Otome Preview! Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom for the PSP
Publisher: Arksys Games
Developer: Idea Factory
Release Date: February 14, 2012
Behold! ye ladies and gents of romance. From the east comes a game geared towards love lovers, RPG-ers, and people who just fall head-over-heels for anyone in a kimono and stylish anime artwork, of vampires and a hint of tantalizing darkness. Unfortunately for you all…this game isn’t out yet. Sorry.
But at least we have first impressions. In a one-line summary (or not) Hakuoki is a Japanese otome game that has made its way to America, the pioneer of its otome-kind to do so, and unfurls a story of a girl pursuing her long-lost father. Thankfully a special peace-keeping force called the Shinsengumi is doing the same, seeking for their part a medicine that gives them vampiric looks and characteristics. Can we say fangs and red eyes and enhanced battle capabilities? Yes we can!
On first glance Hakuoki promises beautifully drawn artwork that will take your breath away, and it may be all the reason you’ll ever need to buy this game. However Hakuoki further draws in potential players with the promise of romance and choices—the protagonist Chizuru will have several handsome men to choose from as her life partner throughout the game. And that is, of course, the definition of an otome game, but worry not! The dawn of Chizuru’s love will battle with Hakuoki’s darker side, possibly even be overshadowed by it, giving in to the portions where her father’s vampiric medicine and possible supernatural forces drive people to draw blood. Politics, mystery, and intrigue in Japan’s Edo period—between 1600 and the 1800s—may be the least of the protagonist’s problems.
Hakuoki can technically be called a visual novel, where the closest one gets to a battle system is a multiple choice menu. On the other hand these multiple choices may result in happiness or death, perhaps for more than one character within the game, and determines the end of a stormy future. This may appeal to anyone’s sense of gambling with fate, giving another meaning to the famous phrase ‘All’s fair in love and war’. Genders and ages of all kinds can turn out to love this game, but I am obligated to warn you all: Despite the flowers and sunlight, Hakuoki is rated Mature.
You just can’t tell.