Hey guys! I know I’ve been kind of silent lately (I’ve been making the best of my extended time at home), but this past weekend I finally got around to playing The Charming Empire and let’s just say it left much to be desired. I’m, no stranger to Dogenzaka Labs and their rather… interesting otome game localizations. I played both Men of Yoshiwara games, and while I find them entertaining, they have many, many flaws. I’ve also played a few of their mobile releases, which are best enjoyed after a few glasses of wine…
For those of you that don’t know, Dogenzaka Labs has been the main localizing company for most of D3 Publisher’s English otome releases and I’m gonna be real with you guys they’re all pretty basic. The Men of Yoshiwara is by and large the best of the bunch, and over the years has garnered quite the fanbase in the west, however, they’re not what I’d call top tier otome. They’re entertaining, sure, but there’s just a little something missing that keeps them from being truly “great”.
Most Dogenzaka Labs games deliver a very surface level otome gaming experience, with characters and stories that while enjoyable, are largely forgettable. If you look at their games on Steam, aside from Yoshiwara, you’ll find that most have pretty mixed reviews from fans. Most fans know to set the bar fairly low before diving into another one of their games, so, I didn’t go into Charming Empire expecting this to be on par with any of the Otomate/Idea Factory releases. However, I was still pleasantly surprised by how completely underwhelming this game was as a whole.
- Available for Steam, Nintendo Switch
- Price: $29.99 USD
- 5 pursuable male characters
- Gameplay Length: 2-10 hours
- Full Japanese Voice Acting
I should have known something was wrong when the bio spends more time gushing about the “truly captivating voice acting” than it does on the actual plot. Set during Japan’s Taisho Era, The Charming Empire follows a young woman Kosaka Amane, who finds her comfortable life in the countryside turned upside down when her brother, Soshi Amazaki—the current emperor—summons her to live with him in his palace. But, before she can acclimate herself to her new home, Kosaka finds herself in the middle of corrupt politics that threaten her comfortable life.
Sounds like the makings of an exciting historical drama, right? Wrong! The Charming Empire is a bland, repetitive otome game that never fully embraces its premise or characters. I kept expecting more from this game, but it was just so booooring. There wasn’t the so bad it’s good enjoyment I got from Kitty Love, nor was it engaging enough to keep me invested in the romance, which feels a bit too convenient even for an otome game, where romance IS the main attraction. The Charming Empire doesn’t take the time to flesh out its stories or its characters and for seasoned otome fans looking for more substance… this game might not be worth the price of admission. But, if you’re looking for something to kill some time with while we collectively wait out the current crisis, there are worse ways to spend your time. Though, I urge you to get this game when it’s on sale…
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