Afterthought Studios the folks behind the supernatural romance, Purfectly Ever After and the fantasy visual novel, When Our Journey Ends have decided to put their hat into the otome ring with the announcement of their new otome focused subsidiary, Lunaniere. The first title in their new otome line is a supernatural fantasy currently on Kickstarter (they’ve already exceed their goal), Wishes in Pen: Chrysanthemums in August. An ambitious undertaking to say the least, Lunaniere has teamed up with game production company Sekai Project to bring their vision to life.
Recently, I sat down and gave the demo for Wishes in Pen: Chrysanthemums in August, a try and while I am impressed with the execution, I couldn’t help but feel like, Lunaniere is playing it safe with their debut title. Wishes in Pen is a fantasy historical romance otome in which a 20-something young woman is magically transported back in time to 1860’s Japan at the end of the Tokogawa Shogunate, following our heroine as she navigates her way through political and social unrest as the legendary Boshin War unfolds. This isn’t a new concept, not by a long shot, historical Japan has been the subject of many otome games, from mobile games like Voltage Inc.’s Sakura Amidst the Chaos and NTT Solmare’s Sengoku Darling, not to mention Two-Five’s Yo Jin Bo and Idea Factory’s Hakuoki franchise. Historical romance otome games are a dime a dozen and guaranteed some success, especially given the popularity of the Hakuoki series in the West.
So when I saw Wishes in Pen, I was expecting much of the same, and I was not disappointed, the demo, which covers the prologue, reads much like some of the other historical romances already on the market: A young modern woman discontent with her mundane life, longs for excitement only to find herself spirited away to the distant past, only for her to meet a group of hot men…
Even the characters, which are well designed, are ultimately pretty by the book, fulfilling traditional otome trope character roles and not much else. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since there isn’t anything inherently wrong with the characters, the love interests are unique from one another and there were quite a few memorable moments with each one, however, I couldn’t help but what more from them. Even the heroine, who I found to be rather likable, fell prey to many of the usual otome heroine tropes. Don’t get me wrong, she is a pretty progressive otome heroine, a modern career woman, who isn’t afraid to put her foot in her mouth, but, like the premise, I couldn’t help but want to see more from her. She was just too safe.
However, where Wishes in Pen excels is not so much in it’s premise, or even the execution, but in the aesthetics and the features. Afterthought Studios was always big on creating immersive stories, through the combined efforts of their creative narratives and visuals, two important aspects of any visual novel gaming experience. And, for what it’s worth, this is a beautiful looking game. The character designs are really nice, with each of the main love interests sporting traditional Japanese styles of clothing, despite their distinctly bishounen appearance, since this is an otome game after all. I did like that rather than having just one MC to choose from, there are three; one standard brunette and two modeled after popular cosplayers, Rea Kami and Etsuko. In an effort to bring their characters to life, Wishes in Pen incorporates animated sprites, not only do the sprites shift through various poses and facial expressions, but, they are also constantly moving or blinking. Most otome games consist of just static images, so the additional animation definitely helped make this game stand out from the rest. There are also animated backgrounds, that also help to bring the world of Wishes in Pen to life.
Overall, the demo for Lunaniere‘s Wishes in Pen: Chrysanthemums in August is a pretty standard debut title from Afterthought Studio’s new otome subsidiary. It doesn’t take too many risks with it’s concept which should lend itself to positive mass appeal from most otome fans, though more seasoned otome connoisseurs, may find it a bit too tame.
Where this demo thrives is in its attention to detail and its unique animated features that breath life into the characters and settings Lunaniere has created. Since the demo only covers the prologue, I am curious to see what the rest of the game has in store for us, will it continue to play it safe, or will Lunaniere wow us with something truly spectacular?
For now, I am hopefully optimistic, but, don’t just take my word for it! Check out the demo or take a gander at the game’s trailer below! If you like what you see, play the game, hit the like button, share, or comment! As always, Thank You for Reading!!
You can also contact Lunaniere on Social Media through the following channels: