- System: Nintendo Switch
- Publisher: DIGIMERCE
- Developer: OperaHouse Corporation
- Release Date: October 11, 2018
- Rating: T for Teen
- Genre: Adventure, Simulation, Otome Game
- Players: Single Player
- Official Website: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/iris-school-of-wizardry-vinculum-hearts-switch?fbclid=IwAR1ymEVs5vpoXPvBN9EONqr2nki-bbB7QTmOoHsOgbd0dMmon-p05H7YGtU
Who it Caters to
What to Expect
At the end of Chapter 1, you must pick your bishounen of choice (No, the bishoujo Ashley is not an option). From there, the story will follow a similar route at first as Aria slowly gets used to ISW and integrates herself in with the other students. However, your interactions will be skewed towards your love interest. In our first runthrough, we selected Keith and in that story, all interactions with Matias were gone. We barely heard of him, which prompted us to select Matias on oru next venture. It’s a bit of a shame that even though you’re all supposed to be friends in every route, you won’t get to see all of the characters, but it does motivate you to keep going and play through each route.
The story is pretty decent. It reminds us of a shounen anime in which the main character starts off rather pathetically but actually has huge potential (or much like Harry Potter). Aria’s skills lay in her memories, so you don’t have a pathetic main character who does absolutely nothing. In fact, she’s one of the few that’s not constantly in need of saving. What a relief! Heck, Aria can be aggressive like in one scene where she challenges Cyril to a magical duel because he questioned her talents. Still though, Aria is pretty typical in her interactions with her love interest, which is not different from other otome games. Each route takes you down each character’s story, which may be shallow or become dark depending on the ending. There is a Happy Ending and Endless Ending for each character. It’s rather easy to get the Happy Ending, but of course, if you want to collect all of the CGs, you’ll have to aim for the Endless Ending as well. Each story has a total of 4 chapters, which can feel rushed, but the storytelling doesn’t exactly feel rushed so we enjoyed the ride.
Sound wise, Iris School of Wizardry -Vinculum Hearts- did a great job on the soundtrack so that it didn’t sound like the same song on loop which cuts off at a certain part to restart (you know those games!). It’s wonderful and quite relaxing. When things become nostalgic or darker, the music follows suit adding to the atmosphere.
Then there’s the graphics. Some scenes are just beautiful bordering on the likes of Norn9. There’s a great deal of effort put into the backgrounds. The characters are designed well and the CGs are just stunning. This is probably where Iris School of Wizardry -Vinculum Hearts- excels the most. You want to collect all of the CGs just to see what the game developers put their hearts into.
Now, we do have to talk about the bad and really, the bad in Iris School of Wizardry -Vinculum Hearts- lies in its translation and lack of proofreading. It’s quite clear that the translations were done by a non-native English speaker, which isn’t bad, but it has you re-reading text constantly which extends the gameplay in a not-so-fun way. If you know non-native English speakers, you are well aware of the reasons why certain parts are translated or written as they are. English is a hard language. There are sections of text where the translator attempted to use big words that are similar to an easier English word, but they used it in the same exact way that doesn’t fit properly like the difference in using “diligent” and “works hard.” The terrible syntax is constant, too, so you never quite get a break from the bad English. It’s just hammered into your brain with each dialogue. Even if the English syntax could be excused if the company didn’t have a proper English speaker to translate, the laziness and lack of effort in the translation is just downright infuriating as it’s clear that no one ever bothered to proofread the translations even once. There are parts where character names are spelled incorrectly like ”Ashely.” “Phoenix” is spelled incorrectly as “Pheonix” at one point, and while I was willing to forgive the rather rational misspelling, it was spelled correctly in a dialogue 3 lines later so it’s obvious they just didn’t bother to read the translation. While I was tempted to stop playing several times thanks to the awful syntax, it’s the lack of actual effort in a game that’s supposed to cost $24.99 and be a labor of love to fans that really gets me.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
- CGs and artwork are beautiful and show high level of details
- The game takes advantage of all 4 chapters to tell a decent story for each route
- All of your favorite voice actors are back to voice new love interests
- Great soundtrack that doesn’t sound cheap
- The English grammar is awful and consistently has you rereading text to make you sure understood the meaning properly, which can detract from enjoyment