First off, I had the fabulous oppertunity to ramble about Hakuoki and all things otome with the lovely Lijakaca of Lijakaca's Otome Gaming Blog. She is a mecca of otome gaming knowledge (her blog is a must follow for fans of otome games), so if you thought I knew what I was talking about, just you wait! (hint: I don't, usually) We had a great discussion about the game itself and also delved into otome game topics in general, so if any of that catches your fancy, I heartily suggest you check it out! Click on the handsome Hakuoki men below to give it a listen! Please be sure to tell me what you think in the comments... I'm still very new to podcasting, so any tips you may have that I can keep in mind for future endeavors would be greatly appreciated.
So what did I think of Hakuoki in the end? I'd like to save my final evaluation for the review when it goes up, but I do have some points in particular I can share:
- As if you couldn't tell from the screenshots floating around the internet and the art above, the game looks gorgeous. Though I didn't find the music particularly memorable, it wasn't grating, either.
- The story is engaging, and surprisingly in-depth, particularly for a game where many assume the main goal would be to hook up with the guy of your dreams. That incentive is there, but the romance aspect of the game is actually not quite as prevalent as I would have thought – a bit to my dismay, but will probably make the game more palatable to those who are not as interested in drooling over 2D hunks as I am. All in all, I think Aksys found a nice middle ground by choosing this as their first otome game. And yes, there is swearing!
- Speaking of swearing, I was a bit iffy on the localization at times. Though it is undoubtedly written well, I couldn't help but feel that Hijikata swore a bit too much and some of the written dialogue just didn't match up with the spoken Japanese in a way that sat well with me. That said, it's throughly enjoyable and immersive for an English-speaking audience, and I get that that is what Aksys is going for. Kudos to their awesome editor and translators for not botching it up.
- So far, I've only "gotten" two of the six obtainable guys. I've done Heisuke's good and bad endings, and Hijikata's good ending. Though I liked Heisuke notably more than I liked Hijikata (he's a real jerk), I didn't find either of them to be particularly great. I hear Souji's where it's at, so I plan on making him my next conquest. For those of you wondering how much gameplay there is – one playthrough probably takes anywhere from 5-8 hours depending on who you choose, with Hijitaka's story being the longest. Once you've played through the 1st four chapters for one character, you'll probably want to skip through most of the dialogue during subsequent playthroughs, which cuts down on your play time significantly.
All in all, I enjoyed my time with Hakuoki. I definitely suggest anyone who wants to try an otome game to pick it up, and would even recommend it to those who don't if they like a good story set in feudal Japan. My only wish was that it had more romance! And, in all honestly, a supernatural story mixed with historical fact isn't exactly my kind of thing, so I probably wouldn't have picked this up if it weren't for the fact that it was the first big name otome game to be released in English.
But wait! Before you go, Video Game Writers is doing a giveaway where the prize is the game of your choice! So you could very well win a copy of Hakuoki, if you want! All you have to do is sign up for VGW on Google Currents for your iDevice or Android phone. An added bonus is you'll get to read news and reviews written by me (and some other people) in the palm of your hand! Neat, eh?
Have any of you had a chance to play Hakuoki yet? If so, let me know what you thought!