Period: Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ Review

c-mxzjqv0aa4zrd.jpg

RELEASE DATE: 2016
PUBLISHER: Idea Factory & Aksys Games
PLATFORMS AVAILABLE: PS Vita (Japanese & English)
GAME LINK: Period Cube – PlayStation Vita

I was very excited to play Period: Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ as it is my first collaboration title with Aksys Games. I was provided with a copy of the game to review in light of its April 28th, 2017 release. I had been anticipating Period: Cube since Aksys Games’ announcement last year of licensing four otome titles in 2017, which I covered in my ‘Most Anticipated English Visual Novels of 2017‘ post. To my delight, the next out of the four to be released is Collar x Malice which was the one I had been looking forward to the most. You can pre-order the game from Amazon here, for the official release date of July 28, 2017!

What initially attracted me to Period: Cube was the incorporation of RPG elements, and an MMORPG as the basis for the universe setting. As I have played many MMORPGs since childhood, this brought about a wave of nostalgia for me. I was interested to see how they decided to approach the RPG gameplay and how much of it would be balanced with the visual novel aspect of the game.

Storyline ★★★

PC_M10a.jpg

-The Story- 

Searching for clues about your missing brother, you and your childhood friend Hiroya begin playing an online RPG called “Arcadia.”

You’re suddenly enveloped in a flash of light, and awaken to find yourself in a mysterious fantasy world. You discover you’ve been sent inside of the game, and learn that the only way out is to complete it. In a deadly world on the verge of collapse, you become the “Almighty,” the key to clearing Arcadia, and the secret weapon everyone is after.

You and your companions undertake a perilous journey, where love grows as the world falls apart. (Official Website

The website summary actually encompasses the story outline very well, so I won’t delve into it further here. Period: Cube has a very interesting premise that is reminiscent of the highly popular light novel and anime adaptation, Sword Art Online. It immediately appeals to fans of the MMORPG genre and the creators definitely showed their attentiveness to the finer details throughout the story. I loved all the little nuances and references, and they were extremely nostalgic as I’ve played RPGs since childhood.

If you’ve never played RPGs before, then the encyclopaedia entries are very detailed and explain everything concisely. The universe of Period: Cube demonstrated elaborate world-building and were highly reminiscent of aspects you’d find directly from a cohesive RPG title. The immersive overarching storyline really captures your interest and encourages playing all the routes in order to reveal the ‘complete truth’.

However, the plot had many integral issues in terms of storyline explanations and the development of character routes. There were many times throughout the game where I had to re-read many revelations in order to fully understand exactly what had happened, how the events occurred and why. This is a sign of flawed writing and pacing, as the crucial foundations of the storyline were not very concrete or coherent.

It had an interesting premise and collection of unique ideas that weren’t executed to the fullest potential. Many of the strange phenomenons in the game that transitioned into the real world were never properly fleshed out and left me in a state of confusion. I just had so many questions remaining, despite completing all the routes.

How were the players consistently pulled back into the game, despite not being logged in physically? How did this occur regardless of their location? How were the character’s data and minds inputted into the system to begin with? All they did was create a character, and for some reason in a flash of bright light they were sucked into the game. The whole concept of the ‘Period: Cube’ was poorly explained and evident in all the routes, since some characters converted into data could magically return after dying whilst others could not.

Period: Cube was also very difficult to play without a walkthrough and they really should not have used the combat selections as integral choices for the character routes. Although they seemingly didn’t appear to have any significance, they actually did. I was shocked when after thoughtlessly choosing several options, I ended up on a character route after an extremely short prologue and first chapter.

I was also on the completely wrong route and had to replay it several times through trial and error. If you’re expecting Period: Cube to incorporate substantial RPG elements, or have gameplay akin to the Fire Emblem series; then this game really isn’t for you. It is still a visual novel through and through, and only utilises the concepts of an RPG to further the storyline. The ‘combat system’ is extremely basic, and coded as decisions in the game; rather than having any substantial value.

That being said, I still really enjoyed reading the overall storyline of Period: Cube. It was unique, interesting and would appeal more to people who are familiar with RPGs. You can see just how many references are placed throughout the game, and relate to them as an RPG player. The translation was also quite good, with only very marginal typos from all the routes. Some phrasing of words could’ve been better, and there were some sentence cut offs from the original meaning in Japanese. However, they were negligible for the most part.

I would have preferred the prologue and common route to be longer, as you’re not even introduced to all the characters before being locked into their route prior to meeting them. You’re thrust into the game universe all too quickly, without proper build up and introductions. Each route took around 3-4hrs to complete depending on your read speed, which totals to around 30hrs of gameplay.

Character Development ★★★

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION!

2017-05-03-143230

KAZUHA: As a protagonist, Kazuha elicited very mixed feelings within me. It felt as though every single bachelor fell in love with her at first sight, and their only reason for loving her was because of how ‘cute’, ‘innocent’ and ‘kind’ she was. Not to mention she looks exceptionally young in comparison to the rest of the cast, and age sixteen at most. Although she does develop as a character, it did not feel very satisfying nor was it a substantial change. She is able to stand by her convictions and beliefs by the end of the game for the sake of all the remaining players; and return to the real world.

Kazuha is determined and unwavering in her views of justice and the integral goodness that every person possesses, no matter how many terrible experiences are inflicted upon her throughout the course of the story. It is from finally coming to terms with her own strength, that she is able to call upon the powers of the Almighty. However, this blind trust is also her greatest flaw; she is constantly manipulated by others seeking personal gain and dragged around by all the bachelors fighting for her affection throughout the game.

I felt there was just so much more that could’ve been done with her character, considering all the RPG elements they incorporated into Period: Cube. As the game storyline revolves around an RPG universe, I would have really liked to see the heroine have some progression stat wise. At best, she would be level 5 by the end of the game. It honestly felt pathetic that she barely advanced any levels, when all the other characters were at least five times higher.

Realistically in any MMORPG, she should have never made it past a day in Arcadia without speed levelling and increasing her stats. Not only that, but her combat consists of mainly ‘buffing’ or ‘de-buffing’ allies and enemies from the backline. All the characters then proceed to praise her as if she was a godsend and no one else could’ve done the exact same thing. It felt like such a cop out that her level was pretty much negligible, and just because she’s the protagonist and ‘coincidentally’ the Almighty; she had the ability to one hit kill extremely powerful mobs.

It is because of her almighty status, that she receives constant protection and saved by the bachelors time and time again throughout the game. You would think that in a life or death situation, she would be more proactive to ensure her own survival. Thousands of people have died in the game, and yet Kazuha avoids hundreds of warranted deaths because she is the protagonist. Ironically, the only times when Kazuha is truly assertive in what she wants and wishes to do is in the bad endings of the game.

It was really disappointing to see how much great potential she had to develop as a character with the overarching storyline and universe, and none of these concepts were utilised at all.

I recommend playing the character routes in the following order: Radius → Astrum→ Demento → Zain → Libera → Hiroya→ Poyo-poyo due to storyline spoilers and flow of events. Poyo-poyo can only be unlocked upon the completion of Astrum, Libera and Hiroya’s routes. I have the completed walkthroughs for the game here.

2017-05-01-015019

RADIUS: Renowned as a solo player who never forms parties with others, he is the strongest player of the demon faction. Radius is a powerful fencer, who owns the ‘Infernal Shadow’s Edge’ which is part of the Trinity of Swords required to clear the Ark; the final dungeon within Arcadia. Radius saves Kazuha when she separates from Hiroya and is attacked by enemies. He trades her his most prized Shadow’s Edge to regenerate her health, and Kazuha narrowly avoids death upon completion of the mission.

They temporarily return to the real world, and the two coincidentally meet one another at the hospital. He is cold, blunt and aloof and wishes to have nothing to do with the heroine. He sharply rejects her attempts at friendship and camaraderie, asserting that he works alone. The heroine is confused by the disconnect between his cold words and kind actions, as in spite of his uncaring demeanour; he had saved her life countless of times. She soon comes to discover the reasons behind his distrust towards others, and the suffering he has endured in the past.

Radius is extremely similar to Kirito from Sword Art Online, and jaded by the exact same experiences. He suffers from survivor’s guilt, after his entire party and close friends are killed on a quest expedition for the Shadow’s Edge. Radius is burdened by their final words, and believes himself to be a coward for abandoning his comrades. He views himself undeserving of the life given to him, and yet lacks the courage to face death. This confliction forms the crux of his character, and the inner dilemma that causes him to distance himself from others.

As a result, he finds Kazuha’s complete acceptance of her precarious situation bewildering; and becomes angered on her behalf. Radius views it to be extremely unfair, how she was unknowingly thrust into a life or death situation because of her honourable intentions to save her brother. Now she is being hunted by all of Arcadia, due to her status as a powerful ‘tool’ and disregarded completely as a human being.

Radius admires her inner strength and perseverance; qualities which he sorely lacks in spite of his physical prowess. As Radius spends more time with Kazuha, he comes to fall in love with these aspects of her personality and confides in her his dark past and inner torment. It is through his experiences with her that he is able to come to terms with his anguish, and relinquish the burdens he has carried for so long.

Radius’ route was initially quite irritating to play, due to his constant refusals of the heroine and his cold assertions for her to stay away from him. At every opportunity, he would assume she was stalking him and disrespecting his wishes of wanting to be left alone. He is very fickle in his emotions, and continually switches between resenting the heroine completely; to saving her every time she is in trouble.

However, as a character he develops significantly over the course of the storyline and has some great romantic moments with the protagonist. He becomes very soft towards the heroine when he falls in love with her, and priorities her wellbeing above all else. He is no longer afraid to die or face the future, if it is for her sake. Radius even bows his head to the guild Forte, and uncharacteristically begs them to party with him to save Kazuha.

He had the best CGs and romantic scenes with the protagonist in the game, and was unexpectedly passionate when in love. He also spent the most time with her in the real world in comparison to the other characters, which was reflective in his CGs. Radius’ route was overall the most well-rounded in Period: Cube, as it properly developed his character and relationship with Kazuha over the course of the story.

There was slow, notable progression and I could understand his reasons for falling in love with Kazuha. She had always looked at him as the person he truly was, rather than exterior appearances, fame or fortune. She is able to accept him within his darkest moments, no matter how many times he pushed her away and did not allow his cold rejections to faze her. Her own perseverance and selflessness for others inspires Radius to overcome his own personal demons and accept that it was not too late to atone for his past mistakes.

2017-05-01-013410

ASTRUM: The famous guild leader for the dungeon speed-runners Clarius, and representative of the Angel Faction. Unlike the demon faction, the angels are organised and possess guild roles; enacting proper chain of commands and efficiently battle dungeons together. Although highly respected and revered for his immense strength and tactical game knowledge, Astrum is also well known as an avid role-player within Arcadia. Despite it being a game, Astrum’s mannerisms and flowery dialogue are extremely exaggerated and reflective of his in-game character role.

He is the owner of the ‘Divine Blade of Light’ which is the other piece of the Trinity of Swords required to clear the Ark. Astrum falls in love with Kazuha at first sight due to her beauty and status as the ‘Almighty Amadeus’ and lovingly refers to her by that title throughout the game. He rescues her and Hiroya in the woods, and welcomes them to the Celestial Palace.

However, his actions incur the wrath and jealousy of the other angels; as they view him treating Kazuha favourably despite being unable to use the powers of the Almighty. Hiroya’s presence as a demon is also unheard of, and the atmosphere becomes tense as they continually put off expeditions to the Ark; despite the impending Jaws of Death threatening to consume Arcadia.

I had very mixed feelings about Astrum’s route initially. I was intrigued by his appearance in Radius’ story as his direct counterpart and complete opposite in personality. I didn’t mind his roleplaying and found it hilarious, as it was in line with the RPG elements of the game. It added a lot more comic relief and a light-hearted tone to Astrum’s route. His character is also a reference to RPG players in real life, as many do actually enjoy roleplaying and I’m sure every RPG enthusiast has done it at least once before.

However, I found his overly affectionate feelings towards Kazuha difficult to believe and understand. He essentially falls in love with her at first sight without any proper build up or development. Astrum completely favours her over everyone else, despite the questions and anger directed at his complete disregard for his own position. As a leader, it was unfair that he showered her with special treatment without any proper justification or explanation.

Because of this, for the bulk of his route in spite of the kindness he showed to Kazuha; his feelings felt rather shallow and disingenuous. It felt as though his only reasoning as to why he had special sentiments towards her was due to her status as the Almighty, and because of how ‘cute’ and ‘kind’ she was. However, upon meeting his real life persona Asou Tohru… needless to say, I instantly fell in love with his character.

Sakurai Takahiro did such an amazing job with voicing Tohru’s persona, and perfectly captured his awkward social tendencies and mannerisms of speaking. He truly brought his character to life, and it always amazes me how he is able to play so many diverse personalities. Although I was initially confronted by his sudden rejection of the heroine upon meeting her in real life, it was explained quite well afterwards.

It revealed Tohru’s insecurities and his lack of self-esteem, as he was afraid that Kazuha had become disillusioned by how ‘uncool’ he was in the real world. A stark contrast to the confident and powerful leader of the Angels as Astrum, Tohru in real life is teased by his peers for his lack of social skills and constantly compared to Kazuha’s older brother, Shiki Hanamiya. No matter how hard he tried, his efforts remained unrecognised and forever labelled as second place.

This creates a major inferiority complex within Tohru, and he uses Arcadia as an escape from the real world. At least in the game universe, he could emulate the character that he aspired to be. I was really disappointed that they didn’t delve more into this backstory with Shiki, since it formed such a major crux to Tohru’s character and personality. It is through Kazuha’s belief in his abilities as his real life persona, that gives him the confidence to finally best Shiki.

She asserts that there are only things that Asou Tohru can do, that no one else can replicate. I found the long-running gag of Shiki completely disregarding Tohru’s presence hilarious, considering Tohru’s entire world revolved around being second place to him. Although I absolutely loved Tohru’s character, his relationship and feelings towards Kazuha at the beginning lacked a lot of foundational development and proper progression.

2017-05-02-212752

DEMENTO: The notorious PK’er (Player Killer) who appears throughout all the character routes. Demento has the status of ‘Fallen’ which is branded on his chest as a symbol of killing other players throughout Arcadia. He captures Kazuha an innumerable number of times in Period: Cube and forces her to use the powers of the Almighty, at the cost of her own safety and life. He wishes to to see what would happen when a player affiliated with neither the angel or demon factions clears the Ark, and whether the whole world’s balance would be destroyed by his actions.

He was once apart of the guild Clarius and completed many dungeons in the same party as Astrum. However, he one day kills a Demon and experiences an unforgettable thrill that begins his downward spiral into corruption. Astrum overlooks the incident as Arcadia does encourage the killing of other faction players and Demento has yet to be branded. He becomes addicted to replicating the sensation and begins mindlessly killing all players of both factions. As a result, he is eventually banished from the guild.

It explained why Demento was so powerful despite his poor weaponry and levels. Players with the ‘fallen’ status are punished for their actions, reset their level upon killing and are unable to equip any items other than the basic default gear. As he regularly played with Astrum, it can be assumed he was fairly high level prior to his branding. Astrum forever lamented his decision and wondered if there was more he could’ve done to prevent Demento’s demise.

I had a lot of issues with Demento’s route and character overall. Regardless of his actions being committed in the game world, he still enacted irreversible murder without remorse. Thousands of people died from Idiopathic Coma in the real world because of his cheap thrill and he showed complete disregard for Kazuha in all the routes. He uses her for his own selfish means of entertainment, and I could not even fathom as to how Kazuha developed feelings for him at all.

This was exacerbated by the fact that his route is only three chapters long and branched directly from Astrum’s route. It then led to the question of: Astrum treated you with nothing but kindness, and yet for some reason you were compelled to fall in love with the guy who kidnapped and threatened to kill you? There was just so little time and writing developed to his character that I’m unsure as to why he was incorporated at all.

It became almost irritating and predictable at how without fail in every single story, he would appear sooner or later for no other reason than to cause unnecessary drama and create anguish by murdering other players. It was never truly justified as to why he killed players in Arcadia either, other than it giving him the sensation of truly being alive and some satisfaction in his monotonous daily life.

Why did he not feel alive to begin with? What were the reasons as to why he lacked so much purpose? If he had no reason for living, why did he pray for life every time he killed someone else? How can he wish for himself to live, when he killed others without thinking by the hundreds? His route was just so painfully ironic, it was almost laughable at how essentially nothing was explained about his character, past and reasoning.

In his good ending he suffers from amnesia and as a result, his crimes are ‘erased’ from his memory and enables him to have a bittersweet happy ending with Kazuha. To me, this was quite a cop out as countless people still died because of his actions but he is essentially cleansed of sin and responsibility. After all, even though the murder can never be trialled in the real world; the knowledge of his actions would burden him until the end of his lifetime. If not for his amnesia, he never would have been able to attain happiness.

Although he did have some cute moments with the heroine and one of the only few characters who had a proper kiss CG, I simply could not overlook his actions and poor writing for his story. His contribution to the overall storyline was minimal and regardless of whether or not he was in Period: Cube; it would not have altered the events of the plot at all.

2017-05-05-011415

ZAIN: An NPC (non playable character) within the world of Arcadia, he usually resides in Adventurer Town to guide new players with tutorial information and provides quests to complete. Unlike other NPCs, he receives a reprogramming and orders to protect Kazuha. This gives birth to human-like tendencies, and a lapse in memory in regards to his original purpose and origins as an NPC. As Zain is originally not human, he experiences many difficulties in understanding human emotions and customs.

Zain is incredibly kind to Kazuha and very helpful in assisting her when she becomes separated from Hiroya. He quickly becomes extremely attached to her, as he experiences so many new things and powerful emotions with Kazuha. His feelings transcend into obsession, as he becomes consumed with unhealthy thoughts of possession and expecting Kazuha to mirror his own feelings. This angers his creator and causes immense confusion within Zain, as he become unsure of his own identity and sense of self.

Again, I had a lot of problems with Zain’s route. His overall storyline was extremely confusing for the most part and filled with many convenient plot holes that were never truly explained or fully delved upon. I could understand that Zain experienced a lot of turmoil due to his conflicting desires, the interference of his creator/the voices within his mind, and his lack of understanding with the nature of humans. However, a lot of his actions and key scenes with Kazuha were very disturbing and manipulative.

The scene where he forcefully attempts to merge himself with Kazuha, in order for them ‘to share the same feelings’ made me so uncomfortable reading. He was quite literally physically and mentally violating her, and forcing his own emotions and thoughts on her; something which he knew more than anyone else was mentally debilitating and extremely painful. His feelings towards Kazuha to me were very selfish, and entirely based on inciting guilt.

Kazuha would always feel guilty imagining how lonely Zain would be without her, and how she could never go anywhere without him because of how worried he would be waiting alone. It was just an unhealthy relationship from start to finish and due to Kazuha’s ‘kind nature’ she could never seperate from him for very long. It was also sad how the only method he could transcend from NPC to the real world with Kazuha, was through the death of Demento.

The concept of their minds merging was explained very poorly and all too coincidental for the events of the story to occur. Essentially in order to for them to be together, it required the death of someone else. Again, his route honestly didn’t really contribute to the story nor his character and I would have preferred much longer stories with the others who actually played a role in the overarching plot. It felt like he was implemented just for the sake of having another character and Zain’s route directly tied into Shiki’s story. It felt like it was two routes dedicated to Shiki, rather than a stand alone route for Zain.

2017-05-03-232419

LIBERA: A nekama (person who portrays the opposite gender online) who uses his cute appearance and deceptively feminine mannerisms to attract the attention of countless males in Arcadia. He is surprisingly popular and amasses many friends with his outgoing and talkative nature. They regularly invite him on missions and gift him with rare items and gold, asserting that they’ll protect him on their quests.

Despite playing the game since beta, he is fairly low level and prefers to stay within town to socialise rather than accompanying parties on missions. He is also quite mischievous and haughty, often stealing other player’s gold and selling gifted items for his own benefit. Unlike the other characters in Period: Cube, Libera does not wish to clear the ark and desires to remain in the game world. He prioritises his own safety above all else, and fears death with every fibre of his being.

I found it pretty hilarious how throughout the game, everyone more or less doesn’t notice that Libera is a guy in real life despite how obvious it is from his voice. For the most part, I didn’t really feel the ‘romance’ aspect from Libera’s route. His initial feelings towards Kazuha and kindness are all fabricated, and he expresses vehemently that he only ever desired to use her for his own sake or to pawn off to a high-level player.

He views her as a prized asset that is beneficial for his own survival in Arcadia. Despite his cold words, when Kazuha is in trouble; he always manages to be there at the right moments to save her. Although he claims to prioritise his own life above all else, he constantly places himself at risk in order to protect Kazuha. This encourages the heroine to truly get to know Libera, and what warped his perception on the world.

His story is rather tragic, and explains Natsu’s contribution into the overarching storyline. He has been plagued by illness and a weak body since birth, rendering him to a sick bed at the hospital. As a result, he is unable to properly attend school and make friends; unknowing of which day would be his last.

His beloved elder brother Natsu is what holds their family together, and is admired and deeply respected by Libera. He is talented, handsome and intelligent; and decided to create Arcadia for Libera’s sake as the only thing he could play at the hospital were video games. The notion of transcending death and eradicating illness also enticed Natsu, as it would be the cure to his brother’s health issues.

It made sense as to why Libera preferred the social aspect of Arcadia, due to what he lacked in his life. He feared death because he knew better than anyone else what it was like to face each day, knowing it could be his last. In Arcadia, the options were limitless on what he could do in comparison to the monotonous life he lived in the real world. With Natsu’s accident, it shattered their family apart and he comes to believe that he should’ve taken his brother’s place.

Although he contributed immensely to the overarching storyline, the romance aspect of his route left much to be desired due to his age, and the rocky beginnings of their relationship. Not only that, but he created a female character which prevented him from truly expressing his feelings towards Kazuha for the bulk of the game. The romance honestly felt rather forced, and it was more befitting as a platonic route. I actually preferred a route with Natsu instead of Libera, since I felt they actually had chemistry in every story in Period: Cube.

It was really disappointing that the story was told from Libera’s perspective instead, even though it would’ve made so much more sense if Natsu was the selectable character. He had such an important impact on the creation of Arcadia and the overarching storyline, and I was genuinely surprised in how they decided to approach his backstory. The closest thing we got to a Natsu route was Libera’s good ending CG, where he essentially grows up to look exactly like Natsu (laughs).

2017-05-06-221829

HIROYA: Kazuha and Shiki’s beloved childhood friend, and neighbour since they were little children. He has long admired Shiki due to his intelligence, strength and fortitude when it came to Kazuha, and aspired to be more like him for her sake. Hiroya is traumatised by Kazuha’s accident that left her prone to fainting and she experiences many lapses in memory as a result. He views it to be entirely his fault, due to his thoughtless actions as a child that inadvertently led to the accident.

He vows to become stronger and wholeheartedly dedicates himself to becoming a better man capable of protecting Kazuha. He reluctantly allows Kazuha to join him in Arcadia due to her heartfelt request to find her brother, which leads to the events of the storyline. The story branches when Kazuha either chooses to separate from him in Minta Woods upon an ambush, or decides to remain by his side.

I honestly felt really bad for Hiroya in all of the routes, because he essentially plays second fiddle to every single bachelor despite him being there for Kazuha from the very beginning. He accepts her choice no matter the circumstances in the end and supports her completely in her decisions. Hiroya only desires her happiness and everything he does is for her sake.

Although he makes a lot of Kazuha’s decisions on her behalf, he always tries to keep her best interests at heart. This is also an issue with his route, as he does not allow for Kazuha to decide for herself what she wishes to do and develop the confidence to voice her own beliefs. In Radius’ route, he completely dispels her concerns and tunnel visions on prioritising her own safety at the cost of her own wishes.

His route is very cute, fluffy and had a predictable romance because the feelings were always there to begin with. It is obvious no matter which route how much he cares for Kazuha and his feelings are as blatant as ever. Because of this predictability however, I didn’t feel as much attachment to him as a character. As the poster-boy of the game I did expect a greater focus on the romance with the heroine, and his contribution to the overall storyline.

There were really no surprises in his route, and follows the standard events and typical interactions reminiscent of the childhood friend trope. I did like his unhindered dedication and determination to improve himself in regards to the heroine, as it demonstrated out of all the bachelors that he truly was in love with Kazuha and it was understandable as to why.

2017-05-07-005636

SHIKI: Normally I wouldn’t reveal the identity of this character (which I haven’t in my walkthroughs) but Aksys Games already spoiled it on their official game website. I do spoiler tag my character development section, as I personally find I cannot delve into my complete thoughts on a character, without revealing major events of their story. If you haven’t played the game in it’s entirety yet, I highly suggest not reading this character section.

Shiki is the elder brother of Kazuha, and the reason as to why all the events in the story occur. He created Arcadia in the pursuit of an eternal utopia, where humans transcend the possibility of death and illness. This is due to Kazuha’s accident from childhood, that instills fear within him that human lives are not indestructible and can be taken away in the blink of an eye. Young Kazuha asks Shiki to promise and fulfil her wish of living in a world without pain, and a world where they could be together forever.

This drives Shiki to grant her desire and he is able to access the Akashic Records; which is the embodiment of all knowledge within the universe, from the beginning of time. It provides him with the answers to create the world that Kazuha is seeking. However, due to her lapses in memory she soon forgets many of the moments they shared together and their promise.

Only Shiki alone remembers their promise, and this is why Kazuha found his actions so unfathomable throughout the entire story. It is due to this unworldly knowledge that enables Shiki to create technology far beyond the realms of human capabilities, and essentially achieve the level of a God.

It also explained as to why no matter how much Tohru tried, he could not surpass Shiki’s intellect and why he topped the university despite never studying. Due to his obsession with the notion of granting Kazuha’s wish, he disregards all other factors and obstacles impeding his success. He becomes warped by his fear of Kazuha eventually forgetting him or dying, and willingly sacrifices dozens of lives to ensure her wish comes true.

His feelings for Kazuha are on a completely different magnitude, and despite him knowing his actions were morally wrong; he was too far gone to stop. He is filled with regrets, self-loathing and ironically watches every other bachelor end up with Kazuha in all the other routes. I honestly found it difficult to believe that he was not Kazuha’s genuine sibling, due to their interactions and similarity in appearance throughout the game. Despite the constant assertions that they were not related, I found myself highly skeptical of it.

As a romantic interest, he was exceptionally creepy in his nighttime expenditures whilst Kazuha was sleeping and I inwardly cringed at many of their moments together. However, I felt his story definitely answered the many questions that were left open-ended in the other routes. It offered a plausible and holistic conclusion that tied up all the loose ends of the storyline, and was a satisfying read considering all the other routes never addressed Shiki’s conflict and reasoning for his actions.

He is left as an amnesiac and confined to the hospital in all the other stories, which really built the drama and anticipation for his route. His good ending made a lot of sense, as realistically he could never experience happiness otherwise. His stained hands and lonely years devoted in solitude to Kazuha’s selfish wish was irreversible and had completely twisted his personality. Turning back time was very befitting of the theme of the game, and enabled Kazuha the newfound confidence to relive her life without the impairments of her physique from the accident.

It returned the lively childhood and close relationship she had lost with both Shiki and Hiroya. It also provided Kazuha with the decisiveness to affirm her own feelings and stance when it came to her brother. In the new timeline, Shiki does not impose his emotions and desires on Kazuha, and is respectful of her decisions. She chooses of her own accord to be with him, and is finally able to truly fall in love with Shiki this time round.

What I liked about his route and all the other stories was that Kazuha never deludes herself into thinking she loves him, and genuinely reveres their relationship as platonic. It is only in the new timeline does she fall in love with his true personality. Although Shiki is cold-hearted and borderline insane in all the routes, I could sympathise with his character and reasoning. The bad ending itself was quite interesting, as it demonstrated rather literally how repetitive a utopia without death would be.

The characters relive the same day over and over, and although there is no pain or suffering; there is also no ‘true happiness’. It rectified the recurring motif and theme of the game, that life is a gift to be cherished in both the good and bad times despite the short life span of humans.

Design ★★★★

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This was one of the aspects that captured my interest from first impressions, and was definitely one of the highlights of the game. I loved how many MMORPG elements they incorporated into the design and artwork. For example: the outfits reflecting the class/race for each of the bachelors and even the side characters had very memorable and distinct costumes.

One of the notable elements of Period: Cube was that the main bachelors each had a different sprite for their real life appearances, and how they looked in game. As a player it was exciting to anticipate when you would eventually meet them in the real world and how they differed from their in-game personas.

The unique weaponry was also a very nice touch, as well as the additional ‘glow’ effects on special ability activations. The backgrounds were so incredibly gorgeous, and they really brought the game to life. It was reminiscent of the maps and dungeons typical to an RPG, and Kuroyuki’s art style definitely suited the theme of the game.

I felt that Period: Cube really brought out the full potential of the OLED PS Vita screen, and definitely showcased the impressive and crisp graphics. There were plenty of CGs for every bachelor, although I found that Kuroyuki (the artist for the Black Wolves Saga series) had a noticeable trend of drawing awkward half-kiss expressions on the characters in Period: Cube. As I have played her previous works before and quite liked her unique artwork, this was rather surprising to see.

It was disappointing as it felt like some characters definitely had better kiss scenes than others, and was a downgrade to previously released titles with art by Kuroyuki. In terms of consistency between the CGs and character sprites, then the game did fairly well. I really loved how many unique monster designs they incorporated into Period: Cube, and the definitive attentiveness to the RPG aspects were great to see.

Music and Voice Acting ★★★★★

For me personally, this was without a doubt the standout aspect and highlight of the game. I was amazed at how phenomenal the OST was, and loved all the tracks immensely. I was really impressed with the battle BGMs, especially “Battle Finale” since it honestly felt like something that would come out of a high-quality RPG game. Rarely do I ever hear a game OST and instantly feel the need to listen to the soundtrack on repeat.

The piano tracks were so lovely, and really inspired the pianist in me to actually try and learn them myself. The voice acting was fantastic as well, encompassing a highly prolific and famous cast line up. Even the side characters had very memorable voices, such as Jocus being voiced by Morikubo Shōtarō. They did such a great job at emulating the character personalities, and really built a strong level of attachment to all of them by the end of the game.

I personally felt Sakurai Takahiro (Astrum) especially, as well as Okamoto Nobuhiko (Hiroya) and Maeno Tomoaki (Radius) had notable performances in Period: Cube. As I already mentioned earlier, Sakurai truly captured how endearing Astrum’s character and personal conflictions were. I found myself laughing out loud, and feeling all sorts of emotions when reading and listening to his character’s dialogue. It’s amazing to see how well he can personify so many different character personalities, and my last game I played was him voicing Mejojo von Garibaldi from Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare —.

This actually gave me a lot of mixed feelings, because if you’ve played the BWS series you’ll understand exactly what kind of character Mejojo was. It’s just a testament to his skill as a voice actor, to be able to reproduce and play any type of character trope. It was also nice seeing Maeno again from Code: Realize as Lupin, and he perfectly expressed Radius’ transition from cold to loving towards Kazuha.

  • Astrum | VA: Sakurai Takahiro | 櫻井 孝宏 |
    Danganronpa series as Kuwata Leon, Black wolves Saga series as Mejojo von Garibaldi, Grisaia series as Kazama Yuuji, Naruto Shipuuden as Sasori, Final Fantasy series as Cloud Strife, Anohana as Atsumu Matsuyuki, and Psycho-pass as Shogo Makushima.
  • Hiroya | VA: Okamoto Nobuhiko |岡本 信彦 |
    Black Wolves Saga series as Pearl, Maid Sama! as Takumi Usui, Haikyu!! as Yuu Nishinoya, and Gekkan-Shojo Nozaki-kun as Mikoto ‘Mikorin’ Mikoshiba
  • Libera | VA: Hanae Natsuki | 花江 夏樹 |
    Taisho x Alice series as Ookami, Your Lie in April as Kosei Arima, Tokyo Ghoul series as Ken Kaneki, and Aldnoah Zero as Inaho Kaizuka
  • Shiki | VA: Toriumi Kousuke | 鳥海 浩輔 |
    Hakuoki series as Saito Hajime, Naruto series as Inuzuka Kiba, Danganronpa series as Kiyotaka Ishimaru and Nightshade as Momochi Chojiro
  • Radius | VA: Maeno Tomoaki | 前野 智昭 |
    Code: Realize series as Arséne Lupin, Taisho x Alice series as Akazukin, and Kenka Banchou Otome as Onaigashima Houou
  • Zain | VA: Hirakawa Daisuke | 平川 大輔 |
    Code: Realize series as Count Saint-Germain, School Days series as Itou Makoto, Hiiro no Kakera as Oomi Suguru, Taisho x Alice as Cinderella and Diabolik Lovers series as Sakamaki Raito

System ★★★★★

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The system was another fantastic aspect of Period: Cube and definitely matched up to the music and voice acting. I loved the system user interface (UI) and design, and it felt very crisp and smooth to navigate. The attentiveness to the detail reflective of an RPG were consistent throughout the game and followed the thematic motifs of Period: Cube. It really left a strong and lasting impression, especially if you’ve previously played RPGs and can relate to the references much better.

It provided statistic pages for all the characters, displaying their items/gear, class information and love affection towards the heroine. Depending on the events of the story, the HP Gauge of the character actually does change and I found myself checking on it periodically throughout the game.

The system incorporated great battle animations such as character sprite transitions upon using abilities, monster kills, spells, glowing weapons, affection increase etc. It definitely brought the RPG game elements to life, and I really liked the map movement of the game which reflected the time of day.

This is also shown on the game’s loading screen, which had three different landscapes based on morning, afternoon or night. Period: Cube had all the basic functions of a visual novel such as CG Gallery, scene recollection, music list, and save/load slots. I liked the extra unlocked character profiles of the bachelor’s real life personas upon completion of their route, and the bonus ‘his perspective’ segment that had a bit of fan-service dialogue.

However, I do wish these were a little longer in length and came with a CG as it’s technically the ‘after-epilogue’ endings of the routes. The skip speed was very fast and the jump button was a life saver considering how vague the options of this game were at times. This definitely helped so much when writing my walkthrough and manoeuvring through the game routes.

As Period: Cube is still purely a Visual Novel, the combat system was extremely basic; however, it was nice that the creators tried to incorporate it into the game. I personally didn’t think that they should’ve used the combat select options as important route deciders, as it made the game unnecessarily more difficult than it should have been.

The encyclopaedia is very useful and a helpful feature for players who have never played an RPG before and ensures that the game is enjoyable for a wider audience. However, for players accustomed to the RPG elements then the definitions were very basic and common knowledge. I also really liked the blinking, mouth and hair movements of the game, since it showed up really nicely with the PS Vita graphics.

Conclusion

2017-05-07-005603

In conclusion, Period: Cube is a good game. With the stellar game design, system, voice acting and music; it definitely made it a worthwhile title to try and support english game localisations. It had gorgeous visuals on the PS Vita screen, and far better music and voice acting than I would have ever anticipated. It had an awesome opening and is sung by Joelle, who has contributed the vocals to other games such as Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Bravely Default.

It incorporated a notable amount of gameplay, CG art and many character routes to choose from. Although the storyline left much to be desired in its execution, it still had an interesting premise and captivating elements in all the routes. It really needed more cohesive explanations to some of the glaring plot holes in several of the character stories. The incorporation of the protagonist Kazuha with the combat system was also quite poor, and I was really disappointed by how minimally it impacted the storyline.

I honestly preferred less dateable characters overall, and more writing time devoted into fleshing out the bachelors that had significant contribution to the overarching plot. Personalities such as Zain, Demento and Libera were nice to have, but not necessary to the overall storyline. With or without their involvement, it didn’t significantly alter the key events in Period: Cube nor would I have sorely missed their presence.

I preferred more writing focus and character development on Radius, Astrum, Hiroya, and Shiki as well as replacing Libera with Natsu. To me, that would have offered a more memorable connection and attachment to the characters; as well as better explanations on the overarching plot. Rather than dedicating screen time to new character stories that were half-done anyways, they could have addressed the many prevalent plot-holes.

Although they incorporated a lot of cute character and relationship moments with all the bachelors, it wasn’t really enough to overlook the subpar plot explanations. I honestly felt stronger attachments to the side characters of the game, which is an indicator to how two-dimensional some of the bachelors really were. The highlight of Period: Cube was definitely the impressive world-building, music, voice acting, and UI design; and to me that was what really swung the game from a 3.5/5 to a 4/5 rating.

I do recommend giving the game a try, as I did enjoy the storyline and immersive graphics on the PS Vita. I particularly enjoyed Radius’ route and Tohru’s character, who were definitely the standouts from the game. Thank you again to Aksys Games for the collaboration, and I’m definitely looking forward to their next otome slated release of Collar x Malice on July 28th, 2017!

Overall Rating: 4/5

Written By Cherry

Advertisements

Period: Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ Poyo-poyo Walkthrough

2017-05-07-005603

Official Website: Aksys Games
Game Link:
 Period Cube – PlayStation Vita
If you would like to read a full review of the game, you can read it here.

* Poyo-poyo can only be unlocked after completing Astrum, Libera and Hiroya’s routes. *

Common Route

  • Use knife
  • Use knife
  • Both of you, just calm down.

Character Route

Good Ending

  • Use knife
  • All right, I trust you!
  • If you say so, Poyo-poyo.
  • Then, I guess half is all right.
  • My brother could have come home.
  • I’m the one that’s sorry.
  • I’m sorry for worrying you.
  • … Tell me your favourite food.
  • Don’t say that, please.
  • Run
  • Apologize to Ira.
  • I don’t want a world like that
  • I won’t lie.

Merry Bad Ending

  • Title Screen → History→ Poyo-poyo Route → Chapter 7
  • Kazuha’s Almighty Level 4
  • Poyo-poyo’s Affection 0
  • I want to be with everyone
  • I love you.
  • I hope tomorrow will be a good day (repeat day)
  • But, something feels strange… (end day)

Period: Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ Hiroya Walkthrough

2017-05-06-221928

Official Website: Aksys Games
Game Link:
 Period Cube – PlayStation Vita
If you would like to read a full review of the game, you can read it here.

Common Route

  • Use knife
  • Use knife
  • Hey, don’t attack Hiroya.

Character Route

Good Ending

  • We don’t have to rush.
  • Step back
  • You’re already helping me a lot.
  • I want us to work together, Hiroya.
  • Use knife
  • I need to ask Radius, too.
  • If it’s not a big deal, then tell me.
  • I think we can be honest.
  • You’re making me blush…
  • I really want to go with you guys.
  • Observe
  • Hiroya didn’t do anything wrong!
  • I think you should do it, Hiroya.
  • I don’t want to be separated from you either.

Merry Bad Ending

  • Title Screen → History→ Hiroya Route → Chapter 7
  • Kazuha’s Almighty Level 5
  • Hiroya’s Affection 0
  • How about Radius?
  • Don’t lose to my brother.

Period: Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ Zain Walkthrough

2017-05-05-011444

Official Website: Aksys Games
Game Link:
 Period Cube – PlayStation Vita
If you would like to read a full review of the game, you can read it here.

Common Route

  • Use knife
  • Run
  • Run

Character Route

Good Ending

  • Scream
  • Yes. I trust you.
  • Thank you very much.
  • Then, you should find something.
  • You’re Zain, that’s who.
  • Please be here when I come back.
  • Use knife
  • I’m just glad you’re safe.
  • You’re special, Zain.
  • Poyo-poyo looks hurt.
  • Please don’t do anything cruel.
  • Do you promise?
  • Play harp
  • I wanted to talk with you.

Merry Bad Ending

  • Title Screen → History→ Zain Route → Chapter 7
  • Kazuha’s Almighty Level 6
  • Zain’s Affection 0
  • I was worried about you.

Period: Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ Libera Walkthrough

2017-05-03-232424

Official Website: Aksys Games
Game Link:
 Period Cube – PlayStation Vita
If you would like to read a full review of the game, you can read it here.

Common Route

  • Use knife
  • Use knife
  • I think this person’s right…

Character Route

Good Ending

  • I think I’d like to rest.
  • I was just surprised.
  • You should come too, Libera.
  • Play harp
  • I want us to fight together, Libera.
  • You’re Libera, aren’t you?
  • I was just surprised.
  • Wait. I still want to talk to you.
  • I could at least go to the entrance…
  • I’m not going back.
  • That’s really sad.
  • Play harp
  • I’m sure you can do it, Riku.
  • Increase ally strength

Merry Bad Ending

  • Title Screen → History→ Libera Route → Chapter 7
  • Kazuha’s Almighty Level 4
  • Libera’s Affection 0
  • Have confidence!
  • Slow enemy movement

Period: Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ Demento Walkthrough

2017-05-02-212747

Official Website: Aksys Games
Game Link:
 Period Cube – PlayStation Vita
If you would like to read a full review of the game, you can read it here.

Common Route

  • Use knife
  • Play harp
  • I said don’t talk about him like that.

Character Route

Good Ending

  • I can do it myself.
  • My heart is pounding.
  • I feel kind of bad.
  • Use bow
  • Thank you for worrying about me.
  • I’m alright, please continue.
  • Use bow
  • Yeah, that was a handle.
  • You’ve already finished it.
  • Increase ally strength
  • Demento, stop it!
  • I’m genuinely interested.
  • Use bow
  • Stop it already!
  • I’m not planning on dying…

Merry Bad Ending

  • Title Screen → History→ Demento Route → Chapter 7
  • Kazuha’s Almighty Level 6
  • Demento’s Affection 0
  • I’m sorry…

Period: Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ Astrum Walkthrough

2017-05-01-015122.jpg

Official Website: Aksys Games
Game Link:
 Period Cube – PlayStation Vita
If you would like to read a full review of the game, you can read it here.

Common Route

  • Use knife
  • Play harp
  • It wasn’t him. It was my fault.

Character Route

Good Ending

  • I’m just a little embarrassed.
  • It’ll actually make me more nervous.
  • I’ll do everything I can.
  • Use bow
  • I was thinking the same thing.
  • Please, let me stay here.
  • Use bow
  • I’m sorry, Toru.
  • I can’t help you.
  • Increase ally strength
  • Astrum, stop!
  • You’re not at fault
  • Yes, I do.
  • Don’t push yourself
  • I’ll fight with you.

Merry Bad Ending

  • Title Screen → History→ Astrum Route → Chapter 7
  • Kazuha’s Almighty Level 5
  • Astrum’s Affection 0
  • Do we really have to fight?

Period: Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ Radius Walkthrough

2017-05-01-015019

Official Website: Aksys Games
Game Link:
 Period Cube – PlayStation Vita
If you would like to read a full review of the game, you can read it here.

Common Route

  • Use knife
  • Run
  • Play harp

Character Route

Good Ending

  • Where did we meet before?
  • No, I won’t run away.
  • I’m sorry for asking.
  • Play harp
  • My friend is hospitalized here.
  • Thank you so much
  • Grab onto Demento
  • He’s my friend…
  • Mochi with grape filling
  • Both versions of you are cool
  • I don’t want to go home, though.
  • I wish I had been by your side
  • I’m glad you’re safe

Merry Bad Ending

  • Title Screen → History→ Radius Route → Chapter 7
  • Kazuha’s Almighty Level 5
  • Radius’ Affection 0
  • I missed you

Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — Review

blackwolvesaga

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 ★★★★

8e7ce8a7a0903d0e7b509551f039853e

-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! 

Black.Wolves.Saga.full.1114348

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 ★★★★★

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 ★★★★

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

black-wolves-saga.jpg

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

Written By Cherry

Amnesia: Memories Review

cropped-amnesia-header

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

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

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

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

If you haven’t played the game yet, I highly recommend waiting for the steam -90% or -75% sale ($7.49USD) as it does happen fairly frequently and is an amazing steal. For this post I actually created the custom header using previously released idea factory official artwork so I am quite proud of myself!

Storyline ★★★★

amnesia-otome-games-e2-99-a1-35025525-5000-3000

-The Story-

A story that takes place in a fictional world…

It was the 1st of August.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Character Development ★★★★

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

amnesia_memories_artwork_1

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

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

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

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

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

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

img_3908

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shin had one of the best ending CGs in the game, it was honestly just too cute and I loved the consistent flashbacks throughout his story of their childhood together along with Toma. It gave significantly more depth and history to their relationship, and how Shin knows the heroine better than she knows herself. Besides, who doesn’t want to see how the characters looked as children?

cg_events-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

507168471_preview_2015-08-27_00004

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

img_5212

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

img_5632

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Design ★★★★

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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

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

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

Music and Voice Acting ★★★★★

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

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

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

System ★★★★★

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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

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

Conclusion

IMG_5655.PNG

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Rating: 4/5

Written By Cherry