Ultimately though – for better or worse – we’ve trained ourselves to be detached, to see oh-so-brittle porcelain systems before anything else. Actually, scratch that: it pulled me loose and then made me desperately to keep clawing for the surface on my own.
I’m not entirely sure what I’ll end up taking away from it in the long run, as I actually rewrote this post multiple times while re-saving, re-loading, and rethinking the game.
Part of the Japanese dating sim genre called 'Otome games', Hakuoki is a robust, interesting and incredibly well-told tale of loyalty, betrayal, and potions that make people into demons.
Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi is a visual novel for the 3DS that contains everything in my list.
She finds herself alone in Kyoto after her father, who is a doctor, has important duties to undertake with the shogunate.
Maybe I’m generalizing, but I like to think most dating sims are, on some level, about dating. It created this odd moment of connection to the character.
Save The Date, however, sticks with the warm-and-fuzzies just as long as it needs to – and not a second longer. I was me – not Some Dude In A Videogame – addressing my plaything. Nearly every option boiled down to, “I’m not doing this for you.
At heart, it’s a visual novel, but on a high-speed collision course with tragedy, mortality, and hilariously terrible consequences. I told her I was playing a videogame, trying out various choices, doing my absolute best to . I keep putting you in immense peril to see what’ll happen.Each five-or-so-minute playthrough (adding up to an-hour-and-a-half or so total) barrages you with choices, the results of which aren’t exactly happily ever after. To see just how much power I have over your world and your life.” And you know what? Sea monsters flung their tentacles every which way.So you try again and again and again to keep the date from going horribly wrong, and things only spiral further out of control. But not in an obnoxious, “Hur-hur, see what we did there? It all started when I first attempted to talk Felicia out of dinner, suddenly able to warn her of the skeletal fingers worming their way around her neck. Then more prophetic, fourth-wall-shattering options opened up. The game was pretty much right on the money – at least, up until that moment. And all the while, Felicia and I carried on elaborate discussions about her life, games, and the way games tell stories.In that respect and many others, Save The Date’s brilliant. The writing’s quite strong, the twists hit like a remarkably stealthy 18-wheeler, and there’s far, far, far more to it than even its initial surreal streak suggests. It was a clever exchange, not to mention one smartly attuned to my feelings as both the character and the person playing this game of dinner-themed Russian Roulette. Felicia herself, meanwhile, evolved over the course of multiple lives and – I suppose more importantly – deaths. Even in this spoilertastic write-up, I will not give away the ending. There’s a very powerful message about inevitability embedded in Save The Date.(Warning: this review is very spoiler-heavy.) HERE LIES YOUR INNOCENCE. Sure, she never stopped being helpless (physically, anyway; symbolically I’d argue anything but) and her voice became a bit, er, less hers near the end, but she definitely surprised me. Then again, I don’t think I’m really capable of doing that. The possibilities we try desperately to ignore because otherwise we’d just walk around with nauseating boulders of dread in our guts. It’s about other things too, but you’ll just have to decide those for yourself.The ways games both offer us an escape and immerse us in the blood-spattered, death-drenched subject matter we’re trying to run from. Sure, redoing similar bits over and over eventually became sort of annoying, but Save The Date is an experience that jostled me out of my normal, gamerly state of mind.