Gaming Review, Otome Game, PlayStation Game, Visual Novel Game

Hakuoki Edo Blossoms – PlayStation Vita Review

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Do you have the power to save the Shinsengumi?

Game Info:

  • System: PlayStation Vita / PlayStation TV
  • Publisher: Idea Factory International
  • Developer: Idea Factory / Design Factory
  • Release Date: March 13, 2018

Who it Caters to (intro to readers)

If you played Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds, you were probably expecting Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms for a long time now. Well, the wait is over and it’s coming to you for the price of $39.99 to a PlayStation Vita or PlayStation TV to you. If you love history and the elegant writing style of the Hakuoki series, you won’t be disappointed with Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms. If you want to continue the romance that you started in Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds, Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms is ready and waiting for you. Just where do you think your romance and the luck of the Shinsengumi will take you?

What to Expect

If you played Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds, then you’ll have an idea what to expect, but Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms picks up where Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds left off. Right from the start, you can pick from 13 different story lines with 12 of them involving the same bachelors available in Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds. The last story line is your own. While you can choose 13 different story lines, these same routes can branch off into many different stories so be prepared with lots of save files or you will have to start over and figure out what path you want to go on. Be prepared, there are 30 different endings! Of course, Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms is full of beautiful CGs and elegantly written plot lines that are not marred by sloppy translations and grammar mistakes. This is a Hakuoki game, you can expect quality in every piece delivered to you from Idea Factory. That includes the smooth Japanese voice acting and musical composition, but we suppose that is up for you to decide for yourselves.

Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms Game Trailer

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5kboWIBZso&w=560&h=315]
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Story

Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds began with Chizuru’s arrival in Kyoto in search of her father while disguised as a boy for her own safety. Through a rather terrifying ordeal, Chizuru ends up at the hands of the Shinsengumi and is taken into their compound to ensure she does not spill their secrets. For four years, Chizuru works with the Shinsengumi to search for her father. Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds ends with the Shinsengumi’s loss at the Battle of Toba-Fushimi. Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms begins with the Shinsengumi in Edo licking their wounds and moping after their defeat. The warriors of the Shinsengumi are downtrodden; morale is low. Edo is changing with the win of the Imperial Army. The Shinsengumi are scrambling to make up for their loss and hide their secrets.

Gameplay

It’s been a year since Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds was released, and if you needed a refresher, the prologue does a great job to sum up the major events for you. Of course, you won’t get the small details about politics and war, but you will not be so confused when you find Chizuru amongst many of the soldiers in Edo. When you pick your route at the beginning, the story will differ right at the start with different characters having been killed during the Battle of Toba-Fushimi and others having abandoned the ways of the Shinsengumi, no longer believing in the cause. Since this is a visual novel, all of the gameplay is text based and requires extensive reading, so be prepared for that. That being said, Hakuoki games tend to be done exceptionally well above many other visual novels so it is no surprise to see that Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms is written just as well so that the playing/reading experience is enjoyable and not marred by frequent mistakes. There are about 5 chapters per each character route and you will be allowed to choose your responses frequently through each of these chapters from how you respond and talk to your love interest to how you want to help your love interest cope with their bloodlust. Will you allow them to feed off of you, give them medicine, or force them to endure their hardship? The choice is yours. These choices will cause your story to branch off with each choice and some of these branching storylines will have different CGs, so be prepared if you go into Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms in search of all the CGs. You’ll need to go down as many storylines as possible to get them all! However, Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms is designed to help with this process as you can choose different chapters to go back to and replay. Unfortunately, should you have gone down the wrong storyline, you will not have unlocked all of the chapters for a particular character’s route, so you will have to play through some of the same scenes again.
OK, moving onto our thoughts on the story. Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms picks up from a rather devastating ending in Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds, so it’s best to be prepared for a rather depressing start to finish. If you know the story of Hakuoki, you should know how devastating it can be to play through to the end and see what becomes of your favorite characters. Some routes will be more fun to play through than others as they all react to the Battle of Toba-Fushimi differently. We picked up from a route we always wanted in the games, Yamazaki. Yamazaki’s route is an interesting one as you all know he dies in the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, but in his route, he’s alive. You really get to interact with him more and while his loyalties lie in the Shinsengumi, and especially Hijikata, you will find that Chizuru charms Yamazaki allowing him to take on a softer note. This is in great contrast to one of the biggest routes in Hakuoki: Hijikata’s. If you have played through Hijikata’s routes in other Hakuoki games, you will know how his demeanor changes after the Battle of Toba-Fushimi. This is very much the same in Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms. Unfortunately, since that is where the story starts off, Hijikata is rather rash and temperamental for most of the game and you only get brief glimpses of his soft side, which is hidden for the most part until the end of the game. This route can be tricky as you try to figure out the right balance of supportive and assertiveness as Hijikata goes down this downward spiral of anger and frustration. It’s extremely difficult to watch the interactions should you choose the wrong choices and have Hijikata cuss and yell at you. Even the other characters find his reactions towards you harsh.
While Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms is a bit of a downer compared to its predecessor, Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds, there is still much to enjoy about the game. The storytelling is phenomenal taking you through the plight of the Shinsengumi in their last attempts to attain victory. You can really feel the emotion that each character goes through as they fight for their cause. While the story is entirely fictional, it is based on history so you may enjoy learning a little bit about what happens with the Shinsengumi, because no matter what route you take, the overall outcome is the same (you cannot change history, after all). The music is well done and reflects a classical style of music that suits this era in Japan’s history very well. The music helped to manipulate your mood and show the mood that the game developers were trying to create for each scene. The same can be said of the character designs, which were beautifully done in every way. You get to see the original uniform of the Shinsengumi, then they change to a Western uniform to reflect the changing time. This with the flawless CGs and there is just so much to love about Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms aesthetically.
The interesting part about where the game chooses to pick up from also dictates how long the game will possibly be. Yamazaki’s route was less developed than Hijikata’s, which is clear by the strange alternate timeline you’d find yourself in, so it was significantly shorter with fewer struggles in character relationships. This route took perhaps 4 hours to complete in full, if not less. Hijikata’s route is much longer with more descriptive text, relationship obstacles, character interactions, and plot development which took a significantly bigger chunk of time than we were lead to believe. Taking this into account, we’d estimate that Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms has more than 30 hours of gameplay, especially if you wish to find every single branching storyline. As the storyline changes per each character route as well, we know that you won’t get bored replaying to see every CG and route.
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Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

As an otome game, there are very few that live to the awe and splendor that is Hakuoki in plot or character routes. With its storytelling, graphics, voice acting, and music, it is hard to describe Hakuoki as anything other than beautiful. Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms has a rather difficult job trying to create a game that the player can enjoy with its depressive plot from start to end, but it still manages to pull in your interest and hold it firmly. You may be put off by the $39.99 price tag, especially after purchasing the predecessor at a similar price, but we know that once you dive into Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms, you will have no regret. We really enjoyed playing Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms despite the difficulty the game developers must have faced with the plot, however they did a great job not ending the game on negative tones for each good ending. We highly recommend it to anyone who played its predecessor as well as any other Hakuoki game. And as far as an otome game goes, Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms just does it so well and is engaging enough that you don’t have to be in it for the romance (which can be turned off) to enjoy the game.

Honey's Pros:

  • Beautiful writing style and storytelling
  • Many well illustrated CGs that can be attained by selecting different choices
  • 30 different branching storylines to go down ensuring fairly lengthy game play
  • 12 romanceable characters + 1 character route for Chizuru
  • Despite the tone of the game, the game does not end negatively
  • No grammar or translation mistakes that mar other visual novels
  • Well thought out music score

Honey's Cons:

  • Plot starts off rather sullen and continually gets more and more depressing

Honey's Final Verdict:

We’re sad to see our time with Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms end, but we are so pleased to see another quality title being brought to the PlayStation Vita showing it is not yet outdated, especially in the world of visual novels and otome games. We are very honored to have gotten the chance to review Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms by Idea Factory and show you a game that we can back no problem For those of you who are fans of visual novels and otome games, what do you think of this newest addition into the PS library? Are you interested in the game? Do you have a copy on reserve for when it comes out? Please feel free to share your thoughts with us here at Honey’s Anime.
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