I got this request months ago and while I’d like to say that the reason it took so long to review this game was because I was busy with real life obligations that wouldn’t be entirely true. The truth is, at first glance Up Until the End just didn’t grab my attention—the premise was definitely unique, but the art really didn’t do it for me, so I pushed it further and further down my list. I am not proud to admit that I judged this game before even playing it, but I am human and while reviewers strive to be impartial, it’s not exactly an easy thing to do.
So, with the prospect of being stuck at home indefinitely due to COVID-19, I decided to revisit Letitia Lambrechts debut visual novel, Up Until the End and I will admit that I owe her an apology for waiting so long to play this game. It’s not perfect, but, I may have been too hasty in judging Up Until the End, it is a rather enjoyable and inventive story that is worth the playthrough!
This was supposed to be an ordinary day, in an ordinary life. But it isn’t.
You were in the town library, reading a good book when…You don’t really remember. You know you passed out. When you wake up, you are surrounded by flames !
Will you get out of danger? Will you create bonds with your companions? And maybe, will you find love on the way?
A little while ago I went on a recovery mission into my backlog and I “rescued” a few titles from the depths. One of those titles was Nightshade. When this game was originally released I didn’t have the money to purchase it, so a friend of mine from an otome group I’m in gifted it to me on Steam. Even then, I didn’t immediately play the game, and I have to wonder that if I had played it back then when the entire otome games community was hyped as hell for this game, maybe, just maybe my opinion might have been different. But, I didn’t and I’m gonna be upfront with you guys, I did not enjoy this game and the only reason I even finished the game was out of a moral obligation to the friend who bought it for me the game.
I went in expecting Nightshade to be this epic historical fantasy on par with the much beloved otome darling Hakuoki, but what I got was a bland and largely forgettable gaming experience. Everything was just so meh, it just didn’t WOW me the way I thought it would. The premise was okay, the characters were okay, and the story itself was just… you guessed it, okay. It just didn’t stand out at all. Everything was just so predictable and unoriginal, HELL if you’re looking for a better game with shinobi, I highly recommend the mobile game Destiny Ninja it has its moments, but at least it’s FUN. Nightshade just played it too safe.
With all the flashier titles in their catalog, Love Calls You Home is one of their underrated gems. It doesn’t come with all the gimmicks and angst of some of their more popular Otome Romance titles, so it’s pretty easy to overlook this unassuming slice-of-life romance. An overworked young woman finds herself in close quarters with a handsome and supportive guy, and while the circumstances for their cohabitation differ by route, the romance between the MC and her chosen love interest remains largely grounded in reality. The only “gimmick” is that a majority of the guys are secretly famous or have lucrative careers. I kind of got the impression that this was what Voltage was going for with their older title, Serendipity Next Door, which has a similar premise.
Currently, four out of the five love interests are available—Taiyo, Arata, Liam, and Hazuki. Because, I’m biased towards kuudere and tsundere, I picked Arata’s route as my first conquest of the game.
Also, because folks (myself included) are fussy about spoilers. Here’s your one and only spoiler warning. This review will have minor spoilers for Arata’s route and Love Brings You Home.
I’ve been playing Code Realize ~ Guardians of Rebirth ~ off and on for the past five or so years and despite the overwhelming love for the game I could just never seem to make much headway with it. So in 2019 I made a bit of an unofficial resolution to finish at least one route before the end of the year and at long last I was able to complete my playthrough of Impey’s route! Took me five long years, but I can finally say I’ve at the very least played Code Realize and I’m not gonna lie, I have some mixed feelings about it. This won’t be so much a review as some thoughts I’ve had about the game over the years—and after five years I’ve amassed quite a few.
Code Realize was one of the first major otome game releases to make its way stateside. Developed by Otomate for the PS Vita in 2014, Code Realize is a steampunk fantasy, featuring a cast of characters based on famous literary and historical figures. The game follows Cardia—a young woman whose body produces a deadly poison that melts anything she touches—spends her days in an abandoned mansion to protect others from her affliction. Labeled as a monster by the locals, Cardia resigns herself to a life of loneliness until Royal Guards break into the mansion and attempt to capture her. She is saved by infamous gentleman thief Arsène Lupin, who promises to help her find her father, the only person who might be able to remove the poison coursing through her veins.
I just finished my first playthrough of Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk and I’d like to get my initial thoughts about the game down before I get any deeper into the story, because my God was this game intense. I played Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly awhile ago and I didn’t really like it all that much, so I went into Ashen Hawk expecting it to be much the same as its predecessor… thankfully I was wrong! Ashen Hawk is a marked improvement over Black Butterfly in almost every way and one has to wonder what the hell happened between the production of the first game and this one to cause such a huge difference in quality… Technically Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk isn’t a sequel to Black Butterfly, though it is set in the same world as the first game, but with a completely different story and characters.
Now I say that, but there were QUITE A FEW Easter Eggs and callbacks to PBB in Ashen Hawk, that you’ll only truly get if you’ve played through the first game, but it’s not a requirement to enjoy the game. That said, EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED!! I know I literally just said you don’t have to play Black Butterfly before playing Ashen Hawk, but boy does playing the first game pay off in a big way in this one!! It’s no secret that I didn’t particularly care for Black Butterfly, but damnit if Ashen Hawk didn’t make slugging through the mess of the first game worth it. But, what I love most is that the connection between the two games isn’t overly in your face, the reveals work well within the context of their respective stories while also expanding on the preexisting lore of both games.
Since folks are really hung up on spoiler warnings, this post will contain some minor spoilers for the game, so if you haven’t played either Ashen Hawk or Black Butterfly, maybe hold off on reading this review.
Blerdy Otome is an otome games and visual novel review site that runs on Black Girl Magic and Dreams. While I mostly focus on romance themed games, I’ve been known to cover a wide range of nerdy and otaku themed topics.
So, step right up and prepare your heart! Let’s talk about otome games!!