Release Date: December 2, 2021 (North America)
Publishers: Aksys Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Ever since she could remember, Shino Akitsu has had the ability to see what others could not: spirits, apparitions, and indescribable creatures. As an adult, this talent leads her to join a secret government agency: The Occult Action Department. Her assignment is with the Sixth Special Preventions Office, and her job is to monitor the powerful beings who travel between her world and the worlds beyond.
From her office in Sakuratani, a town in a different dimension, Agent Akitsu meets several otherworldly individuals with vastly different personalities and abilities: a nine-tailed fox spirit, a mischievous oni, and more.
Part gatekeeper, part travel guide, she does her best to get to know these entities and keep them from getting into inter-dimensional trouble.
ART AND MUSIC
If you’re not new to Otome Games, you’ve probably seen this distinctive art style before, and that’s because the overall artwork of Dairoku was done by the Japanese Illustrator Suoh, who was also the artist behind the otome game, Bad Apple Wars, and ALICE-ALICE. I’ve been following this artist’s previous works, (she’s mostly done a lot of DRAMA CD projects and a few otome games in the past) & I am just a big fan of her unique art style. I feel like I say this a lot to most of my fav. Otome game artist (laughs), but I really have nothing but praises for them! (´ ε ` )♡
I guess if I had to nitpick, I thought some of Dairoku’s background art were too simple, sometimes even bland.
Dairoku’s opening and ending theme was composed and performed by the voice actor, Toshiyuki Toyonaga, who also voiced the character Tokitsugu Semi in the game. Both songs were really good, in my opinion, especially the OP, 妖言 “Mystery”. I also like it when the seiyuus sing the OP and ED tracks themselves. In addition to this, I thought the game’s soundtrack was pretty good too. It reminded me of the old-school JRPG game Onimusha on the PS2.
You can purchase Dairoku’s official soundtrack directly from Aksys Game’s Online Store bundled with the game’s physical copy (which also comes with character cards). Quantities are, however, limited for this bundle, so make sure to get them while supplies last!
Takahiro Sakurai “Shiratsuki“ – Cloud (Final Fantasy VII), Alma (Bad Apple Wars), Umetaro Saitani (Bakumatsu Renka Shinsengumi), Mejojo (Black Wolves Saga), Astrum (Period Cube)
Yusuke Kobayashi “Hira” – Suwon (Yona of the Dawn), Yuli Norbert (MidCin), Manai Tomoki (Sweet Clown), Takamura Tomonari (Kimi wa Yukima)
Tatsuhisa Suzuki “Akuroou“ – Mitsuru Hinase (Shinigami to Shoujo), Ranmaru (Utapri), Yuma Mukami (Diabolik Lovers), Yukito Sena (Lover Pretend)
Ryota Osaka “Shu“ – Suzukake (Ken ga Kimi), Kai Ayasaki (Princess Closet), Brian (Angelique Retour), Hisui Hoshikawa (Nil Admirari), Taira no Shigehira (Birushana Senki)
Toshiyuki Toyonaga “Tokitsugu Semi“ – Orlok (Piofiore), Mozart (IkeVamp), Seiji Kobayashi (London Detective Mysteria), Takeru Totsuka (Kamigami no Asobi), Natsume (EPHEMERAL)
Kaito Ishikawa “Takao” – Dante Falzone (Piofiore), Marius (Tears of Themis), Adam (Bustafellows), Il Fado de Rie (Café Enchanté), Hikage (Psychedelica of the BB)
Yuki Ono “Hajun“ – Ignis (Café Enchanté), Saeki (Collar x Malice), Hamelin (Ozmafia!!), Tsuzuramaru (Ken ga Kimi), Nightmare Gottschalk (Spade no Kuni no Alice)
Jun Fukuyama “Chief Tokiwa” – Mozu (Bustafellows), Vyn (Tears of Themis), Liberta (Arcana Famiglia), Tomomori (Birushana Senki), Yanosuke Hiragi (TMGS4)
Shunichi Toki “Yakumo Tadashi“ – Leo Cavagnis (Piofiore), Atlas Mousse (IkeRev), Dahut (Shuuen no Virche), Eto Koki (TsukiPro)
Hino Satoshi “Orochi“ – Toma (Amnesia Memories), Lavan (Psychedelica AH), Noiz (Dramatical Murder), Leo Crawford (MidCin), Myoga Reiji (Kiniro no Corda)
The routes in Dairoku appear to be very linear. While the characters’ stories differ from each other, the pacing (in every route) felt identical. There are no locked routes in the game, so you are free to pick whichever LI to start with. Semi’s route carried a LOT of spoilers for the Finale route, so if you’re worried about getting spoiled too early in the game, I suggest doing his route last before the Finale. I don’t think there’s a specific order you need to follow with the first four bachelors, though if you want a recommended play order, I’d suggest: Shiratsuki ► Hira ► Akuroou ► Shu ► Tokitsugu Semi ► Finale.
- genki fox boi
- talks like an oyaji 😂
Shiratsuki, the shire of Kikutsune, is a nine-tailed fox. His flashy and fashionable choice of wardrobe juxtaposes his way of speech, which resembles an old man. He is rather polite & cheery and has a knack for using his tail to write calligraphy about random quotes and poems.
I picked Shiratsuki to start the game with since his genki personality in the common route thoroughly amused me. Plus, It had been a while since I’ve played an otome game with Sakurai in it.🤭 Shiratsuki became one of my favorite characters in Dairoku. I adored his character. He was lively, jubilant, his dialogues were fun, and his overall playfulness was a delight. The conflict in his story, however, felt rather silly. There wasn’t really anything to it other than ‘addressing certain rumors’, but for plot convenience, they really dragged this one out.
Fortunately, the saving grace in this route was how cute Shiratsuki and Shino’s romance turned out. I enjoyed their sweet banters, especially with Kouya (the heroine’s tiger cub paige), a whole lot! I also felt that Shino’s feelings for Shiratsuki weren’t forced, and their dynamic was great overall. Even though there wasn’t anything going for plot-wise in this route, I appreciate the comedic tone in Shiratsuki’s story thanks to his consistent ojisan facade! 🤣
- a.k.a the hikikomori tengu
- recluse tsundere
Hira is the shut-in tengu shire of Amatsuna. He pretty much sleeps all day and leaves his shire duties to his aide Takao. On a normal day, he’s usually found lazing around his room and couldn’t care less about what’s happening in the outside world.
Hira’s route was enjoyable at the start. The fact that he gets really rude and cranky whenever the heroine talks to him or discusses business involving Sakuratani with him was oddly funny to me.😂 He also has a weird habit of practically sleeping just about anywhere from dirty floors to snowfields – he gets quite comfy everywhere really!🤣 His route, however, was another letdown, because again, there wasn’t anything happening in it. Apart from stopping a random dude from trying to hurt/eat the ningyos, this route was kind of forgettable. Love his bad ending though!🙊
While I enjoyed how Shino was remarkably persistent when it comes to chasing after Hira to get closer to him, it became tiring and old in the long run, to a point where I grew less interested in their relationship. I did develop this soft spot for Hira after reading his “bachelor’s perspective”, which made me understand his character better. On a side note, I wish Takao was a romanceable character because man… what a waste of Ishikai’s lovely voice! 😩
- oni daddy
- loves cats 🐱
Akuroou is the aide of Hajun, the shire of Makatsuhi. Due to Hajun’s laxness, when it comes to his shire duties, Akuroou acts as the proxy leader on his behalf and is very well respected in Makatsuhi. Akuroou values discipline and most of the time acts as the mother hen of the onis in Makatsuhi. He loves chilled sake and enjoys repairing and tinkering with gadgets from the real world.
If there was a route that I fully enjoyed from start to finish in Dairoku, it was definitely Akuroou’s hands-down! I love that he’s gap moe material fresh from the common route, but also possesses that mysterious vibe enough to intrigue you at the same time. He’s also the only character with an interesting backstory, which played out perfectly in this route. Moreover, the comic relief brought by the side characters Hajun, Shuten, and Ibaragi was utterly hilarious. Their ‘gaming woes’ & funny bickering was absolutely priceless! 😆
Akuro was also the biggest sweetheart. He’s kind, gentle, and gets easily distracted by cat plushies!🥺🥰 Seriously, it’s so hard to not like him at all! His sweet and endearing exchanges with Shino were so good. Shino’s crush on Akuro also felt very natural. On top of that, the heroine had a very strong resolve here, which makes this route my absolute favorite.
- grumpy little boy
- tsun snek
Shu is a snake youkai and the self-proclaimed shire of the Mitsuchi group. They prefer to keep to themselves and maintain a certain distance towards the Ayakashimori, as well as the other ayakashi in Sakuratani. He is very close to Orochi, his aide and subordinate. Because Shu and the Mitsuchi rarely appear in Sakuratani, very little is known about him and his kin.
I believe Shu’s route had the most thought-out plot out of everyone. It is unfortunate that it was poorly executed – it failed to redeem him and Orochi’s character from their not-so-great reputation in the common route. Shu for the most part just wanted to be “cool”, and he thinks having an abundance of power makes him the coolest ayakashi in Sakuratani.😏 Half of his route, he acted like a spoiled, grouchy little boy (ngl this turned me off, I’d rather romance Vyn Richter youkai over here). It didn’t help that their motivations were weak and their conflict just conveniently resolved in the dumbest fashion ever, like starting clout and taking it back.¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I was also surprised that Shino had no agency in this route. Whatever strong resolve she had in Akuro’s route was thrown out of the window, it seems.🤔 Most of the time, it felt like she was merely watching the events happening before her.😐 As for the romance, Shu, as a love interest, did warm up to the heroine after a while, and they had some cute moments together (though I wasn’t too crazy about it either). His ‘Lost Love‘ ending had one beautiful CG, but was it worth going through his lackluster events? Probably not.┐(‘～` )┌
- flirty mr. perfect
- open eyes semi > close eyes semi
Tokitsugu Semi is the heroine’s superior and coworker. He came from an onmyoji family lineage and was born and raised to be an Ayakashimori from day one. He’s very smart and observant and can mostly read everyone around him like a book. He’s friendly and very supportive of the heroine.
Semi was a really enjoyable character in the previous routes, so I was pretty excited to start his own story. Unfortunately, his events weren’t as bracing as I expected. Perhaps it was because his route predominantly introduced the finale’s encompassing issue? There were also a few bits and pieces in Semi’s story that hint at certain factors in the final route, so playing him before the finale was the right call. I love Semi as a character. I adore seeing how much he cares for his subordinates, his brother, and the heroine.🥺 Personality-wise, Semi was a breath of fresh air, and his constant tongue-in-cheek remarks were delightful as ever. His route, however, just didn’t deliver as how you’d expect poster boys would. (laughs)
For the romance part, I can’t exactly say I loved his chemistry with Shino. Sure, it was there, but it wasn’t as convincing as Akuroou’s nor as fun as Shiratsuki’s. It was mediocre at best. Admittedly, I did enjoy a few scenes of them together as a couple, so there’s also that.🤗 One thing to look forward to in this route though was Toyonaga’s pretty damn good voice acting! If you’re a fan of this seiyuu consider this route a treat!💖
SHINO AKITSU (Main Heroine)
- selfless love
- tries very hard at her new job 🥺
Shino Akitsu originally sought to find work as a government employee. But due to her “gift”, she was recruited by Tokitsugu Semi and was invited to become part of the Secret Special Division that deals with the supernatural and otherworldly beings. After passing the exam to become an Ayakashimori, she was assigned to Dairoku (“The Sixth”), and her job is to monitor the ayakashi residents of Sakuratani.
Because Shino was a working lady, I got substantially excited about her and what she has to offer. For most of the routes, she was quite good. She’s very diligent and dedicated to her work, and she’s got great perseverance up her sleeve. She was kind of sassy too and even throws in some sarcasm, especially when dealing with Semi’s jokes. I guess my only complaint about Shino was that her drive and determination weren’t consistent in all the routes.
She practically had an unwavering resolve in Akuroou’s route and even showed some backbone when it came down to dealing with the sprite-less villains. In Shu’s story, however, any tenacity she had in the previous routes was nonexistent. There was also a scene (in the same route) where she just gave up trying to explain and iron things out with the other Ayakashimoris, resulting in further unnecessary escalations. It was disappointing, to say the least, though I can likely chalk this one up as inconsistent writing.
What I appreciate about this heroine, was that she doesn’t try to be something she’s not. She embraces her flaws, and at the same time, still tries to improve as best as she can. Her strong conviction of wanting to do better is what makes her a good protagonist. On a side note, I wish there were more ‘girl bonding’ scenes between Shino, Tamamo, and Kinka. I love this trio a ton!
SYSTEM AND LOCALIZATION
The UI for Dairoku, while not as eye-catching as other Otomate titles, was still quite decent aesthetic-wise. Its cool tone, not to mention the purple-ish Clarendon theme of the game, just about matches the depiction of how it’s always nighttime in Sakuratani. I’m not a big fan of the ‘audio sync‘, which synchronizes the flow of dialogues along with the game’s audio (you can, however, turn this off easily in the options section). I wasn’t thrilled with the flowchart either, as clearing it became a chore for completionist like me!😅
The MAP and the easy-breezy mini battles were a nice touch to the game though! It was also fun hearing Kouya praise you after successfully clearing them. Ha!🥺
As for the game’s localization, it unfortunately, had a number of minor typographical errors. The most prominent ones were the missing articles after the words Ayakashi and Ayakashimori. I’ve noticed this in the first two routes I’ve played (Shiratsuki and Hira). Additionally, in the final route, some lines weren’t translated in the backlog. This was funny to me because these dialogues were translated in the game, and it was only when I had to open my backlog that I got hit with these kanjis.😂
While these technical mistakes did not deter me from my experience, I believe they could’ve been easily avoided if the game had gone through careful quality assurance.
I believe it took me 40-50 hours to complete the game. This includes unlocking all the endings and clearing the entire flowchart. Each route (minus the finale) gives you three separate endings: Lost Love End (Bad), Friendship End (Normal), and the Romance End (Best). The individual routes weren’t long, and you can probably finish them in about 2-3 hours tops.
I think my biggest gripe with Dairoku’s writing was that it used a lot of mythological terms about Japanese youkai (supernatural beings) for its story and characters, and these terms weren’t appended in the dictionary section. Like, I definitely knew what a ningyo, kappa, and a nurikabe looked like. But I had no clue what a zashikiwarashi or a hitsosumekozo is ’til I looked them up on the internet.😅
Since Dairoku is a slice-of-life otome game, expect very light storytelling and arbitrary sequence of events with the protagonist and the main characters. This title does not have a coherent overarching plot that’ll unfold before you. So just to avoid disappointments, it is best to keep your expectations in check when choosing to play this title. Some routes took until its last chapters to pick up their pacing, while some just didn’t go anywhere. The Finale route on the other hand, despite its unavailing deus ex machina ending, was still enjoyable to me in the sense that it ended the game in a very tasteful manner, leaving me nothing but good impressions to remember it by.
The main highlight of this title was its very likable cast of characters. Everyone, including the side characters, was very pleasant, and it was a joy to see them bicker and mingle together. Yakumo and Kinka’s one-sided love story was super cute, and I wish to see more of these two if the game ever gets a fandisk. None of the LI’s nor side characters were problematic either (though my lopsided brain wished the game had one lol) 😂
Speaking of LIs, they were all charming so to speak. I initially thought Semi was best boy material since he ranked top in Dairoku’s character poll, but I ended up loving the characters Akuroou and Shiratsuki instead! (´꒳`)♡ Shu’s route was my least favorite since his character just didn’t click for me, and I ended up simping over the side character Orochi instead. (laughs) Hira and Semi were great characters per se, but I thought their romance could’ve been better.
Do I recommend this game? YES
If you’re in the mood for slice-of-life otome games with an excellent cast of characters, superb voice acting, and beautiful art, I’d recommend picking up Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani. Despite my minor gripes above, I still enjoyed this game as a whole, and then some. The endearing characters definitely redeemed this title for me, and while its story was nowhere near perfection, it’s still decent enough to take on you on a very satisfying gameplay.