Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly Review

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Release Date: 2015
Publisher: Idea Factory & Aksys Games
Platforms Available: PS Vita (Japanese & English)
Game Link: Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly – PS Vita [PHYSICAL]
Official Site: Aksys Games

Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly is the first of three otome releases from Aksys Games as part of their summer mystery bundle. From first impressions, I didn’t know much about the game prior to playing. The only aspects that caught my eye was the appealing artwork, a voiced heroine and that it involved a shooter mini-game.

In comparison to their previously heavily marketed titles, I feel Psychedelica has quietly slipped under the radar and not many other websites/reviewers have spoken much about this game.  To my surprise, I was very impressed by the immersive storyline, captivating characters and the Psychedelica universe. It’s definitely a rare hidden gem amongst the English otome localisations of 2018, and I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.

Thank you to Aksys Games for collaborating with me on this review and providing a review copy of the game.

Storyline ★★★★

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-The Story-
The story begins with a young woman waking up within the confines of an unknown, mysterious mansion with no recollection of how she got there. Adding to her confusion, she can no longer remember her name or past. However, before she could come to grips with her predicament she is suddenly attacked by a grotesque monster and is forced to run for her life.

The protagonist eventually comes into contact with others who also have no recollections of their pasts or how they ended up at the mansion. With only the enigmatic command “Complete the Kaleidoscope” to guide their way, the group sets off to hunt down the mysterious black butterflies that envelop the monsters of the mansion and recover their lost memories. (Official Website)

Initially, Psychedelica can be quite the daunting game to fully understand and appreciate in the early stages of the storyline. You’re thrust into a bizarre world encroached in darkness, where danger lurks around every corner and any misstep could lead to your untimely demise. To make matters worse, you possess no memories of your former identity and are forced to blindly trust and cooperate with complete strangers.

Quite figuratively and literally, you’re left fumbling around in the dark grasping for the memories of your past and uncovering the secret of the mansion in order to return to the real world. The storyline takes on a non-linear approach, and you slowly come to piece together the fragments of Benyuri’s (Protagonist) memories as you progress through the game.

A lot of players have criticised the ‘flowchart’ format of Psychedelica, as it detracts from the main overarching storyline. I personally didn’t mind it, as I could see the direction and purpose behind the format. It reinforces the mystery aspect of the game, as you’re forced to piece together the fragments of her memories in a non-linear order.

The connections from the puzzle pieces slowly tie in with the main storyline arc, creating a unique and multi-faceted story-telling experience. For the most part, the memories are quite light-hearted to juxtapose with the dark themes of the Psychedelica universe. I thought it created a nice balance between the two and really strengthened your attachment as a reader to the characters upon returning back to the main storyline.

After playing through the game, I can really see why the main storyline is titled ‘the best ending’. The romance and otome aspect in Psychedelica takes a complete backseat to the main storyline, and is completely overshadowed—but surprisingly, not in a bad way. If you enjoy a Visual Novel that emphasises on romance, then Psychedelica may not be the game for you.

The main storyline is very well written in its execution, and was a rollercoaster of emotions from beginning to end. It really hit home with its message, as well as seamlessly incorporating the fantasy elements of the game with the storyline.

If you’re a fan of mystery and angst, then you’ll definitely enjoy Psychedelica. To me, Psychedelica was everything that I had wanted Bad Apple Wars to be and more. Due to the fragmented game layout, it really leaves the reader wanting more as the mystery continues to thicken the further you progress in the game.

The pacing, revelation of the plot, suspense and twists were all just so well written. Although Psychedelica isn’t without it’s plot holes, I was still very satisfied with how everything was answered and tied together by the completion of the game. The game is quite short in length, and the character routes are significantly shorter than the main storyline arc itself.

Depending on your read speed, it would take on average 15-20hours to fully complete the game.

Character Development ★★★★

If it wasn’t for the great cast of characters in Psychedelica, the storyline would have been nowhere near as impactful. I loved how raw and real their emotions were written to be, as well as their interwoven backstories that led them to Psychedelica. You could really relate to every character’s pain and suffering, and I liked how every character dealt with loss and grief so differently.

It served as a direct reflection of the varying dimensions of the human psyche, and how people cope and handle hardships in different ways in real life. My only qualms with the game would be that some of the character routes were laughably short. Some were only two or three chapters long, which leaves little to no time dedicated to fleshing out their story further. The chapters essentially incorporated a few extra short fluffy moments, before it was the end of their route.

Fortunately, your attachments to the characters and their development is mainly explored in the main storyline rather than their own seperate routes. As a result, the lack of romance did not really impact my overall enjoyment of the game.

The game has a fairly static route order, and it’s quite difficult to stray from it as certain content/endings only unlock upon the completion of a previous bachelor. I highly recommend the following route order:  Kagiha → Yamato → Monshiro → Karasuba → Hikage.

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION!

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BENIYURI: Although Beniyuri is by any means an outstanding heroine that falls outside of the standard otome trope, I still enjoyed playing as her throughout the game. Having a voiced protagonist really improved the overall game experience, and I’m not sure why this isn’t a common aspect yet in Visual Novels.

Although initially reckless and unable to defend herself in Psychedelica, Beniyuri tries her best to harness the power of her imagination to tackle the monsters alongside everyone else. With her own strength, she develops as a character over the progression of the story and slowly learns to face the darkness and grief hidden in her own memories. I could also understand as to why all the bachelors had feelings for Beniyuri, due to how much she had shaped and impacted their lives in the real world.

I liked how Beniyuri’s ways of coping with grief and overcoming her survivor’s guilt differed from route to route, depending on the bachelor. It exhibited the varying dimensions of grief, and how there were both positive and negative outcomes depending on how you approached it. Hearing her voice, pains and anguish throughout the game definitely helped to develop a stronger connection to her as a protagonist and a sense of empathy for what she has suffered and endured.

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KAGIHA: Kagiha is Beniyuri’s first love, and the older brother figure of the group. He has always been the voice of reason, the most mature and someone whom they could all depend on. Everything Kagiha has done, has always been for Beniyuri’s sake first and foremost. He is willing to turn a blind eye to all acts of sin, so long as he can uphold his promise to her and his desire to be with her forever.

Kagiha really got the short end of the stick in almost all departments, especially in his character route. Initially, I was quite surprised when his route ended because it all happened so quickly, and I thought to myself ‘No way that’s it, right?’ To my dismay, that really was it.

Out of the entire character cast, he was the only one unable to truly have a happy ending with the heroine because he no longer had a place with her in the real world. Although I was initially disappointed by how abruptly his story ended, after thinking it over I really enjoyed the direction the writers decided to take with it. It explores the notion of sacrifice, and the extreme lengths that one goes through when suffering from grief.

Kagiha represents the denial stage of grieving, and how he was willing to sacrifice absolutely anything—even the remaining shreds of his humanity, for a fleeting chance of being with the heroine. He comes to resent the monster that he has become, because despite knowing the futility and immorality behind his actions—he cannot accept his own death.  Although his ending initially confused me, I really liked how dark, tragic and realistic it was.

Rather than the cliche ‘reincarnation’ route where she is able to be with him as a different person in the real world, she chooses to stay with him in Psychedelica. Beniyuri chooses to sacrifice moving forward with her own life, and to remain in blissful denial of the truth. It is the only way that allows them to be together as their current selves and with the memories that they held dear. The ending is tragically moving in its own right as their love for another is built on the notion of sacrifice, and it is the closest they will ever be to attaining happiness as a couple.

As saddening as it is, it was befitting that Kagiha passed on in the best ending as it symbolised that the characters were finally able to move forward with their lives and come to terms with their past. In the alternative ending where his death had not occurred and they all happily lived together, it left nowhere near the same impact as the best ending. His story and character route were very tragic due to the inevitability of it all, but it was necessary due to the overarching themes of Psychedelica.

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YAMATO: Headstrong, easily irritable and somewhat of a lone wolf—Yamato has the most difficulty initially coming to accept the group and the world of Psychedelica. He and Karasuba are constantly at one another’s throats, but it is clear to everyone that they’re closer than they appear. Beniyuri soon discovers that beneath his rough exterior, he is a very kind and sensitive individual that best understands the grief that haunts her.

It makes the most sense as to why Yamato is the first to fall to despair, and slowly transforms into the monsters that prowl the halls of Psychedelica. Out of all the characters, he is the most overcome by guilt and despair as he faces it each and everyday in the real world. He regularly visits his brother Kazuya at the hospital, and laments how his actions directly caused the loss of his two dearest friends.

It is also why he is the most desperate to escape Psychedelica, after recovering fragments of his memories. I felt his character shone the most in the ‘real world’ route, as he is much more mellowed out and less aggressive in comparison to his Psychedelica counterpart. You truly get to know the real Yamato, and the reasons for his actions and behaviour up until that point in the storyline.

Beniyuri develops a strong connection to him, as she realises how they have both been battling the same demons of the past ever since that fateful day. It is through supporting each other that they are finally able to take a step forward with their lives, and time finally starts moving again. His bad ending is quite tragic, as in this route they both inevitably succumb to the weight of their grief and instead choose to relinquish their burdens and start all over again.

His route represents the all-too consuming nature of grief and guilt, and how it can completely dictate your life if left unaddressed.

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MONSHIRO: Beniyuri’s mysterious saviour who rescues her and Hikage upon awakening in Psychedelica. Not much is known about him initially, until his appearance in the second half of the storyline. The group is extremely wary of his presence, due to his allusive and strange nature. He is also remarkably powerful and adept at hunting the monsters, an indicator of his experience and how long he has resided in the realm of Psychedelica.

I absolutely adored his character, as it was just so endearing how much he clung to Beniyuri. It was understandable as to why, because of his immense loneliness from years of residing in darkness and without any human interaction. I view his story to be one of the canon routes of the game, alongside the best ending and Hikage’s route due to the nature and length of it.

I really enjoyed the twist and revelation of his real identity, as the build up and suspense for it was well written. I was very surprised and I didn’t expect it at all, yet at the same time it also made perfect sense. His feelings for Beniyuri are intensely passionate, and it’s believable because she was essentially his lifeline and reason for living in Psychedelica.

Without her, he would have long lost his sanity or fallen to the depths of despair. I also felt that as a heroine, Beniyuri was at her best rendition in Monshiro’s route. She shows conviction and true strength in entering the abyss alone, despite the almost certainty of being unable to return. It is from her feelings for Monshiro and desire to meet him halfway after waiting for so long alone, that allows her to finally believe in herself and comes to terms with the past.

She is able to pave a new path forward with her life, and this is what enables her to escape Psychedelica alongside Monshiro. Although I did like the lead up to his good ending, I felt that the conclusion itself was far too convenient. Through means unknown, Yamato and Karasubaa are able to return safely from Psychedelica and everyone lives happily ever after.

It left too many open-ended questions and weakened the impact of the best ending, as it is not the only route where everyone was able to return. His bad ending on the other hand, really suited the themes of his route and was definitely a tear-jerker.

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KARASUBA: Flirtatious, outgoing and always teasing Beniyuri—Karasuba lightens up the atmosphere of the group through his antics with Yamato. However, despite his seemingly easy-going nature; there is clearly more to him than meets the eye. There are instances where his personality takes on a cold edge that Beniyuri has never seen before, and there is a hint of biting malice in his words. This only further serves to fuel her curiosity to learn the truth behind the real Karasuba.

Despite his strong front and constant denials, Karasuba is suffering just as much as every character in Psychedelica. Out of resentment for his past self and to become stronger, he chooses to overcome his grief by working to better himself as a person in the real world. Despite attaining popularity, charisma and becoming an outspoken individual—Karasuba is unable to be truly happy with the changes.

To him, when it mattered most—he was a weak bystander who was paralysed by fear and unable to help his dearest friends.  His changes could not erase the memories of the past, despite how much he tried to look towards the future. Upon meeting Beniyuri once more, he becomes frustrated by her behaviour as she is cemented in the past.

She refuses to look at him as the person he is now, despite how much he has changed. His bad ending although disturbing, was quite an interesting take on the storyline. In a sense, Karasuba is able to do what he was unable to as a child—which is to protect her from all the hurt and suffering she has endured. They both choose to forget everything, and spend the rest of their idyllic days in Psychedelica.

Anyone who has suffered grief will have thought at least once, ‘if only I could forget the memories, as it would erase the pain I’m currently feeling’. Karasuba’s route explores the notion that even if one were to forget, would it truly lead to real happiness? Experiencing and enduring grief is apart of what it means to live, and shapes who you are as a person.

I enjoyed his good ending, as it is from his influence that Beniyuri is able to see the error of her ways. She realises how much she has missed by remaining stuck within the past, that she could not even see the person her dearest friend had become—even though he had been standing right before her eyes the entire time. Karasuba inspires her to catch up to him, to better herself as a person and to adopt the same outlook of looking towards the future.

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HIKAGE: Hikage is reliable, strong, trust-worthy and the natural-born leader of the group. He keeps everyone grounded and together, despite the initial tension amongst everyone after arriving in Psychedelica. However, Hikage is not the person he appears to be. He harbours the dark secret surrounding the mansion, and is the true ending of he game that reveals the answers to all the remaining mysteries of Psychedelica.

I didn’t expect the twist to Hikage’s character at all, and I really enjoyed the extra dimension it brought to storyline of Psychedelica. It was interesting to finally solve the final puzzle, that delved into the reasons as to why Hikage became so twisted as a character and his reasons for relentlessly pursuing the completion of the kaleidoscope. I enjoyed Beniyuri’s interactions with Usagi in the earlier half of the route, as the light-hearted tone balanced with the later angst of his story.

His route isn’t as romantic as the others, as it has a greater focus on explaining the plot and fleshing out Hikage’s character. Even until the very end, it is never truly confirmed what he felt for Beniyuri. Although there were some plot holes regarding the universe of Psychedelica, for the most part I was quite satisfied with how the plot unfolded as well as the explanations.

It tied in with the other routes well, and the plot holes weren’t anything detrimental that affected my enjoyment of the overall story. Normally I’m not a fan of the ‘reincarnation’ trope, but it was quite befitting in the case of Hikage’s ending. It was the only possible method for him to attain happiness alongside Usagi, and both had already passed on a long time ago.

By coming to accept his past and letting go of his long-harboured hatred and regrets, his soul is purified and he is finally able to move onto the afterlife. It is from this, that he and Usagi are able to reincarnate in the real world and experience the childhood they never had. I liked how despite meeting one another again in passing within the real world, there weren’t any direct romantic implications for Beniyuri and Hikage.

Psychedelica at its core isn’t a tragic romance, but a story about overcoming grief and moving towards the future. Everything Hikage has done has always been for the sake of his beloved sister, so it was befitting that his happy ending would be him reuniting with his sister rather than Beniyuri.

Design ★★★★

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The artwork in Psychedelica is gorgeous, and definitely one of the highlights of the game. The art style really complemented the ethereal and fantasy-like nature of the universe, as well as the character designs. I liked the attentiveness to detail in the CGS depicting the monsters, and the backgrounds were beautifully drawn. A few of them definitely looked like a scene that could have come out of a painting.

Out of all the characters, I definitely liked Monshiro’s outfit best. It was very mysterious, yet it also captured the innocence of his character perfectly with the cute ears on his cape and the way the ribbon weaved through his clothes. My only criticism would be that there were definitely some discrepancies between some of the CGs and the character sprites.

I noticed in particular that the artist at times, doesn’t quite get the anatomy of the side profiles of faces. I felt this was more prominent in Karasuba’s CGs, in comparison to the other characters, However, the inconsistencies were minor and weren’t enough to detract away from the CG itself.

Music and Voice Acting ★★★★★

The music and voice acting were arguably the best aspects about Psychedelica. The soundtrack is beautiful, especially the piano instrumentals for the more emotional moments throughout the storyline. It set the mood of the scenes so well, and the voice acting is just as good. As I mentioned earlier, I really liked the fact that Beniyuri was voiced as it really strengthened your attachment to her as a character.

It was easier to relate to her pain and anguish that were conveyed through her voice,. It also made her seem less two-dimensional, as she was a more active participant in the storyline. I really would like to see this feature being more commonly implemented in future Visual Novels, as it just adds so much more to the game overall.

There is very little to criticise about the music and voice acting in Psychedelica, and I really was not disappointed at all throughout the entire game. It complemented the stellar writing and world-building of Psychedelica perfectly.

  • BENIYURI | VA: Nakahara Mai | 中原 麻衣
    Midori Days as Midori Kasugano, Strawberry Panic! as Nagisa Aoi, Clannad series as Nagisa Furukawa, Kamichama Karin as Karin Hanazono, and Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-Kun as Yu Kashima
  • KAGIHA | VA: Toriumi Kosuke | 鳥海 浩輔 
    Naruto series as Inuzuka Kiba, Hakuoki series as Saito Hajime, Nightshade as Chojiro Momochi and Danganronpa series as Kiyotaka Ishimaru
  • YAMATO | VA: Hosoya Yoshimasa | 細谷 佳正
    Black Wolves Saga series as Julian, Kenka Banchou Otome as Kira Rintarou, and Danganronpa series as Kazuichi Soda
  • MONSHIRO | VA: Matsuoka Yoshitsugu |松岡 禎丞
    RE: Birthday Song series as Ame, Taisho x Alice series as Alice, Sword Art Online series as Kirito, and No Game No Life as Sora
  • KARASUBA | VA: Kakihara Tetsuya |柿原 徹也
    Amnesia series as Shin, Code: Realize series as Viktor Frankenstein, and The Charming Empire as Toki Tanba

System ★★★★

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Contrary to popular opinion, I quite enjoyed the system in Psychedelica and could understand the direction behind it. It reinforces the mystery behind the universe and the fragmented nature of Beniyuri’s memories, as you’re forced to learn them piece by piece in a non-linear order. Although it does force the player to deviate from the storyline at certain points throughout the game, it created a nice balance between the light-hearted moments and angsty plot content.

When you do return back to the main storyline, your attachments to the characters are strengthened as you slowly learn more and more of their different backstories. If anything,  then I did wish they could have improved the order in which the episodes unlocked as some of them did not align with the main storyline at times.

There also wasn’t enough clarity in the gameplay that for some of the bachelors, you HAD to read all their character short stories prior to their route. If you didn’t, then the correct decision at their character branch would not appear in their route. You would then have no idea how to progress with the game, and become completely stuck as a result.

The mini-game was quite simple, but it again suffered from lack of clarity with the instructions. I only realised by my second or third playthrough that you could drag through the touch screen to select multiple butterflies, rather than individually clicking them on the screen. After that, it became incredibly easy to achieve an S Ranking in every mini-game segment.

On a positive note, the mini-game is very easy to play and even a complete rookie would be able to achieve an S with some practice. The point requirements to unlock the short stories are not very high either, so you’re not required to grind points very much at all. I played the mini-game whenever it appeared in the main storyline, and ended up with an excess of points by the end of the game.

In terms of graphics interface and UI, then I really liked the design for Psychedelica. It suited the themes and motifs of the game perfectly, and was very aesthetically pleasing to look at and easy to navigate. I also liked the butterfly motifs and visual animations that were prevalent throughout the game, as it definitely added to the atmosphere.

Conclusion

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In conclusion, Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly is a hidden gem amongst the English otome releases for 2018 and I’m really surprised it isn’t talked about more. It is well-written and refreshingly different from the games that I have played so far. Although it is initially difficult to become immersed in the storyline and universe, I highly recommend finishing the game at least once. The first playthrough in my opinion, is the most enjoyable and there’s a reason why it’s titled ‘the best ending’.

It just perfectly captures the themes and questions that Psychedelica attempts to explore and answer. I was very impressed with the world-building, character development, captivating plot and beautiful music and voice acting. The twist definitely caught me off guard, and I quite enjoyed the mystery elements of the game. If you’re looking for a standard otome that focuses more on romance, then this may not be the game for you.

In my opinion, then there is still a lot of romance throughout the story—but it pales in comparison to the actual plot itself and the character’s struggles to overcome their grief and the burdens of their past. At its core, Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly is a tragically moving tale that explores the themes of friendship, revenge, the fragility of life, inevitability of death and the impact of grief on the human psyche.

I highly recommend Psychedelica if you love a good mystery/fantasy story with plenty of twists and character angst to keep you on the edge of your seat. My next review will be on ‘7’sCarlet‘ which will most likely be posted in the following week or the beginning of June!

Overall Rating: 4/5


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Please consider supporting my work on Patreon, as every little bit helps me out so much every month with website hosting costs. I am forever grateful to all my readers and supporters!


Written By Cherry

 

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7’sCarlet: Hino Kagutsuchi Walkthrough

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Official Website: Aksys Games
Game Link: 7’sCarlet – PS Vita [Physical]
*Full review of the game will be up soon*


General Tips

  • Only Hino or Isora can be selected on the first playthrough
  • The game is very structured. Bachelors/endings only unlock if you completed certain characters and criteria beforehand. Because of this, I highly suggest not straying from the suggested order.
  • Recommended route order: Hino → Isora → Toa → Sosuke → Yuzuki → True Ending → ­???

General Route

  • Yeah, I’ll wake you up.
  • White Cat Brooch
  • I don’t like him that much.
  • I’m more of a dog person.
  • Hmmm… Did we meet…?
  • Hino Kagutsuchi
  • Take a bath
  • Go through the red curtain
  • Take a good look at the wind chimes
  • Swim in the river with Hino
  • Rest in your room (Only when Toa is available)
  • I’m honestly just on vacation.
  • Go with Hino

Character Route

Happy Ending

  • It looks good on you.
  • Want some shaved ice?
  • [SAVE 1] Go check on Hino
  • Go for a walk
  • Dry it with a handkerchief
  • Clean the baths with Hino
  • I can’t think of anyone.
  • Yeah, you’re right.
  • [SAVE 2] Continue looking for your brother
  • Examine the object housing the shrine deity
  • Examine the walls
  • Examine the floor

Normal Ending

  • [LOAD SAVE 2] Think it over for a bit
  • Examine the object housing the shrine deity
  • Examine the walls
  • Examine the floor

Bad Ending

  • [LOAD SAVE 2] Go back to Tokyo for now → Game Over
  • [LOAD SAVE 1] Go thank Mr. Tsukuyomi
  • Tell him you came to look for your brother → Game Over

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Please consider supporting my work on Patreon, as every little bit helps me out so much every month with website hosting costs. I am forever grateful to all my readers and supporters!


Written By Cherry

7’sCarlet: Yuzuki Murakumo Walkthrough

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Official Website: Aksys Games
Game Link: 7’sCarlet – PS Vita [Physical]
*Full review of the game will be up soon*


 General Tips

  • Only Hino or Isora can be selected on the first playthrough
  • The game is very structured. Bachelors/endings only unlock if you completed certain characters and criteria beforehand. Because of this, I highly suggest not straying from the suggested order.
  • Recommended route order: Hino → Isora → Toa → Sosuke → Yuzuki → True Ending → ­???

Character Route

HAPPY ENDING

  • *Unlocks after completing Sosuke Tatehira’s Route*
  • Start a ‘New Game’ → Choose the Yuzuki Scenario
  • Those flowers are beautiful.
  • Ignore him
  • Stay silent
  • Be quiet
  • Back
  • I was so scared.
  • [SAVE 1] Ask him what happened to Tsuzuri
  • [SAVE 2] …I’m not sure.
  • Is it Yasu?
  • [SAVE 3] Throw something

NORMAL ENDING

  • [LOAD SAVE 2] I do.
  • Is it you, Yuzuki?
  • Throw something

BAD ENDING

  • [LOAD SAVE 3] Run away → Game Over
  • [LOAD SAVE 1] Ask him about the Ensepulchers → Game Over

TRUE ENDING

  • *Unlocks after completing Yuzuki Murakumo’s Route*
  • Start new game
  • Select true ending scenario
  • The women’s bath
  • [LOAD TOA SAVE 2] Why did you pick me?
  • Toa, let’s get out of here…!

??? ROUTE

  • Start new game
  • Select Hanate Yatsukami Route
  • Check the bell by the door
  • Check the staff room
  • Check the couch
  • Light a match (can select either option)

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Do you enjoy reading the content of my website? Would you like to help support me in keeping the website up and running, as well as being able to devote more time to reviews and walkthroughs?

Please consider supporting my work on Patreon, as every little bit helps me out so much every month with website hosting costs. I am forever grateful to all my readers and supporters!


Written By Cherry

7’sCarlet: Sosuke Tatehira Walkthrough

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Official Website: Aksys Games
Game Link: 7’sCarlet – PS Vita [Physical]
*Full review of the game will be up soon*


 General Tips

  • Only Hino or Isora can be selected on the first playthrough
  • The game is very structured. Bachelors/endings only unlock if you completed certain characters and criteria beforehand. Because of this, I highly suggest not straying from the suggested order.
  • Recommended route order: Hino → Isora → Toa → Sosuke → Yuzuki → True Ending → ­???

General Route

  • *Unlocks after completing Toa Kushinada’s route*
  • Wake yourself up.
  • Purple Flower Hair Ornament
  • I don’t like him that much.
  • I’m more of a dog person.
  • Hmmm… Did we meet…?
  • Sosuke Tatehira
  • Take a good look at the wind chimes
  • Take a walk with Sosuke
  • Go for a short walk
  • Walk a little while longer
  • I’m honestly just on vacation.
  • Go with Sosuke

Character Route

HAPPY ENDING

  • Are you bored?
  • Offer him your mizu-ame
  • Because you didn’t smile much.
  • Be happy
  • …silently put my hand on his.
  • I feel the same way.
  • [SAVE 1] Open the door
  • Sosuke
  • [SAVE 2] Stay here
  • Mr. Tsukuyomi

NORMAL ENDING

  • [LOAD SAVE 1] Be cautious
  • Hino
  • Stay here
  • Mr. Tsukuyomi

BAD ENDING

  • [LOAD SAVE 2] Go back to your room → Game Over

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Do you enjoy reading the content of my website? Would you like to help support me in keeping the website up and running, as well as being able to devote more time to reviews and walkthroughs?

Please consider supporting my work on Patreon, as every little bit helps me out so much every month with website hosting costs. I am forever grateful to all my readers and supporters!


Written By Cherry

7’sCarlet: Toa Kushinada Walkthrough

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Official Website: Aksys Games
Game Link: 7’sCarlet – PS Vita [Physical]
*Full review of the game will be up soon*


 General Tips

  • Only Hino or Isora can be selected on the first playthrough
  • The game is very structured. Bachelors/endings only unlock if you completed certain characters and criteria beforehand. Because of this, I highly suggest not straying from the suggested order.
  • Recommended route order: Hino → Isora → Toa → Sosuke → Yuzuki → True Ending → ­???

General Route

  • *Unlocks from second playthrough*
  • Wake yourself up.
  • White Cat Brooch
  • Yeah, I kind of like him.
  • Yeah, I do.
  • Hmmm… Did we meet…?
  • Toa Kushinada
  • Take a bath
  • Go through the blue curtain
  • Go to the Fuurin Cafe alone
  • Take a good look at the wind chimes
  • Talk with Toa
  • Go for a short walk
  • I’m honestly just on vacation.
  • Go with Toa

Character Route

HAPPY ENDING

  • You just seemed like you were having fun.
  • Try a bite from Toa’s skewer
  • You’re so kind, Toa.
  • Yeah, okay.
  • I’m glad you told me all that.
  • Ask if there’s anything you can do
  • [SAVE 1] Head to the tunnel
  • [SAVE 2] Why did you pick me?
  • Toa, let’s get out of here…!

NORMAL ENDING

  • [LOAD SAVE 2] How am I supposed to trust you?
  • ……

BAD ENDING

  • [LOAD SAVE 1] Go to the overlook → Game Over

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Do you enjoy reading the content of my website? Would you like to help support me in keeping the website up and running, as well as being able to devote more time to reviews and walkthroughs?

Please consider supporting my work on Patreon, as every little bit helps me out so much every month with website hosting costs. I am forever grateful to all my readers and supporters!


Written By Cherry

7’sCarlet: Isora Amari Walkthrough

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Official Website: Aksys Games
Game Link: 7’sCarlet – PS Vita [Physical]
*Full review of the game will be up soon*


 General Tips

  • Only Hino or Isora can be selected on the first playthrough
  • The game is very structured. Bachelors/endings only unlock if you completed certain characters and criteria beforehand. Because of this, I highly suggest not straying from the suggested order.
  • Recommended route order: Hino → Isora → Toa → Sosuke → Yuzuki → True Ending → ­???

General Route

  • Wake yourself up.
  • Crescent Moon Pendant
  • Yeah, I kind of like him.
  • I’m more of a dog person.
  • Of course I remember.
  • Isora Amari
  • Talk a little longer with Yua
  • Help Isora
  • ……
  • Go with Isora

Character Route

HAPPY ENDING

  • Look away
  • I wanted to watch you cook.
  • Thank Isora
  • I trust you.
  • Go for a ride on a boat
  • After Yuki left…
  • I’ll get them.
  • [SAVE 1] Blindly trust him
  • [SAVE 2] Stay in the room

NORMAL ENDING

  • [LOAD SAVE 1] Ask him what’s going on
  • Stay in the room

BAD ENDING

  • [LOAD SAVE 2] Leave the room → Game Over

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Do you enjoy reading the content of my website? Would you like to help support me in keeping the website up and running, as well as being able to devote more time to reviews and walkthroughs?

Please consider supporting my work on Patreon, as every little bit helps me out so much every month with website hosting costs. I am forever grateful to all my readers and supporters!


Written By Cherry

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony Review

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Release Date: 2016
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft & NIS America
Platforms Available: Steam, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4 (Japanese & English)
Game Link: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony – PS Vita [Physical]
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony – PS4 [Physical]
Official Site: Danganronpa US

I am a huge fan of the Danganronpa series and it’s my all-time favourite game alongside Persona 5. The immense enjoyment I had playing through this series and the emotional attachment I developed for the characters as well as the game universe is second to none. This title to me, no matter how potentially terrible the future sequels may be—Danganronpa will always hold a special place in my heart.

To no surprise, I was anticipating the third release of the trilogy for the entire year. The graphics, new character cast and overall improvements looked amazing in the teasers. I was extremely excited to see what new instalments they would have and what direction they would take with a new storyline. It’s predecessor Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair was released in 2013, which makes DR: V3 a product of four years worth of development.

Prior to playing DR: V3, I had read and heard many mixed opinions about the overall game. Needless to say, after finishing the title myself I can definitely see where a lot of both the praise and criticisms are coming from. I received a review copy for the PS4 Version of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, so thank you so much to NIS America for giving me the opportunity to review one of my all time favourite game series!

Storyline ★★★

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-The Story-
Welcome to a new world of Danganronpa, and prepare yourself for the biggest, most exhilarating episode yet. Set in a “psycho-cool” environment, a new cast of 16 characters find themselves kidnapped and imprisoned in a school. Inside, some will kill, some will die, and some will be punished. Reimagine what you thought high-stakes, fast-paced investigation was as you investigate twisted murder cases and condemn your new friends to death.

Key Features: A New Danganronpa Begins – Forget what you thought you knew about Danganronpa and join a completely new cast of Ultimates for a brand-new beginning.

Murder Mysteries – In a world where everyone is trying to survive, nobody’s motivations are quite what they seem. Use your skills to solve each new murder or meet a gruesome end.

Lie, Panic, Debate! – The world is shaped by our perception of it. Fast-paced trial scenes will require lies, quick wits, and logic to guide your classmates to the right conclusions.

New Mini Games – Between the madness of murdered peers and deadly trials, enjoy an abundance of brand-new mini games! (Official Website)

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony returns with a prison school setting akin to Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. I was surprised they decided to reuse a previous universe, rather than something new and completely different. However, the school setting in DR: V3 was a notable upgrade from the original. The maps are significantly larger, more interactive and include rooms that have been modified to fully accomodate each ‘Ultimate Talent’.

Naturally, this brings forth brand new tools and methods for conducting unexpected murders far more elaborate than the original game. Like the Danganronpa we know and love, DR: V3 begins with an interesting premise and fantastic class trials that immediately reel you into the game universe. You quickly become acquainted and very emotionally attached to the characters, only to feel immense despair upon discovering the victim and culprit throughout every investigation.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Danganronpa setting, then the game is quite formulaic in its approach. It is similar to the series Ace Attorney, and the characters are usually thrust in a life or death situation—cornered into committing acts of murder, and gambling with their lives for the sake of the hidden mastermind’s amusement. As the protagonist, you manoeuvre around maps to investigate and find the clues necessary to discovering the truth. There are specific rules in place that ensures some semblance of justice and that there is no possible ‘cheating’ within the game.

During the trials, you present the evidence from your investigation, engage in debates with your classmates, listen to alibis and recounts, and look for the contradictions and evidence within their arguments. It is from this that you’re able to weasel out the murderer, or even their potential accomplices!

As you continue to uncover the clues, the number of people you once called friends begin to dwindle—falling victim to the twisted nature of the game and suffering the consequences of pursuing the truth. As despair continues to spread amongst the remaining group, you begin to question the morality of your actions and your once infallible sense of justice.

Were you in fact, misguided and blinded by your own ambitions? Were your choices up until the very end, truly ‘just’? Will hope finally lose the battle to despair?

One of the main reasons behind Danganronpa’s success is that the storyline touches upon significant existentialist concepts that lead you to question your own sense of humanity and moral compass. It’s thought-provoking, meaningful and leaves a profound impression long after playing the game.

In comparison to the predecessors, Trial 1-3 was some of the best overall out of the three games in the trilogy. Unfortunately, the momentum wasn’t quite followed in Trial 4-6. It felt like in comparison to the first 3, Trial 4-6 had significantly less areas and clues to explore as they were limited to a small location. This made the mystery quite obvious and easy to solve, which was rather disappointing considering Danganronpa is known for it’s crazy twists and interesting settings for murder.

DR:V3 was also notably much more formulaic compared to the predecessors and the upcoming murders were very obvious. Five sets of free time always led to a guaranteed murder relating to the newly unlocked ultimate labs. Although I didn’t really mind the clear-cut pacing, it definitely took away the surprise factor of the game.

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION!

THE ENDING

Normally, I never ever discuss the ending of a Visual Novel in detail simply because I try to keep my reviews as spoiler-free as possible. However, in DR:V3 I feel it’s far too important to overlook considering how critical an ending is to the overall storyline in a mystery detective game. This is the source of the mixed reception towards DR: V3, and people essentially either absolutely love it or hate it—there is no in between.

Despite how dissatisfying I personally found the ending, I wouldn’t say it entirely ruined my enjoyment of the game like how other players felt. Honestly, I do understand the direction and concept behind it. It’s meant to be a ‘huge twist’ that no one expects, a complete destruction of the fourth wall, and a direct calling out of the audience. In essence, we ourselves are the greatest enemy and why the killing game continues: we find enjoyment in watching young children brutally murder one another for the sake of our own amusement.

It’s meant to evoke the ‘ultimate despair’ within the players, and considering the reactions that people have had to it—I can’t say that the writers didn’t succeed in doing this.

In saying that, I felt that the main reason behind the mixed reception wasn’t because the concept behind the twist was poor. But rather, the execution fell short of its potential. If you have watched the TV Series Black Mirror, then the ending is very similar to the episode twist of White Bear.

And yet, this episode was universally praised despite using the same twist as DR: V3. What was so different between the two, that led to such different reactions from the audience? It was the weak execution leading up to the twist and lack of foreshadowing. Because of this, it instead felt like a very cheap ending that was the equivalent of ‘I woke up and it was all a dream’. It felt rushed, like the writers ran out of ideas on how to tie up the legacy of the franchise and were unable to create a twist that topped the predecessors.

The twist didn’t leave me thinking ‘Wow, what an shocking turn of events! I’m amazed by the amount of forethought that went into this’, but rather ‘I can’t believe that they would just end it like that?’

Because of the nature of the ending, it felt like they completely backtracked with all the development and story momentum up until that point. It was rendered obsolete in mere moments, and you’re left reeling in order to digest it all because it’s just so absurd and unbelievable. There was no evidence throughout the game that it was all essentially fiction, or any sense of foreshadowing.

This is why the reveal for the twist was so weak. There was no lightbulb moment where all the pieces fell together in your head, but only confusion as it simply didn’t add up. It was like the story was aiming in one direction with the reveal of the mastermind, and then the purpose of the killing game was something totally different.

As a result, DR: V3 isn’t meant to be taken as a ‘sequel’ of sorts as the name suggests but rather a standalone title or an alternative reality. I suppose we will never know how it all ties up, until the release of the fourth game (if there is one, that is).

! END SPOILERS !

Although the ending definitely soured my impression of the game overall, it still didn’t take away my enjoyment leading up to the ending. DR: V3 is significantly longer in terms of playtime, compared to the predecessors in the trilogy. Completing the main storyline (without the additional content) takes around 40-50 hrs, whereas the previous games were around 20-30hrs in playtime.

Character Development ★★★

DR: V3 had a great cast of characters and I loved all of them so much more than I initially expected. There’s great diversity and they’re all so whacky, interesting, fun and bizarre—the epitome of Danganronpa. Individually design-wise and in terms of personality, they were great and one of my favourite casts overall outside of the original.

What the game really lacked in comparison to the predecessors were the solid bonds and relationships between the characters that both DR: 1&2 had. In DR: V3 they were divided in terms of trust and suspected one another for majority of the game, in comparison to DR:1 (who were unified due to Makoto and Kyoko). Their motives and drives to kill were also nowhere near as convincing nor as heartfelt as the ones in DR: 2. It was one of the main reasons as to why the last few trials in DR: V3 fell flat, as the stronger the desire to kill for a motive—the more complex the murders turned out to be, to avoid being revealed as the blackened (culprit).

The last few trials also occurred due to sudden advancements in the plot and were poorly put together as a result. It didn’t give much time and forethought to the planning of an elaborate murder. This definitely weakened the strength of the characters, and left a less than memorable impression of their impact on the storyline.

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION!

I’ll be briefly touching on the characters I felt were notable faces of DR: V3, or had a profound impact on the storyline.

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Kaede Akamatsu: The ‘protagonist’ of the game and the de facto leader of the group compelling them to fight against despair. I personally really liked the change from the typical male protagonist from the predecessors to a female in DR: V3 when it was announced. Unfortunately, if you have played the game you will know that her role in the storyline is very short-lived and the writers pulled the classic ‘bait-and-switch’ when it came to her importance in the first trial.

People have mixed feelings on the development of the first trial and the ‘twist’ that completely changes how you play the rest of the game, both literally and figuratively. I personally quite enjoyed it despite the initial shock, because it was interesting and something different that we have yet to see from the series. However, there was still some disappointment as after the first trial the game essentially regresses back into textbook Danganronpa.

I felt her character could have definitely had a lot more potential to be delved upon. But, due to how little screen time she had from the beginning you’re unable to truly develop any attachment to her as a protagonist. From what we did see, the only aspect differing her from the previous protagonists was her gender. She was essentially in essence, a female mix of Makoto/Hajime.

I suppose what I really wanted to see from DR: V3 was for them to branch out from the static protagonist personality that has been ongoing throughout the series. Something different and unique that we have yet to see and would offer more than just the classic ‘good guy’ hero who attempts to unify the group through trust and friendship.

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Shuichi Saihara: The ‘secondary protagonist’ of the game and the ‘Ultimate Detective’. I was surprised they reused his talent rather than bringing something new to the table, as it was more or less ‘redundant’ in its usefulness within the class trials. This is because he eventually transitions to the main protagonist after a certain point in the game.

I actually quite liked his character in comparison to the previous male protagonists, as I felt he wasn’t so reliant on the other characters when it came to sleuthing (which made sense, as he is the ‘Ultimate Detective’ after all). He was a lot more logical and mellowed out—not quite as naive and dependent as Makoto, and more level-headed and critical in comparison to Hajime.

Although I did enjoy his character and contribution to the storyline overall, I wouldn’t say it was anything to write home about either. He still more or less fits the static ‘mould’ of a protagonist that has been prevalent throughout the Danganronpa series which the writers love so much. His voice actor (Hayashibara Megumi) did a great job at emulating his character, and I really enjoyed her voice acting throughout the entire game.

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Kokichi Ouma: Now this was a character that really made DR: V3 for me, and he is up there in terms of all time favourite Danganronpa characters (almost on par with Nagito from DR: 2). He is just so fascinating as a character, and he is someone you absolutely want to hate yet love at the same time because of what he brings to the storyline and game. You never know what he is thinking or what he is truly scheming behind that adorable shady grin.

I felt he really emulated what Danganronpa is about—how absurd, whacky and fun it can be but with that extra dimension that leaves you wanting to know the truth behind his actions. He is essentially one of the main reasons as to why the trials remained refreshing and interesting, due to his many moments of insight and his derailing of clues for his own amusement.

What mainly disappointed me was that his trial was not truly befitting of his character, nor his level of intelligence and forethought. Due to the nature of how the storyline unfolds, he is forced to create a poorly planned murder on the fly that left behind so many glaring clues. I was on the edge of my seat prior to this, in anticipation of his involvement in the later trials. Instead, I was disappointed when it finally happened because they truly did not give his character the justice it deserved.

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Maki Harukawa: Out of all the female secondary protagonists, I felt Maki was definitely the weakest of the three Danganronpa games. Outside of the initial mystery of her actual talent, she really faded into obscurity after it was uncovered. Her impact on the overall storyline and her relationships to the other characters were poorly developed, due to how much of the plot she spent in isolation and avoiding the group.

She had such an interesting angle for the writers to take after the reveal of her talent, yet it was never fully fleshed out or further developed. I also felt her romance with Kaito was somewhat forced on, in order for their friendship as a trio to have more credibility. For someone who had so much screen time and ‘importance’ to the storyline, Maki had very little contribution to the class trials and for me personally—didn’t add much to the game overall.

Design ★★★★★

I personally really liked the character designs and improved graphics in DR: V3. The entire cast had great poses and expressions for their sprite transitions. Aside from a few, I could correctly guess what their ultimate ‘talent’ was based on the motifs and finer details of their costumes/outfits.

The backgrounds, maps, floors and rooms were significantly cleaner and much more detailed in comparison to the predecessors. It felt less comic-like and two-dimensional, without retracting from the signature art style of the Danganronpa series.

Overall, purely from a design perspective there is very little I can fault the DR: V3 on. It’s a huge step up for the series graphics-wise, and it was a joy to play on the big screen.

Music and Voice Acting ★★★★

The music and voice acting was another highlight in DR: V3. All the voice actors emulated their characters perfectly and really brought their whacky and fun personalities to life. It incorporated a lot of revamped soundtracks from the previous games to suit the themes of DR: V3. It definitely brought back a wave of nostalgia, as it has been quite some time since I have played DR 1&2.

Out of all the tracks, ‘Scrum Debate’ was by far the best I’ve heard from the entire franchise. It was just so well synced with the gameplay mechanics and built that sense of urgency and momentum within the class trial. It really cemented itself as the ‘turning point’ of the trial where both split factions of the group would come to a united consensus.

However, it was also disappointing that it was the only track that truly stood out to me. Whilst the tracks in DR: V3 were good, they weren’t something that I considered to be a major improvement or upgrade over the previous OSTs. I felt the tracks were quite similar in terms of composition and musical style, and wanted more tracks to the same quality of ‘Scrum Debate’.

System ★★★★

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Similar to all the previous games in the Danganronpa series, there were no major changes to the system UI. This comes as no surprise, as the gameplay is still the same formulaic Danganronpa we know and love. However, there were some new additions to the trial mini-games that I will comment on.

As I already mentioned earlier, ‘Scrum Debate’ was by far the best new feature in DR:V3 both musically and gameplay-wise. The synchronisation from the music with the layout of the mini-game was solid, as it provided a clear summary of all the arguments/refutations up until that point of the trial. If there was any flaw I could comment on, it would be that I wished it was longer in length as every segment always felt so short in comparison to the other mini-games.

Crazy Taxi replaced Logic Dive from DR: 2 to DR: V3. I didn’t enjoy Crazy Taxi very much, as it was significantly less challenging in terms of gameplay and took up way too much time for a mini-game—especially in the later trials. It was monotonous, repetitive and didn’t feel very fun to play or smooth to navigate. For the most part the questions and answers were quite simple to answer, which only extended the tedious gameplay every trial.

A new addition I enjoyed was the Danganronpa version of Lumines. However, I initially did not realise that I only needed to uncover the necessary clue and select it to clear the stage. I spent forever attempting to perfectly clear the map, and failing over and over. I wish the instructions/tutorial could have been explained with better clarity.

Mass Panic Debate didn’t really add much extra dynamic to the gameplay, despite how it was advertised. However, I did like that the purpose of the new feature was to act as a more realistic representation of an actual debate. People do tend to talk over one another within the heat of the moment, and it is up to you to decipher the truth from everyone’s opinions.

In the predecessors, I wasn’t a very big fan of the extra ‘fan service daily life content’ that unlocked upon the completion of the main storyline. However with the new ‘Love Suite’ and improved mini-games to acquire Mono Coins, I was surprisingly quite hooked this time round. The ‘Love Suite’ feature is comedy gold, and it’s definitely worth the playtime to unlock.

Essentially when you grind enough coins, you can purchase a ‘key’ that allows you to have a romantic ‘dream/encounter’ with a random character in a love hotel setting. Of course, there’s plenty of embarrassment, hilarity, romantic innuendos, as well as getting to know each of the characters on a much more personal level.

Conclusion

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In conclusion, is DR: V3 a good game that I would recommend? Yes, absolutely. But does it live up to the hype and match up to the predecessors in the series? No, I do not think so. It left much to be desired in terms of both storyline and character progression, in comparison to the first two Danganronpa games. It really lacked the same charm, engaging twists, and plot development. To me, it left nowhere near as memorable of an impression as the previous titles. I was left wanting so much more from the series, and without that deep sense of satisfaction from a conclusive ending.

In every other technical aspect, then it was a definitive improvement in terms of gameplay, character designs, graphics, music etc. However, I felt this was more so it being a product of its time rather than an actual step forward for the franchise (DR: 1/2 was released in Japan in 2010/2012 respectively—this makes DR: V3 a game 4 years in development).

DR: V3 is best viewed as a standalone title within the Danganronpa series, rather than a direct sequel or continuation of the first two games. If you’re a fan of Danganronpa, Ace Attorney or mystery detective games—DR: V3 is still a game that I believe people would enjoy. In essence, it still emulates all the iconic Danganronpa tropes that is prevalent within the series. But, it was just not as well executed or written as the predecessors.

Despite my issues with the game, I still enjoyed it as a whole and really got my playtime’s worth out of it. Although a lot of players have expressed qualms with the significantly higher price point of the game ($60 USD versus $20 USD for DR: 1/2), it almost doubles the playtime of the predecessors.

I believe the game length of DR: 1&2 were 20-30 hrs play time, whereas DR: V3 is minimum 40-50 hrs. There is also a notable increase in production value, as I noted in terms of graphics and gameplay.

Translation-wise, then I would say it is similar to the predecessors. The English translation would not hinder your enjoyment or understanding of the gameplay whatsoever. There are some grammatical/typo errors I noticed throughout that could be corrected with better quality checking and proofreading. Personally, I wasn’t too fond of some of the ‘Americanised’ translations such as the incorporation of memes that were at times, completely off from the original context.

But, I understand that this is an english ‘localisation’ and not a ‘translation’ so some aspects will naturally be changed in order to better suit the target audience. What I had an issue with was that at times, the translations really altered the intent of the character’s words which in turn changes your perception of their character. Two examples I can think of are many scenes with Kokichi throughout the game and Gonta’s character as a whole is very different from how the writers originally portrayed him to be.

Considering how critical Kokichi was to the overall storyline in DR: V3, the mistranslations did significantly impact the revelation of the truth behind his character and intentions. When a translation/localisation affects the way you experience a game, it really brings to light the significant improvements that need to be made for future instalments.

Overall, I still enjoyed the game regardless of it’s major flaws as there were also many aspects such as the gameplay and graphics that were notably improved on. It still incorporates the classic Danganronpa tropes that are so iconic from the series, which longtime fans will still definitely appreciate.

If you haven’t tried out this series yet and you’re a fan of mystery detective games, then I highly recommend it. DR: 1 has my favourite storyline, whereas DR: 2 definitely had the best trials and twists as a whole. My next review before the end of May will be Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly!

Overall Rating: 4/5


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Do you enjoy reading the content of my website? Would you like to help support me in keeping the website up and running, as well as being able to devote more time to reviews and walkthroughs?

Please consider supporting my work on Patreon, as every little bit helps me out so much every month with website hosting costs. I am forever grateful to all my readers and supporters!


Written By Cherry

NEWS: Support Visual Novel Reviews on Patreon

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PATREON : https://www.patreon.com/visualnovelreviews

If you have been following my website for a while, then you will have noticed that I often add new additions, upgrades, and aesthetic improvements over time. For example: my biggest change was when I did a complete website overhaul and the server was down for the entire day.

This was due to more funding from my own pocket in order to access more tools to improve the site and increased server capacity for my website to stay up and running. If you regularly visit my website, you will also notice that I did add a patreon section to my side panel a while back—however, I have never formally announced it until today.

The reason is because I personally had reservations about starting one, and I didn’t want people to feel obligated to donate to the website. However, after much deliberation I finally decided to officially make a post about it and why I have decided to use patreon.

WHO AM I?

Hello, I’m Cherry and I’m the writer behind the website Visual Novel Reviews. I initially began this website out of passion to write down my thoughts, opinions, rants or raves on the Visual Novels that I played. I thought it would be a great way to interact with, inform and expand the Visual Novel/Otome Game community. I never would have expected that in less than a year, my website would have grown so much and developed such an amazing following from it.

I cannot thank you enough for the support and it’s the wonderful feedback that I read from my readers that inspires me to keep writing. I read every single comment, and they never fail to make me smile or make my day. It makes me feel like all my hard work is recognised, and I’ve had amazing opportunities to work with companies such as Aksys Games, Idea Factory International, MangaGamer and NISA America with reviewing their new game releases. These companies continually localise games that I have been a fan of since the very beginnings of my endeavors into the genre of Visual Novels.

WHY DO I NEED YOUR HELP?

Unfortunately as much as I would like to devote more time to writing, it really isn’t feasible with the amount of funding and schedule that I currently have. I am currently a fourth-year university student, aspiring to be a clinical psychologist specialising in child psychology. As my masters program has a high GPA requisite and my course is very demanding; I spend four days a week at university and the bulk of my time at home is spent studying. Whatever time I have left over, I am working at university as a tutor.

Currently how I fund my website is through advertisements on my side panels and affiliate links, however this pays for only 30% of my monthly website cost. The other 70% is completely out of my own pocket to keep the website up and running, and to purchase games to review.

WHAT KIND OF WORK DO I DO?

Despite how it looks, behind the scenes a review takes me hours to write. I only want to post quality content for my readers, and I continue to work on them until it is to a standard that I believe people will enjoy reading. My average review count is 5000-8000 words, although some of my reviews such as ‘Black Wolves Saga: Bloody Nightmare‘ totaled 13000 words.

As you can imagine, this takes me anywhere between 10-20hrs to write. This does not include the time spent afterwards proofreading, formatting and editing. My website itself I have spent well over 30 hours coding and learning how to design and format. Prior to this, I had absolutely no idea how to use CSS or HTML.

WHAT IS MY GOAL WITH PATREON?

I am currently making no profit whatsoever from my website, despite the time, effort, money and work that I place into it. The hours I spend on it does not translate into profit, and as a result it will only be a hobby at best in my current predicament. It is something I am personally funding out of genuine enjoyment as part of the Visual Novel & Otome community. My aim with Patreon is not to make it a full-time job, but to be able to self-fund the website without having to constantly dig into my own expenses every month.

In the worst case scenario (which I would want to avoid) is for the website to shut down, if in the situation that I am unable to personally fund the website anymore.

Every single bit helps, and I am forever thankful to each and everyone of you that continue to support me and help me in continuing to do what I love. 

If you have read up until this point, thank you so much for taking the time to read it until the end! I want to stress that there is no obligation whatsoever to donate, and just your understanding as to why I have decided to open up a patreon is more than enough for me.

Your continual support in visiting my website, reading my content, and expressing how much you enjoy my work in the comment section always inspires me to keep going with the website. Just things like sharing my patreon/website on social media or turning off ad-block when browsing the website helps immensely as well. You can do this via entering visualnovelreviews.com → clicking ad block → select ‘don’t run on this page’ and ‘don’t run on pages on this site’.

And finally, thank you so much to Milkteababy for being my first patron!

EDIT: Over 50% of my monthly website hosting cost has been reached! Every dollar would help so much in order for me to self-sustain the website and keep it up and running!

EDIT 2: 90% of my monthly website hosting cost has been reached! Thank you so much for the support, I wouldn’t be anywhere near as passionate about writing if it wasn’t for all my readers!

EDIT 3: 100% of my monthly website hosting cost has been reached! I cannot believe I was able to finally achieve this goal, and it makes me so immensely happy as it helps me out so much every month. It means ‘visualnovelreviews.com‘ is here to stay for good.

I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon, as writing is something I truly enjoy and has always been a passionate hobby of mine. Especially with the feedback/comments I receive on social media and the website itself. I would feel like I’m letting you guys down, when so many people look forward to reviews/updates on the website.

I wouldn’t be here without you, my readers. I cannot thank you enough for supporting me. I do have other stretch goals implemented, and ANY contribution thereafter (whether big or small!) will assist me in improving the website as a whole. Even something like $1 from many people makes a huge difference. For the stretch goals, it will enable me to: produce more regular content, try out more games, potentially have future giveaways, QOL/technical/design improvements to the website etc.

Love Always,
Cherry

NEWS: MangaGamer White Day Sale

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MangaGamer recently announced some decent otome games that are on an amazing sale for the next five days. If you haven’t played these two titles yet, then I do recommend checking them out whilst they’re at a discounted price. Hopefully with more successful sales, it will encourage them to pick up an even greater number of otome titles in the future!

OZMAFIA!!!


DIGITAL EDITION (45% OFF)http://bit.ly/ozmafiadigital
LIMITED EDITION (25% OFF)http://bit.ly/ozmafiaphysical

Although I have yet to review this game (which I will get around to writing eventually), I did play it when it first got localized in english years ago. To this day, I believe it hasn’t aged poorly at all and still remains a solid contender against the newer otome localizations in recent years. The artwork, backgrounds, music, voice acting and character designs are absolutely gorgeous and you’ll be hard pressed to find many other english otome titles that mirrors OZMAFIA!!! in all these departments.

Unfortunately, the storyline, writing and character development definitely were not the strong points of this Visual Novel. However, regardless of the obvious flaws and weaknesses of the game—I still really enjoyed playing OZMAFIA!!! overall. Whilst I was very critical of the overarching storyline and the pacing/events of some routes, the beautiful artwork, music and characters were enough to win me over. If you’re a fan of fantasy and the Wizard of Oz setting, then you’ll absolutely love this title.

FASHIONING LITTLE MISS LONESOME


DIGITAL EDITION (20% OFF): http://bit.ly/flmldigital
PHYSICAL EDITION (PRE-ORDER)http://bit.ly/flmlphysical

If you would like to read my in-depth review on Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome, then you can read it here. As a warning, then this game does have two versions: all-ages and an R-18+ version.

This title is by no means one with an immersive storyline, complex characters or a universe/setting that you would become totally invested in. It’s a light-hearted, fun school-life comedy that is hilarious and absolutely ridiculous in almost every aspect imaginable. It’s meant to be the kind of otome game that you mindlessly read after a long day, something that doesn’t require a lot of time to play but is very enjoyable nonetheless.

I really enjoyed this game because I appreciated the satirical humor and it received a very good english localisation that really appeals to a western audience. It’s one of the very few otome games aimed at a adults, and I do recommend checking it out if you’re looking for something more mature and less vanilla than the current english otome titles on the market.

However, if you’re sensitive to body image jokes and borderline fat-shaming towards women—then this may not be the type of game for you. Although at its core, Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome is not meant to be taken seriously at all; I can definitely understand how uncomfortable it can make some people feel.

So long as you’re able to separate the distinction between a game setting not being a direct reflection of reality, then Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome is another fun pick up to try if you haven’t played it already!

Bad Apple Wars Review

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Release Date: 2015
Publisher: Idea Factory & Aksys Games
Platforms Available: PS Vita (Japanese & English)
Game Link: Bad Apple Wars – PS Vita [Physical]
Bad Apple Wars – PS Vita [Limited Edition]
Official Site: Aksys Games

It has been quite some time since my last review, and if you would like an overall update on what I have been up to and my summary of the best and worst of 2017—you can read my post here which covers everything.

Bad Apple Wars is the final otome localisation from Aksys Games for 2017, as the fan disc Code: Realize ~Future Blessings~ was pushed back to a tentative March 30th 2018 release. Their other announced titles such as Period: Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ (Review) and Collar x Malice (Review) were released earlier in the year.

Although I did enjoy the game overall, I had some major issues with the overarching storyline and character development within Bad Apple Wars.

Storyline ★★★

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-The Story-

After a sudden car accident on her first day of school, the protagonist finds herself in the afterlife, standing before a strange school for lost souls. It is said that here, at NEVAEH Academy, any student who behaves and follows the rules will be able to graduate and start their life anew. After a man wearing a rabbit head informs her of her untimely demise, the confounded protagonist attends the school’s opening ceremony.

And then, suddenly—a loud blast tears through the auditorium. At that moment, a war breaks out between the Bad Apples, a group of delinquent students opposing the academy, and the Prefects, sworn enforcers of the school rules.

In the midst of the chaos, the protagonist comes across a red-haired young man. Without a shred of hesitation in his voice, he reaches his hand out and asks her: “Do you want to live?” (Official Website)

If you’re familiar with the anime ‘Angel Beats’, then Bad Apple Wars is essentially the more light hearted and happier version of the original concept. NEVAEH Academy is akin to purgatory, a world that is neither heaven, hell or earth—where souls filled with regret from their past lives reside. They are unable to move onto the afterlife due to their past burdens and the students are given two options: relinquish their pain, identity and memories in order to be reincarnated or face their regrets and have another chance to atone for their past mistakes.

However, the path to receiving another chance at life is a difficult one. It is filled with almost impossible challenges that no one at the academy has been able to overcome. Limitations are set in place to deter those daring enough to try, and the longer they stay within the world—they slowly begin to lose touch between their past and current realities. Will the heroine choose to be a good apple in order to graduate and start life anew, or be a bad apple and fight in a seemingly hopeless cause to defy the hands of fate? 

The premise of the storyline is very interesting and immediately draws the reader into the bizarre universe. However, it falls terribly short of its potential and leaves so much more to be desired by the end of it all. It is a tragic romance at its core, and stirs your heartstrings upon the reveal of the bachelor’s pain, suffering and burdens prior to dying. But, there is the saying that too much of a good thing can eventually become a bad thing.

It felt like after a certain point in the storyline, the writers were pouring as many ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘tragic’ plot devices as possible for the sole purpose of inflicting despair within the readers. It overshadowed a lot of the more comedic and lighthearted moments throughout the storyline, and became noticeably stale by around the third playthrough.

This is due to the lengthy common route of the game that universally incorporates the same key events regardless of whether you choose to side with the ‘good apples’ or ‘bad apples’. It became very repetitive over several playthroughs, and the original emotional impact and shock factor fizzled away into essentially nothing. For such a short game, you would think that the common route wouldn’t take up so much of the playtime considering it is the same events over and over.

And yet, in my first playthrough the common route took 3-4 hrs (Ch 1-5) and the actual bachelor route (Ch6-9) took 1hr. Needless to say, this was one of the main contributions that led to the lacklustre plot and poor character/romance development. Although some events and dialogue did differ over each route, they didn’t contribute or reveal anything new or critical to the overarching storyline.

It was essentially a cycle of the same discovered information, and for such a complex setting like Bad Apple Wars—3 to 4 hrs is nowhere near the length of time needed to fully explain and flesh out the universe. As a result, it suffered from countless plot holes and confounding character timelines due to the writers introducing unnecessary gimmicks to the storyline that was never further delved upon. The relationships and developments between the characters felt so rushed, as the bulk of the writing was devoted solely to the common route.

There is no proper ‘true ending’ that sheds some light on the true nature of NEVEAH Academy, despite White Mask and Alma being the main bachelors of both the Good/Bad Apples respectively. Whilst their routes were an improvement over some of the others, it still left so many open-ended questions and much to be desired in terms of romance with the heroine. For example: what exactly were the teacher’s roles at the academy? Who are they? How did the age timeline work? Is it a continuous cycle of life, death and reincarnation?

The total playtime for the entire game is around 20-25hrs, which is appalling considering I felt it needed at least 30-40hrs to satisfactorily fill in all the missing pieces within the routes. I wouldn’t have minded the lengthy common route if it at least differed between the good/bad apples, as the heroine Rinka plays a different role in both sides of the story.

However, she ends up being near useless as a prefect and still befriends the bad apples regardless of her position. This renders the early decision almost obsolete as the common route eventually leads into the same chain of events.

Despite my criticisms, I still enjoyed the storyline of Bad Apple Wars even with the glaringly obvious plot holes. It still had some good moments throughout the game that were tragically moving and carried a powerful moral message that left quite the memorable impression. It touches on the concepts of what it means to live, the fragility of human life, the thin line between hope and despair, to never lose sight of what’s important and the all-too consuming regret upon realising these things a little too late.

Character Development ★★

As I mentioned earlier, just the sole fact that every character route only had 1hr worth of playtime should already be ringing alarm bells. Needless to say, all the romances were poorly developed and I could not understand as to what made them fall in love or how they even developed such a connection with Rinka (Protagonist) by the end of their storylines. Rinka herself, is a major problem I had with the game which I will elaborate further on below.

It was just too little writing and time to fully flesh out their emotions to truly be realistic and believable. The short game length wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if the writing and pacing itself was done well. However, the writing for the routes were noticeably inconsistent in terms of quality and there were significant disparities between them. To my knowledge, this is due to the game encompassing 5-7 different writers.

I recommend two different route orders, depending on what you personally feel is best suited to you. For a more connected game experience, start off with the bad apples: Higa → Shikishima → Alma→ Satoru → White Mask. To have a better understanding of both sides of the storyline, then I recommend: Satoru → Higa → Shikishima → Alma → White Mask.

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION!

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RINKA: Normally for most game protagonists no matter how bland their personality is, they will still have noticeably distinct traits that many of the characters comment on as their key strengths. For example: the most common ones are kindness, persistency, gentleness or a caring and cheerful nature. For the heroine of Bad Apple Wars, even after clearing the entire game I found myself unable to describe her personality as a character at all.

Rinka is meant to be a ‘self-insert’ for the reader, and I usually have no issues with self-insertions for the protagonist. There is no one-dimension in how a story should be told, and some protagonist personality types work better for specific settings than others. However, my criticism of Rinka isn’t the fact that she is a ‘self-insert’ heroine but rather it was poorly executed throughout the whole game.

She constantly laments throughout the storyline of how ’empty’ and ‘hollow’ she is as a person, without a single desire, goal or aspiration for herself. Her past life had been monotonous and lacklustre in every aspect, and she had passed on without ever finding anything she held dear.

My main qualm with Rinka is how often the ’empty’ monologue occurred throughout the game, because being ’empty’ is not a description of a person or a personality trait at all. It made her un-relatable as a protagonist because it is impossible for a person to be completely empty. It’s ironic because she is meant to be a self-insert for the reader, and it’s so difficult to empathise or play as someone who has no dimensions as a character.

Rinka becomes so resigned to her situation with an ‘oh-woe-is-me’ attitude no matter which route you’re on. It’s only after she falls in love with the respective bachelor, that she finally finds something precious to her that she wishes to protect and worth living for. It felt like as a character, she was completely dependent on the bachelor and without anything redeeming of her own to contribute to the storyline.

She’s essentially a plot device, used only to further fuel the own bachelor’s development and route. By the end of the game, I honestly didn’t view her to be much of a protagonist at all; considering she develops minimally as a character and has no story or redeeming qualities of her own without the bachelor in the picture.

Considering majority of the characters all had some regret or reason from their past that renders them unable to move on, it made no sense for Rinka to have little to no backstory whatsoever of her own. It further cast a negative light on how even the secondary characters were more interesting to learn about than the protagonist herself.

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HIGA: Although initially quite gruff, rude and blunt towards Rinka—beneath Higa’s rough exterior is a kinder and softer side to him. He deeply respects Alma and views him as a brother figure due to the longstanding nature of their relationship, his abilities as a leader and as a remnant of his past regrets in his previous life.

Out of all the bachelors, he is the most supportive and encouraging towards Rinka in her transition to NEVEAH Academy. It was quite noticeable how much Rinka had opened up and come out of her shell over the span of their blossoming friendship. On the other hand, I felt the romance was rather poorly developed and lacking in terms of believable intimacy.

Their relationship dynamic was more akin to an older brother-younger sister, due to Higa’s inherently protective nature. When his route began to show more promise of development between the two, he abruptly passes on and leaves their relationship completely open ended and without true closure. It was just so sudden and without any proper build up of momentum that I was just left thinking ‘there is no way that is how it all ends?’

Due to their different timelines, their current relationship in NEVEAH Academy has no continuation as they both reincarnate again as different people. The ending just felt so tacked on and written solely for the sake of them somehow ending up together in a specific scenario. Because of how disjointed the writing and events of Higa’s route were, it really took away from his strengths as a character and was definitely my least favourite storyline.

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SHIKISHIMA: A mysterious, wandering artist who belongs to neither faction—Shikishima has been at NEVEAH Academy the longest out of all the bachelors, and from the oldest era of time. He immediately piques the player’s interest due to his whimsical yet relaxed approach to the events of the storyline. In comparison to the other bachelors who are filled with determination to escape from their fate; Shikishima is the complete opposite. He is almost completely void of emotions and seemingly content with remaining at the Academy forever.

Throughout his time there, he has seen many graduate and lose their sense of self. He believes that nothing good would be waiting for him, even if he returned to his previous life. As we soon learn, he has a traumatic and lonesome past which he chooses not to remember. In fact, he desires more than anyone to find his own sense of purpose.

Out of all the bachelors, Shikishima is the most complex and multi-faceted to learn about over the course of the storyline due to how reclusive and withdrawn he is as a character. He is a lost, lonesome soul where even until the end of his life—he found no one who truly understood him.

His route had so much more potential and aspects to be delved upon, but was unfortunately let down by the glaring loop holes within the overarching plot itself. Shikishima’s story suffered from the same core issues as Higa’s route. Due to the conflicting timelines, the writers created a contrived scenario written solely for the sake of Rinka and Shikishima ending up together in one form or another.

However, it’s worsened by the fact that Rinka retains her memories at NEVEAH Academy and promptly associates her feelings for the late Shikishima with his current reincarnation. It casts a negative light on their relationship in the present and Shikishima’s ending overall, as his reincarnation notices that Rinka’s feelings for him are not truly sincere.

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ALMA: A natural born leader, he is vigilant and the most determined to escape from the confines of NEVEAH Academy. Alma is the glue that keeps the group together and unified in their plans, and wholeheartedly has everyone’s trust and confidence in his abilities to succeed. He is stoic and difficult for Rinka initially to befriend, due to his secretive nature and being a character of very few words.

Compared to the previous two routes, Alma’s relationship with Rinka is perceptively much more of a romantic nature due to the increased amount of alone time they have together. As his route is one of the ‘canon’ storylines of the game (representing the bad apple faction), it is much better fleshed out in terms of both plot and character development.

However, it reuses the none too original angsty trope of a ‘deceased lover’ as his past and the reason that drives him to return to his previous life. Although it was executed decently in comparison to Higa and Shikishima’s routes, if you’re not a fan of this plot device then you probably wouldn’t enjoy Alma’s storyline as much. There is no unique twist or new additions to the typical stereotype, and it follows the common sequence of events to a T.

The reason as to why the dead girlfriend storyline isn’t as popular is because it always calls to question the sincerity of the bachelor’s feelings. Is he using her as a replacement or as an outlet for his past lover? Is his initial attraction and desire to befriend her merely because of their similarities? Considering how little there is to like about Rinka, this aspect was only more pronounced in Alma’s route.

Despite it being one of the canon routes of the game, the route’s main weakness was how little it contributed to the overarching storyline. It essentially didn’t reveal any new information that wasn’t already known in the previous bad apple routes, and had none of the aspects that I normally would expect.

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SATORU: An obsessive student fixated with studying, examinations and achieving the best grades—Satoru is the only bachelor who is a newcomer to the academy within the same timeline as the protagonist. Rinka initially finds him difficult to deal with, as he has absolutely zero interests outside of studying. He holds onto his books and notes like a lifeline and completely disregards anything that would not assist him with examinations.

His storyline pacing is initially quite slow in comparison to the others, as many of Rinka’s attempts to socialise with him are completely rebuked and ignored. He also prefers isolation in comparison to the other bachelors and does not choose a faction to side with. Many players had very divided views on Satoru’s route and either absolutely loved it or absolutely hated it, and I can definitely see why.

In one aspect, once Satoru eventually opens up to Rinka—their interactions are honestly so adorable and of a very fluffy nature. As a couple, they have some of the best moments together in the game that really showcases how much they have both developed as characters and in terms of their romantic feelings for one another. As he belongs to neither factions, some of the events that occur are unique to him and different from the canon storylines of the game.

I felt out of all the routes, his good and bad endings were definitely much better written in terms of logical flow, emotional impact and avoided the major timeline discrepancies. However, at the same time the first half of his storyline can ruin his character for a lot of players. It is very slow paced, and a repetition of the same events over and over—Rinka approaches Satoru, he rebukes her, his only form of dialogue involves studying and he constantly becomes emotional the moment his book is taken away from him.

There’s very little substance to his character outside of that, and his tantrums become old and stale real quick. As a result, Rinka’s relationship to him is more akin to an older sister with her younger brother for the bulk of his route. It is this initial tone to their relationship that makes it difficult for some to perceive their relationship as truly of a ‘romantic’ nature. If you’re a fan of quiet and shyer guys who very gradually come out of their shell, then you would enjoy Satoru’s route much more than someone who prefers a more confident character who is self-assured and assertive.

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WHITE MASK: The enigmatic member of the disciplinary committee, he appears in all the routes as the main enemy of the bad apples. He is extremely serious and committed to his duties, as he truly believes it is his purpose to maintain order and that the correct method for people to graduate is to become a good apple. As a result, he detests the bad apples for their constant refusals to cooperate and does not hesitate to enact punishment on them for their deeds.

His actions inflict self-doubt within Rinka, as she finds herself unable to fully understand his methods and becomes disillusioned as a disciplinary committee member. However, due to the amount of time they spend together she finds herself becoming increasingly curious as to why he is so devoted to his cause, his true identity and what has twisted him beyond recognition.

As the unofficial true ‘route’ to the game, I was extremely excited to play his storyline as out of all the characters he was the most interesting by far and I honestly thought his route would answer all the underlying questions of Bad Apple Wars. To my disappointment, all the questions and plot holes were left completely open ended and the events of his route only served to fuel my confusion with the game universe.

As the true ending, it was lacking in so many critical aspects such as plot coherency and writing flow. It fell very short of its potential to even marginally redeem the writing and overarching storyline of Bad Apple Wars. However, as a standalone route in terms of romance and character development—the chemistry and interactions between White Mask and Rinka were a major improvement from all the other bachelors.

The romance was better paced and palpable between the two during the critical moments within the game. It is more clear why he falls in love with Rinka in comparison to the other bachelors, as she is persistent in her efforts to get to know him and the reasons as to why he has forgotten the past that has shaped his current identity. White Mask’s emotional burdens are much more traumatic in comparison to the other routes, and it is Rinka that encourages him to hope again and face the demons of his past.

Although I was by no means impressed with White Mask’s route due to how much more I expected from it, it was still my personal favourite from the game in comparison to the other storylines.

Design ★★★★

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The artwork in Bad Apple Wars definitely isn’t for everyone and it’s quite eye-catching at first glance. I personally really liked it despite the anatomical inconsistencies at times, since it suited the quirky and ‘distorted’ world of NEVAEH Academy. The artwork is bold, unique and with an inherently signature style that is both memorable and striking. I enjoyed all of the character designs, especially White Mask’s. There’s a lot of religious themes and motifs throughout the game regarding heaven and the after life within the artwork, which added a nice touch of atmosphere to the ominous universe.

I also liked how the protagonist had two different looks depending on which side she chose to be with. I was definitely more of a fan of the ‘good apple’ outfit and hairstyle. My only criticisms design-wise was the background artwork for Bad Apple Wars. They all felt very bland, two-dimensional and quite standard for the average high school setting. For an ‘undead school’ it was a little disappointing how ordinary it was, and it wasn’t as whacky and bizarre in comparison to the teacher designs.

Music and Voice Acting ★★★★

I loved the soundtrack in Bad Apple Wars, and it was without a doubt the highlight of the game. It suited the theme and tones of the game perfectly, and you can definitely tell that the composers were greatly influenced by both the Danganronpa and Persona series. It was just so refreshing to listen to, and with an assortment of very different and unique tracks. I particularly enjoyed Sanzu’s song/the Ending track, as it was just so powerful and well used during a pivotal scene from the game. It set the mood perfectly, and reflected the inevitable foreshadowing and emotional turmoil of the characters.

Like most other Idea Factory titles, Bad Apple Wars encompassed a prolific voice acting line up. Whilst all of the voice actors emulated their characters well, I didn’t feel like there were any standout performances in this title in particular. All the characters had similar voices in the sense that they were all quite soft and in the same tone range. Due to these character type limitations, I felt it wasn’t a true representation of the voice actor’s talents in comparison to their more notable roles.

  • Alma | VA: Sakurai Takahiro | 櫻井 孝宏
    Danganronpa series as Kuwata Leon, Black wolves Saga series as Mejojo von Garibaldi, Grisaia series as Kazama Yuuji, Period: Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ as Astrum, Naruto Shipuuden as Sasori, Final Fantasy series as Cloud Strife, Anohana as Atsumu Matsuyuki, and Psycho-pass as Shogo Makushima.
  • Higa | VA: Suwabe Jun’ichi | 諏訪部 順一
    Fate/Stay Night as Archer, YURII!!! On Ice as Victor, Black Butler as Undertaker and Code:Realize series as Abraham Van Helsing
  • Satoru | VA: Hanae Natsuki | 花江 夏樹
    Taisho x Alice series as Ookami, Collar x Malice as Sera Akito, Period: Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ as Libera, Your Lie in April as Kosei Arima, Tokyo Ghoul series as Ken Kaneki, and Aldnoah Zero as Inaho Kaizuka
  • Shikishima | VA: Ishida Akira | 石田 彰
    Naruto series as Gaara, Danganronpa series as Byakuya Togami, Amnesia series as Kent, Ayakashi Gohan as Kimura Asagi and  Black Wolves Saga series as Zara Skeens

System ★★★★

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Bad Apple Wars has quite the interesting system interface for an Otome Visual Novel. Rather than implementing systematic decision options at varying points in the game, as you advance in each route and become closer to the bachelor—it unlocks a touch interface after the still-CG flashes several times. You must then ‘touch’ the bachelor on different parts of his body to continue with the storyline.

At a critical point in the route when you’re finally able to understand the bachelor’s true self; you literally see him stripped bare and you are able to truly ‘connect’ with him via touching the correct areas. If you touch the wrong areas, lightning appears on the screen and it will lead to the bad ending. The nudity in this aspect is negligible and completely blurred out for the most part, although I do understand it can make some players uncomfortable.

I personally quite enjoyed the simple but effective system, as it essentially enables you to play the game without a walkthrough. The game is designed so that you cannot fail or miss any checkpoints, except for the ending route branches into the good and bad end respectively. It is also quite a symbolic representation of the character’s progression and relationship with the bachelor.

My main complaint about the system is that during the ‘critical moments’ the dialogue is not translated due to the original port not including coded text boxes within the scenes. Although this is not an issue if you understand Japanese, it definitely took away a lot of the emotional impact within the meaningful moment. This is quite disappointing, considering it’s such crucial turning point within the plot. I felt Aksys definitely should have at least provided text-based translations that players could read on the website to supplement the scenes.

Other than that, then I did enjoy the other features of the system such as the basic animations, transitions and map movement. This was colour-coordinated to each respective bachelor’s theme, which made it extremely easy without trial and error to find where each person was located. At first glance, the choice of text font is a little difficult to read but your eyes do quickly adjust over time. Overall, it wasn’t too big of an issue and wouldn’t impede your enjoyment of the game.

Conclusion

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In conclusion, despite its inherent flaws—Bad Apple Wars isn’t a bad game. But is it a title that I would recommend to everyone? Probably not. After playing through the entire game myself, I can definitely see why it generated such mixed and divided reception amongst players. Whilst it did encompass some good moments throughout the storyline, an interesting line up of bachelors and fun side characters—the major flaws prevalent within the plot, poor character development and romance really hindered the potential of the game.

As I touched upon earlier, the glaring plot holes, open-ended questions and lack of explanations regarding the NEAVEH universe was far too great to overlook. The common route was quite lengthy and repetitive, which led to too little time and resources devoted to fully fleshing out the characters and their relationships to one another. Considering it is such a short game overall (20-25hrs total), it didn’t make much sense for the common route to take up majority of the playtime.

However, if you enjoy bittersweet, angsty and tragic romances you’ll probably still enjoy the game like I did. Despite my criticisms, I still had fun with the game and completed it fairly quickly. I do recommend picking it up on sale, if you’re a fan of the genre and artwork. The music and artwork within Bad Apple Wars were definitely the highlights of the game, and somewhat compensated for the faults in the writing and character development.

At full price considering the amount and quality of playtime you’re receiving, there are definitely better otome titles on PSN to choose from such as Code:Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ (Review) and Collar x Malice (Review).

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Written By Cherry