Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — Review

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

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

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

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

Storyline ★★★★

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-The Story-

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

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

(Excerpt from VNDB)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Character Development ★★★★

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Design ★★★★★

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

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

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

Music and Voice Acting ★★★★★

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

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

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

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

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

System ★★★★

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Rating: 4/5

Written By Cherry

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

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — Character Review: Julian

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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