Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms is a dramatic and exhilarating sequel to the popular otome game titled Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds. The game was developed by Idea Factory who is known for their colorful and comical Japanese role playing games and more recently for their unique selection of otome games. Idea factory International published both the PlayStation Vita’s North American release and the Steam releaseon March 13, 2018. The PlayStation Vita version is available in physical and digital formats and there is a physical limited edition that includes a calendar, mug, character pin set, 64 page art book, and a reversible cover sleeve with the game all inside of a collector’s box. The Steam version can be purchased digitally from the Steam Store page with purchase options for special bundles such as the deluxe bundle which includes 2 digital art books, PC wallpapers, and mobile wallpapers along with a Steam copy of the game. The Steam version has 36 Steam Achievements and 6 collectible Steam trading cards that feature some of the character art.
The game takes place in fictional Japan during the historic Bakumatsu period, A majority of the game’s primary characters are based on famous historic warriors from that period of time. The game is set directly after the final events of the previous part titled Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds and being the final part wraps up the story. After previously experiencing a devastating defeat at the hands of the Imperial Army the Shinsengumi and young heroine Chizuru are forced to retreat back to Edo where the journey began. Unfortunately, at the time of their return the city of Edo is no longer the place they once knew and the lives of the Shinsengumi are now at stake as they continue their struggle to maintain the old ways. To further complicate things each of the Shinsengumi have now become half vampire and it is discovered that Chizuru has special supernatural traits herself. In the middle of all of this chaos Chizuru and the Shinsengumi must still continue to seek out Chizuru’s father. The historical story line is interesting and the supernatural themes add interesting twists to the story but at the same time they become excessive due to the large number of loose ends that continue through much of the game.
The gameplay mechanics consist of most of the typical visual novel basics with very few features that are unique to the game. One of the unique features in the game is the ability to select the suitor you want to pursue when you begin a new game. A majority of other otomes have you select a suitor towards the end or make you spend a lot of time guessing which choices you have to make to get endings with a specific suitor. Another important feature is the ability to back track through the dialogue and change your choices to effect the story in a different way. This is a feature that i am sure many of us would like to have in all of our visual novels, it can get repetitive and boring having to replay a visual novel to get some of the other endings. Other than the two mentioned features don’t expect a whole lot outside of the typical click through dialogue and moments of decision making that you would get with just about any other basic visual novel since this is otherwise a very traditional otome. Fortunately, the number of characters, routes, and endings does more than make up for the usual lack of creativity in the gameplay mechanics. With so many suitors to choose from there is bound to be at least one or two that suit the players interests. With thirty possible endings and the ability to choose the suitor you are most interested in from the beginning the game leaves far less to be desired than most other otomes that are currently available.
When it comes to the graphics there are nearly as many weaknesses as there are strengths, most of the weaknesses being in the character designs. When compared to other visual novels the graphics are not as vibrant as others but it seems to work out better that way due to the far more historical tones of the game. While the characters are very detailed and all well drawn it is hard not to notice that with a few of the characters there were differences in shading, line roughness, and detailing that made them look a little unusual among the other characters. The character art can be quite repetitive since the same character images are used often throughout the game. The background art is consistent with the rest of the graphics through most of the game and it is beautifully detailed. While there were many backgrounds that seemed stereotypical of visual novels there were plenty of others that feel unique to the game. Transitions in graphics are about what you would expect in an otome and there are no issues with lagging between scenes. Overall the graphics may be the strongest point of the game.
Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms provides a decent wrap up to the previous Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds, since the two games are each half of a whole I recommend playing both of them in order. This is a great choice for those who enjoy visual novels that provide a large number of choices and endings to the player. I don’t recommend it to anyone who might be bored with the whole vampire romance cliché or anyone who gets bored with games that are historically based. If you can look past the weaknesses in the plot this can be a highly enjoyable otome that provides many hours of gameplay.
PROS (+): Unique Blend of Historic/Supernatural Themes, Choice of Suitors, 30 Different Endings
CONS (-): Supernatural Themes Could Have Been Better Incorporated, Some Characters Seem out of Place Design Wise.
SCORE - 8.5/10
This review is based on a digital copy of Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms on Steam provided by Idea Factory International.