Amnesia: Memories (Spoiler-Free)

Amnesia: Memories is 2nd or 3rd Otome I ever played – and the first one I played on Steam. (Which opened some impressive floodgates, Thanks Steam!). I don’t generally like Modern Setting games as a rule – but I really liked the intro video on Steam and the art was solid, so I figured I’d give it a try.

This was the first title I came across where there wasn’t really a “Common” route to speak of, and that the story stepped from one story to the next, building on each. I highly recommend playing this game in order (Heart, Spade, Club, Diamond, [Unlocked after you clear the other four] ).

Tipping the Scales:
On a scale of 1 to 10 I give Amnesia: Memories a 7. It’s a solid game – lots of CGs, plenty of options – Orion is HILARIOUS, and I love him. Out of 5 routes though, only 3 are “safe” and 2 are unsettling.

TL;DR:
There’s a robot that follows you around in the last two routes and just flashes red going “Danger! Danger!” I kid – there’s no robot, but if you’re willing to forgive the unsettling nature of the last two routes it is a Good Game.

(A solid walk-through for this game can be found Here )

The Short of It:
As the name suggests you remember nothing. The intro gives you an interesting reason behind WHY you don’t remember anything, and it also hints at the reason behind why you really do need to play all the world to get the “True” story. Basically Orion doesn’t know where you actually belong, and you don’t remember. All the yous are you, so you’re not intruding on someone else’s life regardless of which world you choose.

The only things you really remember are basic social, language, and functional skills. You don’t remember Anyone at all, and can’t even recall your job, study major, place of residence, etc. Fortunately, in most of the worlds, you got good people looking out for you.

The LONG of It:
The long of it is this is kind of a short game. There’s plenty to do, and a LOT of story, but comparatively it’s one of the shorter titles I’ve played through. I found that playing through the story lines a second time actually brought a lot of small details to the forefront and helped me enjoy the characters more.

Even Toma.

If not for Toma and the locked Route I’d honestly give this an 8 or 9. But in both cases I’m not convinced that the actions had proper motivations behind them. I was left with a feeling that things were done more for shock than for legitimate reasoning. I would’ve been more okay with Toma if there was some explanation about his twisted nature – and if the ending had included him getting counseling. But that might be my age showing more than anything else.

19 year old me would’ve put up with Toma’s shit – 36 year old me might have actually shot him in the foot and gone to the police by the 3rd day. So considering the protagonist is canonically 19-21 in this game I suppose her reaction toward him makes more sense. I just would’ve preferred more meat to his story/reasons.

The hidden route was worth it if only how it managed to bring the Entire Game together story-wise. It answered pretty much everything, and while it was like walking a tightrope to get from one end of the route to the other, it was well-done. That said, standing up to that different kind of madness and the violence could be an issue for some people. So tread carefully. If you don’t do the last two routes I think you can walk away from the game having enjoyed a good few stories.

Something to brace for – but is that really neat – is the relationships between the main cast are different in every world. Some bits stay relatively similar. Kent and Ikki are always buddies, Toma and Shin are mixed up in some way, but how they all relate to the Protagonist shifts. Shin might be a childhood friend in one, and Toma’s brother in another – that sort of thing.

A good job was done in all cases, and the story is easy to follow. I might continually rag on Toma and RAGE about the final route, but I go back and let this play on auto from time to time because it is a good story and it’s neat to watch it almost like an anime. (I only really need a guide for Kent’s route, there’s a Bleeping-QUIZ at one point.)

Content Warnings:
The protagonist is a bit air-headed and walks into danger easily – but when you can’t remember a bloody thing this makes sense.
Shin can be a bit pushy, Ikki’s a player until you get the truth of his situation, Kent’s just adorable, if not blunt AF.

The real content warnings come with Toma, and the unlocked route. Toma makes a lot of REALLY disconcerting decisions – which are exacerbated by your predicament because you’ve no idea why certain things are happening. It is dark and angsty and Toma probably needs professional help for some of his demons – while I got my own kind of enjoyment out of it – without spoiling anything I don’t recommend it if you have a hard time with what’s basically an abusive relationship.

The unlocked route is just violence and death and Literal. Insanity. And I am SO MAD that this dude’s !@$^ing WISH puts you through some serious stuff. I wanted to punch him by the end of it.

Totally personal Pros and Cons:
Cons: Toma’s route makes me uncomfortable. I really have to be in a mood to sink into that level of darkness, and I was not when I played it. The localization could’ve been a bit better too. There’s a few instances where my choices didn’t really seem to match the conversation at the time.

Pros: Orion. Is. Too. Awesome. His commentary during the story lines made me laugh out loud legitimately on several occasions. Ikki surprised me as a much deeper character than I was expecting. Kent ending up being so adorable I just wanted to hug him. And Shin ended up with a place in my heart I hadn’t been expecting. I didn’t like him much at first, but the more I revisited the game the more I picked up on the subtle things that just make him spiffy.

 

Review: Hakuoki: DotFB (Spoiler Free)

Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom was the first Otome VN I ever played. Honestly, it was the first VN I ever played, and I got into it in 2017. I have not been a part of this fandom long, and it seems I’ve stepped into it as it was finally beginning to pick up steam State-side.

I played it to completion on my phone. Learned there were exclusive extras for the DS version, bought it for that. Learned there were DIFFERENT extras for the PS3 version And. Bought. That. Plus two art books.

Without meaning too my friend had unleased a demon within me, and while this isn’t the first review I’ve written for this site – everything that this site is, and will become, is because of this “little” game.

Tipping the Scales:
On a scale of 1 to 10 I give Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom a 10 – (I kind of have to, as I literally did everything I’ve listed a 10 deserves.).
If you don’t change the protagonist’s name the voice acting won’t say it anyway, so have at ^_^

TL;DR:
This game is bloody and filled with Samurai and demons.

(Spoiler Free walkthrough Can be found Here It’ll leave you one CG short with Hijikata – if you can’t figure out how to get it just leave a comment and I’ll help you ^_^)

The Short of It:
The setting of the game is just prior to the start of the Meiji Era in Japan – swords were losing to guns, and the whole country was changing. The Shinsengumi stood to their last in the bloody battles leading up to the new era – so while it is a FANTASTICALLY well done story, it is Violent AF.

This original version of the game has 5 main choices and 1 “hidden” choice. Though, at this point in time it’s probably not much of a hidden choice anymore, but I’ll save that for the Spoiler version of the review.

The game forces you to pay attention – it was my first Otome so this might be part and parcel for most of you – but I really had to keep track of who was injured (so they weren’t going to the next big battle), who was being sent where, etc. You really don’t want to miss those affection moments for this game, it’s a tight rope to walk to the Good Ending.

The voice acting is solid. Okita’s Voice Actor was so good I have actively searched out more stuff with him in it – VN, or anime. I wasn’t even remotely interested in Okita until that actor brought him to life so well. (Toshi’s VN did a wonderful job too – and so did… well, okay, All of the Them were just perfect ^_^ )

The LONG of It:
If you play this game in opposite order I think it works almost better than the proper order. But I’m bad with names, so it would’ve making keep track of places and incidents a lot easier if I’d gone from shortest route to longest.
Which, considering you have to complete 2 routes to unlock the hidden one it would be:
Harada, Heisuke, Saito, Okita, Hijikata.

It just – to me – really helps the story AND the world unfold. If you’re familiar with the Shinsengumi already then by all means play in whatever order you want. Being familiar with the key players will make it a lot easier to keep track of everything that happens – but the extent of my knowledge PRIOR to this game came from Rurouni Kenshin, so…

Knowing this game so well it’s difficult to give a Spoiler Free review.

The Common Route is only the first 4 chapters. The start of Chapter 5 basically has you locked into whoever’s story you’re going to follow. So if you were going for one and you’re talking merrily to someone else in Chapter 5, you need to go back and figure out which pieces you missed.

There are a TON of choices in this game as well. You’re not just choosing what to say to who, but deciding what you’re interested in will send you do different variants in the Common Route. Fleeting Blossoms is a good place to start if you’re interested in Edo and Kyoto – the newest versions of the game with Double the options and double the choices as a result.

Content Warnings:
Blood everywhere – but there’s nothing squicky concerning the interactions with the Protagonist in this one. Not a warning so much, but there’s a TON of historical stuff, and some period-specific assumptions about gender for what it’s worth.

Totally personal Pros and Cons:
Cons: None. I thoroughly enjoyed this game. If I had to nitpick I wish the protagonist had been just a little more aggressive. She talks about being able to use her sword, but never steps up.

Pros: Your route choices are so varied and well-developed. Who I consider my favorite literally depends on my mood for the day, and even in playthroughs there are parts I’ll stop at and read slowly just because I enjoy the lines/situation/mood.

Reviews: Spoiler Free

Reviews are listed alphabetically with the numerical Rating at the Beginning of the title.

All links go to the Spoiler Free review of the game. (I obsessively check and re-check all links to avoid any accidents!)

7 – Bad Apple Wars (Vita)
7 – Amnesia: Memories (Vita/Steam)
Code: Realize Guardians of Rebirth (Vita/PS4)
Code: Realize Future Blessings (Vita/PS4)
Collar X Malice (Vita)
10 – Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom (DS/PS3/Vita/Phone)
Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms (Vita/Steam)
Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds (Vita/Steam)
Nightshade (Steam)
Norn9: VC (Vita)
OZMAFIA (Steam)
Period Cube (Vita)

Review: Bad Apple Wars (Spoiler Free)

I wasn’t going to buy this game – as I do more reviews I’m sure folks’ll pick up on this, but I’m kind of stuck in my ways when it comes to art design for a game. I really am hopelessly stuck up about how something’s presented. It bothers me to some extent, because I know what it is to grow through art and such, and I feel like an ass that I can’t see past that and give a game a try.

BAW had a huge mark against it – from what I’d seen of the art it was far too stylized, and not my cuppa.

Boy. Gurl. — Whatever – look, I can’t be more happy to have given it a shot.

Tipping the Scales:
On a scale of 1 to 10 I give Bad Apples Wars a solid 7.
If you don’t change the protagonist’s name the voice acting will say it.

TL;DR:
The shortest of the short versions? It surprised me. I wasn’t expecting a story that was so… well, Weird in the first 15 minutes of game play to hold onto me. I certainly wasn’t expecting to be bawling like a baby at the end of it either.

Holy Shit the MUSIC y’all. (A great guide for this game can be found Here)

The Short of It:
The “common” route is 6 of the generally 9 chapters of this game. It is long, but there’s two versions of it, so it’s not so bad. You can Skip Read in this game, so once you get the details down, apply liberal use of this. Even within the repetitiveness of the first 6 chapters, each route is separated enough that you get different details and tidbits depending on who you’re focusing on.

While it might have only taken me a couple days to knock this game out (I read pretty fast), I played almost non-stop from Friday to Sunday. I easily sunk 20+ hours into the game, and since I wasn’t letting days go by between each route play through the details stuck with me, so once I had them down I could skip a lot. Even getting through it that fast, it was worth the full price tag of 40$.

The LONG of It:
There’s not really a preferred route order with this game, not as far as I could tell anyway. The story baseline stays pretty consistent with each play through – which, given the premise of the game – makes a Lot of Sense. BAW doesn’t give itself much wiggle room, but even with that said, the different endings of the available options were… oof. All of them were just Right in the Feels.

Alma, White Mask, and Satoru were the only ones, in my opinion to see a truly happy ending. Kiga comes in a close second, and Shikishima’s good ending was still just so bitter sweet.

I was surprised to find Kiga becoming my favorite of the ones available. Alma’s story is solid, and – as a rare treat – one of the very FEW “canon” routes I’ve actively enjoyed — due to the details provided in the ending for Alma I do recommend playing his route first. Given how he interacts with you in all the other routes I was entirely disinterested in Satoru’s route, and even though I’d planned to at most skim the entire thing I found myself pulled in anyway. White Mask’s route was more angst than I had anticipated, but I really loved the fact that it was well-founded. If I’da lived that kind of life I’m fairly sure I’da been a lot like that guy. Lastly, Shikishima caught my eye from the rip – he’s actually the reason I caved and gave the game a shot. I just loved the design of his character, and as an artist, I will admit to some bias.

Content Warnings:
For a Spoiler-Free review, that’s the most I have for you. There’s nothing that really jumps out at me that should be listed here. Be warned that you’ll get an in-depth look at the worst moments in these people’s lives – Everyone at the “School” is – technically – dead. And some of them got there in bad ways. There’s not a lot of details provided, and there’s no long prolonged discourse on the morality of any of it.

If anything, BAW’s overall views on life are… Good. Deep, thoughtful, and balanced. As I said at the beginning I was surprised.

Totally personal Pros and Cons:
Cons: Modern setting. Very stylized Art. Not a lot of variety in sprites. Weird AF at times. Semi-Con the romance is Very Light – It works for the story, so I didn’t legit mind it. I don’t usually go for heavy romance, but this was just a step more reserved than I like. Just barely missed that sweet spot.

Pros: Lots of CGs. Great personalities in the cast – nothing was spared even with the non-romantic characters. Ripped my heart out with Feels. Variants between the stories gave a lot of details into all parts of the total cast – non-romance options included.

Voice Actors: Behind the Voice Actors.

~ Quin