Cyrus was pretty cute, and their trip to the Depths was probably one of my favorite scenes. That aside, I do feel that Yune’s story was the most angsty in the game. His Best/True ending, oddly enough, left me unsatisfied because they never cleared Cyrus’s name in the Heights, and the people who revered Yune as a saint, going 180 on him in a flash was no doubt, painful to watch 💔. The part where they never get to resolve this either was a total downer. The two pair of bittersweet endings, ‘Lingering Scent’, and ‘Let’s Meet Again’, were probably my preferred endings for Cyrus and Yune’s love story considering how hauntingly beautiful they were. They’ll surely hit you with the right feels!
- a simp for Cyrus and salisbury steak
A rank-one police officer, and Cyrus’s colleague and partner at work. Fin comes from a merchant family but for some reason didn’t followed his father’s footstep, and became a police officer instead. He’s timid, but also kind and gentle.
!WARNING SPOILERS! The reason I left Fin’s route for last (before unlocking the Finale) was to experience Fin’s ultimate character build-up. I think playing his route right away at the beginning won’t leave you as much impact as playing it last. Fin’s character was perhaps the most interesting in the game because we actually get to see (in detail) all the different perspectives he’s in, from becoming a HOUNDS to posing as a criminal to save Cyrus from being sent to the Depth’s. Taking all the events that happened in the previous routes into account, where we see him either breaking (Elt & Ulrik routes), or going completely cold and heartless (Adage, Ines & Yune routes) somehow makes it easier to understand his character better. Obviously, his true goal was to dedicate his life to Cyrus, and even though we see varieties of endings that didn’t really go his way, it still revolves around the initial desire of wanting to do his *best* for the heroine’s sake.
Fin x Cyrus pairing is another ship I’m all aboard for! I’m actually proud of how Cyrus handled herself in this route. She finally had some restraints to not charge headfirst when it comes to situations she’s obviously at a disadvantage of. She listened to Fin’s advice of laying low on Sachsen’s radar, and more importantly, she was fully accepting of Fin’s feelings and even returned them to an extent (both physically and, emotionally if you know what I mean). Atta girl!!! 😘 It was so refreshing to see her actively pursuing an LI for a change, and because she and Fin already have a history together (being colleagues in the Heights) makes their relationship feel more embellished and fleshed out.
CYRUS TISTELLA (Main Heroine)
- wants pants
- “Do babies come from the Temple?”
Cyrus is a noble-born citizen in the Heights. She decided to become a police officer instead of pursuing a career in politics like her father. She possesses an unwavering strong sense of justice which more times than not leads her into conflict, involving those around her.
One of my main gripes with this game was how the heroine was written. Sometimes, I find it hard to be able to root for a protagonist who barely has any believable characteristics in them. While I love how headstrong Cyrus is, her lack of basic human emotions was baffling so to speak. I still can’t grasp what the writers were aiming for when they wrote Cyrus. “Do babies come from the Elevator?” I get the emphasis that she grew up sheltered but come on! They didn’t have to go this far! Her robotic self, and imperceptible empathy, or lack thereof, made it really tough to get through some routes. It became honestly off-putting. Also, the fact that she tragically lost her parents and barely had any intense hang-ups nor reflection before and after she found out who killed them felt very off.
I’m usually a huge fan of lady knight characters like Beatrix and Freya, for example, in FFIX, so I was initially excited when I heard Steam Prison’s heroine was similar. I guess I was not expecting for Cyrus to be so underdeveloped that she pretty much lacked depth in almost all of the routes, especially in the romance department. I love all my heroines tbh, but bad writing is bad writing. 🤷🏻♀️
Needless to say, I do feel that Cyrus still had some likable traits worth noting. Her strong sense of justice was very admirable, and I believe there were some instances (like in Ines and Fin’s route) where she was able to use her noggin instead of sprinting into action headfirst. I thought she was her best in Fin’s route because she got to pick her battles wisely and had some self-restraint for once. It also felt very refreshing whenever she returns an LI’s feelings which she completely did in Fin’s route. Also, despite me complaining how robotic Cyrus is, I actually still find her entertaining! I think its adorable whenever she automatically challenges someone into a duel as if a duel will resolve every possible problems on earth, it’s honestly amusing, and this makes her very Cyrus!😆 All in all, not my fav protagonist but homegirl here definitely had some redeemable qualities that still makes her enjoyable to play.
SYSTEM AND LOCALIZATION
Tipping my hat to the localization team of Steam Prison for doing a great job translating the game. There were still some typos, but they were very few and far in between, making them very hard to notice.
One of the biggest surprises, and probably my favorite part of the game, was the added EXTRA content in the Nintendo Switch port. There were soooo many side stories I could honestly drown in them! 🤩 My favorites were the extra stories for each character’s good and bad endings. They even have backstories for the side characters, which made me jump for joy because it finally sated my thirst for Ser Sachsen Brandenburg, a ruthless villain who’s hot garbage enough to have a lot of fangirls like me, wanting a route of his own! (cackles) 🥵💦💦 The “wedding eve” short stories were super fun as well! 🥰
Depending on how fast you read, it’ll take you at least 50-60 hours to finish the the entire game. In my case, it took me a month to complete it (this is partly my fault for slugging my gameplay with a bunch of IRL distractions). 😅
Story-wise, I think Steam Prison definitely had promise and potential. There were a couple of aspects in the game that was done really well. The world-building, for instance, was remarkably interesting, and the common route was compelling enough that it kept me on the edge of my seat. I love how each character was introduced, with each having an air of mystery around them. It had me guessing what type of LI’s they were before going down their actual routes.
The writing and execution of the whole game, however, have slightly missed the mark for me. Some routes were weirdly paced because time was rarely emphasized. At one point, we see Cyrus weeding Adage’s garden for god knows how long, the next day, we see her on Glissade’s lab getting some blood works done?? – maybe I was just distracted the whole time playing the game, but the odd time jumps were really confusing, and sometimes the story’s abrupt shift from the ‘aww isn’t that cute’ to ‘wtf is even happening’ was pretty jarring.
Cyrus’s robotic clueless self also remained a disappointment in the majority of the routes. The inconsistency with how her character was written was extremely grating. Sometimes she’ll show vulnerability. Other times she won’t. With her internal monologues being so monotonous, it became a challenge for me to empathize with her and her situation. Throughout the game, I was waiting for her to express that emotional intensity or reaction that was needed to elevate how powerfully dark some scenes were in the game, and I never got that, sadly.
As for the LI’s. I pretty much love all of them as individual characters on their own. The game did a marvelous job establishing each of the main guy’s unique traits and characteristics. My favorite would have to be Eltcreed because I just love eccentric studs with the swagger of Don Juan. Unfortunately, he’s my last pick to end up with Cyrus since they just don’t jive well as a couple. I thought Fin was the best fit to be with the heroine due to their established history, and it was in his route that Cyrus had the most natural response when it comes to returning an LI’s affection. I don’t exactly have a least favorite love interest. I like all of the Steam Prison bois equally. It’s their routes I wasn’t too crazy about. Lastly, I wanted to make a special mention to my sexy trash man Sachsen, whose main goal in the game was to strut around town and piss people off! What a winner! 🤣
Do I recommend this game? YES.
If you love steampunk dystopian themes, that more or less explore the darker side of politics involving hot villains and heroes in your Otomes, definitely get Steam Prison! While the game had some flaws, I believe it’s still worth the shelf space in your otome collection. The art, music, and voice acting alone deserved my singing of praises, and while the story wasn’t too groundbreaking, the game’s initial setting truly had me immersed. Additionally, with Steam Prison’s added extra content in the switch port, I’m convinced you’ll definitely get the utmost bang for your buck, especially if you bought the game’s physical version.
With all that being said, If my neutral thumbs-up for Steam Prison still makes you teeter, I suggest downloading the trial version of this game and experience it first-hand to know if this title is the right otome game for you. 😉