The Charming Empire Walkthrough

If you would like to see my general review of the game, you can read it here.

I personally recommend to play the characters in the following order.

YOSHIMINE KEI

8

  • Prisoner?
  • I’ll do my best
  • Tell the truth
  • Why can’t you go, too?
  • That’s not true
  • Deny it
  • Stay a little longer
  • Yeah
  • Romance novels
  • Apologize
  • Relax
  • I’m not sure about this
  • Okay
  • Original story → From the Beginning → Choose all the Opposite Answers → Normal End

KOICHIRO SERA

9

  • No, but…
  • Try again
  • Leave
  • I just want to walk around
  • Are the houses okay?
  • State what I think
  • Leave the room
  • Did you used to train here?
  • Ask Sera
  • Keep holding hands
  • Say no
  • Um…
  • I’ll think about it
  • Talk
  • Why are you doing this?
  • Tell the truth
  • Stop him
  • Sacrifices are ridiculous
  • Original story → From the Beginning →  Choose all the Opposite Answers → Normal End

TANBA TOKI

18

  • Apologize
  • Continue forward
  • Thank you
  • You bought it for me?
  • Play along
  • Accept
  • What’s our relationship?
  • Can I really go with you?
  • I’m important to you?
  • Push the man aside
  • Don’t say that…
  • Peek through a closer window
  • Think positive
  • You’re letting me go?
  • Do you like quieter girls?
  • Ask the guards for help
  • Save my brother
  • Original story → From the Beginning → Choose all the Opposite Answers → Normal End

TOGAWA KAGEMITSU 

13

  • The future
  • A sugar candy
  • This is all new to me…
  • I’ve never seen this design
  • I was spacing out
  • I’m happy
  • I want to do something
  • Forward
  • That’s embarassing
  • Hold his hand
  • No
  • I trusted you
  • Are you serious?
  • Ask about the promise
  • You do deserve it
  • Original story → From the Beginning → Choose all the Opposite Answers → Normal End

AMAZAKI SOSHI

15

  • Just pick one
  • Yes
  • Stay in your room
  • I don’t
  • I think he’s kind
  • Tell someone
  • It’s not going well…
  • Go to Soshi’s room
  • Go with Soshi’s choice
  • Turn the corner
  • I just can’t
  • I wanted to go with you
  • Original story → From the Beginning → Choose all the Opposite Answers → Normal End

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Written By Cherry

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Nightshade/Hyakka Hyakurou Review

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RELEASE DATE: 2016
PUBLISHER: D3 Publisher, Lantern Rooms & Red Entertainment Co.
PLATFORMS AVAILABLE: Windows/PSVita (Japanese) & Steam (English)
GAME LINK: Nightshade – Steam [DIGITAL]

I was anticipating the release of Nightshade even before it’s initial english release date of December 15, 2016. You can imagine my complete disappointment when I checked on the original release day and realised that it had been pushed back for an unforeseeable amount of time. I was initially put off by it, as the official announcement for the release date delay was posted a week later on steam.

I felt it was extremely last minute decision-making, and it didn’t leave too great of an impression. The announcement really should have been out at least a week prior to the release date. However, I felt that the wait would also be more worthwhile if the end product was of better quality.

I was very surprised when they decided to announce at the beginning of April that the new release date would be April 12th. I had expected that they would have announced it much earlier prior to the upcoming release, rather than only less than two weeks before in order to build greater hype.

Needless to say, I was pleased since I would have the time to play and review the game over the Easter break. The date also just so happened to be after all my mid-semester exams. Although the game definitely lived up to its stunning visuals and popularity, I wouldn’t say it was one of my all-time favourite titles.

Storyline ★★★

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-The Story-

During the Sengoku Period the two main factions of ninja clans, Iga and Kōga, warred against each other for decades.
In the year 1593, Nobunaga Oda started the Tenshō Iga war, decimating most of the Iga ninjas in the process.
The very few that survived were absorbed into the Kōga clan, despite their past rivalries.
 
After 17 years the Sengoku Period finally came to an end, and Japan was unified.
 
Enju (Protagonist), daughter of Kandō Ueno, the Head of the Kōga clan, spends her days training diligently in hope of becoming a full-fledged ninja like her peers.
 
At long last she is assigned to her first mission, but finds herself caught in a dark conspiracy――. (Steam Summary

The protagonist Enju is the sheltered princess of Koga and a symbol of unity between the two clans of Iga and Koga. She has been protected and raised with immense love, whilst enjoying her idyllic and peaceful days amongst her childhood friends in the village of Koga. Due to her status as Kando Ueno’s daughter, Koga’s people are apprehensive of Enju pursuing the path of a Shinobi as it would inevitably endanger her own life.

This only serves to fuel Enju’s passion and desire to become a fully-fledged ninja and join the ranks of her companions. Above all else, she wishes to acquire the strength needed to protect what she holds dear with her own hands and finally receive the approval of her father. Elated at the prospect of finally accompanying her friends on a mission to Kyo, Enju leaves Koga bright-eyed and determined to prove the fruits of her labour and results of her training.

Little does Enju know that what initially appeared as a promising start to a new future, would turn into a horrific tragedy. She is used as an unknowing pawn within an overarching political conspiracy and has no choice but to partake in a twisted game in order to survive. With the whole world against her and forsaken by her own village, Enju experiences the cruel reality that she had been shielded away from her whole life.

Her once unshakeable beliefs on what constitutes as a ‘true’ Shinobi have now wavered in the face of her own morals and values. Enju comes to the painful realisation that in order to become the Shinobi she had once always admired, she must forsake her own sense of humanity.

Can she continue to follow the same path with the same conviction as she had in the past, because it was what a ‘true’ Shinobi should do? Or would her human desire to live lead to the destruction of her own village and everything she held dear?

The universe of Nightshade is an immersive world of ninja and samurai based on a real historical time period soon after the end of the Sengoku Era. The storyline is refreshing, unique and captures your interest immediately from first impressions. It is apparent that the writers spent a lot of time crafting the background to the storyline, as it is very detailed and imaginative. The time invested into the writing of the storyline really paid off, as it is one of the highlights of the game and I greatly enjoyed reading the unfolding plot.

It really does keep you on the edge of your seat, as you’re continually wondering what will happen next. The conflict between the ninja clans within the overarching political war created a very complex plot, that delves into thematic concepts such as adventure, self-discovery, self-worth, familial loyalty, love and betrayal. It’s a roller coaster of emotions for many of the routes, and the descriptions of the emotional turmoils of the characters as well as their inner struggles were very well written.

I also liked all the ninjutsu they tried to incorporate and introduce into the game, as it definitely made the storyline more exciting to see the unique abilities that the characters possessed. It made the ninja aspect of the game feel a lot more authentic and added greater dimension to the Nightshade universe.

I especially liked the moral address on what it means to be a Shinobi for many of the characters, as their sense of duty is conflicted by their own morality and beliefs. It created multi-faceted personalities that developed over the course of the story and as a result, led to stronger attachments to the characters. However, in spite of how much promise the storyline of Nightshade had—it definitely did fail to deliver in various key areas.

As the storyline was linear, the main plot and source of conflict is prevalent in all of the character routes. The common route is the same for all characters, as well as the game branch. Although I don’t mind linear storylines for the general or common routes of Visual Novels, I definitely prefer non-linear for the character paths as it creates more interesting and unique storylines. Due to this aspect, progressing through the routes became rapidly very stale as its the same repetitive storyline for all the characters.

Although there were alternate events that led to different endings with all the bachelors, the routes were not entirely separate from one another. They all built from the same premise, and the core development of Enju becoming a fugitive and abandoned by Koga is universal in all the routes. The game did incorporate some interesting character pasts and twists, but it wasn’t enough to fully disconnect the story routes from one another.

One of my disappointments with Nightshade was that Ieyasu Tokugawa was not an obtainable character. I felt was a huge waste of potential and use of his character design. Not to mention the fact that he had such a lovely seiyuu (voice actor) as well. Including Ieyasu would have created a significantly more refreshing and multi-dimensional storyline, in comparison to the current cast of bachelors. This is due to their similarity as all being Shinobi, which really narrowed the possibilities of what they could do for Enju within the storyline.

As ninja, they all lacked the political power to fully save Enju as they’re unable to remove her status as a wanted criminal nor declare her innocence. As Ieyasu is a lord within the Council of Elders, it would have created a unique path with a different perspective to the current storyline. Due to his status, there were just so many more possibilities on how the plot could have developed and I was really disappointed with the missed opportunity.

Having more diversity with the bachelor roles would have imminently strengthened the storyline, and it’s a shame that Ieyasu’s character wasn’t delved upon further. He really piqued my interest as he is such an integral character in all the storylines and had so much undiscovered complexity to his personality. Although he initially appears kind and gentle-natured, he has also shown glimpses of cunning and extreme coldness. This is inevitable as someone does not rise to the top of the hierarchy without committing any acts of questionable morality.

Overall, although I did really enjoy Nightshade’s storyline I felt it had so much untapped potential to become an amazing story. The linear format for the character routes really inhibited the story development, and by the third playthrough I had essentially seen everything the plot had to offer.

Many of the events that invoked suspense and surprise from the initial playthroughs had become predictable and stale due to the repetitive nature of the linear storyline. I also would have liked epilogue endings for the characters with a bonus CG, as it would have created a more wholesome conclusion to the character routes.

The game is quite lengthy, and would take around 30-40 hours to complete depending on your read speed. The game is well worth the cost to purchase, considering the amount of playtime and quality of the content you’re receiving.

Character Development ★★★★

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION!

My personal recommended order after finishing the game is: Goemon → Hanzo → Kuroyuki → Gekkamaru → Chojiro. To me, the story development made the most sense in this order and the trio from Koga had a greater amount of spoilers. If you need the walkthrough for the game, I have a completed one here.

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HANZO HATTORI: The most loyal disciple of Ieyasu Tokugawa and head of the Tokugawa clan. He is widely considered as the most powerful shinobi that the world has ever known, and his very name draws fear and awe from both allies and enemies. Hanzo is undefeated in battle and unparalleled in both strength and skill. He is a man of few words and is a model example of how a shinobi should be. His only focus is on the completion of his objective and views failure as akin to death due to his strong sense of principle.

He has never known of a life outside the battlefield and lives for no other sake than to be a shinobi. Hanzo has no fear of death, despite facing it everyday of his life. He views factors such as emotions and trust as a liability to a shinobi, as it affects their better judgement and compromises the success of a mission.

However, he is honest and unexpectedly more kind and gentle than his looks perceive—facets that Enju eventually comes to realise and falls deeply in love with. Initially, she admires him from afar due to his representation of the shinobi she had always wanted to become: the model of strength, skill and being able to protect what she held dear.

In spite of his criticisms that her emotions made her unfit to be a shinobi, he does not undermine her weaknesses nor her desire to improve. He constantly provides her with honest advice, praises her strengths and encourages her own personal growth.

I picked Hanzo first because I found his character personality the most interesting out of all the bachelors, and because he’s voiced by Tsuda Kenjiro (same VA as Chikage Kazama from the Hakuoki series). I’m a huge fan of his voice acting due to his unique and powerful voice, and he did not disappoint at all in Nightshade. I thought Hanzo would have a side character plot initially due to his lack of connection to the rest of the group, and I’ve never been more glad to be completely wrong.

I immensely enjoyed his route and he is by far my favourite character in the game. The little things he did for Enju and their gradual development as characters through the small gestures really grew on me throughout his story. For example: things like being able to read the other’s small changes in expressions and picking up on Hanzo’s subtle cues. There was also their undeniable synergy and innate trust in battle, or being able to gradually converse with one another despite Hanzo’s curt nature of speaking.

The recurring motif where Enju confesses that the moment she fell in love with him was when she first saw his smile, and his response that ‘nothing compares to the beauty of your smile’ was honestly so sweet. It seemed almost natural for them to fall in love due to their close proximity for three months, and despite his denials that it was all for the sake of his orders—he was still undoubtedly Enju’s saviour, her light in the dark and her guide.

I felt what Hanzo was able to do for the heroine was something that none of the other bachelors were able to do. He respects her enough to give her advice, but never the final answer. He abides by her wishes and supports her in a way that only he knows how—a way that was different from everyone else. Hanzo enables her to find her own strength, and make her own decisions on what path she should take.

He is kind, gentle and honest—someone she can trust wholeheartedly and has proven time and time again by putting his life on the line to protect her. Although Hanzo has cut down endless lives with his blade, upon meeting Enju and falling in love with her—his blade wavers for the first time in his life. Through falling in love with Enju, he begins to question his own sense of morality and how killing her friends would affect her—because he loves her and does not wish to erase her smile.

It’s a very pure kind of love that is mutual from both parties. For Hanzo, then he respects her skill, work ethic and dedication from first impressions. However, what makes him truly fall in love with her is how inherently different she is from him. She has innate strength, something which he lacks—the strength to break free of the customs and ‘rules’ that upholds shinobi and their society.

Enju is able to be her own person and carve her own path based on her own beliefs, rather than succumbing to what is expected of her. Despite always beating herself up, she puts in the hard work and is determined to improve herself. By the end of the game, Enju displays that she has even surpassed the strongest ninja clan of Tokugawa in her abilities. Enju reminds Hanzo of the parts of himself he didn’t think he possessed anymore, and that is what makes him irrational.

I felt Hanzo really enabled Enju to be the best version of herself she could possibly be. She was able to finally confront her own father, who was the source of her lack of self-efficacy and low self-esteem. Through Hanzo, she was able to finally believe in herself and have the courage to face the things she never could in the past. I also really liked how in his route we find out about the truth behind her mother’s death, and it gives Enju the necessary closure she needed and answers to the question she had always wanted to know.

It gives her peace knowing that she had in fact, been deeply loved and not been abandoned by her mother. Although her hands become stained in his route, I felt it was necessary for the development of her character in order to mature and grow.

Even her childhood friends upon meeting her again, comment that she has become even more beautiful than before—but she is no longer the Enju they had known. I really liked how in Hanzo’s route, the growth of their characters and development of feelings were both mutual. You could just see the subtle changes in their interactions and decisions over the course of the story.

I felt their ending was so befitting and sweet and they honestly had all the best moments together. I finished his route feeling very satisfied, however I would have really liked an epilogue of their marriage life since it felt like a more wholesome conclusion to their story.

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GOEMON ISHIKAWA: Widely considered the most renowned thief within Japanese history, and a direct mirror to ‘Robin Hood’. Goemon steals from the corrupt and rich families within Kyo, and gifts his bounties to the poor. He is the reason as to why the Koga ninja are hired and sent to Kyo by the Minister, and as a result setting the events of the story in motion. Goemon is notorious for his MO of sending notices prior to his robberies and has evaded all attempts at capture from the special police task force.

Due to the honourable nature of his actions towards the citizens, it is initially difficult for the Koga ninjas to gather information on the high profile thief. However, we soon learn that his successes are largely due to his past status as an immensely skilled ninja—a ninja that even Hanzo himself respects and has trouble dealing with.

I found it really ironic how throughout the whole entire common route, Enju was seeking information from the very man she was meant to capture. It is clear from the get go that there was more to ‘Goro’ (his alias) than what he led on, and his beguiling charms and flirtatious nature really keeps you interested and reeled in to his character.

He is a highly skilled ninja, master thief, extremely popular amongst women, charismatic, quick-witted and possesses a handsome face. Goemon essentially has the whole package down pat and has the type of personality that is really difficult to dislike. His route was the complete opposite of Hanzo’s and a welcomed change in tone. It was a lot more light hearted due to his joking nature and continual attempts at making moves on the heroine.

Normally I’m not as much of a fan of flirtatious characters, but I was really interested in finding out the true face of Goemon Ishikawa—the man beneath the mask, and what really happened to him in the past that led to his life of thievery. I really liked how in his route they delved upon the Hanzo, Chojiro and Goemon trio, and their past as ex-Iga ninjas who trained together as brothers from a young age.

What I liked about Goemon’s route was due to his pacifist ways, he chooses not to kill others and opts to flee rather than engage in combat. This essentially preserves the heroine’s innocence and her hands do not have to be stained by death. Through Goemon’s manipulation of the events to occur, she also does not have to face her fellow comrades from Koga as they now have the same objective for her protection and return. To me, this was the highlight of Goemon’s route and what really made their relationship so endearing.

You can just see the lengths that Goemon goes to in order to protect the heroine both emotionally and physically, as well as showcasing his admirable skills as a master tactician. Everything he does considers the heroine’s feelings and happiness. In spite of the linear storyline and similar plot in all the character routes, Goemon’s wit and cunning to devise daring strategies in order to save the heroine kept the story refreshing.

I really liked the twist on his character upon the realisation that he was the ex-leader of the now fallen Fuma clan. It just made so much sense as to why he was so highly-skilled and his distaste of Hideyoshi. It echoes his feelings at the beginning of the route, when he expressed he had lost everything in the past and why he now chooses a peaceful life outside of the battlefield. It was a surprising revelation that added an extra dimension to his story and I felt he had a really great finale to his route.

The whole ‘betrayal’ plot was really well done, and he almost had me there for a second. But, I just knew something wasn’t quite right about it considering his actions until that point. Midorikawa Hikaru did such a great job voicing Goemon, as his voice was just so soothing to listen to and his personality was spot on.

I really liked the light-hearted theme of Goemon’s story and definitely enjoyed his route. My only criticism would be that due to his protection of Enju, she didn’t develop quite as much as a character in comparison to Hanzo’s route.

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KUROYUKI: Enju’s beloved childhood friend and the youngest amongst the Koga shinobi group. He left Koga eight years ago on an unknown mission under the orders of Koga’s Leader and appears during their journey to Kyo. Enju is extremely happy with his return, as in her eyes he is the same Kuroyuki that left Koga all those years ago. However, it is clear during their early interactions that he is not the exact same Kuroyuki she once knew—an ever-pressing sadness permeates his character and a cold edge in his gaze that Enju does not see.

His route is a lot darker than the previous two, and focuses more so on the ninja-aspect of the game and the overarching storyline. Initially, Kuroyuki really captured my interest as it was obvious that there was something really unhinged about his character and something dark surrounding his past eight years away from Koga. What I liked about his route was that it finally revealed the conspiracy behind Hideyoshi’s killer in Hanzo and Goemon’s route, and the master puppeteer orchestrating the murder.

I did not expect the twist in regards to his forbidden ninjutsu from Kaga and his horrific experiences during his time in training. His story is really tragic, emotional and heartfelt—you can’t help but sympathise with the trauma that he has endured for years on end. I did like how in his route they utilised different aspects of the ninja universe, to craft a more intricate and multi-faceted storyline.

However, due to the dark nature of his past it encroaches upon his current relationship with Enju and warps it into an unhealthy obsession. Although the game does try to justify their love for one another as being genuine, to me it really came off as severe Stockholm Syndrome. Enju continually reasons that the Kuroyuki she sees before her is the Kuroyuki she had cared for in the past, when the reality is he’s now a completely different person.

In order to master his dojutsu (eye illusion technique), he sacrificed his sanity and memories due to the parasitic nature of the skill. Jaded by his experiences in Kaga his only remaining memory is of Enju, which keeps him grounded and connected to reality. His life is the equivalent to a never-ending nightmare and his hands have been stained by the bodies of countless corpses. As a result, I could not help but question the legitimacy of their feelings for one another.

I felt Enju regressed significantly as a character, as she completely loses sight of her original objectives and desires—instead only caring about Kuroyuki and nothing else. Even her own friends are dismayed by the unhealthy changes, pleading with her to snap out of the trance that he has emotionally manipulated her into. Enju is fixed on the notion that they only have each other, and that without him life is no longer worth living.

Kuroyuki has no qualms about kidnapping Enju over and over, and lied in order to keep her by his side initially. Although he does realise the errors of his ways later in the storyline, and wishes for Enju’s happiness—I still could not bring myself to view their relationship as truly real. However, I did enjoy his bad ending because it actually felt befitting to the storyline and followed the tragic theme of his route.

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GEKKAMARU: Gekkamaru is Enju’s assigned bodyguard from childhood, and they share a relationship akin to master and servant. To Enju’s dismay, he is extremely overprotective and constantly teased as a result of his excessive doting. However, his loyalty is unmatched and views Enju as greater than his pledge to Koga itself. He would willingly throw away his village and everything else for her sake.

Gekkamaru is notorious for constantly shadowing Enju, often following her and keeping vigilant watch of any potentially dangerous endeavours she may partake in. Although he is initially skeptical of her first mission assignment to Kyo, Enju reasons that it is her duty as a Shinobi of Koga. She expresses her desire to become comrades of equal status to one another, rather than their current established relationship of master and servant.

When Enju is convicted of murder, Gekkamaru is the first to rush to her aid and without a second thought—disregards his orders from Koga. Thus, begins their journey as fugitives and a different twist on the previously seen game between the Council of Five Elders. Although I did enjoy the surprising developments in Gekkamaru’s story, I felt that the relationship development between the two really took a backseat to the tragedy.

It was just so much bloodshed and death one after another to the point of being almost overwhelming. After the second character death, it became a predictable chain of loss, mourning and needless bloodshed. There wasn’t really much ‘relationship’ to develop, as I felt the feelings were always there to begin with—their only inhibition had been their status as master and servant. Once that aspect was out of the picture, it felt natural for them to realise their feelings for one another had developed into romantic love a very long time ago.

They had some really good moments together as well as so many great CGs. I definitely praise the writing for it, since they really knew how to play on your heartstrings. The poetic comparison of their relationship to the moon and the heavens was really lovely, and truly a befitting description of what they were to one another.

I also liked the twist and explanation for his overprotective nature as a ninjutsu placed on him by Kagari, Enju’s mother. It was a unique aspect to his storyline, and showcased yet another facet of how evil Kando was and the complexity of the political conspiracy. However, I felt Gekkamaru’s route was overall lacking because he didn’t really develop much as a character over the course of the story. Not to mention that although the spell aspect was interesting, it also served as a question to whether or not Gekkamaru’s loyalty and feelings could be considered truly genuine.

What you see from him in all the other stories is essentially what you get in his route. There isn’t any sort of hidden agenda, darkness or extra dimension to his character. He is the epitome of the ‘childhood friend and sworn protector’ trope and doesn’t steer outside that role at all. With their close proximity on their journey and no longer bound by rules of custom, the relationship development between Enju and Gekkamaru didn’t come as a surprise at all. Rather, it felt expected for it to occur eventually. As a result, I found his story route a lot weaker in terms of character development in comparison to the others.

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CHOJIRO MOMOCHI: Koga’s greatest shinobi and a veteran on the battlefield, Chojiro is someone whom Enju deeply respects and has admired since childhood. Due to his outstanding skill and experience, Chojiro acts as a mentor and older brother figure to the Koga ninja. Their skills and fearsome reputation are largely due to his efforts, as although he is critical as their teacher; his opinions are hardly ever wrong. He is a man of very few words and the type of shinobi that Enju has always aspired to be.

They share a familial relationship as cousins, as Enju’s mother is also Chojiro’s aunt. Originating in Iga, Chojiro has lived a life of unbearable loss and suffering—witnessing the destruction of his village and the deaths of everyone he held dear at a very young age. As a result, he is extremely jaded and wholeheartedly devotes himself to his mission—because that is how a shinobi should be.

Chojiro has always completed his orders without question and completely discarded any semblance of weakness on the battlefield. However, after spending more time with Chojiro and getting to know his true self—it reveals to Enju a very tragic revelation. In spite of his cold exterior, Chojiro is the one who is suffering the most and no longer able to express his sadness due to years of suppression.

He is afraid to hold anything dear to him, because he knows he will inevitably lose it—like sand slipping through his fingertips. He is afraid to deviate from the objective of his missions, because he does not wish to lose his home a second time. He is afraid to love another, as the nature of how a Shinobi should be does not allow for him to possess such sentiments.

Chojiro is unimaginably scarred and has closed his heart to others, because he has experienced so much loss that it has consumed his entire being. He turns a blind eye to the pain and suffering he feels, because it has become a natural part of his life. Chojiro’s route is incredibly sad and tragic, and I really do commend the writing for it.

Although it followed the same linear branch as Gekkamaru’s route, I felt the storyline was executed much better in Chojiro’s route and significantly more meaningful. Rather than being aware of the nature of the game, the characters are fighting to the death for the sake of their own village and families. The stakes are much higher and they had fully resolved themselves to kill in order to protect what they held dear.

It made their deaths so much more traumatic and impactful upon the revelation that they had all been used as tools for a petty game. I felt the romantic development between Chojiro and Enju in his route was quite disjointed and seemed out of place within the story. There was just so much death, despair and loss happening that it didn’t truly feel right for their feelings to develop in such a setting.

For most of the story, Chojiro is conflicted between his duty as a Shinobi and his own desires. He only realises how dear Enju is to him after experiencing the loss of all his disciples and dearest friends. To me, it felt more befitting for their relationship to have remained platonic as Chojiro was more akin to a broken man, grasping for the only remaining person he had left.

Another factor that I liked about Chojiro’s route was that he’s voiced by Toriumi Kosuke, who is the same VA as Saito Hajime from the Hakuoki series. It’s really ironic because the voice for Chojiro sounds exactly the same as the one for Saito, and they both play the same character trope of the tragic hero bound by duty.

It honestly felt like Saito V2 for most of his story, and I was thinking to myself constantly ‘I already suffered enough in Hakuoki, why must I experience the exact same ordeal again?’ He did a great job capturing Chojiro’s inner turmoil, suffering and character personality, although I didn’t expect any less after his performance as Saito in Hakuoki. I did really like the powerful writing for Chojiro’s storyline and his bad ending was truly befitting of his character route and the tragedy that encompassed it.

Design ★★★★★

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The art, character designs and backgrounds were by far the highlight and selling point of the game. I was actually very surprised by the sheer number of character sprites that the game incorporated, and the backgrounds were so gorgeous. They honestly looked akin to a water colour painting and suited the time period of the game very well.

I really liked all the character designs, and how they had both regular outfits and ninja battle gear. Even many of the side characters had their own unique sprites, and I particularly liked Ieyasu Tokugawa’s outfit design as well as Enju’s. She has a very different and refreshing look for a visual novel heroine, and the colour motif for her ninja outfit was lovely.

I liked how every character had their own distinct ninja weaponry that really suited their battle style and personality. The battle stances and poses were especially well done for the characters. They even incorporated unique ninja uniforms to distinguish the clans from one another, which I really liked. You could tell the developers paid a lot of attention to the minute details that really contributed to the overall feel of a game.

If there was anything to criticise about the artist’s illustrations it would be that the body poses and hands in some CGs were slightly out of proportion in some images in comparison to others. I did feel that the CGs were of slightly lesser quality than the character sprite illustrations. For example: in some CGs the hands/fingers were definitely a little too large, or in some side profile images they really over accentuated the length of the bachelor’s neck and adam’s apple.

However, these are very small details that can be easily overlooked and Teita is also the artist for the Norn9 series by Idea Factory. I really did enjoy the amount of detail and forethought the developers placed into the art and design of the game.

Music and Voice Acting ★★★★★

Another highlight of Nightshade was the stellar music and voice acting. I really liked the OST of Nightshade, as it was very soothing to the ears and a joy to listen to. I particularly liked the battle theme music, since I felt it perfectly suited the scenes and added much more dynamic to the action. The opening and ending OSTs were also really good, as well as the softer instrumental tracks.

They incorporated very prolific and well-known voice actors that definitely brought out the personalities within the characters and emulated their roles very well. Needless to say I expected nothing less than stellar, and they undoubtedly delivered to my expectations. Many of the voice actors are the same as the characters from the Hakuoki series, so if you’re familiar with the game you’ll instantly recognise them in Nightshade.

  • Momochi Chojiro | VA: Toriumi Kosuke | 鳥海 浩輔 |
    Inuzuka Kiba from Naruto series, and Saito Hajime from Hakuoki series.
  • Hattori Hanzo | VA: Tsuda Kenjiro | 津田 健次郎 |
    Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh series, and Chikage Kazama from Hakuoki series.
  • Ishikawa Goemon | VA: Midorikawa Hikaru | 緑川 光 | 
    Lancer in Fate/Zero, Yoh Tomoe from Starry Sky series, Marth from Fire Emblem series, and Sakamoto in Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto.
  • Tokugawa Ieyasu | VA: Miyata Koki | 宮田 幸季 | 
    Ukyo from Amnesia series, and Chihiro Fujisaki from Danganronpa series,

System ★★★

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The system design and user interface was decent in Nightshade. It included all the basic functions such as save slots, skip, quick load/save, rewind and CG Gallery. I would have liked to see a ‘jump’ button included which skips to the next decision point and saves the time skipping all the scenes in between. This would have been really helpful replaying the common route, as it was very repetitive between the five characters due to the linear storyline.

The UI was nicely designed and incorporated some really nice extra animations to the game such as leaves falling, cherry blossom petals and rain. A flower animation also appeared on screen hovering over a specific bachelor when you earned affection points with them. The game also included a ‘memories’ tab which allowed you to replay chapters from character routes, and unlocked two bonus events (without CG) upon completion of their story. However, I would have liked to see a scene recollection included as well rather than having to replay the entire chapter to view specific scenes.

What I really do praise about Nightshade was the clean fighting animations and overlaying of the sprites during combat scenes. It definitely made the game a lot more immersive and enjoyable to play, as although the effects were simple; they were very effective. I also liked how you could actually choose specific character voices for the system dialogue and it was a really nice touch to the game.

On the first day of release for all users there had been prominent visual text spacing issues where the words were all clustered together. Although it was still readable, it was very taxing over a prolonged period of time. The developers did fix the issue after a couple of hours which was very prompt of them. However, for a title that was delayed 4-5months after the original release date you really do not expect for bugs like this to still occur for a final release copy.

I would’ve preferred a clearer text font choice for the game, and I had troubles initially adjusting the text speed. Sometimes if you don’t click the correct spot, it sets the speed to 99% rather than 100% which does not make the text appear all at once. It took a little fiddling around with to correct, however it really shouldn’t be an issue to begin with. As a result, the UI did feel clunky to use as a whole.

Conclusion

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In conclusion, Nightshade is a solid game and definitely one of the better english otome releases currently on the market. If you enjoyed Hakuoki, I highly recommend Nightshade as the two games are very similar in many respects and I’m sure Nightshade was heavily inspired by it. Although Nightshade has it’s own fair share of suffering and tragedy, it overall was nowhere near as dark and painful as Hakuoki. It definitely had many more light-hearted moments and genuinely happy endings, rather than the bittersweet conclusions that the Hakuoki character routes had.

The main highlight and selling point of Nightshade is the beautiful artwork, stellar voice acting and solid music. The game is very well designed and incorporates numerous character sprites, unique ninja outfits and weaponry as well as a solid selectable bachelor cast. Normally I don’t tend to like all the characters of a game, but in Nightshade there definitely wasn’t anyone I disliked. Every character has their clear strengths and weaknesses, and grow on you throughout the course of the game.

Nightshade had a lot of potential to go from a good game to an amazing one, and unfortunately it was lacking in one too many aspects within the writing. Although it is one of games I really enjoyed playing, it unfortunately wasn’t one of my all-time favourites.

Although Enju is a lovely protagonist who exhibits varying degrees of character development throughout the routes, it felt lacking in comparison to the potential shown in Hanzo’s story. It made the overall impact and writing within the other routes a lot weaker, as they did not fully flesh out Enju’s character as well as it did in Hanzo’s route.

The linear storyline and lack of character role diversity really took away from the overall feel of the game. It definitely lost its momentum and surprise factor by around the third playthrough, as it essentially only followed one of two linear game branches that both revolved around the same concept. As the characters were all ninjas, they were powerless in the overarching political turmoil and unable to truly save Enju.

Because of this, it really disappointed me that Ieyasu Tokugawa wasn’t an obtainable character. There was so much untapped potential for both diversifying the storyline, and character development due to his powerful position within the council. It would have even made sense to me as ‘the true ending/canon route’ to the game, as he would have been able to do what the other bachelors were unable to—which was prove Enju’s innocence and clear her status as a criminal.

The system also had many issues on the first day of release such as text font clarity and some users reporting that they were unable to play the game. This definitely impacted my score for the game’s system, as these are issues you don’t expect to occur after a 4-5month release date delay. The issues have now been fixed, so future players do not need to worry about potential bugs occurring and impeding their enjoyment of the game.

Overall, I really enjoyed Nightshade and I do recommend it if you’re a fan of otome and historical storylines. The captivating character cast, beautiful art, clean fighting animations, and voice acting are more than enough to thoroughly enjoy the game. Although the storyline of Nightshade was good, it had so much untapped potential and opportunities to fully flesh out the universe and delve further into the plot. It was extremely disappointing that they weren’t utilised at all, and to me that was the downfall of Nightshade.

If these aspects had been addressed, Nightshade would’ve easily scored much higher. Hopefully more great titles continue to be released in english, and as fans we should continue to purchase the games to show our support. This helps encourage developers reaching out to the western market for localisation.

Overall Rating: 4/5


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Written By Cherry

Nightshade: Chojiro Momochi Walkthrough

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Game Review: Nightshade/Hyakka Hyakurou Review

* indicates affection point raise with that specific character


Common Route

Chapter 1

  • I should thank Brother Chojiro (*Chojiro) 
  • I’m glad we get to work together 

Chapter 2

  • All right (*Chojiro) 
  • Goro-san
  • Keep quiet (*Gekkamaru)
  • Residential District
  • But just in case…
  • Try to resist
  • Stand up for Brother Chojiro (*Chojiro)

Chapter 3

  • [SAVE 1] Residential District
  • [SAVE 2] That’s not true (*Chojiro) 

Chapter 4

  • No option

Character Route

Good Ending

Chapter 5

  • Main Street
  • Residential District
  • Fushimi castle, Main gate

Chapter 6

  • [SAVE 3] I wonder how everyone is doing (*Chojiro)
  • Someone I truly respect (*Chojiro)

Chapter 7

  • I wanted to stay with him (*Chojiro) 

Chapter 8

  • Attack (*Chojiro)

Chapter 9 

  • No option

Chapter 10 

  • Hug him (*Chojiro) 

Chapter 11

  • You’re right (*Chojiro) 

Bad Ending

Chapter 6

  • [LOAD SAVE 3] What’s going to happen to me?
  • Someone I aspire to be

Chapter 7

  • I want to apologize to him

Chapter 8

  • Watch his movements

Chapter 9 

  • No option

Chapter 10 

  • Stroke his head

Chapter 11

  • You’re wrong

Memoirs

To unlock all memoirs, you must have chosen all options and read all the dialogue in the game.

  • [LOAD SAVE 1] Bukemachi
  • [LOAD SAVE 2] I never thought you would think like that

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Written By Cherry

Nightshade: Gekkamaru Walkthrough

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Game Review: Nightshade/Hyakka Hyakurou Review

* indicates affection point raise with that specific character


Common Route

Chapter 1

  • I should talk to Gekkamaru (*Gekkamaru) 
  • I’m glad we get to work together

Chapter 2

  • You’re leaving me here?
  • Goro-san
  • Keep quiet (*Gekkamaru) 
  • Residential District
  • I know you weren’t (*Gekkamaru) 
  • Try to resist
  • Bow deeply in silence (*Hanzo)

Chapter 3

  • [SAVE 1] Fushimi castle, Main gate
  • [SAVE 2] Don’t worry (*Gekkamaru) 

Chapter 4

  • No option

Character Route

Good Ending

Chapter 5

  • [SAVE 3] You look very handsome (*Gekkamaru) 
  • Main Street
  • Residential District
  • Fushimi castle, Main gate

Chapter 6

  • No option 

Chapter 7

  • Of course. You’re a great cook (*Gekkamaru) 

Chapter 8

  • No excuses (*Gekkamaru)

Chapter 9 

  • Hold his hand (*Gekkamaru) 

Chapter 10 

  • Well… (*Gekkamaru) 

Chapter 11

  • Don’t resist (*Gekkamaru) 

Bad Ending

Chapter 5

  • [LOAD SAVE 3] Your movements are beautiful
  • Main Street
  • Residential District
  • Fushimi castle, Main gate

Chapter 6

  • No option

Chapter 7

  • I’ll eat as much as I can

Chapter 8

  • I understand

Chapter 9 

  • Pat his futon

Chapter 10 

  • It’s nothing

Chapter 11

  • Resist

Memoirs

To unlock all memoirs, you must have chosen all options and read all the dialogue in the game.

  • [LOAD SAVE 1] Residential District
  • [LOAD SAVE 1] Bukemachi
  • [LOAD SAVE 2] You don’t have to apologize

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Written By Cherry

Nightshade: Kuroyuki Walkthrough

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Game Review: Nightshade/Hyakka Hyakurou Review

* indicates affection point raise with that specific character


Common Route

Chapter 1

  • I should make preparations
  • I’m so happy to see you after 8 years (*Kuroyuki) 

Chapter 2

  • You’re leaving me here?
  • Goro-san
  • Make an excuse for Kuroyuki (*Kuroyuki) 
  • Fushimi castle, Main gate
  • [SAVE 1] Were you really joking? (*Kuroyuki) 
  • Try to resist
  • Stand up for Brother Chojiro (*Chojiro)

Chapter 3

  • Residential District
  • [SAVE 2] Because you get lonely easily (*Kuroyuki) 
  • I can’t do that

Chapter 4

  • It was a coincidence
  • But…

Character Route

Good Ending

Chapter 5

  • [SAVE 3] Of course (*Kuroyuki) 
  • Main Street
  • Residential District
  • Fushimi castle, Main gate

Chapter 6

  • No option 

Chapter 7

  • Of course not (*Kuroyuki) 

Chapter 8

  • Go outside (*Kuroyuki)

Chapter 9 

  • No option

Chapter 10 

  • All right (*Kuroyuki) 

Chapter 11

  • I don’t know (*Kuroyuki) 

Chapter 12

  • No option

Chapter 13

  • No option

Bad Ending

Chapter 5

  • [LOAD SAVE 3] Maybe
  • Main Street
  • Residential District
  • Fushimi castle, Main gate

Chapter 6

  • No option

Chapter 7

  • I was just amazed

Chapter 8

  • Wait

Chapter 9 

  • No option

Chapter 10 

  • I’ll fight with you

Chapter 11

  • He’s not

Chapter 12

  • No option

Chapter 13

  • No option

Memoirs

To unlock all memoirs, you must have chosen all options and read all the dialogue in the game.

  • [LOAD SAVE 1] That’s a relief
  • [LOAD SAVE 2] Because you’re free

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Written By Cherry

Nightshade: Goemon Ishikawa Walkthrough

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Game Review: Nightshade/Hyakka Hyakurou Review

* indicates affection point raise with that specific character


Common Route

Chapter 1

  • I should make preparations
  • I’m glad we get to work together

Chapter 2

  • You’re leaving me here?
  • Goro (*Goemon)
  • Keep quiet (*Gekkamaru)
  • Main Street
  • I’ve never had such good dessert before (*Goemon)
  • Try to resist
  • Bow deeply in silence (*Hanzo)

Chapter 3

  • Bukemachi
  • All right (*Goemon) 

Chapter 4

  • I’m sorry (*Goemon) 
  • But…

Character Route

Good Ending

Chapter 5

  • [SAVE POINT] I’m fine here (*Goemon) 
  • Main Street
  • Residential District
  • Fushimi castle, Main gate

Chapter 6

  • I don’t think I can play a good wife (*Goemon) 

Chapter 7

  • I feel shy (*Goemon) 

Chapter 8

  • You’ll make a wonderful husband (*Goemon)
  • That doesn’t change the fact that it hurt (*Goemon)

Chapter 9 

  • You’re coming with me (*Goemon) 

Chapter 10 

  • Having you stroke my head (*Goemon) 

Chapter 11

  • I believe we’re destined (*Goemon) 

Chapter 12

  • Meet his eyes (*Goemon)

Chapter 13

  • Is it really a pain killer? (*Goemon)

Bad Ending

Chapter 5

  • [LOAD SAVE POINT] Let’s go to the dessert shop
  • Main Street
  • Residential District
  • Fushimi castle, Main gate

Chapter 6

  • I don’t think we’d be convincing

Chapter 7

  • Stop teasing me

Chapter 8

  • You’ll be a good father
  • Don’t force yourself to laugh

Chapter 9 

  • That’s unlike you

Chapter 10 

  • Sleeping in the same room as you

Chapter 11

  • I’ll be waiting

Chapter 12

  • Look away

Chapter 13

  • Is it poison?

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Written By Cherry

Nightshade: Hanzo Hattori Walkthrough

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Game Review: Nightshade/Hyakka Hyakurou Review

* indicates affection point raise with that specific character


Common Route

Chapter 1

  • I should make preparations
  • I’m glad we get to work together

Chapter 2

  • You’re leaving me here?
  • Goro-san
  • Keep quiet (*Gekkamaru)
  • Main Street
  • I’m sorry for how I behaved
  • Don’t resist (*Hanzo) 
  • Bow deeply in silence (*Hanzo) 

Chapter 3

  • Fushimi castle, Main Gate
  • [SAVE 1] I will do my best (*Hanzo) 
  • I can’t do that

Chapter 4

  • It was a coincidence (*Hanzo) 
  • Understood (*Hanzo) 

Character Route

Good Ending

Chapter 5

  • [SAVE 2] Is Lord Tokugawa receiving unexpected guests? (*Hanzo) 
  • Main Street
  • Residential District
  • Fushimi castle, Main Gate

Chapter 6

  • How do I fight him? (*Hanzo) 

Chapter 7

  • I should stay (*Hanzo) 

Chapter 8

  • How many are there? (*Hanzo) 

Chapter 9 

  • All right (*Hanzo) 

Chapter 10 

  • Thank you for saving me (*Hanzo) 

Chapter 11

  • I like it (*Hanzo) 

Bad Ending

Chapter 5

  • [LOAD SAVE 2] You’re very knowledgeable
  • Main Street
  • Residential District
  • Fushimi castle, Main Gate

Chapter 6

  • I can’t win…

Chapter 7

  • I should go

Chapter 8

  • What should I do?

Chapter 9 

  • I can’t…

Chapter 10 

  • I’m all right

Chapter 11

  • It suits you

Memoirs

To unlock all memoirs, you must have chosen all options and read all the dialogue in the game.

  • [LOAD SAVE 1] Not at all

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Written By Cherry

Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — Review


RELEASE DATE: 2011
PUBLISHER: Rejet, Idea Factory & Otomate
PLATFORMS AVAILABLE: Windows (English Fan Translation) & PSVita (Japanese)

I originally played Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — in japanese a few years ago, and decided to play it again with the recently released english patch on VNR. If you would like to play the game with the english translation, then you must own a copy of the game (via purchasing it) and you can download the set up instructions for the english translation here. Major props to the people who released the 100% translation, because translating visual novels are tough. Especially the ones with historical jargon/lingo that even the japanese dictionaries sometimes don’t have definitions for.

What drew me in was the beautiful art and promising storyline, as well as the title’s popularity in Japan. I had read plenty of reviews that praised the immersive plot, captivating character cast and dark themes. As a warning if you’re planning to play this game, it does incorporate very dark themes, mature content and violence. Although it’s not sexually explicit (no NSFW images), it does have vague sexual descriptions in some of the routes and depicts blood and torture. If you’re not a fan of these aspects, then I don’t recommend playing the game.

Although I was initially very apprehensive of the pure insanity from the characters in the game, I actually ended up enjoying Black Wolves Saga very much. I would love to see a localisation of Black Wolves Saga — Weiβ und Schwarz — which was recently released in 2017 in Japan. It is the PSVita port that includes both Bloody Nightmare and Last Hope in one package. Last Hope is the more light-hearted version of Bloody Nightmare, and focuses more on the wolves rather than the cat’s side of the story.

Storyline ★★★★

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-The Story-

The protagonist, Fiona lived in a secluded tower due to her fragile health. There is turmoil in the country and a severe disease outbreak known as Zodiva or “Mad Wolf Disease”. Mejojo was interested in Fiona due to her upbringing and wanted to take her as his bride, but Fiona’s father refused. There are now rumours in town saying Fiona is a witch- Mejojo and Auger uses this to their advantage and arrest her, so that they can “observe” her while she lives in the castle. Eventually, Fiona’s half-brother (Nesso) and butler (Zara) rescue her and they escape together.

The emphasis of the story is on a dark/historical/political fantasy where humans, wolves, cats and other animals are being ruled by two very crafty feline tyrants. Due to various oppressions the cat twins faced in their childhood including assassination attempts, they learned how to survive and gain power- but they were also driven towards insanity. There is nothing they won’t do to get what they want.

(Excerpt from VNDB)

To sum up Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — in a single sentence: every character is to some extent absolutely insane and it’s a modernised visual novel version of the book ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell. Majority of people will have heard of this novel, since it is a recommended study text in early high school. If you’re familiar with the novel, it actually gives you a better understanding of BWS and a more insightful analysis into the complexity of the overarching story line.

The plot focuses on the long-term political struggle within the country of Weblin, and the darkness that stains its history. Once upon a time, the country had been been ruled peacefully by the co-existence of both cats and wolves at the top of the hierarchy. However, one day the to-be-crowned prince cat is stabbed by a wolf; thus throwing the political balance into chaos. The wolf is labelled a traitor and banished from the land; leading to the cat’s supreme reign. Zodiva (Mad Wolf Disease) soon inflicts its plague upon the country, resulting in countless deaths of its people.

The wolves are blamed as the carriers and procreators of the disease, and the King implements a rule supporting ‘Wolf Hunting’. This leads to the complete eradication of the wolves to near extinction, and they’re forced into hiding for their own safety. Years into the future, the disease is still at large without a cure and people live in constant fear and hatred for the wolves.

Our protagonist Fiona is the equivalent of a modern Rapunzel due to her birth status as a Lobeira. It is an uncommon condition, and only once in a blue moon would a human be born as one. Lobeira tend to die young due to their weak physical condition and are very susceptible to illness. Even minor symptoms such as a common cold can mean death for a Lobeira.

Fiona has been locked within the secluded tower all her life, in order to prevent her from contracting illness. It is due to this upbringing that she has lived until the age of sixteen. Fiona has been spoilt and waited upon ever since she was born by her loving half-brother Nesso, doting father, servant Zara and her two dogs: Pearl and Ritchie. Fiona longs for the beauty of the world beyond her prison, and has no concept of reality outside of what she has been told or read about in books.

Mejojo and Auger (main focus of the game) are the two white cat princes that regularly visit Fiona, seeking her hand in marriage. They are met with constant rejection, due to her family’s concern that her life cannot be sustained outside of the tower. The cats are frustrated by this recurring answer, and concoct a devious plan. They begin to spread rumours that a witch residing in the tower is responsible for spreading Zodiva and commanding the wolves. The townspeople stricken by fear and distrust through years of brainwashing by the cats, leap at the first opportunity for blame.

Fiona is branded a criminal, and taken hostage in the Royal Castle to the despair of her family. In order to prove her innocence and appease the town’s people; it is decided by King Garibaldi VI (Mejojo and Auger’s father) that she must remain at the castle for the time being. If the disease remains without her interference, then she will be free to return home. He assures that her stay will be comfortable, as she is the daughter of his beloved friend and ally.

Fiona is deeply troubled by the circumstances, as it was not how she imagined her first experience of the outside world to be. Little does she know, she’ll soon wish that she had never left the comforts of her tower and seen the cruelty that reality has to offer.

I absolutely loved the depiction of the political struggle in the game. Every character just had so many layers and dimension to their story and personality. They all contributed significantly in creating a diverse and complex plot. It’s a tale where there really is no black or white; it’s all just shades of grey. It’s up to you as a reader to decipher the truth from the lies, and which faction you’ll eventually side with. No faction in this game is truly justifiable in their actions, and every single character has some extent of darkness to them; some significantly more than others.

There’s the cat’s story, the wolves’ story, the human’s story, the truth, the lies, and finally the truth you decide is the right path to take. I really liked how interwoven the plot was, where every character played such a crucial role in influencing the other’s past one way or another. Not only that, but this past is then a direct reflection of how the characters currently are in the present.

Everything just links to one another and the puzzle pieces of the storyline fit together perfectly. I don’t think any summary could ever do this storyline justice, and it’s just one of those games where you have to play it for yourself in order to truly appreciate the beauty of it.

As a reader, I found myself so conflicted because once you find out the truth; your mind simply is unable to comprehend the distinction between good and evil anymore. It is this multi-faceted nature of the plot that makes it so well written. Everyone has justifiable reasons for committing the sins and actions that they’ve done, and when you put yourself in their shoes the only question that comes to mind is: wouldn’t I have done the same?

Although the game is bloody, violent and incorporates very dark themes; I liked that it was actually realistic. This is what happened during the era of political and power struggles for the throne. If you’re not strong enough to stand up to it; then you’re not fit for the crown and will inevitably be eliminated by your competitors.

However, there were still some faults about the game that I felt could definitely be improved on. Even though it was nice having eight bachelors to choose from and each having their own story, it caused strains in fitting every character equally into the allocated time frame of the visual novel.

With the more characters you incorporate into a game, it’s to be expected that some stories will be much weaker than others. In Bloody Nightmare, it essentially focuses everything on the cat’s side of the story. Despite the wolves’ playing such an integral role in the plot, I felt their routes were extremely lacking and left much to be desired.

I suppose it’s because they decided to leave most of their content to be explored in Black Wolves Saga: — Last Hope — as that covers the wolves’ side of the story. Even if that was the case, I was still shocked when their stories just ended so abruptly with little to no development at all. Even if the bulk of the story is in the alternative game, I still expected at least some satisfaction with their endings. Instead, I was just left with the feeling of ‘wait…. that was it? It actually ended then and there?’

Because of the linear storytelling, the game has one main route that is reflected in all the stories. Your choices with the factions and raising the character’s affection changes small events here and there, which eventually culminates to the different endings of the story. The game seems deceptively content-heavy at first, until you realise from the second playthrough onwards that you’re actually sitting there skipping through the main route majority of the time. It felt as though I was spending more time skipping than actually playing the game.

The story really only differentiates near the ending branch, where you finally decide on your chosen faction. Until then, the story is more or less exactly the same due to the linear format. The first playthrough takes around 10-15hrs to complete, and finishing all the other endings would total to about 20-30hrs of game time.

Character Development ★★★★

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

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Normally characters like Fiona would definitely irritate me, with her complete powerlessness and tendency to cry at every single scenario. In Fiona’s situation however, it was understandable and essentially she’s just as much of a victim as anyone else; if not more so. Her life is a series of extremely unfortunate events: her birth as a lobeira, her mother’s death as a result, and simply because of her similarity to another woman — she becomes the poor target of Mejojo.

Fiona’s circumstances only gives her the option to depend on someone else in order to survive. It’s not like she wished to be born different than everyone else, and it becomes a source of self-loathing and extreme lack of self-efficacy for Fiona.

Even though Fiona makes some incredibly stupid decisions throughout the game, as a reader you can’t help but understand her logical reasoning. It’s because she’s been so sheltered and never exposed to any semblance of evil; her perception on reality is completely untarnished and pure.

She genuinely believes in the goodness of others, and the potential for change. What she doesn’t realise though is normally this could be the case but the people she’s dealing with are too far gone to the point of utter insanity. Their darkness isn’t something that can be mended or healed; it’s something that has defined their entire lives.

Without it, they would no longer have any meaning or purpose. It’s the cruel realism that permeates the theme of the game; people don’t just magically change over time, no matter how hard you try or wish for it. She gets reduced to a mere lifeless doll; the unwilling reciprocal of Mejojo and Auger’s twisted desires. She is objectified, and broken in every sense of the word.

However, I felt the traumatic experiences were in the end necessary to developing Fiona’s character. If she had never faced reality, she would have never have had the courage or maturity to make her own decisions on what path she should take and distinguish between right and wrong. In spite of the suffering she endured, it is from these horrific experiences that she is able to display true strength.

She still has the capacity to believe in justice and righteousness; and fight for peace for a country that condemned her existence as a witch. It is this goodness that at least serves as some light at the end of the tunnel in the good endings of the routes. Fiona is essentially the foil of BWS; there has to be some balance between good and evil, or the story would just be an endless cycle of bloodshed without any chances of stopping. It’s saddening due to the nature of the story that all of Fiona’s endings are bittersweet; there is no such thing as ‘true happiness’ or ‘happily ever after’ in Black Wolves Saga.

Normally I would not have split the character reviews from the main game review, but in BWS the character routes were simply too extensive and each with significant contributions to the storyline. Rather than including a massive wall of text in the main post or cutting down the content and losing important aspects of the overarching storyline; I decided to simply break it down into separate sections. You can click on the separate links below to read my review on each character and their development.

The reviews are best read sequentially in the following order, and it is also my recommend play order for the game.

Design ★★★★

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Although the game’s art, colouring and design did put me off initially, it really does grow on you overtime. It’s gorgeous in its own unique way, and really stands out in comparison to other games. The illustration really suits the ‘fantasy’ aspect of the game, and it’s one that is memorable and easily recognisable the moment you see it. Especially for the CGs depicting bloodshed and torture, it effectively makes the image significantly more eerie and darker in tone. The artist perfectly captures the evident insanity in the character’s expressions, which really enhances the atmosphere of the game.

I was surprised by the sheer amount of CGs the game incorporated, as it does accommodate for all 8 bachelors along with many ‘general route’ images. I do love all the character designs, and I really have no qualms about the art in the game.

Kuroyuki is also the artist for the upcoming Idea Factory localisation releasing this April 28th, Period x Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~. I cover the game in my post for the most anticipated english Visual Novel releases for 2017.

Music and Voice Acting ★★★★★

To me, this was honestly without a doubt the highlight of the game. It has one of the best and one of my favourite openings of any otome game. The animations and transitions are just so clean and smooth; not to mention it’s actually sung by one of the characters of the game, Rath Vogart (VA: Kaji Yuki | 梶 裕貴). The background music suited the theme of the game, however I wouldn’t say there were any outstanding tracks that stood out to me. Auger casually whipping out his violin solos, in order to provide ‘befitting entertainment’ for certain moments in the story was quite a nice touch to his character.

The voice acting line up in Black Wolves Saga was just all-around phenomenal. Although it does have a lot of evil laughter, battle cries, and screams of despair that you will be sick of hearing by the end of the game; it just showcases the talents and prowess of the voice actors.

They perfectly emulate their personalities and capture the sheer insanity and angst of all the characters as well their despair, pain, anxiety and fears. It just enriches the atmosphere and tone of the game, and captivates your immediate interest. To no surprise, Black Wolves Saga incorporates a voice acting line up of exceptionally famous and veteran seiyuus.

  • Mejojo Von Garibaldi | VA: Sakurai Takahiro |櫻井 孝宏|
    Sasori in Naruto Shippuuden, Atsumu Matsuyuki in Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, Shogo Makushima in Psycho-Pass, Leon Kuwata from Danganronpa series, Yuji Kazami from The Fruit of Grisaia series and Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy series.
  • Auger Von Garibaldi | VA: Yoshino Hiroyuki |吉野 裕行|
    Heisuke Todo from Hakuoki series)
  • Julian | VA: Hosoya Yoshimasa | 細谷 佳正 |
    Kazuichi Soda from Danganronpa series, The Avatar & Male Morgan from Fire Emblem: Awakening
  • Arles V. Felnoir | VA: Morikawa Toshiyuki | 森川 智之 |
    Kyosuke Munakata in Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak Academy, Minato Namikaze in Naruto Shippuuden and Sephiroth from Final Fantasy series and Kingdom Hearts II. 
  • Rath Vogart | VA: Kaji Yuki | 梶 裕貴 |
    Haruyuki Arita in Accel World, Kanato Sakamaki from Diabolik Lovers series, Speed-o’-Sound Sonic in One Punch Man, Phoenix Wright in Ace Attorney (anime)Hope Estheim in Final Fantasy series, Takumi from Fire Emblem series and Eren Yeager from Attack on Titan.
  • Guillan Guinor | VA: Taniyama Kisho | 谷山 紀章 |
    Ikki from Amnesia series
  • Nesso Galland | VA: Miki Shin’ichiro | 三木 眞一郎 |
    James from Pokemon series, Roy Mustang from Full Metal Alchemist series, and Hijikata Toshizo from Hakuoki series.
  • Zara Skeens | VA: Ishida Akira | 石田 彰 |
    Gaara from Naruto series, Kent from Amnesia series, and Byakuya Togami from Danganronpa series

I was genuinely shocked when researching the voice acting cast line up, because literally every character seiyuu was extremely prominent and famous. It then made perfect sense as to why the voice acting was so phenomenal from every character, despite incorporating 8 different bachelors to choose from. This is one of the most stacked line ups of talent I’ve seen from any otome or visual novel.

System ★★★★

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The system and UI in Black Wolves Saga was pretty decent, and incorporated a lot of extra cute bonus options with the bachelors. The design suited the theme of the game, including all the basic options such as save slots, CG gallery, and scene recollection. I do wish they organised the scene recollection better however, as I never ended up using it.

Due to the sheer amount of scenes the game possesses, the pages amassed to something like 100-200+ pages. As a result, no one would be bothered to even use the function, as it simply takes far too long in getting to the scene you wish to replay. You had to individually select through the pages one by one, which just goes to show very little foresight by the creators.

Icons appear on the screen when you make a critical choice, and the image differs depending on which faction you choose. It was quite a nice feature, as it helped you know if you were on the right track or not in the outcome of the story. In the game, you needed to balance both faction choices and affection with your chosen character, which they provided love point gauges for. The encyclopaedia was especially useful, as the game does incorporate a lot of its own unique history and terms; which is all explained in detail here.

My favourite and fan-service aspect they added was the ‘grooming’ option. As the characters are mainly animals, it was a cute feature to have. You use your mouse to interact with different parts of the bachelor’s bodies (yes, including down there) and raising their affection if you touch the places they like. There is also a decrease in affection in places that they dislike. It’s coupled with adorable dialogue such as ‘touch me more, it feels really good!’ or ‘where do you think you’re touching?!’

The extra lines in the volumes weren’t anything too interesting, and I wasn’t sure what it’s purpose was other than to fill up space in the bonus options.

Conclusion

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Black Wolves Saga is a fantastic game, and I personally highly recommend it if you’re not adverse to mature/dark themes, blood shed and torture. It incorporates an amazing linear storyline, complex and captivating characters, beautiful art, solid music and a very stacked line up of voice actors. It delves upon issues such as the evil and corruption prevalent within political struggles, and a universe painted in the shades of grey. It invokes questions on the boundaries of morality, the distinction between good and evil, and how every choice you make has dire consequences.

Although Fiona makes decisions for the sake of peace and the good of others; she is constantly faced with the brunt of reality that sometimes people cannot change; no matter how much you wish for it. It is not the world she had imagined it to be, and is forced against her own will to mature in order to survive. There is no truly good person in the game, and yet you can still empathise with their reasoning and justification even after seeing their innate darkness. This is what makes multi-faceted and memorable characters, and is a testament to how good the writing of the story is.

However, the game is not without it’s faults. Due to the nature of the themes within the game, it is difficult at times to read the suffering that the heroine endures time and time again. As such, it may not appeal to a broad and general audience. Although it incorporates 8 different bachelor stories to choose from, as I expected the author definitely had issues condensing so many routes into the allocated time frame of the visual novel. It focuses mainly on the cat’s side of the story, and in comparison the other character routes seem poorly developed, lacked proper substance and had dissatisfying endings.

As such, it compels the reader to also pick up Black Wolves Saga: — Last Hope — as that covers the wolves’ side of the story. I personally believe that Black Wolves Saga — Weiβ und Schwarz — should be localised, as it was a recent platform release on the PSVita in 2017. Rather than the original separated PSP version, it incorporates both games in one pack; allowing you to enjoy the game in its entirety and increased resolution of the PSVita. If there’s enough fan interest in the series, I can foresee it being localised due to its immense popularity thus far.

From the localisation polls in the past couple of years, Black Wolves Saga has continually placed near the top of the list. As such, I do believe it has a good chance of an eventual english release so long as fans remain interested in playing the game. Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — is refreshing, different and definitely one of my all time favourite otome games.

Overall Rating: 4/5


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Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — Character Review: Mejojo 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.

MEJOJO VON GARIBALDI: Mejojo is first-in-line to be King and the older twin of Auger. He is exceptionally cruel, twisted, cunning and stops at nothing when he has something he wants. No one can deny however that these are the traits needed to be a fearsome King and the strength of a Ruler that the country needs.

He suffers from a tragic past that completely unhinged his mental state, and distorted his purpose for living. He must enact revenge for the sake of his mother, and become King in order to return tenfold the pain he experienced his whole entire life. He and Auger are the illegitimate children of the current King, and as a result are treated as the constant thorn in his side.

They’re fortunate enough to be able to remain in the castle, after pleas from their mother not to have them executed. However, they’re the source of constant gossip and treated like nuisances residing in the castle. In order to gain their Father’s attention and approval, they devote themselves wholeheartedly to their study and swordsmanship. Their efforts eventually begin to bear fruit, garnering rumours that they’re more fit to be King than the eldest prince and legal son of their father, Julian.

This earns the animosity of their step-mother and current reigning Queen, Rayleigh. Their birth mother with the status of a mere concubine, is treated as lower than a servant and suffers cruelly beneath Rayleigh’s taunts. Despite their efforts for their mother’s sake, the King never turns their way for he truly loves Rayleigh and his birth son Julian. Rayleigh in order to secure her son’s place, begins assassination attempts on the twin’s lives such as poisoning and hiring assassins to murder them in their sleep.

Mejojo nearly dies from poisoning, and despite Auger’s pleas to Rayleigh to allow them one Royal Doctor to help him; she commands them all to attend to Julian as he is ‘ill’. In reality, they are all playing with Julian in the courtyard and she forbids Julian from asking questions about the twin’s condition. Their birth mother laments on her worthlessness as a concubine, unable to do anything for her sons due to her lower status.

‘If only I was loved more by the King’ she thinks, but concedes to the fact that for a woman like her to remain in the castle is a miracle in itself. From that day forth, the twins enclose themselves in their own world because no one can be trusted otherwise. The only people they have are each other and their mother.

One day, she suggests to play a game of strength with the twins. To prove their strength, they tie a rope around a large bookcase that their mother wishes to move, but is unable to do so herself. They pull with all their strength, enough to move the bookcase to where she desired. At her lack of response, the twins call out to her uncertainly; only to see their world collapse before their very eyes.

Their mother had claimed it was a game; but in reality she had tied the rope around her neck and with their strength they had hung her. Unable to bear living anymore but without the courage to end her own life; she stains her own beloved sons’ hands.

Irreversibly it warps them completely and revealed their mother’s true nature at the very end: her bitter hatred, resentment and sense of worthlessness. However, she lacked the strength and will to enact revenge; and instead projects this desire onto her sons. From this event, it foreshadows the unveiling of history to come.

Rayleigh’s deeds soon come to light, causing her imprisonment and with great reluctance the King dethrones Julian as the first Prince. Rayleigh unable to bear with the loss and shame, eventually commits suicide in the dungeons. The twins imprison Julian in the Castle Garden as its caretaker, in order to decimate his chances of reclaiming the throne.

After all, how can one be King without any followers or knowledge of their existence? Out of spite and jealousy for Julian’s noble birth and as the recipient of their father’s love; they destroy his mental state, leaving him completely crippled and reduced to a barely functioning toy. Mejojo is soon betrothed to Elvira Galland, having reached the appropriate age for marriage.

However, the engagement is in name only as they both hold no romantic sentiments towards one another and share a platonic relationship as childhood friends. Elvira soon falls in love with Arles, Captain of the Royal Guard and titled the ‘Knight of Salvation’ for saving the King’s life and considered his right hand man. Elvira convinces Arles that Mejojo would agree to her proposal in marrying Arles instead; as they had never been in love to begin with.

Arles is reluctant, but trusts in Elvira’s judgement. Their plans for marriage goes off without a hitch, receiving both Mejojo and the King’s blessings. However, misfortune strikes as Arles suddenly begins to contract the symptoms of Zodiva. Unable to bear with the suffering and to ensure Elvira’s safety; he decides to break off the engagement and leave Weblin. However, he cannot bear to leave without seeing her one last time and commits his fatal error.

The Zodiva is in its advanced stages, and in close proximity with the woman he loves; he succumbs to blood lust and attacks her like a ravenous beast. He inflicts countless wounds on her body, leaving her near the brink of death. Arles is disgusted with himself, as he had committed such a heinous act to the one he was meant to protect and loved the most. Mejojo walks in onto the brutal scene, and rejoices for he finally has been given the opportunity to dispose of Arles for good.

Even without Julian in the picture, Mejojo and Auger never received their father’s love or affection. He is even more so distant to them, as they left him no choice but to expel his son and lose his legal wife in the process. Their father only ever spent time with Arles and discussed things with him personally; something which he had never done with the twins. Arles was so beloved by the people, that many viewed he could even potentially become King. Even for Mejojo’s engagement, the King agreed to it wholeheartedly because it was at the request of his beloved Arles; rather than denying it for the sake of his son.

As Mejojo reveals his utmost hatred for Arles and prepares to enact the finishing blow, Arles accepts his fate. He has been reduced to nothing more than a beast in human form, and deserves to die for what he has done; at the very least then no one else would come to harm from his thirst. However, rather than the fatal wound being inflicted upon him; Elvira takes the mortal blow and dies in his place. Mejojo laughs hysterically, claiming it was a befitting end for her as she died belonging to him.

After all, it was better for her to die than ever become Arles’ possession. Even though he felt no love for her, she had meant to be his wife and so she had been rightfully his to begin with. She was meant to love him, and no one else. Hearing Mejojo’s twisted reasoning despite slaying Elvira with his own hands, Arles vows his revenge. Before he escapes he leaves an irreparable scar on Mejojo’s face that completely unhinges him.

With that scar, he will be faced with the constant reminder that Arles had bested him and taken what had rightfully belonged to him. His lifelong burning hatred is set into motion, as Mejojo swears to eradicate all remaining existences of the wolves from the face of Weblin. Then, and only then would Mejojo finally be satisfied with Arles’ death and defeat by his own hand.

I summarised Mejojo’s complete past because I felt it was too integral to the overarching storyline that connects all the characters together. His story essentially forms the crux of BWS, and his actions have irreversibly changed and destroyed their lives. As a result, his route is what I recommend playing first as it explains the entire story and puts everything into perspective. For example: what exactly happened and why the events of history turned out the way they did.

That being said, I had extremely mixed feelings about Mejojo from the beginning until the very end. I was conflicted between resentment and disgust at his character for what he has done to the heroine and countless innocent people. Yet at the same time, I found his actions perfectly understandable and could really empathise with his internal agony.

Because after everything he has been through, can you really say his path for vengeance and redemption is completely unjustified? All Mejojo had ever yearned for was his father’s love and recognition for his talents and achievements; something which he has been denied his entire life.

Rather, his efforts bear no fruit as Julian is first-in-line for the crown in spite of Mejojo’s clear superiority and traumatically loses his mother due to his father’s actions. To add salt to injury, the woman he’s betrothed to then to falls in love with another; and Mejojo yet again doesn’t receive the love he innately craves. He is talented, intelligent, handsome and a man of power and status — yet, why is he never anyone’s first preference or choice?

I’m sure that was what the writer was aiming for in the conceptualisation of his character and story; he plays the role of the anti-hero that constantly wavers the emotions of the reader, and is never meant to be defined as simply ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

He is completely and utterly insane, and yet has such clarity and intellect in plotting the destruction of the wolves. After all, their terrorist plot was the result of ten years worth of devotion and planning for the events to unfold. It’s what makes his character even more unbelievably demented; because he knows exactly what he wants and would willingly die for its fruition. At the same time, can you really say he’s crazy when he has never been more clear on his life’s purpose?

The torture he inflicted upon Fiona was really painful to read, since it just felt so undeserved. She was used as his outlet for all the pent up anger and frustration he had been consumed by in his lifetime, and a representation of the woman who had chosen Arles over him. The cruelest aspect of it all was that he didn’t see Fiona for who she was or even as a human being; she was just an item that by right, had to belong to him and no one else.

In his good endings where we get a glimpse of his true self prior to the insanity was actually quite surprising and touching. Perhaps, if Mejojo’s circumstances weren’t so tragic; he would’ve remained the kind-hearted, patient and loving cat he truly was. After all, he still accomplished the desired outcome Fiona had wanted for the country of Weblin; restoring it to its former glory, ridding it of Zodiva and beloved by his people as their King. Although the wolves were exterminated in the process, when did good things throughout history ever happen without any sacrifices or consequences?

Despite his wrongdoings, after everything Mejojo has experienced in this lifetime he deserved some semblance of happiness. As a result, I felt his ending with Fiona was quite befitting because she is the foil to his character; he is someone stained by evil and corruption, whereas she is the epitome of human goodness.

I thoroughly enjoyed his storyline as I felt it was by far the best written out of all the characters. His route was a rollercoaster of emotions and the sheer complexity of how it was all revealed in the end was fantastic. Despite my mixed feelings about his character, I could still justify his actions within the shades of grey and that is a testament to how well written Mejojo’s route is.

However, I was fairly disappointed that until the very end, we never did know whether or not he truly loved Fiona. Did he love her only out of possession? If she wasn’t his, would he still love her? Or would he show glimmers of insanity again? Is she merely a replacement for Elvira, or does he truly love her as Fiona? There were just so many questions regarding Mejojo’s capacity for love, and they left it open ended until the very end.

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.