NCG Review: Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms (PSVITA)

The second chapter of Hakuoki is finally here!  A continuation of Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds, Edo Blossoms concludes Chizuru Yukimura’s journey. What will become of the Shinsengumi? Will Chizuru live happily ever after with your favorite samurai?

UI (4)

Story:

If you haven’t played Kyoto Winds, you definitely want to since Edo Blossoms is a continuation of the first story.  This is particularly important since the continuing story will unfold based on the character you choose.  If you want to go my route, you’ll pick the character who you successfully romanced in Kyoto Winds to see what happens in Edo Blossoms.   However, the core plot of the story still unfolds around the Shinsengumi struggling to uphold their status with the tide of social and economic change in Japan. SPOILER: In addition to the historical drama, characters have consumed the Water of Life and are now super-powered with a craving for blood (aka: Furies).

Gameplay:

Unlike the previous title where you needed to really think about your answers to get a good ending, Edo Blossoms lets you pick your bachelor from the beginning. After selecting your man of choice the story continues with the relationship and ending from the Kyoto Winds.

The game still plays out like a visual novel.  When prompted you can pick from 2 to 3 answers to try to win over your Samurai.  If you make a good choice, you’re rewarded with a juicy screen shot or shown an icon to indicate your response was favorable.Hijikata (9)

It is much easier to get a good ending Edo Blossoms.  However, because of the SPOILER listed above you are prompted on multiple occasions with three options: Offer blood, offer medicine, or let him endure the pain.  This is where it gets tricky, because you can still make good choices, however, providing blood or not providing blood, can prevent a good ending.   The best way around this is to save constantly, and go back and re-load your data.  Or, you can see if you know how well you know your man.  Up to you. I had a lot of luck with Saito since I never found myself going back to previous saved data.  Okita, on the other hand, was a bit trickier.

Audio/Visual

What makes the Hakuoki series so fun is how you it draws the player in using minimal audio and visual.  The background music never feels overwhelming and changes to match the tone of the story (light hearted during humorous scenes, melancholic during reflective scenes) and the simplistic sound effects put you into the story (clashing swords, the rustling of a bush).  The subtle motion of characters, such as a change in facial expression or body posture, is enough to bring the story to life and prevent the visual novel from feeling stagnant.

Verdict

Pros: It was fun to be able to pick up this title and continue the story from the first game.  Endings that I thought were dismal (Okita’s, for example) actually came together.Sanan (4)

There are so many endings to the game and it makes you want to see what would happen if you fell in love with every character.  I hated living in a where *bleep* died, but in another arc, he was alive!

Because there are so many endings, the story is not the same story over again with a new face.  In one path, (SPOILER) Chizuru’s father is a good guy, and on another path, Chizuru’s father is pure evil!  In one story, Yamazaki dies on the way to Edo, in another, he is still a faithful character.  There is no single variation.

Cons: Since there are so many different endings and paths, I feel like some elements from Kyoto Winds are watered down or absent. For example, (more spoilers) you don’t see Sen or Kaoru ever again on certain story paths.

Even though I liked being able to choose my character, I liked the idea of mixing choices and coming up on an unexpected ending.  Following a character path almost made it too easy to have the happy sappy romance ending.

Verdict

I give Edo Blossoms an 8 out of 10.  The various continuations made the game a lot of fun.  The major downside is I feel like I can’t pick it up without playing Kyoto Winds first.  There’s lots of romance to be had, and so many scenes that will make your heart flutter! Definitely worth a couple play throughs.Score

Who was your favorite character in the series? Did you have a favorite story line? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

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