Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — Character Review: Auger Von Garibaldi

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

For a general review of the game, you can read it here.

AUGER VON GARIBALDI: Auger is the younger twin brother of Mejojo, and unfathomably devoted and loyal to him. He is his most trusted confident ever since the death of their mother, and the only other person in the world that could ever understand Mejojo as they both experienced the same events that irreversibly changed them. However, Auger is very different in personality to Mejojo.

Where Mejojo is serious, extremely jealous and single-minded, Auger is always light-hearted, sarcastic and a trickster by nature. He is the self-proclaimed sole Royal Musician and Jester. Auger is always looking for methods to entertain himself or make his beloved brother smile. So long as his brother is happy, Auger willingly plays the role of the ‘lesser’ sibling and lets Mejojo claim the throne and spotlight.

Mejojo takes all the credit for becoming King of Weblin and eradicating the wolves, despite their plot being a joint effort. I went into Auger’s route very curious about his character, since I found him to be more interesting than Mejojo himself. He has a certain unstable and insane darkness about him, where you can never guess what he is going to do next.

Auger is extremely unpredictable and volatile to the point where no one can ever truly know what he is thinking. Mejojo on the other hand, is straight forward and easy to understand because all his actions are for the sake of revenge. But what does Auger have to gain from this?

Why does he willingly play second fiddle to his brother? Why does he have no wishes for grandeur, or something greater when it’s a natural desire for people to have? Surely, he must have an ulterior motive to lurking beneath his brother’s shadow. Auger has in many events demonstrated even greater cunning, insanity and cruelty than Mejojo himself. He is more than capable of overtaking and betraying his older brother, yet why is he satisfied with being inferior?

Auger’s path is strange in the sense that it’s completely different in regards to Fiona. Mejojo who is now partially blind from Arles’ final attack, has been driven to the brink of insanity by his own reflection. Mirrored in his eyes everyday is a reminder that although he had won the battle against Arles, he had inevitably lost the war.

With Arles’ death he has no outlet to channel his anger and hatred; and thus has resorted to senselessly beating Fiona at every opportunity instead. However, it does little to alleviate his mood as it continually worsens by the day. Although Auger initially spectates gleefully, as the never ending cruelty and torture on Fiona increases; he eventually pleads with Mejojo to cease with the lashings. Soon after, it becomes their daily routine for Auger to attend to her wounds with healing ointment once Mejojo finishes his torture sessions.

Auger’s kindness is the only thing keeping Fiona sane in the dungeon, otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to hold onto her mental state in the face of endless cruelty. Mejojo eventually stumbles upon them, and turns on Auger accusing him of betrayal. He had disposed of all obstacles already, and yet why was Fiona still not fully his? Well… he still had one obstacle left that was standing right before him, after all. Perhaps then, Fiona would finally belong to him.

Auger is devastated by this revelation, and denies his accusations by claiming he had done everything for his brother’s sake; they only had each other, and he would never betray his trust. However, Mejojo is past the point of no return and wields his rapier with the intent to kill. Auger has no choice but to defend himself; culminating in an epic battle of swordsmanship. Auger eventually proves victorious, and to his horror inflicted a mortal wound on his precious brother Mejojo.

Auger breaks down, crying about how they had finally achieved what Mejojo had always wanted and yet; why was he still unhappy? Why had it all come down to this? A few days later, Auger is crowned King and Fiona is returned to the Castle Garden. Although she can never forgive Auger for taking away her family and her innocence, she decides she can stay by his side in changing Weblin for the better. Although she is saddened that she is once again kept in confinement, Auger assures her that it is because he did not want to appear weak in front of others and seen visibly doting on her.

He is affectionate, gentle and kind to Fiona; the complete opposite of what we’ve seen of his character until now. Auger expresses his love and how he had always desired her, as they then passionately kiss. The game ends with the feeling of Auger’s tail brushing against Fiona’s neck, as the credits roll. Just before the credits finish, we hear Auger saying in a malicious voice ‘Idioooooooooot!’

That voice is actually the thing of nightmares. Needless to say I was horrified because I wasn’t exactly sure what to feel. For the sake of my own feelings towards the game, I’m just going to turn a blind eye to the twisted implications of his good ending. I’d like to think that he did in fact have a change of heart towards Fiona and truly loved her, and that they had a happy ending together. His route was creepy enough in the sense that he went from endlessly torturing Fiona in every story, to overly affectionate and kind in his route, and then implying at the end that it had all been a lie?

In his bad ending, he kills Mejojo of his own accord claiming that he cannot bear the empty shell that he has become, and there is no point of existing if he is no longer ‘entertaining’. A year later, he stabs Fiona after she gives birth to the twins’ child; saying she has fulfilled her purpose to him and that he had finally ‘learnt to love her’. I felt that Auger’s story was very lacking in comparison to Mejojo’s, which doesn’t make sense considering he’s just as significant of a character as they’re two halves of a whole.

As the game is based on the cat’s side of the story, I was really disappointed. They left so many questions unanswered, and so much potential for an amazing storyline unaddressed. Was it truly his grand scheme to have Mejojo do all the dirty work to become King, and then take it all from him in the end whilst his guard was down? To play the role of the dark horse and commit the ultimate betrayal in this political game of cat and mouse?

Is that why he willingly stayed second and inferior to Mejojo all his life? Did he ever truly love Fiona, or was it all a lie? Or perhaps, that was the only twisted way he was capable of showing love? Did he even love his own brother, Mejojo? Is that really all there is to his character? That his life motto is: ‘if something is no longer entertaining, then he would dispose of it?’

I felt that there was just so much more to his character beneath the surface, and the author just left it all hanging in the end without any explanation. The ambiguity was really dissatisfying as it felt so lacking in comparison to Mejojo’s route. It’s a shame considering Auger had a much more interesting concept to his character.

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Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — Character Review: Julian

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

For a general review of the game, you can read it here.

JULIAN: Julian is the disinherited first prince of Weblin, and current caretaker of the Castle Gardens. He is assigned to serve Fiona, and act as her companion during her arrest for witchcraft. Julian is very kind, gentle-natured and exceptionally soft to Fiona; and the two naturally become affectionate to one another.

During her stay, Julian is her only solace from the loneliness and she is the first person he has been able to speak to in years. He is refined, polite and carries an air of nobility; leading Fiona to question early on whether his status really was of a mere servant. Little does she know however, that he is in fact broken beyond repair by the hands of Mejojo and Auger and his residence in the Garden is akin to house arrest.

During their escape beneath the sewers which Julian had suggested, they are ambushed by Auger and the CCK. It is to their shocking realisation that it had all been a set up between Julian and Auger, with Auger commanding Julian to lead them there or face ‘punishment’. Julian reverts to a child-like catatonic state where he degrades himself to less than trash and revels in Auger’s praise. It was a really disturbing scene to witness because Julian is just such a sweet and lovely character, and then just seeing his personality take a 180 degree turn to something completely different.

His good ending is by far my favourite ending in the game. It just felt so satisfying to read, and it was truly a breather after sitting through both Mejojo and Auger’s routes which is just never ending despair. I felt out of all the characters Julian truly belonged with Fiona and complemented her best. It is through the heroine that Julian regains his true sense of self, and is able to overcome Auger’s tyranny. She brings out the best in him, and they continually lean on one other for support.

They’re the only two people who can understand the other’s circumstances, as Julian has been confined within the garden all his life and the heroine within the tower. As a result, they both lack the skills required to live in the outside world and continually question their self-worth as when the need calls for it; they have no choice but to depend on others.

In the good end when they’ve escaped Weblin and settled down with their new lives, Julian expresses his desire to improve himself for the better and for Fiona to see him as a man; because he wishes to become the type of person who can protect and look after her. It’s just so cute because of their similar circumstances, that they’re able to face the same conflict together and develop as characters. They share so many heartwarming moments together, and definitely have the cutest CGs in the game.

My main criticism for his route is the true ending. Although I have no qualms that they’re the ‘canon couple’ of the game, I definitely felt the conclusion was lack-lustre in many aspects. Julian is finally able to enact his revenge on Mejojo and Auger, catching them off guard for the first time in a decade.

Their calculations regarding him prove to be incorrect, as they believed a broken toy could never develop a mind of its own. He ironically poisons their tea, immobilising them with the assistance of Marquis Galland; Fiona’s relative and father of Elvira. He supports Julian’s reinstatement as the true crowned Prince, and thanks him from the bottom of his heart for finally informing him of the truth behind his daughter’s death.

A few days later, the heroine is eagerly awaiting Julian’s return in the Castle Gardens from his daily duties as Weblin’s new king. However, she notices that he is taking unusually long that day. When he arrives and begins to pour tea, Fiona sees visible blood on his sleeve.

She recalls the rumour she heard from the maids that although the dungeons have now been sealed to public access, the servants claim that they can still hear moans and cries for help at night. Although Mejojo and Auger have been taken away, Fiona herself is unsure of their current whereabouts.

From her experiences throughout the story, she decides that some things are better left unknown; and turns a blind eye to it in order to maintain her current happiness. I always found it strange that Julian’s character was altogether too calm and accepting of his circumstances.

He had every right to be angry, because he suffered just as much as Mejojo and Auger themselves. He lost his mother to suicide, his only remaining family resented and tortured him, and his father disowned him as crowned Prince. This had been the only thing binding them together in a familial relationship.

He suffers helplessly as Fiona is tortured for the sake of breaking him once again. It’s implied that it affected Julian a lot more than it appeared, as he finally puts an end to their reign and inflicts upon them the endless torture he and hundreds of others had suffered. However, I personally wanted to see his anger for myself or just any kind of emotion. He was just so impassive and emotionless to it all, and the writer really wanted to paint him as purely ‘kind and gentle’ to the very end.

It made him weak dimensionally as a character, due to his lack of desires and reactions to anything. After reading through the twins’ story, it’s also difficult to accept their fate in the dungeons. Did they truly deserve it? To some extent yes, but fully? I wouldn’t think so. It brings forth the question in the end on Julian’s own morality: by inflicting upon them what they had done to him, does that really make him any better of a person? Is he truly as gentle and as kind as the author makes him out to be?

As it was the true end, and Julian does not have a route in Last Hope (which I’m appalled about, because every other side character gets one in the game) I really wished to see an ending set in the future rather than only several days later. It would’ve shown us a glimpse of whether or not Julian developed as a character over the years, and whether he had grown into the role of serving as a good and noble King.

Would Fiona have been happy in her future with him? Was turning a blind eye to the torture a mistake? Did he end up reverting to corruption and becoming as twisted as the twins themselves? Would they have had children? What would they have looked like? Considering some of the characters had a futuristic ending, I really don’t understand why Julian doesn’t have one because he is meant to be the canon ending. It would have made a significantly better and fulfilling, holistic conclusion to the game.

Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — Character Review: Arles V. Felnoir

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

For a general review of the game, you can read it here.

ARLES V. FELNOIR: Arles is the current reigning King of the Wolves, and former captain of the Royal Guard. Gentle-natured, kind and beloved by his men and the town’s people, he was appointed to his position after saving the life of King Garibaldi VI. His unparalleled skill in combat combined with his popularity outside of the battlefield, leads to rumours of his potential to claim the throne. However, Arles dismisses these claims as he believes he does not possess the intellect nor aptitude to make the decisions required to lead a country.

He soon falls in love with Elvira Galland, a woman with status that would normally be considered an unreachable dream for a man of his position. Despite his better judgement, he is unable to suppress his feelings which would inevitably lead to the events that would change his life forever.

After the loss of Elvira, Arles’ personality takes on a complete change. Any hints of his former kindness and gentle nature dissipate; jaded by his tragic experiences and his disillusionment with the royal family whom he had unwaveringly served. He escapes with his family from Weblin, and changes his name in order to avoid detection. However, no one can escape the wrath of Mejojo and they’re all slaughtered save for his younger brother, Rath Vogart.

Mejojo rules that the wolves must be eradicated as they are the direct causes and carriers of Zodiva; they inflict it upon humans and other animals whilst remaining immune to the side effect themselves. This leads to the mass genocide of the wolves, as the people blindly believe Mejojo’s lies and deception.

For the sake of his revenge and fellow brethren, Arles takes on the mantle of Wolf King. He vows to seek justice for his people and save them from Zodiva. Effectively destroying Mejojo would rid the land of his tyranny, and settle the darkness within his heart. He comes to the realisation from drinking Elvira’s blood that only by consuming a Lobeira, can Zodiva be cured for the wolves. As an act of retaliation against humans who blindly killed the wolves and to cure his people, Arles commands them to destroy their villages and consume every person; leaving no survivors.

Although Arles’ motivation for revenge and his actions are more so understandable and empathetic in comparison to Mejojo; he is by no means the ‘good’ guy. He is the lesser of two evils so to speak, as he has committed his fair share of bloodshed and mindless killing of thousands of people over the past decade. In majority of the routes, Arles is eventually killed in battle due to the cat’s cunning and underhanded tactics; as in a fair fight they could never hope to defeat Arles due to his immense strength and skill.

I actually really liked Arles’ character and his route in Black Wolves Saga. He is a tragic and noble hero, stained by the past and suffering that he has experienced in his life. He is an irreplaceable leader and family to the wolves, whom he deeply cares for and spares no expense in order to ensure their survival. With those whom he views as family, he reverts back to the Arles of the past; a kind-hearted, gentle and understanding protector who continually places their needs before his own.

He is extremely patient and thoughtful towards the heroine, due to her courage and determination in reaching out to him for the sake of peace. She is also the spitting image of Elvira, which stirs within him emotions and memories of the past that he has long wished to forget. Arles is respectful towards the heroine and allows her the freedom of choice with her faction; something which I really liked about his character.

The heroine throughout the game is constantly belittled as not knowing any better, and her decisions are always made for her by others who view that ‘it’s what’s best for her’. They never take into consideration her desires, and only concedes to them with extreme reluctance or if Fiona leaves them with no choice otherwise. This is in stark contrast to Arles who withholds any judgement regardless of her decisions, and gives her the power to take hold of her own future.

Arles welcomes the heroine as part of the Wolf Family, and during her stay he places the utmost effort in ensuring she feels a sense of belonging and an irreplaceable member of their group. Although he is slain in many of the endings, he does everything he can to ensure that even with his passing; the heroine remains safe and has a means of escape.

His good ending with Fiona was really touching and sweet; a futuristic ending that I felt very satisfied with and provided a wholesome conclusion to their relationship. However, as I mentioned in the storyline above I found that his route lacked a lot of content, length and development between the two characters. I understand that it’s all meant to be covered in Last Hope; but as a stand alone game it felt extremely dissatisfying as a reader if you compare the amount of content and time devoted to the cats.

Arles and Fiona lacked a lot of romance and build up necessary for a proper relationship, and it felt as though their time together was all too fleeting. It’s immediately cut short before it even begins, leading into the final battle with the cats and then straight into the epilogue ending. I felt that their interactions were platonic at best, as although Arles is gentle and considerate of Fiona; I wouldn’t say I felt any romantic feelings between the two or intense attraction.

It’s really disappointing because he had such great dynamic with Fiona, and played an interesting and integral role to the plot as the opposing faction to the cats. Although they’re deeply in love by the ending of the story, it didn’t feel believable as a reader. Prior to that, they hadn’t even confessed or had any semblance of romantic interaction. It was also never explained whether his attraction to Fiona was genuine, or just remnants of his love for Elvira.

Was he just imprinting on her and using her as a replacement? Is his love for her merely based on the feelings of the past? Although he protects and respects Fiona, it didn’t quite seem like ‘love’ just yet. It felt like a lot of his actions towards her were out of obligation, as for her to join the wolves as family she must ‘marry’ into their coven. If the game had developed their relationship with one another more, it would’ve made for a significantly better route; rather than leaving the readers with questions regarding the legitimacy of their feelings for one another.

Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — Character Review: Rath Vogart

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

For a general review of the game, you can read it here.

RATH VOGART: The younger brother of Arles V. Felnoir, and the poster boy of Black Wolves Saga. After their family is slaughtered by the hands of Mejojo, they are separated in the ensuing turmoil; where Rath endures many years of immense suffering. They reunite many years later, and he is considered second-in-command amongst the Wolves along with Guillan. Due to his experiences, Rath is extremely apathetic towards the world. He is resentful of his own pathetic existence as a wolf, living life in constant fear of being hunted and with no choice but to constantly flee for their own survival.

Rath resents and distrusts humans due to the suffering that he and others have experienced, and views achieving peace and co-existence amongst the races as an impossible dream. Above all else, he despises himself: he is powerless to seize control of his own future and fate. He lacks the will, determination and leadership to invoke change like Arles, and continually protected and treated like a child; whilst unable to do anything in return for his kindness.

To add salt to injury, Rath is suffering from Zodiva that is rapidly consuming his body and already completely blinded him in one eye. It further increases his burden on the pack and Arles; and does nothing but elevate his self-loathing at his own futility. Even if Rath wanted to change for the better, his time was running out with his deteriorating body. Seeing Fiona’s kindness, determination and will to change the future of the world moves his cold heart, and causes him to reevaluate his own situation.

In spite of her obvious powerlessness to invoke change, she stands by her own convictions and beliefs. She willingly joins the wolf pack despite having to abandon her own family in the process, all for the sake of peace. Not to mention that at the end of the day, she is still a Lobeira and exposing herself to such harsh conditions with the wolves would inevitably infect her with incurable Zodiva.

He cannot fathom as to why she would go so far, as she had been ostracised and outcasted by her own people for witchcraft. Rath eventually warms up to Fiona’s kindness, and slowly changes his opinion of humans; and that perhaps, what he once considered the impossible is now no longer a far-off dream.

Considering Rath is the poster-boy for Black Wolves Saga, I was exceptionally disappointed by his route as I had high expectations from the beginning of the game. From what I’ve read, he finally gets his spotlight in Last Hope as the game revolves around his side of the story. As a result, it left Bloody Nightmare with little to no content dedicated to Rath. It’s a shame considering he actually had what Arles’ route lacked; which was the romantic intimacy and build up between him and Fiona.

They actually had some really cute and meaningful moments together, as well as some of the best CGs in the game. The scene where Fiona allows Rath to drink from her neck in order to see whether it would cure his blindness had so much muted passion and desire. The voice acting, tension and build up was amazing; and I read with bated breath wondering what would happen next. It felt like a major turning point in their relationship, so I was really excited to see how they would progress in the events following after.

To my shock and dismay, the story essentially all ends immediately afterwards. After escaping from Mejojo and Auger, Rath finally decides to take action in what he wants for the future. Although Arles and Guillan’s fate is unknown, they cannot return to rescue them as that is not what Arles would’ve wanted. They had made a promise to continue living, and spread the Wolves’ story; as with no survivors, their tale and suffering would become lost to the history of the world.

No one would ever come to know the truth, and the lives forsaken and sacrificed for the cause would all be forgotten. Fiona agrees, and they walk hand in hand towards their future together. I remember just staring at my computer screen for a few solid minutes trying to convince myself that it couldn’t possibly just end then and there without any sort of epilogue or conclusion tying up their story.

To my complete and utter disappointment, that actually was the ending. It felt like there was so much build up in their relationship and potential for the future; setting the reader up for expectation, and then having it all crumble before their very eyes. It’s knowing how much promise the story had to be amazing, that makes the ending altogether even more dissatisfying.

Especially because Rath is always the focal target of their promotional advertisements on Black Wolves Saga, it really does set up the audience in believing his route would offer a lot more than it actually did. I guess in a way it’s effective marketing by Idea Factory, as out of frustration with the lack of content for the wolves you’d undoubtedly purchase Last Hope for a more satisfying conclusion to the series (laughs).

On that note when I was discussing the game with my SO, we agreed that almost every single emotionally traumatised male character or lead wears what we call an ’emo scarf’. You know the black tattered scarf that is all together way too long and impractical, but it’s a must have accessory in order to show how ‘edgy’ of an ‘edge lord’ they are. It’s always the cold, hard to approach and disillusioned character that wears it as though their life depends on it.

All jokes aside, I did really like Rath’s character and design; and I actually don’t mind the scarf trend. It’s popular because clearly a lot of people are a fan of the look, and it suits the character type. I will most likely play Last Hope and take Idea Factory’s bait, simply because my curiosity is unable to accept the conclusion of his story.

Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — Character Review: Guillan Guinor

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

For a general review of the game, you can read it here.

GUILLAN GUINOR: Second in command to Arles and his most devoted follower, Guillan obeys his orders without question and supports him with unwavering loyalty. He lives and feeds off receiving Arles’ praise, and he is the only one who can keep his dysfunctional personality in check. Guillan has quite a blood-thirsty and sadistic streak, openly expressing his desire to torture and murder humans for what they have suffered the past decade. He has no qualms with staining his hands with blood, and finds enjoyment and euphoria from it.

Guillan is a major tsundere, despite initially coming across as cruel, blunt and sarcastic. As we come to know and unravel his character, we realise that he has a gentle side to those whom he cares about. He does not hesitate to place his life on the line for Arles, and when he meets his demise during the Castle Siege in many of the routes; he uses his own body to prevent the soldiers from discovering Rath’s escape. In spite of his continual insults and belittling of Rath’s gentle nature, he treats him akin to a younger sibling whom he constantly looks out for.

I had no idea what to expect going into Guillan’s route. Initially I dreaded it since he had an extremely obnoxious voice throughout all of the stories, and his eyes just spelled insane when he was inflicting torture and espionage on helpless enemy soldiers. To my surprise, his route was a lot sweeter than I expected and had a more satisfying ending than Rath’s story — which I found hilarious. It just goes to show how lacking Rath’s story was, that the poster boy of the game was upstaged by a side character’s route.

Guillan quickly opens up to the heroine when she joins the wolf pack, and surprises her with his courtesy, consideration and willingness to accommodate to her needs. Initially, he is unsure how to respond to the heroine’s kindness as he had never been treated with such honesty and gentleness from another person before. I found it so cute when he requests Fiona to call him ‘Lord Guillan’ and when she obliges; immediately becomes embarrassed by the name and retracts his previous statement. Although he claimed that was his rightful name to everyone he met, no one had actually ever entertained his request before.

However, similar to the other wolf faction character stories he suffers from severe lack of development and substance to his story and persona. His shift in attitude towards the heroine was altogether poorly written, as it was in such stark contrast to what we had seen from him until that point. Prior to that, he had been ravenous in his desire for carnage with little regard for the morality of his actions. And yet, from the moment he meets Fiona he reverts to being shy and embarrassed around her.

All of a sudden without invitation, he then requests blood from the heroine and bites her neck — a symbolic act within wolf culture as a sign of pledging oneself and belonging solely to another. The sequence of events and development happened so abruptly, I honestly could not understand at what point his feelings towards Fiona had transgressed to love and romance.

It was like at one stage they were both on friendly, familial terms with one another and then immediately afterwards Guillan is possessive of the heroine and no longer wishes to share her with anyone else. Although Arles and Rath had very little content devoted to their story, at the very least we did receive some background information in regards to their past and what has shaped who they are in the present timeline.

However, in regards to Guillan then we know little to nothing about his past and his motives towards the wolf pack. It’s never delved upon as to why he was so devotedly loyal to Arles to the point of worship, his desire for bloodlust and carnage, and what led to him joining the coven in the first place. Just what was his past history with the two brothers? Where was the rest of his family? What made him the character he is today?

As the wolves prepare for their final attack against the cats, Guillan promises Fiona that no matter what he would return for her. She agrees, and escapes with the remaining wolves that are ill-fitted for combat and still recuperating from Zodiva. They spend many months within a hidden cave near a small town, and Fiona has settled into a daily life of at least some normalcy.

She is content with her life with the wolves, as she feels finally has a purpose and is useful to others. She regularly provides blood to the remaining wolves, and in the past couple of months they’ve more or less made a complete recovery. As they’re now able to revert to their human forms, everyday is lively and Fiona isn’t lonely with their companionship. As she is the only human, she is tasked with visiting the village markets every month to trade goods such as knitted and handmade items she creates out of wolf fur for items that they’re unable to forage from the forest.

Eventually, Guillan fulfils his promise and comes for Fiona. In his good ending, he carries Fiona off to travel the world on a journey with just the two of them as it was Arles’ final request of him. To make the most of his remaining life in creating meaningful memories. To explore the many things that other countries have to offer on a bright adventure with his beloved. In the true ending, Guillan returns with the only remaining piece of Arles — his sword arm along with his weapon that he had been gifted when dubbed the title ‘Knight of Salvation’.

Guillan consumes the arm as a symbolic act of pledging himself to Arles and taking upon the mantle as the next Wolf King. The wolves howl in celebration of their new leader, as he vows to protect them all and enable them to have a life of peace; just as Arles had always wanted. Although the scene was quite disturbing to read along with the CG, I felt it was quite befitting as the ‘true ending’ of Guillan’s story. Although his good ending was light hearted and sweet, it felt strange for him and Fiona to completely abandon the remaining wolves for the sake of their own happiness.

Considering what Arles had meant to them both, disregarding his cause and life devotion to the wolves just didn’t sit right with what we have seen from both their characters so far. My main criticism is that it honestly felt Guillan’s true ending would have made a lot more sense for Rath’s story. It would have been monumental for his character development, to seize the future with his own hands and finally have the courage to invoke change; just like what he had always admired and respected Arles for when he was alive.

Although Guillan’s story was cute and a nice addition to the game, I didn’t truly feel he necessarily needed his own route in the story; especially if they weren’t going to delve upon his past or beyond just the superficial details about his character. I would’ve definitely preferred if they devoted the writing and time to the other characters of the story, as they play a much more significant role to the overarching plot.

Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — Character Review: Zara Skeens

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

For a general review of the game, you can read it here.

ZARA SKEENS: Zara is the heroine’s dearest childhood friend, and only other companion along with Nesso. He is a war orphan after the rabbits were mass-murdered due to their advanced medical knowledge. Their skills would have revealed the cure to Zodiva, and unveiled its true nature in regards to the wolves; effectively foiling the plans that Mejojo and Auger were to set in motion. As a result, the entire race was destroyed and left only an extremely rare few that had been unable to escape Weblin.

Zara is captured by humans and enslaved to horrible cruelty during his stay with them. As a result, he becomes cold and distrusting of others — having lost everything dear to him at a very young age. Fiona’s father places a gold offer that no one can refuse for a rabbit to serve in his household, due to the rumours of their superior medical knowledge for the sake of his daughter’s health. Zara is immediately sold, and initially does not assimilate well to his new household.

Due to his distrust of humans, he is cold to the family despite the warm welcome he receives; as he believed it would only be a matter of time before they would show their true faces and he would be betrayed once again. He views Fiona as a nuisance with her clingy, irrational and child-like behaviour; constantly asking him to play and spoil her. Zara can never take his eyes off the young lady without her getting into some sort of trouble.

He is confronted by her kindness and treatment as part of the family, and as a result he is unsure as to how to respond to her affections. Overtime, he grows to genuinely care for her and the Galland family; realising that they’re truly kind people who have offered him a home and a sense of family that he had long lost. With his talents and superior medical knowledge, Zara could have easily climbed the social ladder and achieved a great deal more within society.

For example: he had the opportunity to join Nesso in the Royal Castle in order to train as a squire, effectively rising in the ranks of the social hierarchy. However, he chooses to remain by Fiona’s side as he cannot bear to see her crying face begging him not to leave and out of genuine love for her. To him, she provides him with a reason for living in his darkest moments and someone whom he needs to protect no matter the cost.

Zara’s route was actually so cute, the kind of story that just gives you such a warm feeling reading and a sense of deep contentment. I really liked it because it provided such a nice breather from the drama and complexities of the other routes. In terms of actual storyline and relationship development however, then there really wasn’t much to it. The human’s side of the story is prevalent throughout all the routes due to Fiona’s involvement, and their relationship was already established to begin with.

The childhood flashbacks of young Zara and Fiona was just too adorable, and provided that extra depth to their past; and it was clear they had a very loving connection to one another. Zara is like the emotional pillar that Fiona can always depend on — pulling her out of even the toughest situations. He is the voice of reason that keeps Fiona in line, and is the biggest factor as to why she has stayed alive for so long with his medical prowess.

His bad ending actually made me so incredibly sad, because it felt as though a hole had been torn through your heart. Everyone had made it and crossed the finish line – except for Zara. Their family would never be complete again, and it’s like that one integral piece of the puzzle is now missing. Whilst Zara’s route is nowhere near as immersive, detailed or integral to the storyline as the others; I still loved the pacing and tone of his route.

Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — Character Review: Nesso Galland

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

For a general review of the game, you can read it here.

NESSO GALLAND: Nesso is the older, half-brother to Fiona and has fiercely protected her since birth. Both their mother’s died young, and as a result growing up they only had each other and their father for the most part. Nesso is considered to be immensely talented, skilled, popular amongst the people and directs his own special platoon within the army. He is Weblin’s finest swordsman, and has yet to be defeated on the battlefield.

However, normally as part of the Galland family a man of Nesso’s ability and lineage would have easily reached the status of Captain within the Royal army itself. Fiona learns to her dismay that it is due to their family’s refusal of Mejojo’s advances and his resentment towards knights that leads to Nesso taking on many tasks that one would expect of low rank-and-file soldier.

He assures her that he is unaffected by his predicament, so long as his precious little sister is untouched by those devious cat’s hands. After all, the main motivation and drive behind his desire for strength and the ability to wield the sword with such skill was all for the sake of protecting Fiona.

We soon learn that it is due to Nesso’s request rather than their father’s decision to lock Fiona away inside the tower. Although her weak body is partially the reason, for the most part it is due to Nesso’s desire to always have Fiona within his line of sight. Even though Nesso is able to protect her within the castle grounds, due to the nature of his work he is often sent to the front lines of battle. As a result, Nesso reasons to himself that he needs a place to keep her safe when he is not close by; a place out of reach from the hands of others.

In reality however, we realise from the very beginning of the game that rather than out of familial love for Fiona; Nesso in fact has a major sister complex. His actions towards Fiona border on incestuous for most of the game, and becomes insanely jealous at any male who comes close to her. Although it is comical for the most part, you can just tell from the underlying tone that Nesso is actually dead serious.

He continually expresses his desire to marry Fiona, as it is not entirely uncommon for half-members of the family to wed amongst one another. Nesso claims that he is the only man suitable and truly worthy of Fiona. To my dismay, I can’t exactly refute that point. Nesso is the perfect character that tends to Fiona’s every need: he’s handsome, talented, has the strength to protect her, and everything he does is for her sake. His love for her borders on obsession, but he does indeed try to keep her best interests at heart.

At least everything would be perfect about him considering Fiona’s circumstances… except for the fact that he is still her sibling at the end of the day. I actually dreaded and left his route for last on purpose, because although I know some people are fans of incest; it really just doesn’t sit well for me personally. I just wanted to leave my personal impression of Nesso as the caring older brother doting on his sister, rather than finding out any dark, twisted love he may secretly have on the inside.

What really irked me about Nesso’s character is his blatant disregard for Fiona’s opinions and his constant projection on her that she is still a helpless child who knows nothing about reality. He continually rejects her decisions on what she wishes to do for the future, and leaves her no choice but to take action on her own accord. Otherwise, he only gives in when she is extremely adamant on what she wants to do, or leaves him with no choice on the matter. For example: she’s not leaving Weblin, and his only option is to leave without her or stay with her.

Also, his confinement of her within the tower was what led to her complete disconnect with reality to begin with. It wasn’t certain whether or not her solitary confinement was the sole reason as to why she was able to stay alive for so long, as she remained perfectly fine when residing in the Castle Gardens within Mejojo’s Kingdom. He had taken away her freedom without her knowledge, and he reasons that it’s all for her sake rather than his own selfish desires being projected onto her.

That in itself is already a very unhealthy relationship to have. If she hadn’t been confined to the tower all her life, she would’ve grown up to have a better understanding of the world and some semblance of common sense. I just found myself uncomfortable reading the romantic scenes with Nesso, because for some unknown reason they had the most passionate and physically intimate moments with one another; even greater than Mejojo or Auger.

It honestly just felt as though he was preying on her, and confusing her feelings for him as a brother. When they shared a kiss, to me it felt like Fiona was more so shocked and surprised by it all; rather than actually reciprocating his desires for her. Even she herself is unsure of the act, as he always evades her when she questions whether or not it is appropriate behaviour for siblings to engage in.

His good ending actually left me with a deep sense of despair hilariously enough. Due to Nesso taking the brunt of their fall from the cliff and shielding Fiona, he has become crippled by his injuries. Fiona feels an extreme sense of guilt over the situation, as it was because of her that he is now confined to his bed; and their positions towards one another had become reversed. Fiona is now his caretaker, and Nesso is (a little too) content with his newfound predicament.

After all, every waking moment they have now is spent with each other. She continually dotes on and spoils him, attending to his every need and whim. It’s heavily implied they are now regularly engaging in a physically sexual relationship, as Nesso reasons that it ‘helps him feel better’. Fiona who is deeply saddened that her once talented brother is now a crippled invalid unable to ever wield a sword again; obliges him willingly with his embarrassing demands.

To me, what Fiona felt towards him wasn’t romantic love; but the love of a sibling stained by guilt and manipulated by Nesso. Nesso projects onto her his obsessive love, and Fiona is all too clueless about men due to her complete social disconnection from the world. I’m unable to see their relationship as being genuine in any sort of form, due to the nature of the events that transpired.

I admit I was also incredibly salty because Nesso and Fiona had so many romantic moments together, whilst many of the other characters were left out to dry in comparison. If I could choose, then I would prefer Nesso’s route to not be in the game since I felt it would be better used to develop the other storylines. The human faction storyline within BWS doesn’t really contribute much to the overarching plot, as they play the role of by-stander in the main conflict between the wolves and cats.

Their role in the story is revealed in the main linear storyline, and their relationship to Fiona is already established from the beginning. As a result, it doesn’t leave very much substance to work with and the writers decided to focus their routes on the more romantic aspect of the game rather than actual storyline. As I dislike Nesso this was considered a tragedy to me, as I would’ve preferred it with essentially any other character but him (laughs).

Amnesia: Memories Review

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RELEASE DATE: 2011
PUBLISHER: Idea Factory & Gloczus, Inc.
PLATFORMS AVAILABLE: PSVita, Steam, iOS/Android (English)
GAME LINK: 
Amnesia: Memories – PS Vita [Digital Code]
Amnesia: Memories – Steam [Digital Code]

Amnesia: Memories is the second Idea Factory localised title I played after Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom. I purchased a PSVita just to play the game, as I loved the artwork and the game is very popular in Japan. The PS Vita is the main platform for a lot of visual novel releases, so there would be plenty of current and to be released titles for me to play.

Needless to say, it is one of my favourite otome games that I have revisited and played many times. My ultimate bias is Kent, as he is undoubtedly ‘best boy’ in my eyes and agreed upon by many other players. I own the game both on the PSVita, and the steam platform port. It’s one of the few Visual Novels that regularly goes on sale on steam from $29.99USD to $2.99USD, a whopping -90% off which in my opinion is absolutely nuts.

I don’t usually purchase multiple ports of the same game, but who can say no to a $2.99USD game? You won’t find any visual novel of this quality and length for that price anywhere else. Majority of mobile phone games cost $4 or $5 for a single character route alone.

If you haven’t played the game yet, I highly recommend waiting for the steam -90% or -75% sale ($7.49USD) as it does happen fairly frequently and is an amazing steal.

Storyline ★★★★

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-The Story-

A story that takes place in a fictional world…

It was the 1st of August.

That morning, when she awoke, the heroine found herself without any memories from before August 1st…… Everything, from the sort of life she lived, to the relationships she had, was a blank……

A young boy named Orion appeared in front of her, referring to himself as a “spirit.” Under Orion’s guidance, the heroine began the struggle to regain her memories. She searched her house for clues about her everyday life, and received a message on her phone…

What was displayed on the screen was an unknown name to her.

Now, she is asked to meet with him, a boyfriend whose name and face she doesn’t know. In a position where who to trust is uncertain, the heroine must move in a way that her memory loss remains undetected by her partner. Because of this, the story becomes tangled in complex ways.

With no memories of “him,” our heroine will write a new love story starting today…… (Official English Website

The story of Amnesia: Memories has a very strong and interesting premise. From the very beginning, you select a ‘world’ of your choice based on the symbols on a deck of cards: Clover, Spade, Heart or Diamond World. This locks you into your character route from the get go, rather than the usual dating-sim format where you attain a certain level of affection with the bachelors through varying decision points to eventually access and branch off onto their story path.

The story routes are universally different since you live in ‘different worlds’ so to speak, and as a result there is no general common story. From the very beginning in each world, it is new and unread content.

The heroine has lost all her memories prior to August 1st, and finds herself very alone and lost with her predicament, as her family in all the routes are living far away. Not to mention she has a young boy spirit named Orion taking up residence in her mind where her memories used to be. Orion cautions the heroine that due to her amnesia not being medically related but because of his spiritual existence—her condition cannot be known to others.

A prolonged hospital stay would inevitably lead to her mental state deteriorating, as she is not suffering from amnesia caused by physical trauma or natural means. If she remains bound to Orion for too long, his mental state would eventually encroach upon hers—Orion would never be able to separate from her mind, and the heroine would completely lose her sense of self and the means of regaining her memories.

Her only method of recovery is to regain her memories through interacting with those around her, and living her everyday life undetected in order to avoid questions or suspicions of her unusual supernatural predicament. However, can she really trust those around her? How does she know whether or not they’re genuine and honest? Or will they end up taking advantage of her impaired state upon discovering the truth?

The game involves the use of three parameters: the heroine’s affection towards the chosen bachelor, his affection for her and his suspicion of her condition—if the suspicion meter is too high or affection too low, it can lead to the many bad endings.

I really enjoyed the storyline of Amnesia: Memories, as I found it to be quite refreshing and different. Rather than getting to know your bachelor and falling in love through regular means—you’re thrust into a situation where you have to juggle part-time work, relearn about your friendships with people and date essentially a stranger whom you know nothing about. To make matters worse, you cannot let him know that you’re anything but in love with him and must play the role of a happy couple in a wholesome relationship.

What I especially liked was not only learning about your surroundings, but the heroine as a person before her memory loss. It created a very immersive game experience where you’re constantly putting together the pieces of the puzzle, and figuring out exactly who you were before the accident and the true nature of those around you.

Not to mention in every world you choose, the character roles are quite different each time. For example: in Heart World Shin and Toma are your closest childhood friends, whereas in others they’re your university acquaintances or co-workers at Meido no Hitsuji (The Maid Café where you work). In Clover World, Kent is your boyfriend from another university and Ikki an acquaintance whereas in Diamond they’re both your co-workers.

It feels like you’re reading a whole new storyline every time, and forced to adapt as a player to a completely different scenario whilst taking into account your amnesia and parameters. It honestly feels like you’re suffering from amnesia all over again, despite being on your second or third playthrough of the game due to the differences between the routes. You feel a sense of empathy and connection to the protagonist, as you too are fumbling around with the pieces of the storyline.

It creates a very complex plot and rewarding game experience, as you’re not just revisiting the same content over and over. Not to mention the fact that every character in every route treats you differently depending on their relationship to you in that world. As a result, certain characters whom can be considered trustworthy in one route; actually aren’t in another.

The overarching plot line that culminated with the true ending in the Joker Route was very well done and was truly heart-wrenching. I did not expect that twist whatsoever, and was shocked when everything was revealed in the end. If anything, I do wish they spent more time explaining the scenario in greater detail such as the nature of Gods and wishes etc. I felt that although the explanation was good, it could’ve been a lot better since there were still many questions unanswered despite it being the true ending. I also disliked the writing of a particular route, which I will elaborate on in further detail in the character development section.

The game translation and writing were quite good, with very little grammatical errors and typos throughout. Amnesia: Memories is medium-length in terms of game time, and would take approximately 20-30 hrs total to complete. It uses a calendar format beginning on August 1st, and the routes finish near the end of August. The player plays through the heroine’s life on a day-to-day basis, culminating to a month worth of in-game content.

Character Development ★★★★

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

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ORION: Orion is an important character to touch upon, as he essentially acts as both our guide and narrator in the game. He also replaces the heroine’s subconscious for majority of the game until she regains her memories. I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews on Orion, with many arguing that his jubilant and excessively-cheery tone of voice became extremely irritating as the game wore on. I can understand that perspective, as his voice and character isn’t for everyone. I personally enjoyed his presence very much as it was something very different and refreshing in the game, something which I had never seen before.

I welcomed his character because he provided entertaining dialogue and comic relief that set a very light-hearted tone to the game, and made the story more interesting to read on a daily basis. Other readers have argued that it is due to his presence, that takes away from the protagonist’s own personality since he’s always talking over the top of her. We’re essentially always seeing his opinions, his reactions and decisions to many of the scenarios that the heroine encounters.

How I see it is: imagine the whole story without Orion in it. The overarching storyline would no longer make any sense, and the heroine would become even more persona-less without his guidance and humorous banter. She is suffering from severe and abnormal amnesia, having to relearn everything about herself without any help. She doesn’t even know who she is, or what she looks like—how is it possible then to have a personality?

She wouldn’t even know where to start in order to regain her memories. Imagine playing in the perspective of a protagonist grasping at straws to regain some normality and understanding of her life, and it takes all her mental effort and willpower to take in her surroundings and relearn everything about herself. Hard to have a personality then, right?

What I liked about having Orion was his significance to the overarching storyline, and that the heroine essentially becomes a huge puzzle herself that we must solve. As her memories return and we slowly put together the picture of who she used to be, her personality does begin to return. Orion’s voice and narration also painted a better picture of the storyline, making it easier to follow as a reader in his perspective.

Playing in the heroine’s perspective would’ve filled day-to-day dialogue with her monotonous thoughts and anxieties, without a clue on how to go about her condition (as we saw her extreme reliance on Orion in explaining to her the logical course of action to take, and his understanding of the human world).

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SHIN [HEART WORLD]: The poster boy of Amnesia: Memories, and in his world plays the role of your boyfriend and close childhood friend. You begin the game in a hospital room, as you are recovering from an accident. He quickly notices you’re acting strangely, and begins his interrogation of you as well as immediately going in for a kiss! A girl really can’t catch a break, can she? The heroine ultimately fails his test, agreeing that they had been dating for three months when in reality, they had only begun dating recently for around a month.

Shin then takes it upon himself to do everything in his power to help the protagonist regain her memories. However, there are strange circumstances involved in how the heroine sustained her head injury… perhaps, it was even intended murder? Is Shin truly looking out for her best interests, or was he in fact the culprit attempting to hide his tracks and salvage their relationship? With her amnesia, can the heroine ever truly find out what really happened that night?

From the very beginning, the audience is given a clear picture of Shin’s personality—cold, extremely blunt, forceful and pushy. He is a tsundere through and through, and the heroine is clearly his weak spot. Despite his insistent denials, he often becomes embarrassed and blushes around her. This makes for some very adorable character moments between the two, as the heroine slowly begins to regain her memories and fall in love with him all over again.

Although he isn’t anywhere near as gentle to her as Toma (her close childhood friend along with Shin in this route) nor does he spoil her as much, Shin genuinely cares for the heroine and does everything he can to help her through her amnesia. For example: regular visitations to her house to check up on her and taking her to places that had meaningful importance to her in the past.

Everything he does is shown through his actions and always in the best interest of the heroine. To me, this was both what I liked and disliked about Shin. Although it showcases his head-strong, determined and caring personality, at the same time he never asked or considered what the heroine herself wanted. He always went ahead and decided what was best for her, based on his own opinion and decisions.

Although there was plenty of romance in the route, it overall did have a darker and more tense mood than the other stories. The romance played a backseat to the murder mystery in Shin’s story, as he stops at nothing to uncover the culprit to ensure the heroine’s safety. As a result, the reader is always left wondering “whodunnit?” and even Shin at times seemed like the forerunner as the real perpetrator due to the fragmented nature of the heroine’s memories.

Shin himself didn’t exactly do himself any favours to clear his innocence either, as the heroine is constantly kept in the dark about what he is truly up to. However, I did really like how the mystery unfolded and how it was all answered in the end. The scene where he confronts the real culprit was done particularly well, in terms of how it was written and the voice acting. To be honest, I should’ve seen hints of the culprit’s twisted nature already from Shin’s route but I wanted to believe it was only exclusive to this route…oh, how entirely wrong I was (laughs).

Shin had one of the best ending CGs in the game, it was honestly just too cute and I loved the consistent flashbacks throughout his story of their childhood together along with Toma. It gave significantly more depth and history to their relationship, and how Shin knows the heroine better than she knows herself.

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KENT [CLOVER WORLD]: My ultimate bias in the game, and when I mentioned replaying Amnesia many times—I actually meant majority of the time I just replay his route alone (laughs). It’s quite interesting because out of all the characters, Kent actually was the least appealing to me and didn’t really leave much of a favourable impression in any of the other character routes. As a result, I came into his route not expecting much at all and played it just to access the Joker Route.

The heroine begins the route in the comforts of her room and explores for any clues about herself. Soon enough, she receives a text from Kent demanding to see her at a costume café which Orion remarks is a very strange choice for a meeting (little does the heroine know, she actually works there). Due to the contents of her phone and the nature of their previous texts, the only possible conclusion is that Kent is her boyfriend.

Orion frets from the get-go that they’re thrust into an extremely unfavourable situation: if they potentially break up due to the heroine’s amnesia, it would be detrimental to lose someone so important to her once she regains her memories. Yet, avoiding the situation isn’t an option either as they could break up without even talking it through, and lose a valuable source of information to curing her amnesia in the process. From first impressions alone, Kent is condescending, logical to the point of being overbearing, blunt and confrontational.

Both Orion and the heroine lament how they possibly could’ve been in a happy relationship, but apologise in order to salvage whatever they had prior to her amnesia. Kent is shocked at the heroine’s change of heart, but accepts the favourable outcome—with him too apologising for his actions, and expressing his willingness to accept any complaints or opinions she may have towards their relationship.

We soon learn that they had only been dating 3 days prior to August 1st, and as a result they were in the very early tentative stages of dating. What I really liked about Kent’s route was because of the heroine’s amnesia, she was able to become more patient and understanding with Kent’s shortcomings and get to know him for who he truly is. Prior to that, both parties would be too stubborn to give in which left their relationship in a cycle of turmoil and constant fighting. There wouldn’t be a day that passed without the two engaging in a pointless argument.

Out of all the bachelors, only in Kent’s route do we get to meet his parents; to which ensued a hilarious scene. Orion comments that although they had found Kent’s stubborn logic bad initially, it was nothing in comparison to his parents. The heroine realises that he has been raised with the drilled notion that everything must follow a sequence of logical conclusions. As a result, Kent approaches everything in life in the same manner.

Although Kent is exceptionally intelligent with a bright future ahead of him, he genuinely does not understand scenarios that require the application of common sense and human interaction—looking at everything as though it is a maths equation with logical set steps.

It is not that Kent purposefully wishes to anger the heroine, but he genuinely does not understand her ‘illogical’ thinking process. Because of this, he doesn’t know how to appease her or make her happy. He constantly sets his pride aside to consult Ikki (his best friend in the route) for girl advice. Kent is nothing but earnest and genuine in approaching the heroine, doing everything he can to maintain their current happiness together as a couple.

For example: showing up to the heroine’s workplace with a half-month anniversary cake, sprinting to the train station to see the festival together and creating a math exercise workbook for the heroine which is just so Kent. I absolutely love his character and the writing for his dialogue, it’s actually so hilarious to read yet so incredibly well written. It’s consistent throughout the game and adds so much dynamic to his personality.

He is also the only route to properly communicate and come to know of Orion’s existence, as well as the true nature of the heroine’s amnesia. This to me, was a very unique aspect of his route and a true turning point in both their relationship and as characters. Rather than him sending her to the nearest hospital, he is accepting of her situation due to the mutual trust they’ve built together—despite the scenario denying all forms of logic.

It was a very cute and meaningful scene, because if it was Kent in the past; he would have never been able to accept such reasoning or adhere to her wishes. The moment when he finally confesses to the heroine at the swimming pool as well as exhibiting clear signs of male jealousy was just all too adorable for me. It is without a doubt my favourite CG in the game.

When he rushes to the heroine’s side during her accident near the conclusion of the game and gives up on his presentation that heavily weighs on his future; I felt was truly the defining point of their relationship and extremely satisfying to read as a reader. Kent is finally able to see eye to eye with the heroine, agreeing that his actions are altogether too irrational and illogical. He finally admits that he had been incorrect about his assumptions on love.

To me, Kent’s route represented what a realistic and healthy relationship should be despite it being fictional. Kent retains his sense of self throughout the game, but by the end of the story is more than willing to compromise and change aspects of himself to be a better person for the heroine. He prioritises her happiness above all else, and truly loves her both in actions and words.

They both empower and encourage one another to be better and truly reach a mutual understanding. For example: he helps the heroine raise her university grades in order for them not only to be together studying abroad in London, but to have a bright future with one another.

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IKKI [SPADE WORLD]: Your co-worker and current boyfriend in Spade World, Ikki is considered incredibly handsome and popular amongst the girls—enough to invoke the creation of a long-standing fan club. Accustomed to the affections of women, he is always courteous, kind, and overly flirtatious—essentially both the enemy and ideal man of every woman. Ikki always knows exactly what to say in order to charm a girl’s heart, and as a result the heroine constantly has her guard up around him. She is uncertain as to how she should respond to his affections, as he is very forward in his intentions towards her.

We soon learn that they have been dating for two months and their relationship ends by the end of August. This is due to the heroine uncovering the sinister nature of Ikki’s fan-club prior to her amnesia: fans are only allowed to date Ikki for a span of three months before inevitably breaking up with him. They are also to provide daily reports of their activities with Ikki, because no one can ‘own’ him; he must be shared by everyone. If they do not obey these rules, the fan-club will enact severe punishment and these aren’t just idle threats.

Ikki and the heroine had never been in love to begin with, as she had joined the fan club out of curiosity of his unnatural popularity and to oversee their daily operations. He had agreed to date the protagonist as he could not fathom as to why she was the only woman whom his mystical eyes did not work upon—the eyes that could make any woman fall in love with him at first sight.

Of course, as they get to know one another they begin to inevitably fall in love. What I disliked about Ikki’s route was due to the disingenuous nature of their beginnings and his flirtatious nature, it was difficult for most of the route to decipher whether or not he truly loved the protagonist. It felt like he was just playing a game with the heroine, and constantly using his physical wiles in attempting to charm her.

It took him so long to finally work up the courage to confront his fan-club, and for the most part the heroine endures the severe bullying alone with her amnesia. It’s why his route had some of the darker bad endings, due to how serious these fan-club girls really are in their threats.

Ikki was far too passive in the whole ordeal, never once questioning as to why his relationships only ever lasted for three months. The explanation behind his eyes I felt was very poor, as they just attributed it to him making a wish upon a star and magically, he’s had them ever since. Done. End of Story. You’d think that for such a crucial part of his character and history, they would dedicate a lot more time into the writing and fleshing out his story.

As a result, it leaves very little dimension to his character. What you essentially see in all the other stories is what you get in his route. Only difference is his flirtatiousness in the beginning transforms from a ploy in his experiment with the heroine, to being genuine when he falls in love with her by the end of the route.

What I did like about his route was that he helped the heroine confront her father in her desires on what she wants to do in her life, and her strive for independence. It’s the only story route where we see a part of her family, and a little bit more about her personal life before her amnesia.

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TOMA [DIAMOND WORLD]: Surprisingly he is actually one of the most popular characters in Amnesia and often places very highly, if not topping their character polls. For the life of me I cannot even begin to understand this, but to each their own I suppose. Admittedly I did quite like his character design at first glance and I played his route second after Shin’s, as in terms of spoilers and story flow it made the most sense. Boy, was I in for a wild rollercoaster ride in his story.

Similar to Heart World, in Diamond both Shin and Toma are the heroine’s closest childhood friends. However, rather than falling for Shin—the heroine has always been in love with Toma, but believes that he has never seen her as anything other than a little sister. As a result, prior to her amnesia she never managed to confess her feelings.

In his route, the heroine doesn’t see too much of the rest of the cast outside of Toma and Shin. Upon discovering the bullying inflicted upon the heroine at her apartment due to her close friendship with Ikki, and his suspicions of her amnesia—Toma suggests for her to stay at his place, as he claims he was her boyfriend and naturally this would be the best course of action to take.

As the route progresses, their friends begin to express their concerns that they rarely ever see the heroine anymore, and even Shin shows up multiple times at Toma’s home and disapproves of the living circumstances as they’re not actually dating. This causes Toma to fly into a panic, as he is conflicted with having his lie exposed and being hated by the heroine or keeping her trapped by his side in blissful ignorance.

His obsession proves to be the overwhelming deciding factor, as he drugs the MC and purchases a cage to prevent her from escaping and discovering the truth. To me, his relationship with the MC can in no way shape or form be considered love. It is an unhealthy obsession, where he wants to possess her for his own selfish desires.

He distorts and justifies his obsession by veiling it beneath the facade of concern and out of affection, when in reality he has shown to be extremely manipulative and malicious—destroying any evidence for the MC to regain her memories, and fabricating the truth countless of times.

In one of his bad endings, the worst case scenario that Orion warned the heroine about from the beginning occurs. Due to the prolonged confinement, Orion has completely encroached upon the heroine’s mental state and she has been reduced to being nothing more than a lifeless doll—the unwilling reciprocal for Toma’s dark desires, and caged in his home for the rest of her life.

It’s so incredibly ironic because all of these events could have been avoided, as it was all based on a misunderstanding. Toma couldn’t bear to let the heroine go because he thought she was in love with Ikki, when she was actually in love with Toma the whole entire time. When he discovers her diary entailing the truth of her feelings before her amnesia, suddenly all is well and they have a happy ending together. To me, that made no sense whatsoever as how could she possibly still be in love with someone who deliberately put her in harms way and blatantly lied for his own selfishness?

How on earth does he still deserve a happy ending, and end up with the heroine regardless of his previous actions? I suppose I can see the aspects which people like about him, because at the end of the day he is still a fictional character. His actions can be interpreted as an out of control passion, the kind of love that ignites oneself into the flames of self-destruction. And I suppose that is what makes for an interesting and different story, of the good guy corrupted by sin and the dark side of loving someone too much.

He had a lot of cute and romantic moments with the heroine due to their seclusion together, and it is shown prior to his crazed cage frenzy that he had genuinely been a positive figure in the MC’s life. Although I still can’t bring myself to like him due to the trespassing of moral boundaries, I can see why many people still do.

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UKYO [JOKER WORLD]: The most mysterious character out of the cast, and his route can only be unlocked upon the completion of the other four worlds. He makes appearances in all the stories, with varying screen times. Due to the unveiling of the overarching storyline and Ukyo’s role in each of them, I felt the game routes were best played in the order of Shin → Toma → Kent → Ikki. Ukyo is known as a talented and famous photographer, who often visits Meido no Hitsuji to observe and talk to the heroine.

Although he appears kind and gentle initially throughout the routes, from progressing with the story and bad endings—we come to realise that there is something amiss with his character. He has periods of lapses in judgement and changes in personality. Ukyo turns sinister with continually increasing threats to taking the MC’s life and succeeding in some of the endings.

As players progressing through the story and putting together the pieces of the puzzle from the other routes, we come to realise the grand picture. The other four routes represent parallel worlds on the same timeline continuum, hence why Orion assured the heroine that choosing any world was perfectly acceptable at the beginning of the game. Although she exists in all of them and would not disrupt the timeline by returning to any of the worlds, they may not necessarily be the world she originally came from prior to her memory loss.

Her original place was in the Joker World, where she was Ukyo’s beloved girlfriend. They had met during Spring beneath the cherry blossoms and shared a loving and blissful relationship together for several months. However, at the beginning of August she attended university where a fatal accident occurred; causing a mass explosion in the classroom the heroine was in. Although she survived the initial incident, she passed away during her prolonged hospital stay near the end of August.

Ukyo unable to cope with the loss of the tragedy, makes a heartfelt wish to turn back time and prevent the accident from occurring, and create a future where he and the heroine are able to be together. A benevolent and powerful God decides to grant his wish, in order to restore their powers. The greater the wish within the heart of a person, the greater the power that returns to the God upon its success.

This leads to the God residing within Ukyo’s body and subconscious, in order to withstand the strains of time travel and have the ability to move between the parallel dimensions. This explains Ukyo’s appearances throughout all the routes. However, they soon come to a daunting realisation after countless times of living the same month of August over and over and failing in their attempts.

The heroine’s fate is to die by the end of August. As a result, accidents occur to ensure the event goes through in order to maintain the balance of the world. In Ukyo’s attempts to prevent her death in the different worlds, he perishes in her place. By the same logic, in order to maintain balance within the world—Ukyo’s foreign existence offsets the equilibrium and must be eliminated.

As a result, Ukyo and the God are stuck in a continually looping time paradox due to the wish that binds them together. Until it is granted, they are unable to escape from the time loop. It is an extremely difficult realisation from his painful experiences that even fate itself is against his dearest wish. It is fated and written in the law of the world that he and the heroine cannot exist together.

Countless times he saves the heroine only for her to end up with the bachelor she was meant to be with in that world, and he dies excruciatingly alone by the end of August. If he is able to survive the end of August, the heroine herself meets her own end—leaving Ukyo with the pain of mourning and losing her multiple times over. He then would commit suicide in order to reset the time paradox and reattempt the task in another world.

It is no wonder he becomes so twisted, having met with horrible deaths of both himself and the heroine an unimaginable number of times. He is forced to look on as whilst he’s working so painfully hard for the MC’s sake, as she falls in love with another and has no memory of his existence. As a result of the time loop and Ukyo unable to bear with the heartache, his personality splits and forms a new entity within himself: Dark Ukyo. Dark Ukyo represents his sinister thoughts and murderous intentions.

Why was he trying so hard for her sake, when she would never look his way? She leaves him to die blissfully ignorant and has the happy ending that he would never be able to have. Why should he continue to love someone, who inevitably falls for another without any semblance of recognition for him? Whilst she has died many times over, she would never remember the pain of reliving death. The scars that Ukyo has been embedded with would never heal, and he has experienced what no human should ever experience more than once in a lifetime.

His story honestly made me so sad, with the knowing realisation that whilst we had our happy ending with literally every guy prior—Ukyo would appear and disappear in the routes. Now we know it was because he met extremely painful ends, whether by tragic accidents or he was unable to wait until the time limit and ended his life by his own hands.

The amount of love and dedication he had towards the heroine and her happiness is unfathomable—the kind of love that lasts a lifetime. The writing in his route was beautiful, and it’s the route where we see the most out of the heroine’s personality due to uncovering the truth and it is where she truly belongs.

When the God and Ukyo realises that he has exhausted all his powers to reset time and travel between the worlds, they decide as a last resort to return to the heroine’s original world with Ukyo and prevent her death. Although she was alive in the other worlds, she was not fated to be with him. The suspense, adrenaline and tension conveyed with the stakes at hand truly made the storyline a rollercoaster from beginning to end.

It was their last chance at being together and to defy the very hands of fate with their everlasting love. It was incredibly dramatic and heartfelt, and the feels were really too much. It had the most ‘complete’ and ‘satisfying’ ending because it revealed all the mysteries behind Ukyo’s character and the heroine’s true past, as well as Orion’s origins.

However, I still felt they could’ve definitely gone into better detail with Orion and the God; as well as the explanation for the time travel paradox. It is quite a hefty read that the writer unloaded all at once, and I remember the first time reading it I did have to read it several times to fully understand what exactly happened. Although I do really love the time travel paradox twist, it should’ve been explained in greater detail and more clearly. I still felt the whole wish concept and God story could’ve been fleshed out much better, especially as his story is the true ending.

Design ★★★★

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The art in Amnesia: Memories is absolutely gorgeous! Everything is just so crisp and vivid, and it’s without a doubt the main selling point of the game. I loved all the bachelor’s character designs, especially the heroine herself. She has one of the best designs for a protagonist and I overall really do love everything about her look. I’m a big fan of the hair and beret.

The multiple perspectives where you could see the back of the bachelor was a very nice touch to the game. The CGs are one of the best that I’ve seen, and all the characters just have so many great scenes. I really loved the colouring, shading, and line art as they suited the tone of the game perfectly.

The artist for Amnesia: Memories (Hanamura Mai – 花邑 まい) also did the art for an upcoming to-be-released in english otome game called Collar x Malice. I talked about the game in my anticipated 2017 releases, which for more information you can read about here.

My only criticism as a personal preference would be the bachelor outfits. I found them very odd initially to look at, as they just seemed so out of place and whacky. Although there are fantasy elements to the story, it is still a daily life type of game. For example: all the buckles and straps on Kent’s outfit really just didn’t make much sense. I’m not entirely sure what the aim of the game producers were in the design, but if it was to stand out and give a different type of appeal—then yes they definitely achieved their target.

Music and Voice Acting ★★★★★

The music and voice acting was yet another stand out point of the game. It is composed by Manyo, who is one of my all time favourite Visual Novel music artists. The BGMs were just so soothing and lovely and they suited the mood and scenes of the game wonderfully. The other Visual Novel OST composed by him that I am a big fan of is for the Kara no Shoujo series. The opening theme of Amnesia: Memories is quite popular, and the different ending songs of each bachelor route were a nice touch.

The voice acting cast is very famous and all solid veterans. Needless to say, it was no surprise that they were all top notch and perfectly emulated their character roles.

  • Kent | VA: Ishida Akira | 石田 彰 |
    Naruto series as Gaara, Danganronpa series as Byakuya Togami and Black Wolves Saga series as Zara Skeens
  • Shin | VA:  Kakihara Tetsuya| 柿原 徹也 |
    Code Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ as Viktor Frankenstein
  • Toma | VA: Hino Satoshi |日野 聡 |
    Naruto series as Sai, and The Disastrous Life of Saiki K as Kineshi Hairo
  • Ikki  | VA: Taniyama Kishō | 谷山 紀章 |
    Yo-Jin-Bo as Kasumimaru Fuuma, and Black Wolves Saga series as Guillan Guinor
  • Ukyo  | VA: Miyata Kouki | 宮田 幸季 |
    Danganronpa series as Chihiro Fujisaki, and Nightshade as Ieyasu Tokugawa

System ★★★★★

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I really liked the design interface and system of Amnesia: Memories. It was clean, crisp, easy to navigate and suited the theme of the game. You can just see the attentiveness to detail in the design and ease of use. It incorporated a gallery, music record, opening and ending select, and access to several short stories and extra content. You can even play cute mini-games with your favourite bachelors, and attempt to beat them for some interesting interactions!

What I particularly liked was the art transitions in between chapters and scenes, the chibi illustrations were very cute and matched the events of the storyline. My favourite would be the one of Orion struggling in the day-to-day duties of the Maid Café.

Another strong point was the inbuilt mobile system in the game, as it is one of your main sources of information and communication due to your amnesia. You often receive texts and calls from the characters that progress the storyline, and it added that extra dynamic to the game.

Conclusion

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Overall, Amnesia: Memories is a great and solid game. It’s different, refreshing and interesting in comparison to the other otome games on the market. Besides, how often do you see a game of this quality writing, art, music and voice acting on sale for $2.99USD? I personally bought it full price when it came out on the PSVita, and I don’t regret it one bit.

Although Orion’s presence over the heroine is not for everyone, it added dynamic to the overall storyline and created a more complex protagonist for the players to discover. One of my personal enjoyments of the game was the presence of the heroine’s female friends, which actually doesn’t occur too often in otome games. They proved to be very supportive of the heroine’s condition in many routes, and were friends she could rely on in times of need.

The girl talk session they had in Kent’s route was hilarious, and it was nice to see there was at least some normality in the heroine’s life. Sawa and Mina are the types of girlfriends whom anyone would love to have in real life. My only criticisms of the game would be that some routes definitely felt more lacking in certain respects in comparison to others.

For example: although Ikki and Kent shared similar routes to one another, Ikki lacked a lot of the character depth and progression that Kent’s route had. In Toma and Shin’s routes, then they were the complete opposite of one another despite having prominent roles in both worlds. Although the game’s strong point were the different storylines, not all of them were executed to the same level of quality.

Ukyo’s route had amazing promise from beginning to end; but slightly fell flat in it’s concluding explanation on the fantasy elements of the game. However, in spite of my mixed feelings on some of the routes—I was still satisfied with all their good endings.

I definitely recommend the game (be on the lookout for those steam sales!) and would love to see Amnesia: Crowd, Amnesia: Later or Amnesia: World localised. I personally would like Amnesia: Crowd out of the three, because it gives a more concrete, holistic future ending and complete tying up of the Amnesia series.

Overall Rating: 4/5


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Written By Cherry

Most Anticipated English Visual Novel Releases of 2017

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Ever wonder what other english releases are going to be released for the year of 2017? Do you want to know what games you should save up for? Are you looking for more games to add to your playlist and backlog? Here is my personal list of games that I am anticipating for 2017, and cannot wait for their release!

2017 is probably the best year so far that I’ve seen in terms of the amount of new titles picked up to be released in english.

1. Collar x Malice

-The Story-

“Who put this collar on me?”

The protagonist is a policewoman who works in Shinjuku, which had become a dangerous city after a series of brutal incidents popularly referred to as the “X-Day Incident”.

She had been busy working in her assigned area everyday in order to keep it safe. But one night, an unknown assailant attacked her and placed a collar built in with poison around her neck.

Amidst the chaos and right before the protagonist’s eyes were men with suspicious backgrounds. They’re all part of an organisation composed of former police officers and have taken it upon themselves to investigate the brutal cases.

Without knowing whether she should trust these men or not, she suddenly became the person who held the key to this massive case.

In order to remove the collar that places her at the edge of death and to liberate Shinjuku from the malice that binds it, she cooperates; beginning to investigate the incidents with the men.

Who holds her life in their hands?
Will Shinjuku ever return to its former glory?

(English translation from official website)

I love the premise, storyline, art, OST, and just everything about Collar x Malice! I am an absolute sucker for mystery x detective themed games. Not to mention the artist is Hanamura Mai (same artist for the Amnesia series) and Manyo as the composer (big fan of his soundtracks and work—composed for Amnesia and Kara no Shoujo series). I just knew the art was familiar when I first saw screenshots of the game. I am extremely excited about the game, and dearly hoping it will be a 2017 release.

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase it here: Collar X Malice – PlayStation Vita

UPDATE 2: Read my ‘Collar x Malice’ Review here.

2. Period Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~

-The Story-

With the help of your childhood friend, Hiroya, you decide to play the online RPG game “Arcadia” in order to look for clues as to the whereabouts of your missing older brother.

You are suddenly engulfed by a blinding light and lose conscious. When you wake up, you find that the scenery has changed into that of a video game fantasy world.

As you are overwhelmed by the sudden twist of events, you learn a terrible truth: to escape this deadly world, you must clear the game.

In this cruel world, you were selected to become the key to clearing the game – the holy sword. With this, you are the target of everyone!

(English translation from official website

The first out of the four otome titles localised by Aksys Games in 2017, the storyline definitely gives me Sword Art Online vibes. With beautiful art by the artist of Black Wolves Saga, this is quite an interesting fantasy otome with RPG elements. Period Cube actually comes out very soon, with an announced release date on the 28th of April next month!

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase the game here: Period Cube – PlayStation Vita

UPDATE 2: Read my ‘Period Cube: ~Shackles of Amadeus~’ Review here.

3. Bad Apple Wars

-The Story-

Congratulations on your DEATH admission!
Welcome to NEVAEH Academy!!

The heroine, who was caught in an accident on the first day that she was to enter high school, suddenly found herself on the premises of an unknown school.

This was NEVAEH Academy, a school for those whose souls were left behind after death.

In this school if you were a good student who followed the rules then, upon GRADUATION, you would be able to return and RESUME YOUR LIFE.

The heroine, having been informed about her death from a suspicious man wearing a RABBIT HEAD and thinking that this was all a dream, followed him to the school entrance ceremony.

Suddenly, a piercing explosion echoed from over there.

What started at the sign of that noise was the school war between those who defy the school’s rules, the DELINQUENT TEAM BAD APPLES, and members of the DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE.

In the middle of that battle, the heroine meets a RED-HAIRED young man.

That young man faced her directly and asked a question.

“– Do you want to live?” (English translation from official website)

The premise reminds me so much of one of my favourite animes, Angel Beats. The art deviates from Idea Factory’s usual style, taking on a more comic-book themed approach (to match the concept that it is a different world, I suppose). Although it was a little strange to look at initially, the art grew on me the more I looked at it. The release date has still yet to be announced, but I do hope it stays with its 2017 expected release date.

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase the game here: Bad Apple Wars – PlayStation Vita.

UPDATE 2: Read my ‘Bad Apple Wars’ Review here.

4. Code: Realize Future Blessings

The fandisc for Code: Realize, featuring after stories for the main cast and new routes for Herlock Sholmes and Finis.

If you haven’t read my review for Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ you should check it out! If you have, then you’ll know I absolutely loved the game and it is one of my all-time favourites. I am looking forward to the new routes with Herlock Sholmes and Finis, as I felt their stories weren’t quite fully delved upon in the original game. The art in the opening looks gorgeous, and of course who doesn’t want to have more stories to read with their favourite bachelor?

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase it here –
Code: Realize Future Blessings – Play Station Vita | Limited Edition
Code: Realize Bouquet of Rainbows – Play Station 4 | Limited Edition

5. Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome 

-The Story-

Ema Tachibana is a tall, gloomy and unsociable girl with a bad case of resting bitch-face. With all that working against her, she’s never really had any friends. That didn’t really change when she started at a new school. Everyone kept their distance because they were scared of her.

But Ema herself was quite content with that state of affairs. She was all set to spend the rest of her time until graduation invisible as ever.

That is until two men turned her life upside down…

“I’ve finally found you. You are my… my one and only muse!”

Miki Hiraizumi—recently returned to Japan from abroad, he’s loved making clothes ever since he was a little kid. He has a strong desire to help make charming, unusual women shine. (Also a bit of a masochist.)

“Listen, you may be nothing but a little shrew right now, but even you have some potential to shine. I’ll just have to polish you up.”

And Saito Shinjou—he frequently finds himself bored because things have always come easy to him. He wants to find a way to do something so big, it’ll change the world. (He’s also a bit of a sadist.)

These two ambitious and attractive fellows decide to give Ema Tachibana a makeover!

“No… I’m not really interested…”

But Ema has other ideas. (English Official Website)

This is quite an interesting pick up by MangaGamer, as I feel R18+ otome game localisations are very few in comparison to bishoujo games. The summary looks hilarious, and the art is quite good! The VA (Yotsuya Cider) of Shinjou Saito is the same as Kyrie from OZMAFIA!!! Hopefully if the title sells well commercially, we will see more mature-themed otome games released in future.

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase it here: Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome R18+ Version.

UPDATE 2: Read my ‘Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome [R18]‘ Review here.

6. Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds

-The Story-

A remastered retelling of the beloved otome Hakuoki series that focuses on the story set in Kyoto. 

Hakuoki was first developed and released in 2008. New players, as well as players that have grown with the franchise, can discover the beauty and richness of its story with new, innovative features all presented on the Playstation Vita system. 

Never-before-seen episodes and character routes have been added to the original version of the game, introducing more romanceable targets, new minor characters, and plenty of new paths to seek for yourself!

Take a glimpse into the world of Hakuoki, as it was originally intended!

(English Official website

Although I’ve already written a post regarding my mixed feelings on another Hakuoki game, it is still a great title nonetheless for players new to the franchise. It’s essentially an all-in-one release, so if you haven’t gotten around to playing the series—now is the time to play it. It’s release date was announced only a few days ago, and the game is being released on May 16 (NA) and May 19 (EU) for the PSVita!

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase it here: Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds – PlayStation Vita

UPDATE 2: Read my ‘Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds [Limited Edition]’ Review here.

UPDATE 3: Read my ‘Differences between the Original Hakuoki and Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds’ here.

7. Night Shade

-The Story-

Thanks to an age of constant war, the Iga and Kouga had independently achieved an expansion of their respective forces.

Both shinobi forces, owing to that long history of warring, shared an antagonistic relationship of mutual hatred towards one another. However, during the ninth year of the Tenshou era, the Iga forces fell into ruin due to the Tenshou Iga War started by Oda Nobunaga. The few Iga members that had survived were taken in by the Kouga forces.

Seventeen years later, the Sengoku period had ended and lasting peace came to the world.

Dreaming of performing shinobi duties, Ueno Enju (the protagonist), daughter of the Kouga forces’ leader, Ueno Kandou, had been training everyday.

After finally being selected to go on her first mission, a major incident occurs. It not only derails Enju’s fate, but the fate of the village as well…

(English translation from official website)

The storyline, art and theme reminds of the Hakuoki series. I really enjoy historical Visual Novels, and the art in Night Shade is gorgeous. Originally it was actually meant to be released December 15th, 2016 on steam but it got pushed back. I’m assuming it just wasn’t ready yet, and although it is unfortunate—it’s better to wait if it’s going to be a higher quality release. It’s in the steam-release queue with other Visual Novels within March-April release dates, so fingers crossed it will be released sometime soon in 2017!

What I’m looking forward to the most about the game is that Hattori Hanzo is voiced by the same VA as Chikage Kazama from Hakuoki. He is one of my all-time favourite VAs, and it’s ironic the character is named ‘Hanzo’ (after Overwatch, the name is forever ruined for me).

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase it on steam here.

UPDATE 2: Read my ‘Night Shade/Hyakka Hyakurou’ Review here.

8. Grisaia no Rakuen/The Eden of Grisaia

-The Story-

Our story picks up immediately after the events of Grisaia no Meikyuu, with Kazami Yuuji having been detained for suspected involvement with an international terrorist organization, lead by Heath Oslo, that has managed to enter Japan’s borders with a devastating new weapon of mass destruction in hand. Meanwhile, at Mihama Academy, the remaining students find themselves with time running out – due to financial issues, the school is set to close within the month. Over the past year, though, the girls of Mihama have finally begun to find their own legs, thanks to Yuuji’s involvement – are they really just going to bury their heads in the sand and let the world change around them? And are they really willing to let the man who changed their lives slip away without so much as trying to win him back? As the end of their time at Mihama Academy approaches, Amane, Makina, Sachi, Yumiko, and Michiru find themselves arriving at a single conclusion.

The final chapter in the Grisaia series, featuring Prologue De La Grisaia, a prologue set before Yuuji’s arrival at Mihama; Blanc Aile no Tane, the overarching story’s grand conclusion; a smorgasbord of bonus eroscenes; and an after story to the events of Blanc Aile no Tane. (Excerpt from VNDB

The Grisaia series is one of my all-time favourite visual novels, and it’s great to see that the series trilogy will come to an end in 2017. The Labyrinth of Grisaia (second in the series) was released in January this year. It has a to-be-expected release date of March 2017, and the uncut version sometime during the summer.

I personally am currently still finishing up the first game (The Fruits of Grisaia), and onto my last route which is Makina’s. But, I am taking my time as the series is incredibly long (my current playtime is 85hrs) and I might as well pace myself until the final game is released. No point finishing the games early then suffering the unbearable wait (laughs).

9. Nekopara Volume 3

-The Story-

What’s NEKOPARA? Why, it’s a cat paradise!

Minazuki Kashou, the son of a long line of Japanese confection makers moved out to open his own shop “La Soleil” as a patisserie.

But upon moving out, hidden amongst his things were two of the catgirls (“neko”), Chocola and Vanilla, that the family had been raising. When he tried to send them back, they begged and pleaded until he gave in and now they’ve opened La Soleil together.

With two nekos who really, REALLY love their master trying their very best and occasionally failing — a heartful comedy opens for business!

See the Sayori NEKO WORKs’ mascots Chocola and Vanilla like never before, moving, and in full voice on screen. And now with the E-mote System, the characters smoothly move on screen changing expression and poses in countless ways. (Steam Summary)

Initially I found this game a little weird, not going to lie. It is not for everyone, and I actually found out about it from internet memes (laughs). But, once you give it a try it’s actually a pretty good game and for a very cheap price! They often go on sale in bundles, which is when it’s best to grab them. The art and animation is really good and crisp, and it’s an all-around hilarious game. The cat girls really do grow on you as you play through the visual novel. This is the last in the trilogy, releasing the last two romanceable cat girls. It is set to be released on the 28th of April, 2017.

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase it on steam here.

10. New Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony

-The Story- 

The third Dangan Ronpa game which has been confirmed at the TGS 2015 to be released on both the PS Vita and PS4.

Like the title “New” implies, the game has a completely different storyline, characters and environment than the first three games (the “Hope’s Peak Academy” storyline ends with an anime series), with only the series’ mascot Monokuma returning. The game features a new killing game called the New Killing School Life. The new setting is called Gifted Inmates Academy or the Prison School for the Gifted. The Academy (and hotel) is in a garden surrounded by a cage. It’s implied that the story is set in the future.

The overall theme is mentioned to be “psycho cool”, unlike the “psycho pop” and “psycho tropical” themes of the first two games. The visual style will have a “cool adult-like image” and the Class Trials will have “high-speed reasoning action”. While the storyline and the sixteen new characters are different, the gameplay is similar to the earlier games, including exploration, talking with other characters and the Class Trials. It will have notable additions and improvements, though, like the possibility to use your own lies to defeat opponents during the trials. (Excerpt from VNDB

Did I save my ultimate bias and the best for last? Perhaps. This is my number one favourite visual novel of all-time indisputably. It has an amazing mix of storyline, plot twists, character cast, humour, cuteness and mystery; just everything I love in a game. When I first played the game, I had a phase of obsession for several long weeks/months (which never happens to me over a game, usually I just have a few days of bliss upon completing a game before getting over it). I’m a little sad that the Hope’s Peak Academy arc has ended, and I am very curious as to how they have decided to revamp the series in a brand new release with a completely new cast.

The Danganronpa series is a ‘whodunnit?’ mystery/detective Visual Novel, where you must discover the culprit of the killings and present your findings in a class trial. The stakes are essentially kill or be killed, and you’re faced with uncovering people whom you consider friends as potential murderers. However, it is not what you expect at all coming into the game with an incredibly immersive storyline and great gameplay. It’s one of those games where you just have to try it yourself to understand what it’s truly about. The descriptions will never do the game any justice.

I have heard mixed reception over the new game, but for the most part they were very positive. It has an announced release date on the 26th of September for NA and 29th of September for EU. What I am glad about is the steam port is being released at the same time as the PSVita/Playstation 4 platform. This is great considering for the predecessors, the steam release is usually a year later.

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase it here:
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony – PlayStation 4
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony – PlayStation Vita | Limited Edition

UPDATE 2: Read my ‘Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony’ Review here.

I hope that you all enjoyed my list, and found some new games to look forward to for 2017!


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Written By Cherry

NEWS: Hakuoki Kyoto Winds Release Date Announcement

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For more information, check out the official Idea Factory website.
Pre-order it here: Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds – PlayStation Vita


Idea Factory announced the official release date only yesterday, although I personally have mixed feelings about yet another Hakuoki game.  I think it’s clear to anyone at this point that Idea Factory is just absolutely milking whatever is left of the franchise, since none of their other games have created such an incredible wave of popularity and of course: profit.

I’m all for more games using the Hakuoki universe or a twist on the original concept, but when it’s their second ‘remastered’ edition of the same game—it’s bound to raise more than a few questions. They had their original game released on PSP, and then the fandisk Zuisouroku on Play Station 2. The original was localised, whereas the fandisk was not. Due to its commercial success in the western world, a port for Play Station 3 was released re-titled “Stories of the Shinsengumi”.

This included both the original game and the translated fandisk, which had extra routes with all the bachelors, more CGs and fan-focused content. Rather than emulating the serious, history-driven storyline of the original, the fandisk depicted the everyday lives and antics of the Shinsengumi when they were out of action. This was explored in the anime OVA of Hakuoki, and had the iconic geisha scene where Yukimura Chizuru infiltrates the red-light district undercover.

And now, we have Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds which is essentially a remastered version of the PS3 Stories of the Shinsengumi. From what is shown on the website, it includes everything of the predecessor (both the original game + Zuisouroku shown from the screenshots) but new and improved additional content has been added.

3 new never before seen characters, which the website has yet to reveal and Yamazaki, Sannan and Shinpachi all now have their own routes due to fan request. The original routes also have additional events and scenes (more CGs!), as well as Kazama’s route having more substance.

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The three new bachelors/playable routes as pictured above in Image 2 & 3.


I’m not entirely sure how long these new character routes are compared to the original bachelors, which took around 10-15hrs per character. Although Yamazaki, Sannan and Shinpachi have their own routes now, does that mean their stories have the same amount of content as the original bachelors? Or is it just mini-routes, like what we saw in Zuisouroku/Stories of the Shinsengumi?

For players like myself who purchased both the original PSP game, and the PS3 port—there are many questions as to whether its worthwhile purchasing essentially the same game again. How immersive and detailed is this new content? Are the revamped routes truly that much of an improvement over the original? Or is it just additional events that essentially don’t change anything in the grand scheme of things?

I personally am looking forward to seeing the ‘new and improved’ Chikage Kazama route because honestly his story in the original was very disappointing in comparison to the others. For such a complex and interesting character with so much potential for a storyline; he barely had any substance or playtime in his route at all. Not to mention he had one of the best VAs in the game and is one of my all-time favourite characters.

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As the game is a poorly disguised cash-grab, Idea Factory are banking on the fact that fans of Hakuoki will purchase the game regardless simply because we all want to see more content with our favourite bachelors. I’m personally still on the fence as to whether or not I will be purchasing the game myself once it’s released.

However, for players who have never played the Hakuoki game before, then I highly recommend grabbing Kyoto Winds! It essentially has everything the previous releases had, but better. You’re getting a lot more bang for your buck. The original game is a solid title, with beautiful art and immersive storyline—definitely a worthwhile pick up for the PSVita.

However, with Idea Factory constantly recycling the same game, it honestly comes off as they’re running out of ideas for new titles. I would’ve preferred to see Hakuoki: Reimeiroku localised or even Hakuoki: SSL. Reimeiroku is one of the more under appreciated titles of the franchise I feel, despite it offering so much good quality content. It deviates from the otome/romance aspect of the game, as we play a male hero however it has significantly longer playtime than the original.

It delves into the origins of the Shinsengumi, their past, how they came to be, and offers more dimension to the original character cast. To me, that is something worthwhile playing rather than yet another rehash of the first game. I look forward to when the game releases, and seeing other player’s opinions first before deciding for myself. What do you guys think of the newly announced Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds?


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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