Review: Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds – A Tale Where Winds Blow and Love Blooms

Pros:
+First chapter in a split story, which delivers a need for both, and will drive players to continue forth with the next game.
+The new characters are great, comedic, and provide an exemplary portrayal of entertainment value.
+The story is fleshed out quite well due to the games pacing and story-telling approach.
+Character designs remain fresh and unique for returning fans

Cons:
-Some narrative based story seems left out and won’t be answered until the games follow up title.
-Does require some knowledge of 1860’s Japan and the culture.


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When it comes to storytelling, it’s not hard to find a good game, one that makes you press forth through its endless barrage of beautiful graphics, and harsh endeavors. It’s a common trait in game design and one that will push you forth as you work your way through every inch of each story. In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of visual novels as they have begun to appeal to North American audiences and dragging them deeper into their tales. Among these many franchises comes the Hakuoki series, which has held fans’ interest in recent years.

With Idea Factory, Inc. at the helm of the franchise, it’s no surprise to anyone that Hakuoki has garnished a following that keeps fans amused, and lured into the franchise. However, what appeal does a series that took places in the 1860’s featuring the legendary Shinsengumi have over fans new and old? First is the appeal to fans of the PlayStation Vita, which received an enhanced port of the first entry called Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds, which promises more romance options more-so than ever before.

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As fans of Otome games know, romance is a key option to the franchise, and it is that very element that helps push narratives forth. While this is a key aspect of the game, it shouldn’t go without saying that your role as a young woman named Chizuru Yukimura is focused solely upon her attempting to romance one of the Shinsengumi. Within the game, it’s not odd to know that your story takes place with the premise of your character searching though Japan for her missing father in Kyoto.

While it would seem her travels would remain ideal and enjoyable with those travelers who meet up with her during her mishaps, it goes wrong in-all-the-ways possible, but how? Vampires, that’s how. White-haired vampires whom she encounters, which set in motion how she meets her love interests, and those whom she gets to know throughout the game.  Of course, as expected, it wouldn’t make sense for those that she meets up with as the local authorities to be the anyone, but the Shinsengumi.

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As the story begins to wind up and grow more chaotic, you will find the game to become more drastically changed, which is just how the story ends up going all the way to the very end.  It’s a game that isn’t shy of showing off its multiple different endings, one that brings to light its full cast of characters, and what they are capable of. While many of the scenes can be dark, grim, and questionable due to the dramatics of them. The game itself is one that prides itself upon humour, creativity, and narrative.

It’s an approach that works quite well as the dialogue itself balances between the games harmonious love affairs, but also the games intriguing story arcs that seek to accomplish themselves as the game looks to move forth in its allure. For those of you seeking an action packed game, one that wanted you to move through with action sequences, and spectacular scenes, this isn’t going to be your cup of tea since the game is a heavy push in narrative and reading with occasional player made choices.

While it seemed that initially this would seem like narrative overkill for those unacquainted to Otome games. While it seems like a game would offer up twelve men for Chizuru’s taking, there is a certain point at when decisions would have to be made for players to unlock their relationship level so that their story can move forth. While this affinity in the relationships must be built up with her suitors, it seems that this is great for those wanting to explore multiple outcome and learn a flower appear within the in-game “Warrior Record”, which displays the needed information for each of the twelve love interests.

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As you might guess, ratings for their affection levels have been provided as a range of “Closed” to “Budding” flower, which displays just how far your relationship with each person has come. Since the twelve storylines are there to interact with, there’s no doubt that each of these will squeeze out every bit of ideal content you may want to receive. Especially since each of them drive forth with an overarching plot, which links them all together, and moves them all forth in a unique path. So it is definitely something that’s worthwhile to those of you who enjoy multiple storylines.

The plot to the game is quite simple. It’s one that games such as Code: Realize, Norn9, and a few others been able to accomplish in recent days. Thankfully Kyoto Winds manages to differentiate itself from the many others, and does so quite successfully. While it seems that the suitors seem to care about Chizuru, it’s not quite that simple, and it’s something that could easily be shaken off since some of them will seemingly threaten to kill you repeatedly during the narration till their trust has been earned.

Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds – PlayStation Vita
Developer:
Idea Factory
Publisher: Idea Factory
Price: $39.99
Release Date: Available Now

Much as you would expect, the world within the game is beautiful, it’s something that seems like it belongs directly out of a historically accurate Japan. It brings forth the reality of cherry blossoms scattering in the wind as your characters hair brushes across their kimono, and the sound of soft breezes skip forth. It’s a game that doesn’t just feel well designed in any aspect. It’s a game that is knowledge about what it’s doing and where the games events take place.

For fans of the otome genre, Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is a strong addition to the genre. It’s one that doesn’t offer just a strong, rich, and flavorful story. It’s one that offers up a well presented world where you will be spending between thirty-to-forty hours investing your time in. It’s a game that will draw you deeper with characters portraying real-life historical figures of Japan, albeit cliche to some extent, it’s a trope that works quite well and one that offered a few laughable moments out of pure enjoyment. Overall, it’s a game that is one of the strongest titles to land on the PlayStation Vita and shows just what the Vita is quite capable of these days.


Our review is based upon a retail version provided to us by the games publisher.  For information about our ethics policy please click here.


 Final Score: 7 out of 10


About the Writer:

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on TwitterGoogle+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.

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