Game Review: Hakuoki Stories of the Shinsengumi.

Merry meet everyone! My best friend lent me her game of Hakuoki months ago and I felt bad for not being able to sit down and play it. Since I have no choice but to return it to her soon, I decided that the best way to completely finish the game is to give it a review. This game took me two weeks to complete. I started it at the same time I started playing Men of Yoshiwara, but Men of Yoshiwara went by fairly quickly as it was short 10 chapters per a route plus a super-happy ending finale. Also Hakuoki goes more in depth since it’s made for the PS3 rather than a mobile app that turned into a PC game.

Hakuoki Stories of the Shinsengumi has an interesting plot to begin with. You are a daughter of a doctor from Edo who practices western medicine. You have exchanged letters everyday and lately you haven’t been getting a response back from him. You go to Kyoto in hopes that you could track him down, only to be perused by a couple of ronin who found your sword to be admirable. You are saved by those men in blue jackets, but they have something wrong with them. They have red eyes, white hair, and a thirst for blood. You’re not saved, you just got into more trouble. Until Saito Hajime and Okita Souji appear and find you. Continue through the story and you discover that you are from demon royalty lineage from the East.

To give the best review I possibly can I split this into two sections: a general review and a route review. The general review will consist of:

  • Overall game score
  • What could be changed
  • What was done right
  • Recommended?

Highest score you can get is 5 stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518 and  the lowest you can get is a 1 meaning I quit before I could even finish the game.  I will do my best to keep spoilers out of the general review as much as I possibly can.

As for the route review, I placed it underneath the “read more” so that if you didn’t want to be spoiled you didn’t have to be. Grading will look like this. Highest you can get is by getting five stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518 .

  • Character likability?
  • Love Authenticity?
  • Does this route make sense in regards to the story?
  • Is the route replayable?

Now that you know how the grading system works, let’s begin with the generalized review.

Overall Game Score: stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

What could be changed: As much as I thought the fact that they animated the visual novel was interesting, it didn’t translate well. The mouth movements were a bit creepy, the way they breathed was a little unsettling, and I didn’t like that they blinked either. Turning off the animation did little to help the artwork. As one of my friends pointed out when I showed her a screen shot “something is creepy in the way they’re drawn”. I also wish that they did more variety with the evil father, evil twin tropes. Having an evil twin with just a sole reason to go after you is because you had a happy childhood and you don’t remember what happened to your family is…well…your revenge would be best suited else where. As for the father, one route it worked, the other route felt like it was just tossed in there with no real reason. I liked that Chikage was a villain in one route, though that was a little…extreme to storm a castle. I’d prefer a fight in a streets, but that’s just me.

What was done right: I didn’t see many translation mistakes or grammar inconsistencies while I was playing the game, which is a huge relief considering I had to see that constantly when I was playing Men of Yoshiwara. Another thing that I enjoyed was how each character had their own set of values, and how certain events shook their values. Saito didn’t know what he was doing. Heisuke wavered about if he should follow the Shinsengumi or be apart of the Guard. After that, he wondered if he was a human still. Souji struggled with the realization that nothing could beat death. Not even the Water of Life. Harada didn’t….really have a struggle…I didn’t think so he’s hard to say, though I would say the MC struggled to come to terms with her demon heritage. Hijikata had to struggle through loosing faith, loosing his men and the war that was never meant to be won. It made them lifelike. It made every route (including Harada’s) enjoyable to go down on.

Recommendation: Yes.
Here’s where it gets tricky. What system do you play the game on? There’s one for the 3DS and there’s one for the PS3. Now, I haven’t touched the 3DS version, but I did my own little digging and it turns out that the PS3 has more extra features than the 3DS version. I don’t know what features are on the 3DS as again I didn’t play my game on that system. So I’ll explain what the features are for the PS3.

The extra features that I know are on the PS3 are: Memories of Love, SSL, and Adventures with the Shinsengumi to give you more insight of the routes you went down on. Memories of Love are about the routes you went down on and what little moments really defined the MC loving the person that they chose.

Adventures with the Shinsengumi are small stories that are told that aren’t apart of the main game. It’s not exactly route heavy, but you get some more insight on the guys and their interaction with each other.

SSL is an alternate universe that has students and teachers.

If you like bonus material the PS3 would be your best bet. However, if you’re on the go a lot and you don’t really care for extra content or too much of it, the 3DS version is your go-to. There’s other Hakuoki games that are out there as well. I wish I could tell you the order of how to play the games, but I’m not a Hakuoki expert as I just recently started getting into it as you can tell from my review. I believe I’d suggest playing Stories of the Shinsengumi first before playing the others.

I hope you enjoy the review. As always, I encourage you to play the game before reading any of my reviews as they contain spoilers. If you’re okay with spoilers and not knowing what I’m talking about, please continue.

The Captains that you could choose in this game are:

  • Hajime Saito
  • Heisuke Todou
  • Souji Okita
  • Sanosuke Harada 
  • Toshizo Hijikata

But if you do two routes and get good endings for them you unlock:

  • Chikage Kazama.
    Which is cheating because you don’t get a love meter with him, so if you want to know how to get to his route you have to have a walk-through to help you out.

Let’s go ahead and talk about the routes that you go down on and what kind of woman you kind of have to be in order to get these routes. First route I’m going down on is Saito’s.


Hajime Saito

I will sing this man praises even if I’m playing another person’s route. You want someone who can think quick, remain calm in a situation and be able to bend the truth without telling an out straight lie? This man. This man right here; is amazing at all of that. He’s the Captain of the Third Division of the Shinsengumi and practices the iai art style of the sword. The iai is the ability to take out your sword, strike your opponent, and sheathe your sword in one fluid motion. If I had to describe him using two anime characters I would say that he reminds me of Kyoya from Ouran High School Host Club and Hiei from Yu Yu Hakusho. Kyoya for the cool demeanor, and Hiei for the amazing sword skill.

Going down his route means knowing how to speak what you’re feeling. Being honest works wonders and being direct and to the point. Saito doesn’t like to waste time and he doesn’t have reason to do it. As you go along the story he really makes you think. In chapter 3 if you tell him that you felt betrayed and you demand answers, he asks you questions back. For an example: Since he’s been with the Shinsengumi for such a long time, does that mean that he should abandon ambition because they’re friends? Does friendship mean more than duty? Should he abandon his ideas and his morals for friendship?

As the battles progress and the Shinsengumi are starting to fall apart, you see him waver. You see him question about what he’s fighting for. There’s coming an end to the Samurai, and he’s built his entire life by the sword. People are dying for battles they no longer can guarantee a win from. More furies are being created, it’s becoming bleak. I think this is what really makes me enjoy this route. Everyone else doesn’t seem to have their doubt wavering too much besides small mentions here and there. But Saito’s doubt isn’t about the Shinsengumi but his own worth as a warrior and how it’ll change as the times change.

Favorite Moments:
Middle of Chapter One: If you choose to go and talk to someone, you’re lead to the inner courtyard where Saito and Souji are. You proceed to ask them about going around with them on their patrols to find your father. Saito agrees only if you can prove that you can at least protect yourself. So he has you draw your sword and tells you that if you’re hesitant about hurting him you can use the scabbard or the back of the sword. He promises that he would hold back and won’t hurt you. You attack and he attacks, he flings your sword out of your grip and he places his blade to your next. Despite that you can’t defend yourself, he likes that your blade wasn’t clouded and that you had heart. He sheathes his sword and allows you to come on patrols so long as Hijikata agrees to it.

The Ending of Chapter Three:  when you stay to chat with him. When asked about if he would take the water of life to protect his friends, he comments that if that’s what duty is, that’s what he will do. He pulls out his sword and tells you that he has killed many people with it, so many he can’t remember all that he has killed. He knows that he will die by the blade. It’s here that you will say that the blade has also protected her and has killed people in her name. Therefore she shares the karma that Saito has.

Beginning of Chapter 8: If you decide to stay with Saito, knowing full well that he’s going to continue onwards to Aizu domain and possibly his death, you get an adorable kiss scene. Now, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put this as my least favorite, but after some thought I could agree that it’s a bit of a favorite. He’s always been loyal to the Shinsengumi and for him to have someone that’s loyal to him, no matter what kind of ending they were going to face, it just made this little scene too cute not to put as a favorite. Why would be in my least favorites? Because it was a bit…forced in my opinion. I would’ve loved it if they saved the kiss for the end.

The ending: The good ending is adorable. Especially since he doesn’t turn around because you’re not calling his name and he just wants to stand underneath the snow fall with you. The CG is just perfect as well. I loved that.

Character Likability: stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

Four out of five. Why not five out five? I can see why people would find his route off putting. Yes, he’s extremely quiet and you have to be completely honest and open if you want him to even look at you right. However, I know that there’s some people who still feel like he’s a bit stilted or that he doesn’t care much for the MC. In my mind, the way he cares about people isn’t going to be in his actions. He’s a wordy kind of guy. He’s going to talk more than he is going to do.

Love Authenticity: stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

Even though he doesn’t show his love through actions and the only reward you get for going down his route is the way he thinks and the resolve he gets from listening to your advice, he’s really a man who doesn’t need a woman. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t like each other. Like she says in chapter two, he’s a very hard man to read, even if you do everything right, and you show your conviction and you show that you’re loyal to him, he’s not going to show much back. He’ll be loyal to you, he’ll be by your side. But that’s all you can get. That’s all you will get. In honesty, I’d rather have this kind of relationship than a man depending on me for every little thing. (Real life story guys…)

Does this route make sense with the story? stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

Why three Sakura blossoms out of five? Because during chapter eight and you storm the castle in this route, it feels really cliche. Your friends you thought were taking separate paths? They’re here. Nakagura, Harada, Heisuke, all here. Do I mind that we got the back up? No. We’d probably be screwed here, but…It’s still cliche.

Is the Route Replayable? stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518 

If not for the character or the how authentic his love for the MC is, but for his own humanity. In today’s world, are we not going through the same doubts about our own abilities? Where times are starting to come and we can feel the world tip? We all have those moments, sometimes as a nation. Sometimes as just a person. I think everyone could feel a little something going through this route.


 

Heisuke Todou

When I first played this game, this was the first route I went on when I played the game at my friend’s house. I couldn’t begin to tell you why I liked him. I think it was both his fun personality and how stunning his long hair was. He kind of reminded me of Goku from Saiyuki in some ways. However, when I played the game on my system, I went through Saito’s route first, mostly out of curiosity.

He’s the Captain of the Eighth Division and the youngest at 18 years old. He can’t keep secrets to save his life. He lets things slip far to easily. I dare say that he’s the comic relief. Always upbeat and always ready for whatever comes his way. So naturally a woman with optimism and courage is a good way to get down this route. You still speak what you’re feeling, but it’s not harsh like with Saito’s route. It’s more heart-felt and that’s the kind of guy Heisuke is.

One of my favorite ways his character develops through the story is that in the first part you learn that he’s doubting what pathway he chose and if he should choose another. He thought that the Shinsengumi was the way to go, but Itou had a better, more convincing plan. Not only that, he used to be a student at the same school that Itou had been in, therefore that got him his loyalty. But it’s a doubt that everyone knows. Is Nationalism the right way? Was Imperialism? Heisuke admitted that he was an imperialist, but he no longer knew. What’s right? What’s wrong? What exactly should he follow?

The other difference between this route and others is the point of view it takes. Example: Saito’s main plot was about the main plot and the battles that he went on with the Shinsengumi. However, Heisuke’s plotline went from the battles the Shinsengumi went on to the Fury Corps and Sanan’s insanity. Once you reach Chapter 5, you should already be aware that Sen is the Princess of Demons and that she has royal blood. When you get chased by Chikage during chapter 6, Sen steps in and tells Chikage that it’s her that she wants and not the MC. However, when she goes to apologize to the MC for saying some things that were bad about her lineage, she accidentally reveals information about the Furies to Sanan, whose already loosing his marbles. Cue a kidnapping, a man who wants to rule over the country (nay the world) with the furies that he’s creating and with her by her side. Yeah, that’s how vastly different these two plots are.

However, if it suits you I’ll give you a minor spoiler and tell you unlike Saito’s route, Chikage lives and instead of seeing a villian you’re treated to a hot-tempered cold-heart persona. Maybe that’s enough to make you want to play his route next?

Favorite Moments:

Beginning of Chapter 1:

I think I never fell in love with a character as fast as I loved Heisuke for his moment when his friends were about to sneak off to Shinabara. It’s a red-light district in Kyoto. Heisuke only wanted to hang out with the guys and offers the MC a chance to call him by his first name and re-dos the introduction. I loved how they abandoned Shinpachi to training as well. It made me so delighted.

Middle of Chapter Three: My favorite moment, by far in his route is when I get kidnapped. I know, that’s a cliche to end all, but when I have the choice to scream and he comes by, I actually have the ability to help out! I was able to distract my kidnapper enough to give Heisuke the opening that he needed. He may call me crazy, but it was a good plan and it makes me happy because I don’t feel like I’m a damsel in distress.

Another part in Chapter 3 is when the Guard, Satsuma and Choshu begin to realize that they all may have an alliance, but that doesn’t mean anything. No one really knows whose allianced with who, no one knows whose against who either. The demons were kind enough to say that even though the Shinsengumi were ambushed, there was a choice for me to try to negotiate with them for  their safety. But since I decided to follow Heisuke and talk to him, it’s an easy flow of conversation. He expressed that he didn’t care about either side anymore and openly declared that he was going to fight for me from now on. That entire battle scene, right down to when he threw his swords to protect me and get hit fatally will always be my favorite part. It really makes you feel like he really does like you.

Chapter 6 and 7 were probably my favorite chapters. I can’t pick a moment. Well, I can pick two. One where you see Heisuke in the new uniform and the other when he gets slapped for saying some things about being a dead man and not caring about his life. I especially loved the kiss scene.

THE ENDING WAS THE BEST PART SO GO WATCH IT. 

Character Likability:  stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

Heisuke is a delight. He’s optimistic though he does get down when he discovers how short lived he really is. He’s forward with his emotions and you really do feel connected to him the more that you talk to him. There’s moments throughout where you realize that he really is just a kid in a war and that he’s made decisions he’s not proud of. It brings a lot of depth and it also reminds me how young these samurai could be. How young they could lose their lives.

Love Authenticity: stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

The dynamic between the two is equal. There’s really no outshining the other. Yes, the MC can’t fight, but she fights in a different way. She’s more than just a shoulder for him to lean on. They take turns being the listener and being the talker. When one of them is down the other is cheered. They act like the other’s age, maybe one’s a little younger than the other, and it shows. The love you feel for them is pretty obvious by the time you reach Chapter 3 and you stayed on route.

Does the route make sense with the story? stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

Despite how different the story-line went I thought that with Heisuke’s personality it wasn’t shocking or disturbing. It was quite nice to see that there was going to be a split and it’s not just about the battles. I liked that we talked more about the demons, about heritage, and about Sanan. I was quite curious to know what he’d be like as a villain (nay, ruler of the entire country of furies). It’s a cliche as well, but…it was an interesting twist of one.

Is the route replayable? stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

No words needed to be said.


 

Souji Okita 

He’s the Captain of the 1st Division of the Shinsengumi. He certainly likes someone with guts. In order to get at least somewhat on his route, first chapter you have to attempt to escape. In the last two routes, you just try to explain your situation. At first he sees you at a kid and will refer to himself as a big brother, but it’s not in an offensive way like some of the other routes I ever played in other games.

On first impressions I really, really was uncomfortable with this guy. There’s just something about him that’s off putting. I don’t know if it’s his personality or if it’s just the way he speaks. But he makes me go on edge and he takes a little too lightly. It’s like: he has a good smile, but he’s not afraid to threaten you with a casual sentence. He’s straight-forward in thoughts, but not in emotions like Hesiuke is.

His main struggle throughout the route is about life and death. In the first chapter he gets kicked hard in the chest, causing some internal damage which consequently turns into tuberculosis. Now, TB is a disease that has no cure. It used to, but to this day it’s mutated enough that regular treatments don’t work anymore. So, naturally his struggle isn’t about doubt. His struggle is to remain alive so that he can remain useful to the Shinsengumi, who’d probably turn him away if they ever knew.

The subplot gets better, during chapter 3 your villain is your twin brother this time who tricked Okita into drinking the Water of Life just to see you suffer. Because you had a happy childhood. You learn that he was treated horribly because the family he was put into wanted the female demon, instead got the male twin. So instead of Chikage chasing after you everywhere, it’s Karou.

Some of the pathways in his route coincides with Saitos’ route. Example being my favorite scene that happens with Saito in showing him how you can use your sword. In Souji’s point of view, he’s impressed that you impressed Saito. Of course, that is also shown in Satio’s route. So if I already have a favorite moment for a route, I won’t say it again in another.

Favorite moments:

Middle of Chapter 1: During the battle of Ikeya, this where you really got to prove that your ballsy. You have to find a way to distract Chikage. Which to me is awesome. I love it when the MC isn’t a damsel in distress. Souji certainly thinks highly of her during this.

Ending of Chapter 1: Sky gazing. I haven’t done that since I was young and I lived in AZ. I used to live out in the countryside. Where the stars were numerous, the sky endless and you could just look up and get lost. Daytime, nighttime, it didn’t matter. This scene reminded me of simple times. The sky always slowed down time and made things easier to think about. Made it easier to breathe.

Middle of Chapter 3: When you go outside and you try to escape Chikage’s hold when he takes you, Kondo manages to break you from his grip and Yamazaki grabs you and pushes you into the room where you land right on top of Okita. I have to admit, I love his reaction to falling on the ground with a girl on top of him.

Chapter 4: You stop him from going on a killing spree after Kondo gets shot. It’s a powerstruggle. Souji always threatens that he might kill you, and with a street strewn with bodies and his own rage (without the fury power coursing through  his blood), he just might really kill you. So you stay your ground, you tell him that this isn’t the warrior that he should be.

Chapter 7: The kiss scene was just so spot on for this story. Her struggles to determine if she should go and follow Karou or if she shouldn’t. How Souji promises her that if she gives up on her life, he’ll take it from her so that she won’t feel suffering and so he won’t feel suffering as well. I liked how he reaffirmed how bad Kaoru is and what was at stake as well. I especially like that Souji’s not afraid of the MC crying. I loved that CG.

 

Character Likability: stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

He’s mischievous, he’s a little cruel, and he’s uncomfortably straight-forward. However, after he gets diagnosed with TB and gets tricked into thinking that the Water of Life could cure it, there’s a lot of depth you see in him. I liked was that Souji didn’t give up. He got the tricked, but it only made him want to live more and live fully rather than to just throw it away. Also, seeing him share the same fate as the MC was a nice touch as well. It’s hard to see your loved one suffering, and harder to see one dying.

Love Authenticity? stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

You protect each other much like how you and Heisuke protect each other, but in this time it’s more in a physical sense. You do a lot more with your sword, you do alot more trying to be apart of the battles and trying to show your worth and Souji sees that. He admires you for it. He admires that you’ll do anything, especially go up against him when he’s furious, just to talk sense into him. Not only that, I liked that they had the same idea about looking up at the sky when thoughts were heavy and some easy thinking was needed. The kissing and the hugging was an adorable CG to get as well.

Does the route make sense with the story? stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

This route is about life and death and what you would do if you have something worth loosing. This is a route that fights with despair and with grief as well and how people deal with it. Karou’s way of dealing with it was to cause not only his sister grief and torment, but to cause the one she likes the same grief. He wanted revenge he wanted people to feel hurt. Souji on the other hand is angry at himself, and he feels hopeless. He will do anything to himself to get better. He won’t put the MC in pain and he hates the idea of having people hurt others for gain. Especially when he thinks Hijikata betrayed Kondou and had him get killed. It shows his depths and his weaknesses and his kindness and care. It also shows that the Water of Life has limits, that TB isn’t curable (like I stated before it’s mutated enough where even advanced medicine is having a hard time keeping up), and I liked that they decided to have his lifespan short no matter what route he took. He was going to die, but the Water of Life gave him at least a little more time. Considering that this is about the Shinsengumi and their battles, I think that this really made a lot of sense.

Is the route replayable? stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

Yes, yes it is.


 

Sanosuke Harada

Harada is the captain of the 10th division and the only Shinsengumi Captain to use a spear for a weapon rather than a katana. He’s also the tallest and had survived seppuku which is a ritualistic suicide of disemboweling one’s self since it was believed that the soul resided in the stomach area.

He’s the kindest captain whose quiet isn’t stoic and whose kindness isn’t hidden behind a badass persona or loudly proclaimed through actions. If I had to describe him using one word, I’d say that he reminds me of water. He’s also the only captain in the game that doesn’t become a fury.

Harada’s route isn’t really about him, which was needless to say interesting. But it was about Shinarui and the MC. Let me explain. Harada already has his truth and his stance. He doesn’t waver in his decisions, or in doubts. He doesn’t have time for something like that. His story is already tied and true, so there’s really no need to develop it further. However, Shinuari’s development and the MC’s development happen because they’re connected to Harada. Shinuari was always fighting against Harda with his gun. Like Amagiri was against Heisuke for a while before it turned into Chikage. Shinuari was against Harada before they became somewhat friends.

The MC was told that she was a demon, and instead of just having that play in the back of her mind or not really going into detail, the MC is terrified. She feels like she’s no longer apart of the human society that she grew up in. She felt like she wouldn’t be able to live a normal life anymore. Now, while that’s an interesting thought process and while that’s a valid line of reasoning, I didn’t like how the MC reacted to it and how long it took for her to come to accept that she could be a demon and still live a normal life.

Honestly this route should be considered Shinuari’s just without the love. His character development throughout the route was amazing to watch. His personality didn’t change severely, but you certainly got a good understanding of where he was coming from, why he was apart of the war, and whose side he really was on. Harada you don’t get that, the MC you don’t get that with.

I will say that Harada’s route is the fastest route you’ll go on as well since it’s not too heavily action-packed and it’s mostly a romance run. You’ll get your kiss quicker and this is probably the only route that “sex” was even shown. Kind of. They cut it off before it could get to hot and and heavy.

Favorite moments:

Middle of chapter 2: After Harada protects the notice board and manages to catch one of the escapees, they decide that they were going to celebrate at Sumi and take the MC with her. Soon Sanosuke gets so drunk he proceeds to tell everyone how he got his stomach scar and Shinpachi draws a face on it. It’s hysterical.

Chapter seven. All of it. I don’t have a favorite moment because they’re so hard to choose.

The ending was adorable as well.

Character Likability: stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

In terms of his character, I like it. He’s soft hearted and kind, but he does speak his mind and has a point. I do like that he went from a young rash boy who got into a fight with a samurai to a more well-thought out person. I also liked how he acts towards the MC. Yes, she’s a little meek in this route, and yes it was a little boring at times. However, I liked the talks that they had and I liked that he was able to cut through bullshit real fucking quick.

Love Authenticity: stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

I actually had to debate about this, about whether or not I should be giving three stars or four. It’s a romantic route…however, I couldn’t stomach the MC in this. Harada may like weaker women, that’s true, but I felt like the MC border-lined on dramatic a little too much. There were times where I was thinking to myself why Harada would like someone like her. Someone insecure and weak-willed. I decided to give it four because of the way he goes about that. He does cut through a lot of the bullshit, he does see right through her, and I can see that he does care for her. I just don’t know how.

Does the route make sense with the story? stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

A lot of what happens in the main story coincides with Heisuke’s route and a little bit of Saito’s. However, when you get to the part where Shinpachi and Harada are leaving the Shinsengumi…I felt like that was more natural in Saito’s route than what happened here. Kondou was still acting like a spoiled brat and didn’t care for what was happening with his friends. It made me uncomfortable that Sanan kept trying to persuade the MC to be apart of the furies. While yes, that makes sense and he could further his research, it was almost forced. I felt like we were trying to find ways to make the MC insecure and feel bad. Harada leaving for a woman? While yes that does fit in with his personality, I could see why Shinpachi is really fucking confused about it. Harada’s dream of peace is a good one though. I think we need to have more people with that dream.

Another thing about this route was that we reused the father-villain again. I liked it in Saito’s route because it felt like a natural progression. However, here, it just felt like a reused trope. A “had to.” I’d be fine if Harada’s route didn’t have a villain to conquer if I’m being quite frank.

Is the route replayable? stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

If you don’t pay attention to the plot much, it’s actually fun to replay and re-read. There were cute moments that went into the story, and there were moments where you got a good look about the inner workings about the Shinsengumi. However, you have to bite your tongue a bit because you do have to act meek and you do have to little rash here and there. Technically Harada’s route doesn’t have a bad ending, so replaying it for those CGs aren’t going to happen.


 

Toshizo Hijikata

The Demon Commander of the Shinsengumi. He’s strict, cold, and fearless. His tongue is sharper than Souji’s and he takes pride in the Shinsengumi to an extreme. He’s a fast thinker and a sound strategist.  He also has a mouth that could rival a sailor (and my own). His route is the tied and true route of the game, so he’s the route you’d want to play last since it goes off along with the main story. His route is also the longest. All the other routes so far were about 8 chapters long. His are 10.

So what kind of woman do you have to be to get on his good side? You have to be unafraid to get your hands dirty, you have to be a strong person, but you also have to be gentle too. You have to speak your mind and know what to say, when to say it. It’s not the easiest route, but I like how the MC turns out because of this type of attitude. There’s a lot things that you’re not going to want to do, but will you do it anyway to prove your loyalty and then later your love?

The further down the route you go on the more you start to realize that what war looks like. You get brief glimpses throughout everyone else’s route, but since they all have their own plot twists, you don’t actually walk the walk. In this, you see what war does to a person. What losing comrades and friends do, and how faith that you thought was unshakable, is suddenly unstable. You watch everyone die. You watch the commander suffer. You watch and all you can do is try to keep on what little faith you have. Even when he tries to push you away since war isn’t supposed to be witnessed by a woman. You have to, because they were your friends too.

Favorite moments:

Beginning of Chapter One: Kondou with the tray  of sweets was an adorable moment for me. I thought it was nice to see more interactions him and the MC. I also liked that we know why the Aizu didn’t come for backup during the fight in Ikedya. I had been curious, but it makes sense as to why. Hijikata knew immediately what they would try to do. I have been taken advantage over before myself. So I know the feeling all to well

Ending of Chapter One: Remember what I said about the Samurai and how they tried to keep their honor intact? When Hijikata praises them for their ability to keep their honor it’s a little insightful. Yes, the Choshu were criminals. But they managed to die with honor rather than to be defeated by their enemy. That deserves resepect and Hijikata isn’t afraid to show that despite what they are.

End of Chapter 2: When you say that it feels complicated to know that there is someone with the same face as you running around and destroying the notice board again and again you get a small insight about Hijikata. He talks about how he ran a small school and how they were looked down upon because they were from the country and they didn’t have the background. It made you admire how they built the Shinsengumi from nothing.

Middle of Chapter 3: During the fight with Chikage and his group, I normally get kidnapped, or I have to stay put while the guy is holding me hostage. But this time I got to fight back, and boy when Chikage asked me if I was going to “choose a simple human” my first thought was that he looked appalled that he managed to get rejected. It made me feel only a little sorry for him, but that’s what happens when you decide to go after someone by force.

End of Chapter 4: The fight scene between Hijikata and Chikage. I felt bad that we still had to lose Yamazaki and Inoue. I do admit though that it was a lot better than having their deaths just casually mentioned. Seeing Hijikata loose his calm and drink the Water of Life just to try to defeat Chikage was a twist  I didn’t see coming. All the others were near death when they drank the stufff. He did out of rage, and Chikage finally had a better villain moment than the one he had in Saito’s route.

Chapter 7-8: In all of the routes, towards the end of the main story and on to the subplot’s climatic fight, Hijikata was always the one to ask you take care of the man that you were with. I find it heart wrenching and sad that Kondou is now the one to tell you to take care of someone, right at his last moment that you’ll see him alive. Maybe this shouldn’t be a “favorite moment”, but I think that it just tells a lot about the type of friendship that they have, and how much they cared about each other even now when things are crumbling to pieces.

Character Likability:stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

As a Commander, he’s faced with a lot of challenges and a lot of burdens. You see first hand what war is about, you see first hand what kind of problems he has to solve and what he has to do to solve them. Sometimes the method isn’t pretty, but he tries to be a good, and honorable man. That goes for a lot. Especially in a war where it’s easy to lose themselves.

Love Authenticity: stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

I don’t even know where to begin here. The MC is a strong character in this route. So strong that she shouts down at Kazama, she watches her friends die, she holds on to hope, and she works at her hardest to make sure that she’s recognized. Hijikata even has to bend to her will from time to time, though that doesn’t mean that he’s weak. He is just as stubborn and just as strong as she is. He listens to her at times and takes her advice. This is a relation dynamic that’s just as good as Heisuke’s since they both mesh so well.

Does this route make sense with the story? stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

Considering that this is the truest route of the Shinsengumi and the war events, yes. You don’t deal with the crazy twin. You’re quick to deal with Kondo, and best of all Kazama gets the best and prettiest death scene here. Everything that could have been a loose end, is tied up in a neat little bow. I’m really, really glad we didn’t have to do the brother trope. Dear god is that the most annoying side villain in the world.

Is the route replayable? stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518 stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

If you have time to kill I would replay it a lot. This story is ranked up along with Heisuke’s and Saito’s routes. I enjoyed watching the MC grow and I enjoyed watching Hijikata learn that it’s okay to bend his knee from time to time. Though I would recommend playing this route last, considering that it tells everything. I do mean everything.


 

Chikage Kazama 

I’m going to be honest, just like Okita’s route, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to playing his route. I could have done so after playing Heisuke’s route, but I decided that I wanted to go through all of the captains first. Especially since he’s the secret romance that you unlock after you get at least one good ending from the captains. My suggestion is that if you are going to want to play his route, you should play it after Heisuke’s since he’s more likable then. He’s a little likable in Hijikata’s route as well, and his death was swift and you figure out the name the title…all that jazz, but nothing really drew me into playing his route besides to finish this review.

I know, I’m horrible.

Basically in order to get Kazama’s route, you have to try your hardest not to choose any of the romance options for any of the captains. You might have to here and there in order to get as many scenes with Kazama that you can. There is a walk through that I’ll link below that’ll give you how to romance him since he’s also the only one that does not have a romance bar since he’s a secret thing. Also, all of his CGIs are going to be under the “others” tab as well, so be prepared for that.

I still don’t know how I feel about him honestly, and I think neither does the MC when the route’s complete.

Character Likability: stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

He’s a bit of a dick in a lot of the routes since I played all of the Captains, and in his route he’s no different. While maybe I should have played it after Heisuke’s route, I still just don’t understand why fangirls like him. I think that I would have to somehow, someway get my hands on a sequel, or perhaps play the memories of love and see if he’s there somewhere so that I can get a better insight as to what kind of character this man is. Is he likable? Honestly, not to me.

Love Authenticity: stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

I should be giving this a one, but considering that he shows some soft sides to him, I gave it a bit of a pass. But still the question should be asked here: “What love?”

Does this route make sense with the story? stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

This is about what would happen if you had to try to find your friends. This is about discovering what happened to them with second-hand sources. Of course, everyone’s dead in this one besides Harada and Sanosuke since they left the Shinsengumi before things could get weird. Of course you find out and you never see it. You just know, deep that there was no surviving this war. There was no saving them. Even if you could.

Is the route replayable?stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518 stock-vector-cherry-blossom-flower-69074518

His route branches to a normal route, so if you want your heart destroyed and seeing her all alone in the world with no one to comfort her and figuring out how the Shinsengumi fell by herself, then by all means go ahead and get that ending. I don’t think the normal route as a special CG for it, but I don’t know.

 

I hope that you enjoyed the review and that it gave you information so that you can figure out what kind of order you want to play the routes in. I wish you the best of luck on playing the game. I hope to see you again on the next game review.

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