Hakuoki – Demon of the Fleeting Blossom  - Review

Hakuoki – Demon of the Fleeting Blossom
Rating: M - Mature

Otome has arrived on our shores – a Japanese game genre designed to appeal to the female gender. Focus is on story, more dialogue, social interaction, battles are off the screen, some romance and the protagonist is female.

Set the late 1800s when the power of the Shogunate is succumbing to the Empiric rule, the plot follows a group of heroic ronin, the Shinsengumi, formed to protect the city of Kyoto during this chaotic time. The heroine comes to the city to find her father, a doctor, and accidentally is at the wrong place at the wrong time and views a grotesque scene involving the Shinsengumi. To assure her silence, they take her captive and but she is permitted to live, because they also are looking for her father. And so she becomes the only female in this boy's club of handsome, virile, macho brawlers. Romantic situation? Hard to say. These guys are mostly interested in fighting and the heroine does not propose the opening move but must wait for it to be initiated by one of the ronin. The actors are well defined and develop throughout the game. The action is pretty much governed by generals of the Shinsengumi and that involves honor, sacrifice and fighting. The protagonists role is pretty much in response to the action taken by the male characters – who often find her inconvenient and in in need of protection. The heroine does move the plot along by making decisions by selecting from two or three questions - some seem trivial, some will move the plot along in a different directions. Hint- you will probably play this game more that once and Alksys has made back-tracking easy by providing the player with 12 save slots.

The game format is a display of lines of text with the images of the character speaking. Battles are shown as a slash of a sword - there is no animation. It is basically an interactive novel and yet I found myself engrossed by the characters and continuing to read the “novel” - three lines at a time.

The game, with the exception of the demons and the vampires, is historically accurate – the battles, the locations, the characters, the costumes – even up to the British foppery required by the shogun in the latter part of the game. An in-game dictionary provides information to those of us not familiar at with Japanese history.

For further Otomi games, and I hope there will be some, I have a few suggestions. More romance, and make the heroine proactive instead of responding to other characters. It may not be in the Japanese image but make her a stronger character – and eliminate “wimper” as her response.

I've gone through a coupled of endings – none were happy ever after, so be careful what path you choose. If you know your Japanese history you will have a good idea of the ending and who survives.

Fun Factor: Slow but engrossing
Female Factor: Needs a spunkier heroine
Player Friendly: Relentless detail on Japanese history

Reviewed by: Editor - Mar/12

  • Hakuoki – Demon of the Fleeting Blossom
  • © Aksys/Idea Factory
  • Platform(s): PSP
  • To Order: PSP http://www.amazon.com/ $29.95