Bad Apple Wars Review

2018-08-26-081058

BAD APPLE WARS

Release Date: October 13, 2017
Developers: Idea Factory, Otomate
Publishers: Idea Factory, Aksys Games
Platforms:  PS VITA
ESRB Rating: M(Mature)

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Bad Apple Wars was originally first released in November 19, 2015, Japan. Aksys Games, who’s known for localizing a few Otomate titles in the West initially announced Bad Apple Wars during their panel in 2017’s Anime Expo. The game was supposed to release September 29, 2017 (North America and Europe), but was later pushed to October 13, 2017 due to some delays.

I have to admit, it took me a while to pick up BAW from my backlog library. I acquired the game’s Limited Edition last year, from my Gamestop store and while I’ve heard a lot of intriguing mixed reviews regarding this game, I was pretty much pre-occupied finishing my other otoges, I keep putting off playing this one a few times. 

 

Read the game’s synopsis here.

 

Walkthroughs:

1)Higa
2)Shikishima
3)Alma
4)Satoru
5)White Mask

 

ART AND MUSIC
The game’s artwork had a quite unique approach compared to the usual otome art, and its one of the reasons why I’m absolutely fascinated at this artist’s style. The character design was done by Japanese illustrator, “Suou” スオウ who’s also famous for her other works, such as “ALICE-ALICE” aka  Alice in the Forbidden World. You can find the artist’s official pixiv site here.

Another highlight of Bad Appe Wars is the game’s solid soundtrack. While the OP track “Mirror, Mirror” was rather catchy, I found the game’s bgms even more jammin’Listen to my fav track below!

 

Voice Acting

Sakurai Takahiro  “Alma” – Astrum (Period Cube), Uruki (Genbu Kaiden Kagami no Miko), Mejojo von (Black Wolves Saga), Ruki (Diabolik Lovers),  Rui Sagisawa (Nil Admirari)

Akira Ishida Shikishima” – Kent (Amnesia Memories), Zara Skeens (Black Wolves Saga), Tokita Shuya (Clock Zero), Unknown Guy (Period Cube)

Junichi Suwabe “Higa”Van Helsing (Code Realize), Ren (Utapri), Jae-ha (Akatsuki No Yona), Nobushige Sanada (Kurenai)

Hanae Natsuki “Satoru” – Libera (Period Cube), Sera Akito (Collar x Malice), Yuki (Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku), Shirota (Possession Magenta)

Shinnosuke Tachibana “White Mask” – Louis Howard (Midnight Cinderella), Kousei (Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku), Tomoe (Kamisama Kiss), Suruga Akito (KLAP)

Shin’ichirou Miki “Bucket-head sensei” – Toshizo Hijikata (Hakuoki)Nesso Galland (Black Wolves Saga), Yuzuki Murakumo (7’scarlet)

Kouji Yusa “Gas-mask sensei” – Sanosuke Harada (Hakuoki),  Itsuki Kagami (Norn9),  Bernardo (Luckydog1)

Tomokazu Sugita “Rabbit head” – Takuma (Hiro no Kakera), Gin (Gintama), Ron Muroboshi (Norn9), Nobunaga (Ikesen), Reine des Fluers (Hubert), Sasuke Sarutobi (Kurenai)

 

MAIN CHARACTERS (Spoiler Free)

BAD APPLE WARS (1)

At the start of the Common Route, you are prompted to choose a side; The Good Apples or The Bad Apples. For a more engaged gameplay, I strongly recommend to pick the Bad Apple’s side first, and do the Good Apples routes last. For a specific route order, I suggest playing: Higa — Shikishima — Alma — Satoru — White Mask.

 

HIGA

  • Soul Totem: Baseball
  • tsundere
  • those abs doe

Higa is the tall bad boy from the Bad Apples faction. He carries with him a white baseball (as his soul totem), that can explode as a bomb and can sometimes transform into a baseball bat. He greatly respects Alma, calls him “aniki” (brother) and acts as Alma’s right hand.

Higa is one of my favorite characters in BAW, maybe because I started with his route first or perhaps I’m just totally biased when it comes to Suwabe’s voice acting? lol. His route on the other hand was a little lacking as far as how his story was presented. Although I enjoyed his cute little moments with the heroine in NEVAEH Academy, I think his happy ending was a little rushed? I actually, had to re-read his epilogue just to make sure I understood what was going on. lol I liked his backstory though and Higa in general, was a great character in the game and it would’ve been nice if his ending was given more thought and was explained better. ( ̄□ ̄」)

BAD APPLE WARS_1

 

SHIKISHIMA

  • Soul Totem: Sketchbook and paint brush
  • the frustrated artist
  • Why so emo?

Shikishima neither belongs to the Good Apples nor the Bad Apples’ faction. Rather, he is considered an “Odd Apple” in NEVAEH Academy. He does his own thing and rarely participates in breaking the school rules but does not care for them at all either.  He speaks in a friendly but slightly formal tone and is prone to nature-based metaphors.

I didn’t really understood this character until the last chapters of his story… He is just soooo abstract, it’s hard to figure him out. Shikishima is also a very reserved (and very emo) character it is almost impossible to get a connection with him, making his romance with the heroine very dry and nearly forced. It’s a shame since Shikishima seemed like a really potential deep character to boot, and it could’ve worked if not for a gang amount of plot holes in his story. I like that Shikishima was a curious persona in the game but his character development, not to mention is “happy” ending” – was poorly executed ruining the entirety of his route (for me anyway).  ┐(︶▽︶)┌

BAD APPLE WARS (8)

 

ALMA

  • Soul Totem: Red thread
  • poker faced
  • the leader of the band

Alma is the leader and brains of the Bad Apples. He garners great respect from everyone in the their faction because he’d always come up with a plan in mind whenever their group decides to break the 7 Unbreakable Rules of NEVAEH Academy.  Although he possess an emotionless poker face, he is a man of great charisma – one of the many reasons why everyone deeply trust him and his leadership.

Alma’s route was a longer one compared to the other two previous Bad Apple routes (Higa and Shikishima).  TBH, I wanted to like his route as much as I like his character but perhaps his story just didn’t appeal to me as much??? There were a lot of fluff contents to enjoy, E.g ~ him spending time with the heroine Rinka, in NEVAEH Academy. But it didn’t have anything new to reveal that would explained more about BAW’s overall story – and this was such a let down as I was expecting some sort of plot twist in this route – BUT IT NEVER HAPPENED. (*°ー°)ノ  I guess the best part of Alma’s story (which I enjoyed so much) was his ending, YES, his good ending! Plus the CG!!! It was so fluffy that I forgot all about the plot holes and just snickered happily all through out the end credits. lol

BAD APPLE WARS_1 (1)

 

SATORU

  • Soul Totem: Reference Book
  • naive
  • ❤ “choco banana!”

Satoru is the younger student who was admitted to NEVAEH Academy at the same time as the heroine. He is very obsessed with studying and would frantically spend all his time reading his guide book as if his life depends on it. He is very naive and is unaware of his surroundings but at the same time couldn’t care less about it either. His soul totem is a reference book which seems to have vast information on unlimited number of things, ranging from vocabulary to world history.

Satoru’s route was my favorite in BAW. His story had good pacing, great character development for both him and the heroine, and contains the best fluff  and drama scenes to keep you entertained. To be perfectly honest I never really deemed Satoru’s character interesting until I played his route. His romance with Rinka however, is more of like a “nakama” compared to a lover’s relationship, I guess this is because he’s a few years younger than the her. I also wanted to commend Hanae Natsuki for doing an amazing job portraying Satoru, I probably sobbed a few times, during his monologues. ha! This route was definitely fun, it hit the nail right in the head as far as stirring up your emotions go.

BAD APPLE WARS0011

 

WHITE MASK

  • Weapon of choice: Prefect’s Ruler
  • Soul Totem: Beads (necklace)
  • true route???

White Mask is the head of the prefects in NEVAEH Academy. He is a mysterious character who’s obsessed with correcting the Bad Apples. His weapon of choice is a (electric?) ruler that zaps students causing them to be in a complete depressed state.  He wears a prefect’s uniform & a faceless white mask and he possess a very strict attitude.

BAD APPLE WARS (010)

While White Mask was hinted to be the true route of Bad Apple Wars, I find it very hard to comprehend that his story was indeed the grand finale of the entire game because it gave me so many questions left unanswered. Just like Alma’s route, his story was lengthier than the others. He had a longer backstory and he gets to spend a lot of time with the heroine for that needed relationship boost. Maybe as a stand alone route, his story  can be considered really good for what it is, but I wouldn’t dare call it the true ending of BAW. I like White Mask as a character regardless, and I may have shed some tears when I read his backstory. lol I just wished there was more to his ending than angst and romance.

 

rinkaRINKA
(Main Heroine)

Perhaps one of the dullest protagonist I’ve ever played. Rinka has no kind of background, characteristics, personality or anything of the sort. This was also made clear several times in the game, during her monologues of being really “empty”. So this makes me wonder… Does the MC for Bad Apple Wars designed as  some sort of personification of the reader or player?  Putting yourself in the protagonist’s shoes is somehow common in dating sims, (especially in mobile games) and although sometimes this set up may work for some, more times than not, IT DOESN’T when it comes to visual novels. It technically kills the likability of a character making the game experience less enjoyable. With Rinka, I wouldn’t say she’s a bad heroine altogether, she is however very boring to play because of the “self-insert factor” the developers made her to be.

 

TRAILER / OPENING MOVIE

 

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS? ( ° ∀ ° )ノ゙
Playing Bad Apple Wars was a love-hate kind of experience for me. I really liked how the game started. How the NEAVEH universe was introduced and how the main and side characters were uniquely presented in the story. These aspects alone piqued my interest in the game. However, my excitement sort of died down in the middle of the repetitive playthroughs and the open ended routes.

The fun play of the “afterlife story” in BAW really had potential and I think it would’ve been so much better if the endings were coherently explained well instead of leaving ’em hanging in the dark for curious readers. For the most part, I think the game is still enjoyable If you’e able to find a character that interests you and are willing to overlook some plot inconsistencies of the story, not to mentioned the blandness of the main protagonist.

Overall, I wouldn’t consider Bad Apple Wars a substandard for an otome game / visual novel in general. In fact, I would still recommend it to players that aren’t picky with their otoges and just wants a good visual novel to pass the time. Story wise, this game may not be perfect but it certainly still has some redeemable qualities to look forward to such as its outstanding art style, soundtrack,  and really fun characters that’ll bring you angst and romance all in one gameplay. So…by all means, pick this game up and give it a chance~!
♡( ◡‿◡ )

Chlo’s Rating: 7/10

 

Hakuoki Kyoto Winds Review

2018-06-23-185852

HAKUOKI: KYOTO WINDS

Release Date: May 16, 2017 (North America)
Developers: Idea Factory, Design Factory
Publishers: Otomate, Idea Factory International
Platforms:  PS VITA, Steam (PC)
ESRB Rating: M(Mature)

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I know, I know! This review is late for the party… lol but here it is, finally!

Hakuoki was probably the first english (otome) visual novel i’ve played back in 2012. I have played Demon of the Fleeting Blossom in the PSP and really enjoyed it. In fact, I could never play any other (visual novel) game that has the Shinsengumi’s famous names without incorporating it with my Hakuoki characters, lmao it just doesn’t feel right. LOL Please tell me I’m not the only Hakuoki fan that feels this way!image

Although this popular series may have a lot of renditions and titles available on different gaming platforms (PSP, 3DS, PS3 and PS Vita), they tell  the same story and offer the same six potential romanceable characters (Hijikata, Okita, Toudou, Saito, Harada, Kazama). If you’re new to the series and don’t know where to start, Kyoto Winds is a great title to begin your Hakuoki journey.

Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is the first half of the revamped edition of Demon of the Fleeting Blossom. This title is also probably the biggest update the Hakuoki series has had in years. Some of the improvements they’ve made were the animated bgs and sprites (eyes blinking, mouth moving, flower petals falling in the bg, etc.). Not only that, but instead of the usual six dateable characters, they’ve added six more lovely samurais you can choose to romance with in the seriesimage. We now have new routes for the following characters:

  1. (The long awaited route of) Shinpachi Nagakura
  2. Keisuke Sanan
  3. Susumu Yamazaki
  4. Hachiro Iba
  5. Kazue Souma
  6. Ryouma Sakamoto

However, because of the added content and sub stories, not to mention the new routes of the recently added characters, Kyoto Winds only covers half of the original Hakuoki story. The new title, Edo Blossoms (localized version), which was recently released this year – continues the second half, covering the rest of the Shinsengumi tale.

 

Read the game’s synopsis here.

 

ART AND MUSIC
Besides more story content, this rendition also covers more art, and by that I mean, more exceptionally beautiful CGs to satisfy our hearts with. Arguably, there are three artists involved in the making of the game’s artwork throughout the years. Kazuki Yone, who’s responsible for the original character design, Miko (also known as the artist of Code Realize) for the game’s additional graphics, and Shiki Sakigumi for continuing the new and additional character designs after Yone left. The latter is also the official artist for the AU title,  Hakuoki SSL.

I think the game’s OP “Ruri No Sora E” is by far the best theme that suits the Hakuoki story really well to a T.  Listen to this track below!

 

CHARACTERS AND WALKTHROUGHS (Spoiler Free)image
For a more engaged gameplay, I suggest playing the routes in the order below:

  1. Toshizo Hijikata
  2. Souji Okita
  3. Hajime Saito
  4. Heisuke Toudou
  5. Sanosuke Harada
  6. Shinpachi Nagakura
  7. Keisuke Sanan
  8. Susumu Yamazaki
  9. Hachiro Iba
  10. Kazue Souma
  11. Ryouma Sakamoto
  12. Chikage Kazama

 

2018-06-30-043934

TOSHIZO HIJIKATA
CV: Shinichirou Miki 
  Nesso Galland (Black Wolves Saga), Mr. Buckethead (Bad Apple Wars), Yuzuki Murakumo (7’scarlet)

Also known as “The Demon Vice Commander”. Hijikata is one of the most devoted samurai of the Shinsengumi. Acting as the leader along side Isami Kondou, he is not only respected by his men for his exceptional sword skill and talent in the battlefield but also for his pride and beliefs as true samurai warrior.

His Route in Kyoto Winds was more inclined to the Shinsengumi’s story. I think it is fairly recommended to do his route first since it follows through the historical events of the Shinsengumi and their activities in Kyoto. That said, there is no romance in this route – sadly… Despite his cold and strict demeanor, there were a few cute moments where the heroine, Chizuru gets to warm up to him through their little interactions, making Hijikata still one of the most likable characters of the game.

 

2018-07-14-071735SOUJI OKITA
CV: Shotaro MorikuboImpey Barbicane (Code Realize), Musica (Fairy Tale), Toa (7’scarlet)

Okita is the captain of the first divison of the Shinsengumi, he’s also known as one of the most notorious warriors in the battlefield. He posses a very sarcastic personality and a charmingly sadistic nature. This man is also very loyal to Isami Kondou and his top priority in life is to be the sword and weapon of the Shinsengumi. It is rumored that his sword skill is as good as Hijikata’s, although he personally claimed that he’s better.

His Route in Kyoto Winds was a little rough around the edges. His playful threats of killing Chizuru can be a handful sometimes (although this is one of his notable charms). I personally love how the heroine handled Okita’s complex personality. Because of her understanding and determination to support him, she was able to melt this man’s cold blooded heart.

 

2018-07-28-204506 SAITO HAJIME
CV: Kousuke Toriumi
– Kagiha (Psychedelica BB), Poyo-Poyo (Period Cube), Hideyoshi (Ikesen), Lawrence (Psychedelica AH), John Watson (Code Realize)

The Captain of the third divison of the Shinsengumi. Saito is another loyal member of the Shinsengumi who almost never question or complain about a task he’s given to do. He is smart and very rational, sometimes to the point of coldness. He greatly respects Hijikata as one of his superiors and willingly follows his leadership. He takes no pleasure in the battlefield despite his exceptional skill in a fight.

His Route, had plenty of doki-doki moments and probably had the best CGs. Saito’s kuudere nature was really adorable. I also find it cute when he’s so fired up talking about his obsession with swords. He may sport a very cold and distant personality upfront but inside is a very shy, and sympathetic gentleman who’s always looking out for your best interest.

 

2018-08-01-222854 HEISUKE TOUDOU
CV: Yoshino Hiroyuki – Sendo Kiyoharu (Vitamin X), Auger von Garibaldi (Black Wolves Saga), Otamaru Heishi (Norn9)

The Captain of the eight division who’s the youngest and probably the most cheerful and optimistic member of the Shinsengumi. Unlike the other captains of the Shinsengumi who are very dedicated to serve the shogunate, Heisuke is rather the opposite. He has his own political beliefs regarding the unscrupulous nature of war and his role as a warrior participating in it.

There’s chemistry between him and our main heroine, Chizuru, so it was very refreshing playing His Route. Maybe it’s because they’re around the same age? I also loved Heisuke’s character development in his story. His wavering beliefs about what’s right and what’s wrong seemed very realistic & sensible and I think his constant battle between what he believes in vs. his emotions brought out his character’s benevolent nature.

 

2018-08-04-183400 SANOSUKE HARADA
CV: Koji Yusa Itsuki Kagami (Norn9), Mr. Gasmask (Bad Apple Wars), Bernardo (Luckydog1)

The Captain of the tenth division, who prefers a spear as his weapon of choice. He is a very compassionate character and one of the most level headed members of the Shinsengumi. He enjoys a good sake in his free time and maybe some friendly banters with his close pals, Shinpachi and Heisuke.

His Route is def. a fan favorite. Sanosuke Harada is every girl’s dream-prince-samurai. Besides his drop dead gorgeous look and physique, he is always kind and very considerate when it comes to Chizuru, the perfect gentleman (if ya ask me!). If you want a more romance-inclined story in Kyoto Winds, Sano’s route is for the taking! …and just wait till’ you get to him in Edo Blossom!

 

2018-08-05-175438 SHINPACHI NAGAKURA
CV: Tsuboi Tomohiro Toshi Maeda (Sengoku Basara), Rikimaru (Tenchu 2), Taliesin (Tears to Tiara)

The Captain of the second Division and one of the most skilled warriors of the Shinsengumi. Unlike the other captains who started as a nobody before they claimed their Shinsengumi titles, Shinpachi was born into a samurai family but was never interested in a life of luxury as he wanted to earn his role as a samurai rather than reaping its benefits through his family name. He ended up in the Shiei Hall where he met the other captains and that was when Kondou took him.

His Route in Kyoto Winds, Is the sisterzone route. Lol, Besides him treating Chizuru as nothing more than a little sister, he also lacked a deeper connection with the heroine, which made his romance a bit one-sided (to Chizuru, that is). I do like Shinpachi’s character though, he’s a great comic relief to the group and ofc who could ignore those manly pecs’ from heaven?!image

 

2018-08-08-212217 KEISUKE SANAN
CV: Nobuo Tobita Straizo (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure), Kan Soo-Jin (Akatsuki no Yona), Capt. Gordon (Disgea)

One of the Vice Commanders of the Shinsengumi, also referred as a Colonel in their organization. Sanan gained his position due to his intelligence in battle tactics as well as his headstrong personality which garnered him the respect of the other Shinsengumi captains. Despite his kind and gentle appearance, he posses an ominous side especially when angered.

Sanan gave me the creeps in other routes. His Route in Kyoto Winds made him a little less creepy which is perhaps good? but not good enough to make him a potential love interest. Idk, maybe it’s because of his self pity or his obsession about the “rasetsu” (furies) that turned me off in his story. I love his voice actor though, I think Nobou Tobita really did well in emphasizing this character’s dark and complex nature.

 

2018-08-11-090416 SUSUMU YAMAZAKI
CV: Takayuki Suzuki – Daedalus Munto (Demonion Series), Oota Hiroo (Koiken Otome)

Yamazaki is a member of the Watch division in the Shinsengumi. As a doctor’s son, he’s also well versed in the field of medicine. He is very devoted to the Shinsengumi and respects Hijikata as his commanding leader. Although most of his missions involved stealth and surveying, Yamazaki is also a skilled swordsman and  can lend a hand in the battlefield when needed.

His Route in Kyoto Winds was very fluffy and surprisingly good. Yamazaki is that one guy you’ve completely ignored all through out the entire game – you’ve failed to realize how much of a good man this character is, until you step into his route. Because both the heroine and Yamazaki’s parents are doctors, I feel that they complement each other extremely well, they’re almost the perfect pair.

 

2018-08-12-170727 HACHIRO IBA
CV: Mamoru Miyano 
Souo Tamaki (OHSHC), Light Yagami (Death Note), Tokiya (Utapri), Okabi Rintarou (Steins Gate)

Hachiro Iba is a member of the shogun’s guard who has known the Shinsengumi for years. He’s also inherited one of the most popular dojo in Bakumatso, Edo, through his family name. Despite his charming looks and his very gentle & refined appearance, he is one badass swordsman who’s trained together with the Shinsengumi captains. He’s also Chizuru’s childhood friend.

His Route is probably one of the most interesting routes in Kyoto Winds. I find it REALLY hard not to like Iba as he was honest-to-god about his feelings towards Chizuru and it was very admirable how he always puts the heroine first above all else. The plot twist in his story also caught me off guard as I wasn’t expecting any of it, to say the least.

 

 2018-08-19-081429KAZUE SOUMA
CV: Yuki Kaji Kei Okazaki (Collar x Malice), Finis (Code Realize), Kanato (Diabolik Lovers), Yuiga Kakeru (Norn9), Rath Vogart (Black Wolves Saga) Hayato Ozaki (Nil Admirari)

A new recruit of the Shinsengumi who was a former soldier in the shogunate army. Isami Kondou, sees potential in him so he was immediately appointed as the chief’s page.

Kazue was a page in training under Chizuru’s guidance. He’s one very optimistic soldier who’s always eager and determined to learn more. I have mixed feelings regarding His Route though. While he’s a very bright and lovely new character, I felt that his relationship with the heroine was more of a “nakama” rather than a love interest… and the only time I felt their relationship, romantically went up a notch was around  the last scene (chapter 5) of Souma’s route. It was a good thing he pulled through in Edo Blossoms! (smirks)

 

2018-08-20-210617 RYOUMA SAKAMOTO
CV: Daisuke Ono Hyuuga (Neo Angelique), Hades (Kamigami no Asobi), Subaru Asahina (Brother’s Conflict), Yuuya (Muv-Luv), Azuma Natsuhiko (Norn9)

Originally a samurai from Tosa, Sakamoto is the ronin responsible for negotiating the alliance between the Satsuma and Choshu in an effort to overthrow the Shogunate. Sakamoto has a very progressive view on politics and he believes that the Japanese government should become more like a democracy.

Before I played His Route, I have *sort of* spoiled myself with his story by reading an article about the real Ryouma Sakamoto in Japanese history. It was interesting that the game fundamentally follows through his life events and the highlights of his activities in Kyoto. I find Sakamoto’s route to be really good – plot wise, as it ventured more into each of the characters’ different views and perspectives about war. His relationship with Chizuru was also really cute, though it became a bit angsty towards the end.

 

2018-08-25-073141 CHIKAGE KAZAMA
CV: Kenjiro TsudaHattori Hanzo (Nightshade), Soshi Amazaki (The Charming Empire), Leonardo Da Vinci (Ikevamp), Nathan Seymour (Tiger & Bunny)

The head of the demon clan in the west. Chikage Kazama posses an arrogant and cruel persona and is severely prejudiced against humans. He is somehow connected with the Satsuma Domain together with his demon comrades, Amagiri and Shiranui. He takes a special interest on Chizuru for some reason.

I am extremely biased on this character so it is hard for me to be objective with him.lol Kazama can either be the antagonist or an ally in the game depending on who’s route you’re at. I think one interesting aspect about Kazama’s character is that you change your opinion about him (almost every route). ImoHis Route in Kyoto Winds was one of the most satisfying ones as it touched a lot on the demon lineage in the Hakuoki series. Because this was left questionable in the previous original story, it is so refreshing to finally get a grasp on this side of the plot, the Demon’s side. I also think that Chizuru and Kazama suited each other really well.

 

92913chizuru CHIZURU YUKIMURA
Main Heroine

The young girl who came to Kyoto disguised as a boy in search of her missing father, she was taken in by the Shinsengumi after accidentally witnessing one of the organization’s dark secrets. She became Hijikata’s page and eventually adapted living with the Shinsengumi soldiers, becoming accustomed to their lifestyle.

Chizuru is probably one of the best heroines I’ve played in an otome game. In this series, you can really feel her growing up, changing her ideals and perspectives in life, distancing away from her naivety as she gets more involved in the war and its corruptness. She knows how to wield her kodachi and although her skills are not up to par with the normal soldiers in battle, she is learned and capable enough to defend herself and knew when to flee or hide when the odds aren’t on her favor. I really enjoyed playing as Chizuru, her emotional anguish and helplessness, not to mention her desperate motivation in the game really grew on me and I just love it whenever you get to connect to the main protagonist like that.

 

HAKUOKI Kyoto Winds: “Wind Treasure Box”
Did you know that you can get Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds’ DLC, “Wind Treasure Box” for only $3.99 in the PS Store? The DLC contains six extra stories of Saito, Iba, Nakagura, Harada, Heisuke, and Yamazaki together with our main heroine, Chizuru. These short stories are mainly extra fluff content that happened somewhere in the middle of the common route of each bachelor.

Is it worth shelling out $3.99 for these extra five minute content? As an avid fan of the series, I really enjoyed these extra short stories a lot, but it’s really up to you to decide. You also get an extra CG after completing the DLC.

 

TRAILER / OPENING MOVIE

 

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS? (´ ε ` )♡
Hakuoki is one of the best visual novels I’ve played and Kyoto Winds was probably the best remake of the series. As someone who’s a sucker for samurai cinema, this game was definitely a treat. I find it really interesting that the characters were based on real historical figures in Japanese history and their stories were somewhat similar to the real life events that happened during Japan’s Bakumatsu period.

Because it’s the first part of the original Hakuoki story, Kyoto Winds focused more emphasis on its general plot; which is the story of the Shinsengumi and the highlights of their activities in Kyoto. That said, the romantic events were pretty low. This game also contains one long introduction that’s quite heavy on the text and narratives.

If you’re not a fan of content driven plots and prefer a story that’s solely focused on romance, this game may not be for you.

Kyoto Winds can also get a bit repetitive as you play through all the routes . This is because almost all of the characters follows through the same story line, but hey that’s what the SKIP button is for, yes?image I personally enjoyed this game to heart.  It had the right amount of action, drama and suspense enough to stir your emotions that’ll work you up on the edge of your seat. The characters really grew on me and each of their stories were very significant to the game’s overarching story. For the newer routes, I enjoyed Yamazaki and Iba’s story the most. Needless to say, all the new characters were a great addition to the game.

Do I recommend this game? YES.
If you’ve played the older Hakuoki games and liked it, Kyoto Winds is definitely a good title to consider (playing again), this remake is without a doubt one for the books!
If you want a good quality visual novel with a solid content, great art, memorable soundtracks and very likable characters, Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds definitely delivers all of these to your doorstep.

 

Chlo’s Rating: 10/10

Period Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ Review

2018-07-15-211201

PERIOD CUBE ~SHACKLES OF AMADEUS~

Release Date: April 28, 2017 (North America)
Developers:  Idea Factory, Otomate
Publishers:  Idea Factory, Aksys Games
Platforms:  PS Vita
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)

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With Period Cube’s MMORPG theme, I admit I was really enthused when I first started playing this title. Not because it had the same concept as Sword Art Online (forgive me but I couldn’t really get into the series, though I did played the Lost Song on PSVITA) but because this game, reminded me a lot of my childhood memories indulging on those sleepless nights playing mmorpgs like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV while getting ready for my finals the next morning (lol goodtimes!).

As someone who (cough) *used to be* an mmorpg addict, Period Cube’s introduction really piqued my interest as an otome game.

 

Read the game’s synopsis here.

 

Walkthroughs:

1)Radius
2)Astrum
3)Demento
4)Zain
5)Hiroya
6)Libera
7)Poyo-Poyo

 

ART AND MUSIC
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of Period Cube that initially caught my attention was the game’s beautiful art style, done by non other than the artist Kuroyuki, also known for her popular works; Gekka Ryouran Romance and Black Wolves Saga. You can visit her Pixiv profile here.

Fun Fact: Ibarano Rakuen, the game’s opening theme was performed by Joelle, an American – Japanese artist from Utah, USA. She also sang “Lucky Maria”, the end credits for the 1990’s hit American movie “TRICK”. You can visit the artist’s website here.

Voice Acting

Nobuhiko Okamoto “Hiroya” – Katsuki (My Hero Academia), Hansel (Code Realize), Manabu Souda (Collar x Malice), Kougami Akira (Nil Admirari), Lancelot (Ikerev), Shin-ah (Akatsuki no Yona)

Maeno Tomoaki “Radius Lupin (Code Realize), Camus (Utapri), Son Hak (Akatsuki no Yona), Keisuke Sanjou (Collar x Malice)

Takahiro Sakurai  “Astrum” – Mejojo von (Black Wolves Saga), Ruki (Diabolik Lovers), Alma (Bad Apple Wars), Rui Sagisawa (Nil Admirari)

Hanae Natsuki  “Libera”Satoru (Bad Apple Wars), Sera Akito (Collar x Malice), Jonah (Ikerev)

Daisuke Hirakawa “Zain” Saint Germain (Code Realize), Tower Overlord (Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk), Laito (Diabolik Lovers), Oomi (Hiro no Kakera)

Yuuichirou Umehara “Demento”Shingen Takeda (Ikemen Sengoku), Shinobu Kurosawa (Dynamic Chord)

Kousuke Toriumi “Shiki / Poyo-Poyo” – Saito Hajime (Hakuoki), John Watson (Code Realize), Kagiha/Lawrence (Psychedelica Series), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Ikesen)

Showtaro Morikubo “Jocus” Souji Okita (Hakuoki), Impey (Code Realize), Toa (7’scarlet), Reiji (Utapri)

Toshiki Masuda “Mergo”Ieyasu Tokugawa (Ikesen), Kei Yoshimine (The Charming Empire)

 

MAIN CHARACTERS

2018-07-26-220608In terms of spoiler content, from least to greatest ~ I strongly recommend playing the game in the route order below:

1)Radius
2)Astrum
3)Demento
4)Zain
5)Hiroya
6)Libera
7)Poyo-Poyo

 

spoilersss

Glossary:
Arcadiathe mmorpg game our main characters are playing.
World VThe server where Arcadia players are sucked into.
Ark – aka “dungeon” in mmorpg lore, where players need to clear in order to exit the game world.
Angels and Demons – the only two factions in Arcadia
Trinity of Swords – three most powerful weapons in Arcadia (Shadow’s Edge, Divine Blade of Light and the Almighty Amadeus)

 

RADIUS

  • Solo Player
  • Cold, Snob
  • Tsun tsun
  • IRL: Idol

The lone-wolf solo player of the demon faction. Radius holds an icy attitude towards everyone in Arcadia, including the heroine. He never joins a party and prefers to clear the ark on his own. He wields the Shadow’s Edge, one of the most powerful weapons in World V.

Although I liked Radius route for the most part, I find his romance with the heroine a little too forced. His story started somewhat interesting because of his tsundere nature, which i think was really cute. But he fell in love with Kazuha way too quick that I find it really hard to comprehend. He does have some fluffy moments with the heroine in the real world and his overall progress as a character was a tad better than the other bachelors but If it wasn’t for Maeno’s irresistible voice acting, I probably would’ve not enjoyed this route as much as I did. ┐( -“-)┌

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ASTRUM

  • Clarius Guild Leader
  • Roleplaying level 110%
  • Panic Attacks
  • IRL: Nerdy Med school student

Astrum is the leader of the famous guild, Clarius. They are considered as Arcadia’s speed-runners when it comes to clearing difficult quests and dungeons. He posses the Divine Blade of Light, one of the Trinity of Swords in World V and almost everyone in the Angel faction respects him for his leadership and camaraderie.

Astrum is also well-known for his exaggerated role playing in Arcadia and its almost cringe-worthy to listen to his flamboyant lines in the game. I didn’t really deemed this character interesting at first, as I did with Radius but after meeting Astrum in real life as Toru, the nerdy med student who gets panic attacks whenever Kazuha talks to him, I was overwhelmed by how hilarious this character was, that I immediately started liking him.(laughs) His route was very refreshing because of the added comic relief and I did not expect I’d enjoyed his route so much~ I actually think it’s one of the best in the game.

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DEMENTO

  • Bloodlust
  • Cold blooded murderer
  • IRL: Convenient Store clerk

The ruthless Arcadia gamer who loves PK’ing other players for fun. Demento’s race was changed to “Fallen” due to his uncontrollable lust of murdering other players (be it an Angel or a Demon) in World V. Because of his Fallen status, he has certain restrictions such as not being able to carry any kind of weapon other than his basic rubber daggers as well as not being able to enter certain location points (city) in Arcadia.

*Plays Bad Romance in the BG* My biggest problem with Demento’s route was that it lacked in character depth so much that I’ve asked myself over and over again “Why is this even a route?!” I mean, I love my trashy characters in otomes and I’m usually always in the front lines defending their sad excuse for an attitude (laughs) but Demento’s story was just a bad case of FUBAR. It would have been better if he had some sort of backstory that explained his bloodthirstiness and his hate for his life in the real world, but NOPE you aint gettin any of that here, no sir! ┐(︶▽︶)┌
What’s worse is that his route branches off from Astrum’s story so I literally power skipped everything except for the last two chapters. The only thing to look forward to in this route is Umehara’s voice. heh.

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ZAIN

  • NPC with feelings
  • Possessive
  • Yandere

Originally an NPC (Non Playable Character), Zain appears on other routes as someone who guides people around Adventure Town and provides players with quests. Since he’s computer generated, this character had no real life memories. However he was programmed (by the Arcadia makers) to protect Kazuha in World V which sort of conflicts his motives as a regular NPC.

In his route, Kazuha came accross Zain while she was fleeing from a monster after getting separated from Hiroya. Zain (as programmed) saved the heroine momentarily after they met and assisted her in surviving the world of Arcadia. As Zain spent more time with Kazuha, he quickly becomes more attached to her which lead to his unhealthy “obsession”. (*°ー°)ノ

Zain’s route had potential but because it had too many plot holes all piled up at the same time it became really confusing to me that I could barely get any connection with him. I love his character design though (I think he’s the prettiest bachelor of the bunch) and I love hearing Hirakawa’s pure innocent voice.

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HIROYA

  • the childhood friend
  • Reliable
  • Stubborn

In World V, Hiroya plays as a Boxer in the demon faction. He’s sometimes quite harsh with Kazuha but actually looks out for her in every way possible. Although his level is not up to par with most of the main characters in the game, he tries his best to protect the heroine from harm, even if it means putting his life on the line. IRL, Hiroya is Kazuha’s childhood friend who was with her when she got warped into World V.

Hiroya is that-one-character that gets copped out and friendzoned in almost all the routes in the game besides his. Poor guy! Due to this, I was so satisfied playing his route because, finally… he get’s a happy ending! (yay). I’m not really a fan of the childhood friend trope but I actually think his story was pretty good despite being predictable. Plus, his CGs were very lovely!

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LIBERA

  • Gender bender
  • Cunning
  • IRL: junior high school student

Libera is a “nekama” (male who plays a female character in online games / communities). He acts all ‘kawaii’ to get other male players give him provisions like a cool gear or some rare items for free by just batting his eyelashes (laughs). He’s not interested in doing any quests to increase his character level and just enjoys taking advantage of other players in Arcadia.

I don’t think anyone (in their right mind) actually thinks of Libera as a female character in the game as it was made very obvious from the get go (..and I don’t think Hanae’s voice is feminine at all?). Despite Libera’s cunning attitude towards the heroine, I actually like Libera’s character development. He’s smart and he typically knows what he’s doing. Although he makes it a point to prioritize his own self first above all else, I find it cute how he unintentionally risk his life to save Kazuha just in the nick of time.^^ I also enjoyed his moments with the heroine in the real world and I believe both of them complement each other really well (as far as age and maturity goes).

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POYO-POYO

  • Onii-san route
  • Obsessive
  • Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers!

Poyo-Poyo is a small monster / fairy-ish intel character in Arcadia who from time to time helps the heroine and other players in World V. He’s also a mysterious character, one that kept re-appearing in most of the routes in the game. Almost every player in Arcadia knew him for his cute appearance and easy going nature. He also knows a lot of secrets in World V.

If Toriumi’s voice didn’t made it obvious for you. This cute little mascot is actually Shiki in disguise. Shiki is Kazuha’s missing brother and one of the makers of the world Arcadia.

Although it was made clear in the beginning that Shiki and Kazuha aren’t blood related, Idk, I guess I’m just not a fan of the brother-sister-romance trope, especially if both of you grew up together on the same household from day one. Not only that, Shiki’s character was also very obsessive with the heroine, all the more making this route really uncomfortable (to me anyway lol). But because he’s a 2D character, I forgive him.Despite this route’s creep factor, I think it did an okay job in justifying the story’s plot holes and cliffhangers in Shiki’s happy ending. I honestly did not enjoy this route personally, but I don’t think it was a bad “true” route altogether. ┐(°ヮ°)┌

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KAZUHA (main heroine)

  • Mary Sue
  • bland
  • dues ex machina

Kazuha is the most Mary Sue of all mary sues an otome game has to offer. It was so hard to play her character without getting ticked off (scratches head). She literally gets dragged around by all the guys in the game and becomes a doormat in almost every route. Not only that, but the fact that this heroine did not develop any kind of progress in the RPG world, status/level wise is so aggravating, It grew grey hairs all over my head! I can sense that there was an attempt for a character development but it failed in so many levels, it’s a darn shame because this character had a lot of potential in the mmorpg lore. But hey, because of her “Almighty” status (race) she can transform into something so powerful in the most convenient time possible because…ya know! deus ex machina! Ha..haha (face palm).image

*Deep Breath* Alright, so I may have seen worse heroines than Kazuha. Still, this doesn’t change the fact that this protagonist was a let down especially when the plot itself had a lot of opportunities for her character to do so much better in so many ways. (Shrug)
┐(︶▽︶)┌

On a side note, I absolutely love Kazuha’s character design. She’s just so cute!!! and her RPG costume as a Minstrel / Almighty was top tier.

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OTHER CHARACTERS
Besides the main ones, there were a few prominent side characters of the game that I think were more likable and would’ve possibly made better routes than the ones already lined up. Jocus and Mergo (for example), from the guild Forte were a few of the characters that would’ve made potential suitors for the heroine. Same goes for Sirent, from the angel faction. (^◔ᴥ◔^)

 

TRAILER / OPENING MOVIE

 

 

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS?( ´ ∀ ` )ノ
To me, Period Cube was a great visual novel per se. When it comes to its art, music, game system and voice acting ~ it’s one decent title worthy of its price. I would recommend this game just for those aspects alone.

In terms of story content, it held a lot of plot holes that were left in the dark for the most part of the game which was really disappointing (e.g. Akashic Records). Some routes were a bit darker than I anticipated and It would’ve been nice if there was more focus on creating character depths among the romanceable bachelor’s stories (e.g. Demento’s route). But despite the few reasonable gripes I’ve stated above, I did enjoy playing this game as a whole and I’ve at least liked 4 routes (Radius, Astrum, Libera, Hiroya).

Overall, it’s a good title by Otomate, maybe not one for the books but definitely something worth picking up, imo. If you’re like me who doesn’t mind spending a little of that doe to support otoge localisations, I recommend giving this one a go.

Chlo’s Rating: 7/10

 

 

It’s a Witch-hunt! Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk Review

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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)

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…and finally! The last title for Aksys’ Summer of Mystery Promo.

Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk holds true to its testimonials of a very engaging game play with a plot setting that’s intriguingly rather different compared to it’s 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. 

Walkthroughs:
Common Route Endings
ALL Main Character Endings

 

GAME SYNOPSIS
“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 on 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):

 

VOICE ACTING

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)

2018-07-08-075809Some character’s true ending will only unlock after clearing another character’s route beforehand. For example, Levi’s ending 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.

LAVAN

  • Lord of the Wolf Clan
  • Overprotective
  • One Sided Love

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 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.

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LEVI

  • Cheerful
  • 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 always seems to be in her favor. One thing I really like about Levi, is how accepting he is when it comes to his flawed characteristics. I also like 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.

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LUGUS

  • 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).

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HUGH 

  • 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 kudos to that!

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TOWER OVERLORD

  • Amnesiac
  • Free Spirited
  • Lazy

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 personas 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.

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JED / EIAR (Heroine)

  • Cross dressing MC
  • MVP
  • 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 a 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 herimage. I was totally at a point where I just want to give her a comforting hug, and scream: “Please cut this heroine some slack!” image

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this heroine can take a beating too, and can fight well with the sword

 

image MAPS
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.

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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 it’s 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 it’s prequel also adds up to the game’s enjoyment level.

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS?(*°▽°*)
With a 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 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 managed to take the fluff up a notch when compared to it’s 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. Nyan.

Chlo’s Rating: 7/10

 

 

Romance and Folklore – 7’scarlet Review

NOTE: This review is SPOILER FREE.

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7’SCARLET

Release Date: May 25, 2018 (North America)
Developers:  Toybox Inc, Otomate
Publishers:  Idea Factory, Aksys Games
Platforms:  PS Vita
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

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As the second title released by Aksys Games for their Summer Mystery Bundle, 7’scarlet offers one gripping mystery-solving game play amplified with a cute touch of romance.

Walkthroughs:

Hino Kagutsuchi
Isora Amari
Toa Kushinada
Sosuke Tatehira
Yuzuki Murakumo
True Route & Final Character

 

Read the game’s synopsis here.

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Otome Visual Novels are either a hit or a miss when it comes to it’s story narratives. 7’scarlet did one hell of a job foregoing a simple but very intriguing mystery-type plot line while having a few romantic events as an additive to its overarching deep story.

With the help of it’s unique visuals and animations, playing 7’scarlet was close to watching your favorite anime series.

 

imageART
One of the things I really enjoyed while playing 7’scarlet was its astonishing BG images. It’s just so pretty, it’s like wallpaper material! (giggle)image. The game’s artist was non other than, Kurahana Chinatsu an illustrator who’s also famous for her other popular works such as the character designs for Uta no Prince-Sama, Lamento (Beyond the Void), and Togainu no Chi.

 

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Looking at these lovely BG images reminded me of browsing through expensive art catalogs!

 

imageSOUNDTRACK AND VOICE ACTING
There are two opening themes, “World’s End Syndrome” and “LOVESICK”, you can unlock the latter after finishing a certain route in the game. The BGMs are good too, some are rather simple but very fitting for the game’s setting and transitions. Heck, I ended up buying the whole 7’scarlet soundtrack in iTunes.

And like any other Otomate titles, there will always be that one song you’ll end up getting stuck with. That one-song that gave you so much FEELS. In 7’scarlet, mine would have to be the song “Starry”.

 

Voice Acting

Nobunaga Shimazaki “Hino – Napoleon (Ikevamp), Kurogane Naoto (BlazBlue)Mitsuhide (Sengoku Nightblood)

Tetsuya Kakihara “Isora – Shin (Amnesia), Victor Frankenstein (Code Realize), Karasuba (Pyschedelica BB), Toki Tanba (Charming Empire)

Showtaro Morikubo “Toa – Impey (Code Realize), Reiji (Uta no Prince-sama), Okita (Hakuoki)

Chiharu Sawashiro “Sosuke – Shila (Snow White and the Red hair), Hero (Caligula Effect)

Shinichirou Miki “Yuzuki – Hijikata (Hakuoki), Nesso Galland (Black Wolves Saga), Bucket-Sensei (Bad Apple Wars)

Sanae Kobayashi “Yuki – Sara Nome (Macross Zero), Nagisa (Maid Sama)

Hiroki Yasumoto “Mr. Karasuma – Azrael (BlazBlue), Nidai Nekomaru (Danganropa V3), Hyuga (KLAP)

Hiroki Takahashi “Kagura Tsukuyomi – Rayne (Neo Angelique Abyss), Otohiko (Kamisama Kiss), Koujaku (DRAMAtical Murder)

Daisuke Kishio “Yasu Azusa (Diabolik Lovers), Mizushima Arata (Kiniro no Corda: Bluesky), Kuzuryuu (Danganropa V3)

Chiwa Saito “Yua – Aoi Asahina (Danganropa V3), Taokaka (BlazBlue), Domina (Period Cube), Fate (Caster)

 

imageMAIN CHARACTERS (SPOILER FREE)

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Recommended play order:

1)Hino
2)Isora
3)Toa – only unlocks after finishing Hino and Isora’s good ending
4)Sosuke – only unlocks after finishing Toa’s good ending
5)Yuzuki – only unlocks after finishing all of the character’s good ending

 

Hino Kagutsuchi

  • Childhood friend
  • Sporty
  • Dork

Hino’s story was cute. It had very few spoilers regarding the game’s overarching plot but his route did a good job catering as a story build-up for the oncoming routes you’ll get in to after finishing the first two recommended ones (his and Isora’s). I enjoyed the fact that Hino was physically a jock on the outside but covertly the biggest dork on the inside image(the guy fangirls on ‘kawaii’ things! lol). His romance was more into the generic childhood-friend trope, which I’m not really a big fan of. His route wasn’t my favorite, but it was definitely a good start.

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Isora Amari

  • Best Chef
  • Hot tempered
  • Jealous
  • Yandere

Just like Hino’s route, Isora’s story offers very few spoilers of the game’s underlying plot but was well written enough to create a very mysterious atmosphere of the town, Okunezato. Isora’s character, was also deeper than what I expected and I wished the writers expounded more on the depth of this character’s actions rather than just throwing it out there on the spot. Despite this, I love Isora Amari’s story. It had great pacing, enough to give you that creep factor you seek in every mystery-themed visual novel. His romance, on the other hand may not suit everyone’s preferences. Although I personally enjoyed it, I can understand how it may not work for some.
┐(︶▽︶)┌

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Toa Kushinada

  • Cat mom
  • Clumsy af
  • Color blind
  • such a sweet boi!

So my first impression with Toa was: “Really?! I have to romance this clumsy nerd, seriously, game?”. Then I started playing his route just to get it over with and oh my goodness! I did not expected the sudden turn of events! 

As I’ve probably mentioned repeatedly on my previous reviews… I absolutely love it when a game catches you off guard, and this route takes the cake! I was left speechless.  I couldn’t talk more about his story without going into spoiler territory so I’ll leave it at this: Toa was such a great character and he deserves all the love in the world! Best boy (imo), one that’s definitely unforgettable.image

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Sosuke Tatehira

  • Smart
  • Neat freak!
  • Best Doctor
  • OC!

If there was one route that got me at the edge of my seat in 7’scarlet ~ it was definitely Sosuke’s. His story had great pacing where it started off very light and warm then surprisingly escalated into a few bemusing affairs. His route also introduced a more definitive and deeper story regarding the mysteries surrounding the town of Okunezato. While the suspense was a little overwhelming in this route, I wanted to commend on how the romance never took a back seat in Sosuke’s story. His relationship with the heroine felt genuinely real and I love both his and Ichiko’s character development. I also loved the fact that Sosuke was such a neat freak and becomes very obsessive-compulsive about something so simple such as a goldfish scooping game! The perfect husbando, if you ask me! (chuckles)image

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Yuzuki Murakumo

  • Jerk Boss
  • Hot!!!
  • Intense
  • Tsundere

While the suspense was building up in Sosuke’s previous route, Yuzuki’s story on the other hand was a power house of everything (thrill, drama, a few action packed scenes and some romantic fluffs) …And although it happened so fast, all at the same time, I’ve got to say it was paced really well that it didn’t came out too forced nor too overwhelming with information. I personally love Yuzuki’s character. He’s cold and irritable on the outside but inside his icy personality is one very warm, fluffy husbando! image His story was probably the most compelling as far as solving the mysteries of Okunezato goes.

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Ichiko Hanamaki (You)

  • amnesiac heroine (explained in ??? ‘s route)
  • hates strawberries (explained in ??? ‘s route)
  • can’t swim (explained in ??? ‘s route)

hanamakiDespite the the main protagonist’s naivety and recklessness to a point where you’d clearly have to question this heroine’s sense of danger image (laughs), Ichiko Hanamaki had a couple of good points up her sleeve such as her strong will and determination to look for her disappeared older brother in spite of being absolutely clueless on where to begin. Another enjoyable aspect, was how this heroine sometimes gets shamelessly clumsy in declaring her love to the gentleman of her liking. She had a couple of funny moments that got me all “wtf lol” ~ so it was never a dull moment playing her as the MC.

 

 

And it gets better…
So the story doesn’t really end there. After finishing Hino, Isora, Toa, Sosuke, and Yuzuki’s route. Two more routes unlocks in this game.

Who is the culprit?image
Another factor why this game was so entertaining to me was that it reminded me of playing Mafiascum.

As someone who’s been playing mafiascum online for a long time, the game’s conclusion was somewhat predictable but I’ve got to admit, it was one gripping read and the “True Ending” was painfully heartbreaking.

 

TRAILER

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS?tumblr_inline_mrj6raI4O71qz4rgp
7’scarlet is a very well written mystery themed visual novel. While the story was so simple, the events were paced so good that each tension as you unravel the mysteries remained suspenseful enough to keep you wanting for more.

Truth be told, I did not expect I’d get so emotionally attached to this game. It’s really one gripping read. I couldn’t get over it for maybe a week. lol  I guess my only gripe was that I wished they could’ve done more with the last secret route as the ending felt a little rushed and lacking. (shrug)

The animation and movie clips of 7’scarlet were an additional plus points. Though without it, the game still excels as one of the most compelling stories an otome game has to offer. Do I recommend this game? YES! If you’re looking for a good mystery-romance themed visual novel with great art, music, animation and one unforgettable story that will rob you of words, 7’scarlet is the perfect choice.

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Chlo’s Rating: 7/10

 

Exploring the World In Between – Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly Review

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PSYCHEDELICA OF THE BLACK BUTTERFLY

Release Date: April 27, 2018 (North America)
Developers:  Idea Factory, Otomate
Publishers:  Idea Factory, Aksys Games
Platforms:  PS Vita
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

0000BUTTON

 

Aksys Games promised to release three otome titles as part of their 2018’s Summer Mystery Bundle. As their first released title, Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly is an oddball among the usual otome labels that were recently localized this year.

As intriguing as the title sounds, this game draws you to a heart-rending story line of tragic mystery and offers one very unique way of playing it. That said, Psychedelica BB is not your average otome game. I’d like to think of it as one of those underrated visual novels that holds deeper meanings and weights  very powerful messages coming from it’s well written routes. I consider the added side romance as a nice fluff to lighten up the game’s rather dark theme.

Psychedelica BB pretty much revolves around the theme of ‘death’ and ‘grief’. So if you’re uncomfortable with these topics, this game is probably not for you.

Walkthrough:
Common Route (Best Ending and Real Word Ending)
All Character Routes and Endings

 

Read the story synopsis here.

 

imageART AND MUSIC
The game’s art style is one of it’s most appealing factor. It had very remarkable aesthetic sensation that imbues the surreal world of the setting’s dream like state. We have the artist, Satol Yuiga to thank for that. Looking forward to more of her works in the upcoming game Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk (English loc.) this June.

Another aspect that captivates you to this game is it’s soundtrack. For the most part, I really enjoyed the game’s BGMs. It blended well with the mystifying atmosphere it’s trying to create. Here’s my fav track!

Voice Acting
One thing I noticed at the start of the game was the voiced heroine. It’s not everyday that your main protagonist gets a VA so I was really excited how this one played out. Although, I could not relate to Beniyuri (MC) on a personal level, I liked how her voice actor smoothly carries out her dialogues. It makes the player (you) really empathize with the character’s emotions.

Nakahara Mai “BENIYURI” – Nagisa (Clannad), Kaede Minami (Mirmu De Pon), Noi Kasahara (The Wallflower) 

Toriumi Kosuke “KAGIHA” –  Rei Mikuni (Collar x Malice), Shuu (Diabolik Lovers), Saitou Hajime (Hakuoki), Momochi Choujirou (Nightshade), Uesugi Kenshin (Sengoku Nightblood), Hideyoshi Toyotomi (Ikemen Sengoku)

Ishikawa Kaito “HIKAGE” – Alyn Crawford (Midnight Cinderella), Tobio Kageyama (Haikyu!), Tenya Iida (My Hero Academia)

Hosoya Yoshimasa “YAMATO” – Luka (Amnesia Crowd / World), Loki (Kamigami No Asobi),  Yukimura Sanada (Ikemen Sengoku) , Yusuke Asahina (Brother’s Conflict)

Matsuoka Yoshitsugu “MONSHIRO” – Arata (Arata The Legend), Takuru Miyashiro (CHAOS Child)

Tetsuya Kakihara♥ “KARASUBA” – Victor Frankenstein (Code Realize), Shin (Amnesia Memories), Toki Tanba (The Charming Empire), Isora (7’sCarlet) 

 

imageROUTES AND MAIN CHARACTERS

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Recommended Play Order Below:

1)Common Route
2)Kagiha
3)Hikage
4)Yamato
5)Monshiro
6)Karasuba

Following the play order above is the easiest, most convenient way to unlocking all of the character’s endings as well as the common route’s best, good and real world ending. I don’t think there’s a ‘True Route’ in this game so you can deviate whichever character you want to play first. However, be aware that when aiming for some of the character’s  “True Ending”, you are required to unlock another character’s route beforehand. For example: Yamato’s true ending can only be obtained if you’ve finished Kagiha’s route.

Also, I believe this game only had ONE Happy Ending. (sarcastic laugh) image No kidding! I mean it! I’m not saying the rest are bad either but they are definitely NOT ‘happy’ so to speak.

 

Characters (SPOILER FREE)image

KAGIHA

  • Eldest
  • Big Bro of the group
  • Best Boy? (Almost)
  • Route Message: “Acceptance”

It is almost impossible to not do Kagiha’s route first nor unravel this character’s story as he was very much involved in the main plot (Common Route) and pretty much the rest of all the routes in this game. Kagiha is considered the big-brother-type character of the bunch. He’s usually the guy that puts a stop to playful fights between Karasuba and Yamato and he is genuinely very affectionate and gentle towards the heroine. Kagiha’s story was very emotional. This route focused a lot on heavy drama that I’m almost certain will get your sensitive heart bawling in the end.image If you think Saint Germain’s route in Code Realize was heartbreaking, try this one on for size! 

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HIKAGE 

  • Leader
  • Strongest
  • Cunnning
  • Route Message: “Letting Go of the Past”

I’m actually glad I played Hikage’s route second. The thing is, there are certain short stories you’ll need to watch to get this character’s ending. Tip: Knock out all of his short stories and clear Kagiha’s ending and you’ll have no problems running his route smoothly. Hikage’s character was also very much involved in the Common Route. His plot twist was really unexpected that I was actually caught off guard on my first play through. In his route, there were a few easter eggs that were brought up which I really enjoyed, like the picture book story about the “Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly” (Yes! the game title itself! Lol). IMO, the fable somehow explains Hikage’s true feelings and anguish towards his past and present.

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YAMATO

  • Cold, Irritable
  • Hates the sound of rain
  • Lone Wolf
  • Route Message: “Guilt

Yamato’s character was my favorite since he was the most realistic character in the game. He starts off as this really irritable jerk that always gets agitated during the game’s introduction but later on softens up after talking to Beniyuri and regaining parts of his memories. His behavior in the manor was deliberately explained during the real world ending (Why he’s always so desperate to go back to the real world, why he hates the sound of rain, etc.). This is why it is a prerequisite to unlock the Real World Ending first before jumping into his route. Yamato was also a very flawed character from the get go (one, I can personally relate to),  his story merely gravitates towards his feelings of guilt and despair due to his past actions which he fully regrets. His story conclusion was either to wallow in guilt and grief (Bad End) or to continue moving forward (Good End).

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MONSHIRO

  • Fox masked
  • Mysterious
  • Aloof
  • Route Message: “Trust”

Another favorite character in Psychedelica BB. Monshiro is the mysterious fox masked stranger who appeared at the start of the game rescuing Beniyuri and Hikage from the manor’s lurking monsters. He is one peculiar character that kept reappearing in the common route trying to get close to the main protagonist by helping her in any way he can. He doesn’t talk much and appears to have an attachment towards Beniyuri and Yamato. Monshiro is such an adorable chracter tbh (he is too pure for words!). Because he’s always used to being alone, it was very difficult for him to interact with others, making it very awkward whenever he does. Monshiro’s route probably had THE best pacing in the game~ I was at the edge of my seat while playing his story.

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KARASUBA

  • Biggest Flirt
  • Jerk
  • Yandere
  • Route Message: “Denial”

Karasuba is one happy go lucky character and the most easy going of the group. He’s usually found butting heads with Yamato at the beginning and continuously flirts with heroine all through out the game. Despite his cheerful facade, Karasuba is actually one deep character and the jolly personality he’s fronting is his way of  hiding the skeletons in his closet. Karasuba’s true ending was also the most difficult to unlock (to me anyway lol) as you had to watch almost all of the short stories and clear other routes beforehand. I did like all of his endings, including his ominous bad endingimage(laughs). I was also satisfied to unlock his good ending as it clearly redeems the character’s good side through the heroine’s help.

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BENIYURI (Main Heroine)

  • Trustworthy
  • Reckless
  • Character  Message: Repudiation (refusal of to accept the truth)

beniyuri

Besides having the weirdest name I’ve come across with for an otome heroine image, Beniyuri is a kind, patient and optimistic protagonist and I like her own strength and sense of determination in the game. That aside, this heroine can also become a bit nosy, reckless and way too trusting not knowing her naivety can hurt her in the long run.

Beniyuri may not be the best otome heroine, but still one great likable character in Psychedelica BB. 

 

 

FLOWCHART AND MINI GAME
Playing this game, requires you to navigate through a flowchart system. I don’t really find this troublesome at all since it kind of works to the game’s advantage when trying to determine the story branches you’re in as well as getting to the endings you’re aiming for. I guess the only con I can point out regarding the flowchart system is that the side stories won’t automatically play when you’re going for a character’s route. You will need to load the flowchart and unlock the short stories to watch them separately. So to those who’s fond of auto-plays this may come out a bit bothersome, but you’ll get used to it eventually.

Butterfly Hunt Mini Gameimage
You will only get to play this mini game on chapters 2:2 and 4:1. The game requires you to hunt for ‘monsters‘ in the form of butterflies, locking targets to shoot them. The trick is to lock as many targets as you can before firing a shot, that way you’ll get more points than usual. You’ll need to aim for a score of A or S to unlock trophies (on PSVita). You’ll also need these points when unlocking short stories in the flowchart.

You will also get to choose who to pair up with in this mini game. All your partner ever does really, is cheer for you lol. image Ngl, hearing Tetsuya Kakihara (Karasuba) say “BANG!” motivates me greatly! Nyan.

 

GAME TRAILER / OPENING MOVIE

 

imageOVERALL THOUGHTS?
The entire gameplay for Psychedelica BB is a bit short which kind of works for me since I’m not too fond of really long play runs (because I procrastinate a lot lmao). To me, this game had good  pacing and one really REALLY impressive story line that’ll get you all dem FEELS. The game also offers great valuable lessons in life that got me deep in thought after playing it, and I really love it when a game does that.

Although the romance was given less emphasis in this game, I still enjoyed playing Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly as a whole and wouldn’t mind playing it again… *cough* after I get this big lump of nail off my chest *cough* 

I will admit, it’s not my favorite but it did come close to my top five. It’s a great game that fits it’s full pricing. I also, highly recommend it to visual novel fans who enjoys a very “human” story with relatable characters, and doesn’t mind melancholic endings.

 

Chlo’s Rating: 7/10

How Do You Define Justice? Collar x Malice Review

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COLLAR X MALICE

Release Date: July 28, 2017 (North America)
Developers:  Idea Factory, Otomate
Publishers:  Idea Factory, Aksys Games
Platforms:  PS Vita
ESRB Rating: +17 M (Mature)

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Walkthroughs:

Mineo Enomoto
Kei Okazaki
Takeru Sasazuka
Kageyuki Shiraishi
Aiji Yanagi

 

Collar x Malice is a Visual Novel that also happens to be an otome game. I do feel that the romance part of the game was more of like a nice ‘filler’. Probably because the game itself focused mainly on the ‘murder mystery type’ story line… Be warned that this game has a very strong theme of violence. If you’re looking for a straight forward, all-out romance dating sim, this game is probably not for you.

Read the game synopsis here.

 

STORY AND THEME
Oddly enough for an otome game, the story touched up in creating a grim atmosphere from day one of its prologue and the theme continues to get darker with each routes you play.

The common route revolves around the main protagonist Ichika Hoshino, an honest and hardworking police officer of Shinjuku, who was one day kidnapped and blackmailed by an anonymous terrorist group called “Adonis”. She found herself in one difficult predicament as she woke up after her ambush with a collar on her neck and an order to investigate the X-Day cases, a series of mass murder events that was done for the purpose of purging Japan from its lurking sinners. With the help of an independent detective agency, Ichika will unravel the truth of Adonis’ murders and their true meaning of justice while facing circumstances that can end her life in an instant.

At first glance, I honestly did not expect too much of the game, but then I started playing it and my gosh!  This game’s intriguing enigma just blew me away. I got hooked. I just love it when an otome game catches you off guard like that. Isn’t it such a nice feeling? You’re not only excited in romancing ‘dem hot bois’image but you’re also so engrossed in the story that you cant help but formulate theories in your head and of course that lingering curiosity of wanting to know what happens next.

 

image MECHANICS
Besides the usual Visual Novel’s straightforward narratives, the game offers a few interesting mini games making it more interactive for players.

  • Investigations – Just like Ace Attorney and Danganropa V3, you get to click a few various objects in a room to get clues and unlock conversations.
  • Elevator (Go to) – structured like the main protagonist’s workplace, you will get to choose which floors or office you’ll need to visit to progress in the story.
  • Trigger Mode – a mini game where the main protagonist draws her gun and fires it. Missing the target will get you a bad end while a direct aim lets you progress in the game.

AIM HERE!

The trick is to aim at the middle inner red circle of the target. A burst of red outline will flash if trigger mode was a success. A gray outline will flash if it failed.

 

ART
God bless Hanamura Mai, for Collar x Malice’s beautiful artwork. She’s also famous for her other works such as Desert Kingdom and of course the ever popular Amnesia series.

 

MUSIC AND SOUNDTRACK image
During my first play through, I was awestruck to hear the band, Plastic Tree performing the game’s opening theme. Oh man! I used to listen to this band when I was in high school (swooning). They were a legend back then and hearing them play the soundtrack of your now-favorite otome game is such a treat, I swooned so hard that I bought their new recent 2018 album.

Besides Plastic Tree’s awesome soundtracks, I also wanna point out that this game had some amazing BGMs. Mood transitions from lighter themes to the dark ones were pristine. Here’s my fav bgm from the game!

Voice Acting
Otomate has never failed to give us fantastic VAs from all these promising seiyus serenading us with their sexy sweet character voices.

Soma Saito “Mineo Enomoto” – Tadashi Yamaguchi (Haikyu!), Rem Kaginuki (Dance with Devils), Sota (Possession Magenta)

Yuki Kaji “Kei Okazaki” –  Kanato (Diabolik Lovers), Finis (Code Realize), Souma Kazue (Hakuoki), Yuiga Kakeru (Norn9), Kurusu Kaoru (Uta no Prince-sama), Ryuichi Naruhodo (Ace Attorney)

Daisuke Namikawa “Takeru Sazasuka” – Eigetsu/Yougetsu☻ (Saiunkoku Monogatari), Komura Yuuichi (Hiiro no Kakera),  Luka Redgrave (Bayonetta), Miyamoto Musashi (Sengoku Basara)

Ryohei Kimura “Kageyuki Shiraishi” – Kou (Diabolik Lovers), Roche (Neo Angelique Abyss), Kaito Momota (Danganropa V3), Masato Kadowaki (Arata the Legend)

Masakazu Morita “Aiji Yanagi” – Kija♥ (Akatsuki No Yona), Auel Neider (Gundam Seed DESTINY), Kazuki Hihara♥ (Kiniro No Corda), Maeda Keiji (Sengoku Basara), Whis (Dragon Ball Super)

Takuya Eguchi “Kazuki Hoshino” – Koichiro Sera (The Charming Empire), Kyoya Mochizuki (Possession Magenta), Nomura Risaburo (Hakuoki)

Natsuki Hanae “Akito Sera” – Nova (Amnesia World), Jaco (Dragon Ball Super), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Sengoku Night Blood), Satoru (Bad Apple Wars), Libera (Period Cube-Shackles of Amadeus)

Toriumi Kousuke “Rei Mikuni” – Shuu (Diabolik Lovers), Saitou Hajime (Hakuoki), Momochi Choujirou (Nightshade), Takizawa Saku (Gakuen Club), Azusa (Brother’s Conflict), Uesugi Kenshin (Sengoku Nightblood), Hideyoshi Toyotomi (Ikemen Sengoku), Kagiha (Psychedelica BB)

 Maeno Tomoaki Keisuke Sanjou” – Arsene Lupin (Code Realize), Son Hak♥ (Akatsuki No Yona), Natsume  (Brother’s Conflict), Camus (Uta no Prince-sama)

 

imageMAIN CHARACTERS

cropped-2018-04-22-154158.jpg

For best gaming experience, you can follow the recommended play order below:

1) Mineo Enomoto
2) Kei Okazaki
3) Takeru Sazasuka
4) Kageyuki Shiraishi – I highly recommend playing him 4th, before unlocking Yanagi’s route
5) Aiji Yanagi – his route only unlocks after finishing the four above.

 

**Because I love this game so much, I will be reviewing each of the main characters and their routes on separate posts. So contents below are spoiler free! (yay)

Mineo Enomoto tumblr_inline_mwihoqlpFH1qid2nw

  • Adorkable
  • Sengoku Fanatic
  • He wears an eye patch to resemble his Sengoku warlord idol, Date Masamune.
  • Hopeless Romantic
  • Quick at Speed
  • Gets very shy and unsociable when it comes to women.

I recommend playing Mineo’s route first, due to the fact that this is the only route that won’t reveal a lot of spoilers when it comes to the game’s underlying plot. Romantic wise, his events aren’t the most appealing (to me anyway). Half of his route was spent on Ichika trying to make him accept her as his partner and him pushing her away because he has major trust issues and all. But despite that, I admit, I still fully enjoyed his route as a whole. Mineo is such an adorkable character, and I wouldn’t have him in any other way.  This route also had the right amount of drama and action that keeps you going in the story. Plus, the fluff content was great! 

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Kei Okazaki tumblr_inline_mwihos9umS1qid2nw

  • Hidden Badass
  • God Tier combat skills
  • Very Physical *wink*
  • Reckless Abandon
  • Sleeps just about anywhere
  • Loves horror films and bizarre food
  • Very smart but acts the other way around
  • Overprotective (literally)image

I have to admit, I thought Okazaki’s route would be pretty boring since it started very dragging at the beginning. But man, it got so good in the middle (between Chapter 2 & 3) that I freakin’ yelped a few times scene after scene. This man is very stubborn but very passionate. His route was also very action packed, so expect to see him and the heroine in one badass fighting duo situation.

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Takeru Sazasuka tumblr_inline_mwihowlyWd1qid2nw

  • Baby Face
  • God Tier Hacker
  • Tsundere af
  • Born in Japan, raised in America
  • Self Centered and very straight forward
  • Hates guns
  • Sweet Tooth 
  • Will only acknowledge you if you prove to be smart enough worth his attention.
  • Hates matcha desserts or anything green tea related.

One of the best routes of the game was Sazasuka’s. His story had perfect pacing from start to finish and his ending was probably the most satisfying one among others’ prior to unlocking Aiji’s. Takeru’s tsundere characteristics was very charming in his story to say the least. I was grinning the whole time while playing his route.image It was also interesting to see Takeru’s amazing hacking knowledge and skills bring into play in his story.

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Kageyuki Shiraishi tumblr_inline_mwihozHu101qid2nw
NOTE: His route will only be available on your second play through.

  • Jerkass
  • Complicated, Unreadable
  • Eccentric
  • Cat mom
  • Very quick to cut ties with anyone if he gets bored with you.
  • Lacks empathy, No social skills (& he doesn’t care what you think)
  • Profiler – he’s very good at reading people
  • Angst, Angst, Angst!

Aw man! I dove in to Shiraishi’s route too quickly because I wanted to unlock Yanagi’s asap, not knowing what I was in for. His route completely shook me to my core lmao (no kidding!) talk about paradox?! This contains so many spoilers of the game’s overarching story line. That said, I highly recommend playing him last (4th) prior to unlocking Aiji Yanagi’s. Although I had mixed feelings on Shiraishi’s story, I can’t deny that I  fully enjoyed the roller coaster ride his route has to offer. This one’s also very ‘angsty’ so you better brace yourself! meow.

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Aiji Yanagi tumblr_inline_mwihp1RYbp1qid2nw
NOTE: His route will only unlock after finishing the other’s happy ending.

  • Father figure of the group
  • Best Cook
  • Reliable, Level headed, Calm
  • Dark Past
  • Chainsmoker
  • Too Perfect (there’s nothing he CAN’T do)
  • Best Boy!

Just like any other unlockable characters, Yanagi’s story is only playable after finishing everyone else’s good endings, making his route the “True Route” of Collar x Malice. This route also had perfect solid pacing where it didn’t felt too rushed when it comes to breaking in conclusions. His story pretty much answers all the mind boggling cliffhangers you’ve experience in previous routes giving you the: “Oh so that’s why this happened” or “..Ahh now I get it” reactions.  The romance factor in Aiji’s story was rather timid due to the rise and fall of the plot’s events. His character was also very reserved and distant towards the main heroine at first. Thus delaying the spark of their relationship mid-way of his story. If it wasn’t for Ichika’s “boldness”, both of them would’ve never been a “item”image

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Ichicka Hoshino (You)image

  • Natural Chef
  • Cool Big Sis
  • Badass Marksman
  • Best Girl!

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I thoroughly enjoyed playing Ichika as the main protagonist of this game. Mainly because her character was very realistic. This heroine had many flaws which she managed to acknowledged wholeheartedly (in every route) and accepted her imperfections making her totally relatable. Unlike most MC’s in otome games who’s personality changes depending on which route you take, I noticed that Ichika’s characteristics were fairly consistent all throughout the game. Ichika is probably one of the coolest otome heroines I’ve ever played. She gets drunk, cracks jokes, gossips, talks trash, gets agitated and is one wicked sharpshooter. All in all~one very strong and likable protagonist.

 

imageSide Characters
Almost all the side characters of Collar x Malice were very notable in the game. Mainly because they are all relevant in the story. It is also very refreshing to see the protagonist surrounded by friends and family she engages significant conversations with. These little tete-a-tete exchange Ichika has with other minor characters are never a wasted filler. It’s as if it’s there to lighten up the game’s dark theme.

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…And who doesn’t love the main character’s gossip sessions with her kickass girlfriends?! image

 

TRAILER / OPENING MOVIE

 

imageOVERALL THOUGHTS?
Plot wise, it’s really well-crafted and compelling enough to keep you at the edge of your seat. I guess the only con I have in the game were the very few typos that I literally overlooked (that’s just how absorbed I was while playing, that even these minor issues didn’t posed a problem~ well, to me anyway!)image Other than that, this game was such a stellar experience that I would definitely pick it up another day and play it all over again. It’s addictive, it’s enthralling, it’s one of the best visual novels Aksys Games has ever localized!

tumblr_inline_mrj6raI4O71qz4rgp Would I recommend this game? 
Definitely! To all otoge fans you are missing half of your ‘otome experience’ if you haven’t played Collar x Malice.image This game is definitely worth a shot. Give this one a whirl and you’ll definitely won’t regret it.

I’m crossing fingers Idea Factory International and Aksys Games will announce their localization for Collar x Malice Unlimited in this year’s Anime Expo (2018). Will keep this blog posted for more news!  ^^

 

Chlo’s Rating: 10/10