Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly is the first release in a series of three unique mystery otome visual novels, it includes adventure elements and an interactive aim and shoot style mini game that gives you points to use during gameplay. The original Japanese release of the visual novel was published on January 29th of 2015 for the PlayStation Vita. At Anime Expo 2017 Aksys Games announced the expected release of three new otome titles all of which are part of the “Summer of Mystery” series. All three titles in the series are set for release in 2018 beginning with Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly in April, 7’sCarlet in May, and finally Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk in June. The visual novel Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly waspublished on April 27th of 2018 by Aksys Games, currently it is only available on the PlayStation Vita. Both physical and Digital format copies of the visual novel are available for purchase, digital copies can be purchased directly from the PlayStation Network Store. Both formats are compatible with the PlayStation TV micro console for anyone who would like to play the visual novel on a larger screen.
Set within the confines of a dark and mysterious western style mansion, the heroine finds herself trapped with no memories of how she got there and no memories of her past. Due to her inability to remember her past she is also unable to recall her own name but before she has a chance to make sense of her situation a dreadful monster attacks her and she is forced to flee. As she flees a young man also without memories of his past comes to her rescue, the man goes by the name Hikage since he is unable to recall his real name. The two of them begin investigating their surroundings in search of a way out of the mansion only to be trapped by the monster, the two of them are rescued by a mysterious man who covers his face with a kitsune mask. The man wearing the kitsune mask quickly runs off after saving them. The heroine soon meets other young men in the mansion who are also in the same predicament and they all group together to fight their way out of the mansion. They discover that they have the ability to summon a gun much like the one the masked man used to defeat the monster earlier. They are all given the task of collecting pieces of a Kaleidoscope, the pieces necessary for the completion of the kaleidoscope are held by the monsters wandering the mansion. The completion of the kaleidoscope is necessary in order to regain their memories and survive within the confines of the mansion.
For the most part the characters fit into stereotypical roles but somehow manage to make those roles fresh and interesting. The heroine of the game who’s real name is Ai fits into the incredibly stereotypical perfect heroine of the otome sort of role but at the same time she is a very likable character who is incredibly good natured but strong willed, while a majority of otome heroines are passive and tend to let the guys do all of the work she is not afraid to step forward into situations that the men will not. The second character we are introduced to is Hikage who is a very stereotypical straight faced and serious sort, he is a reliable and natural born leader but the plot twist surrounding his character and the fact that he has a more gentle side hidden behind his skeptical and withdrawn demeanor make him interesting. Next is Monshiro, the mysterious man who covers his face with a kitsune mask, he seems to be the typical sort who uses others to accomplish his goals but there is far more to this mysterious character than the introduction would initially lead you to believe though most of this is revealed towards the end. The other characters are Yamato who has a brute and rash sort of temperament, Karasuba who has a flirtatious and perceptive personality, Kagiha who acts as the kind hearted and level headed mediator of the group, and finally Usagi who assists the master of the mansion in making sure the group completes the kaleidoscope. The characters managed to be one of the the visual novels many strong points despite their stereotypical roles. Each of the characters have been made unique with their own backgrounds, perspectives on life, past and present traumas, and regrets which all feel very real. It is easy to become attached to all of the characters in one way or another if not for their personality then for their tragic stories.
The gameplay has some very unique features not only for an otome but for a visual novel in general. While much of the game will be text based there are points in the game where you will be required to partake in a aim and shoot style mini game in which you hunt the black butterflies surrounding a monster, this mini game is necessary in order to obtain the shards of the Kaleidoscope. During the “black butterfly hunts” you also gain points based on how well the hunt went, earned points can be used to unlock memories and side stories which are an important part of the gameplay. Aside from being built into the visual novel it is also possible to access the mini game from the title menu, points earned playing the mini game from the title menu carry over into the main story. The visual novel features a number of multiple ending which are influenced by choices made as the story progresses, there are of course good and bad endings as well as a few that leave things to the players imagination. Keep in mind that while you have the opportunity to choose a love interest the otome elements are secondary to the main goal of the game making it far more story oriented than most other otome games.
The graphics are absolutely stunning setting a cast of vibrantly colored characters against dark and monotone backgrounds. The characters are incredibly detailed and each feature their own unique hair and outfits styles that truly match their personalities. There were no major differences in their overall art style and each one of the characters fit well into the game, I often see huge differences in the art style between characters when playing visual novels which makes it difficult to see those characters as a part of the world but that issue was nowhere to be seen in this visual novel. The fact that they utilized the monotone and gloomy backgrounds to really make the characters shine shows that the developer put a lot of thought into setting the tone and making the characters stand out at the same time. This visual novel has some of the most beautiful graphics I have yet seen in any visual novel making it the strongest point of the visual novel though, while the animations are only a little above average the graphics for the most part take the focus away from the weaknesses in the animations.
The voice acting and soundtrack are two other strong points of this visual novel, the characters are all voiced including the heroine and the visual novel features some great background music. Though it is incredibly rare for the heroine of an otome visual novel to be voiced I found that it added far more emotion to the game, while this takes away from the player’s ability to see themselves as the lead it also adds greater depth to the tone of the story. The voice acting is high quality and the voice actors fit well into their roles which is important in a visual novel. The visual novel’s soundtrack features of a beautiful array of emotional tracks that add to the story’s dark and mysterious tones. Overall the voice acting and music were thoroughly enjoyable and important aspects.
I highly recommend Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly to anyone who enjoys otomes and mystery visual novels. I do not recommend this visual novel to anyone who does not enjoy reading through text based games at all, I also do not recommend this visual novel to anyone who is sensitive about dark themes such as death. The visual novel features an enjoyable story, likable cast of characters, beautiful soundtrack, stunning graphics, and a unique aim and shoot style mini game. There is sure to be a minimum of one aspect that the player can thoroughly appreciate and enjoy. If you enjoy this visual novel be sure to keep an eye on 7’sCarlet in May of 2018 and Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk in June.
PROS (+): Intriguing Story, Likable Cast of Characters, Beautiful Soundtrack, Stunning Graphics, Voice Acting.
CONS (-): Minor weaknesses in Character Animations, Some Endings Need More Content
SCORE – 9.0/10
This review is based on a digital copy of Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly on PlayStation Vita provided by Aksys Games.