By Catolf 8 Comments
I was planning to do this blog for some time but I wasn't sure exactly how to start it. I did know I wanted to be finished before I did. I'm going to try and keep spoilers very low as I talk about this, but their might be mild spoilers spilled.
When I heard about Aksys planning to release an Otome My interest was piqued, but cautiously so. I've heard about Otomes, and even known/knew people who DL them from the internet that was fan-translated. But I myself had never played, but from what I expected it was just... overly lovey dovey game where you try and find love through blushes and sweet words that were sweet enough to make a diabetic gag. So it's needless to say I had my reservations about jumping in head first.
When I found out what game it was, and was able to look it over (with a certain degree of care, I didn't want to spoil anything if I was going to be interested.) and see what I was/may be walking into. The premise, a girl looking for her missing father and a group of (more or less assassin's) Samurai whom decide to help her in her search, where the 'supernatural' was just behind that dark corner. Needless to say for me, that sounded better than some high school drama and your bid for Japanese prom queen or something to that extent. So I could get behind the idea, but I would it sink the moment I played? (great concepts are not always great games)
So I waited, with baited breath until it was released on the 14th (happy Valentines day!) and finally sunk myself in and.. to be honest..
It was pretty damn good.
I have officially played this game more than six times, and I have gotten all pictures and true endings for each character, including the hidden character (which isn't really hidden) and yeah, I kinda S-ranked it. (if you could S-rank a psp game)
First and foremost I'll talk about what I did really love about this game.
It's refreshing to see a game, while about love, is about solving the mystery first, love second. At least for me this is a plus, I'm not drowning in a sea of gag inducing fumbling, and instead I am greeted with fast paced 'action' and day to day affairs. The Shinsengumi (our cast of men) are realistic on the point that they are in a line of work that could leave them dead the next day, so many don't have time for falling in love. And if they wanted too, it's almost unrealistic for them to try. Which gives you a chance to get to know them as people for the good and the bad (well.. anime people) first over the years you spend with them. Even then, you spending it with them as more of a 'prisoner' than a love interest, due to certain events that lead to you staying with them.
Even before you even get the game, Aksys, along with giving buyers the choice of what they wanted in the LE boxset, also started pulling out little digital bio's of each of the men so you could get to know them a little at a time, and needless to say that was also a nice touch. I'm glad they went out of their way to show these off. I know these shouldn't be lumped in with the good, but because of these I think it set they set the experience before I even played the game.
There is more, but these were the ones that were easy to find.
The setting while seemingly typical from a japan standpoint, made the game work for me. Had they done the school theme, as I stated, i don't think I would have liked it as much. The politics and the struggles the Shinsengumi go through kept me engaged in their highs and lows and kept me wanting to continue to play on for hours on end. I had to know what happen and if the members would win their next battle.
The choices in men, yeah, the choices in men were for the most part great. Each with their own personality and quirks that goes into the choices you make into getting their attention. Sometimes it actually takes a little while to figure out how to answer the questions that relates to a character (which is why a save before a choice ideal) because some don't seem like the right choice, are. For example, Sanosuke would rather you declare what you want from the top of your lungs and not be shy about it. While Heisuke would rather you beat around the bush a bit.
The voice acting, gawd the VA, while I don't speak a lick of Japanese some of the voices are fucking drool worthy... Sanooooooo~ As I pull myself together here. I do really love that they left the JP voices in, not because I'm some sub over dub type of person, it's because it just fits.. it just does. That's all.
The sound track is rather lovely as well, if you get the LE you get it along with a wonderfully thick artbook which is FULL of spoilers, but damn it's pretty. It comes with twelve tracks from the game, though i do admit, some of them do sound like they would have been better placed in Harvest moon. (XD)
Pacing is a bit jarring. You'll have something happen to the Shinsengumi and then suddenly it's a flash forward 6 months to a year. What the hell happen during then they kinda catch you up with a paragraph of text, but if your going to play a game like this, you kinda wanna be there for it all.
No animated cut-scenes. I do think this would have benefited from it, especially during some of the fights. But I do realize the limitations of the PSP, but still, it would have been a nice touch. Hell, I would have loved different ones for the different true endings you get.. ;_;
Background music being too damn loud sometimes. Yes when even adjusted it's still really hard to hear anything said without headphones, and that's even when the BGM is turned close to off. Certain scenes it just becomes blaring tot he point where you are struggling to adjust it just to hear the VA.
And last but not least, some endings are just too damn short. It almost seems as if they cut off some part they were going to add to a certain extent. Which again, goes into 'jarring' but it's not all endings, but some they could have done a little more on.
As you can see, there is more good than bad and even the bad isn't really that awful. it's just minor things that could have been fixed. None of which are game breaking. As I sit and reflect I can only wonder one thing..
Hey Aksys.. when you gunna bring me another otome!?
In the end, Hakuoki: Demon of the fleeting blossom is a great VN and wonderful little otome, i'd encourage anyone who's interested in VN's or even Otomes (guy or girl) to try this out and show Aksys some love for bringing this over, I think this was a fine pick and I hope they continue to look for the same quality in games as they did here, if so, I'll be sure to keep buying.