In the world of otome games, Hakuoki is a big name, especially in the English-speaking world where otome games are few and far between. Luckily, the people at Idea Factory International know their fan base and they blessed us by recreating Hakuoki for the PS Vita in the up and coming Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds. If you are new to the world of otome games, Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds will be a great way to start playing. Of course, the otome game genre mainly appeals to women, but perhaps a few men might find some enjoyment out of the storyline, although expect to be romanced by a bishounen who shall wield his katana for you!
What to Expect
Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds plays like its predecessors and other visual novels. The gameplay is mainly text based and you, as the player, are expected to read the text and pick a series of actions that are bestowed to you that will ultimately determine what storyline you go down. Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds features a branching storyline so you can play differently each time you pick it up and end up with a different ending! Of course, one of the main reasons why people play games like Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is for the juicy romance between the main character, Chizuru, and the bishounen of your choice.
Although Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is set in a tumultuous time for the samurai and your lover is a samurai a part of the Shinsengumi, do not expect there to be a lot of fighting scenes. Aside from the ones in the story, Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is a text based game so you will not be hacking and slashing your way to victory.
Much like Hakuoki: Demons of the Fleeting Blossom, Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi and Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi, Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds begins with Chizuru wishing her father farewell as he sets off on his journey to Kyoto as a doctor. She and her father communicate for a short time through letters, but as they come to a halt, Chizuru becomes so worried that she sets off for Kyoto dressed as a boy. In Kyoto however, Chizuru encounters some trouble and is saved by a band of bloodthirsty samurai, which lands Chizuru in the hands of the Shinsengumi. Apparently, Chizuru witnessed a secret of the Shinsengumi so she is their captive. Luckily, Chizuru and the Shinsengumi have the same goal of looking for Chizuru’s father, so perhaps this situation is not all that unsavory. Especially, when the Shinsengumi is a band of very good looking samurai with the ability to steal her heart.
The story for Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds follows the same plotline as its predecessors, as well as the anime, however, there are a few changes to the plot that may catch many off guard. It’s not the same game all over again on a different console! That will please many fans who have played previous games as replaying a visual novel can become dry at times with the repetitive story, story arcs, etc. Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds also includes new episodes and character romances that will intrigue many fans!
Unlike previous handhelds before it, the PS Vita’s screen is incredible and Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds takes advantage of this fact. The visuals of Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds are simply stunning and crisp. Hakuoki has never seen such a beautiful screen unless you count the PlayStation 3. The cutscenes and images displayed in Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds will just take your breath away with their vivid colors and detail. This is how you use the PS Vita’s capabilities!
One feature I quite liked that’s new is the ability to pick up a route that you have already finished and chosen which episode to begin playing at. Yes, you could use this feature to relive a lot of your favorite hot moments with your favorite Shinsengumi samurai, or you could use this feature to unlock other routes. You can set your romance for that playthrough. This is incredibly helpful for those who want to collect all of the CGs (why wouldn’t you?).
Speaking of romances, I am beyond thrilled at all of the new characters and the new routes in Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds! For the first time, we get to romance Yamazaki, Shinpachi, and Keisuke. While I may not be an exact fan of Keisuke, all of these routes open up all new courses in the story. Let’s not forget the moe. What can I say, I’m a sucker for Yamazaki. With these new character romances, you can be sure that this won’t be the same old Hakuoki again and again. Did we mention that there are also new characters altogether? Of course, they had to be beyond beautiful and quite mysterious as they each have their own dark sides. These new side characters also have their own routes and oh man, you can believe we’re going to play every route until we see them all!
What’s really great about Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is how intense the story really is. While many may have seen the anime, you do not truly get the meat of the story until you play one of the games, and the characters all change so drastically depending on which route you play. It really makes each playthrough that much more thrilling as the intensity changes. There are a lot of twists in Hakuoki.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Yes, Hakuoki is a visual novel and no, you won’t get a lot of action playing it, but it has its own way of thrilling its audience. Through the use of artful wordplay, storytelling, and a touch of romance, playing Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds doesn’t have to ever be boring. While you won’t find yourself cornered and trying to figure out a way out of your dilemma with a 2x4, the Shinsengumi have their fair share of close calls and tragedies. For a visual novel, the story is quite compelling and the artwork flawless. All of it is tied up in one of the better otome games for the PS Vita, and there are quite a few to contend with.
Numerous hours of gameplay
Features 6 new romantic partners, 3 of which who are brand new to the series, and extended storylines
Thrilling storyline that is ever changing
Easy to pick up in the middle of chapters already played
Text based gameplay, which may not be thrilling for everyone
Tragedies that may occur in the game (You may find yourself way too wrapped up in the characters)
Honey's Final Verdict:
Whether you’ve played the other games or watched the anime, Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds still has something for everyone. If you love otome games or visual novels, you may want to pick up a copy for a PS Vita near you. Of course, you could just miss out and enjoy our review instead, but what’s my word against your experience?
California based workaholic. Current mottos are “I don’t care” and “I’ll try almost anything once”. Interests include traveling, eating, video games, and weightlifting. Currently living life to the fullest, pursuing my happiness, and conquering my fears. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!