One route in The Charming Empire offers a dark view of court life

The Charming Empire is an otome visual novel that does not shy away from darker elements of life as a member of the royal family. While these are themes that can come up in many of its storylines, it is especially evident in Kei Yoshimine’s storyline. After all, he is a kidnapped prince who was brought to Japan in the Taisho era, held as what is basically a prisoner and is left to act as a tutor to players’ avatar as the story begins. The sides of court life players see here and the lessons learned offer an insight into a plausible world that is not as bright and lavish as people might expect.

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What do you need to know about SaGa?

It is a great time for fans of Square Enix’s SaGa series! Romancing SaGa 2 was ported to multiple platforms and released worldwide. SaGa: Scarlet Grace was the first new entry in the series in over 11 years when it was released on the PlayStation Vita in Japan in 2016. Basically, it feels like it is experiencing a renaissance. Which means it is a good time to review what makes it so special.

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Hakuoki is big on alternate histories

The Hakuoki series has always been one that offered an opportunity to enjoy alternate histories. Adding supernatural creatures to retellings of historical events is going to do that. As is adding in romance elements, since the players falling for these warriors will want happy endings with the men they love. Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds and Edo Blossoms takes this concept to new heights. These new and expanded storylines offer even more alternate takes, some of which play with the course of fictional events.

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Review: Atelier Lydie & Suelle ties up a trilogy

Gust’s Atelier series releases in groups of trilogies as of late. For example, Atelier Rorona, Totori and Meruru are part of the Arland trilogy, while Atelier Ayesha, Escha & Logy and Shallie make up the Dusk line. We are now at the end of another group. Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is a game pulling double duty. It is expected to provide people an opportunity to help a pair of twins develop the best atelier in their town, while also wrapping up all of the Mysterious series’ storylines. While this particular trilogy has not been the most enthralling in Atelier history, this installment tries to make up for its predecessors’ story shortcomings while quickly tying up loose ends.

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Review: Ni no Kuni II builds a nation of imagination

The return of a property mashing up all-stars, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom aims to step out of its predecessor’s shadow. It uses animation work from those with Studio Ghibli experience, but no longer has a connection to the studio itself. It comes from the team behind many core Dragon Quest titles, but moves further away from some of that series’ tropes while retaining what works in a more divergent context. It tells a tale of idealized innocence, without for a second apologizing for it. And it never lets up on the charm.

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The Witch’s Isle is a more complex and mature Cocosola game

Cocosola is a rather unusual company. If people know the name, it is likely due to their clicker titles. After all, this is the developer that started the “evolution” game craze by putting out Alpaca Evolution, where you tap alpacas to make your alpaca absorb them and morph into unholy forms of itself, and I am Giraffe, which was Alpaca Evoltion with creatures that looked a little like giraffes. The Witch’s Isle is its first foray into a deeper adventure, one that requires you to think, explore a town and be willing to fail to progress.

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Iba is in a unique position in Hakuoki

Hachiro Iba is in a unique situation in Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms. As a new bachelor, he has an entirely fresh storyline. There is also the fact that he is a childhood friend of Chizuru Yukimura, since this provides new background on her life. But there is one more important way in which Hachiro is a game changer. Through him, we have an entirely new look at the Fury situation.

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Review: Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms offers a more straightforward story

Otome fans find themselves in a familiar place again. Hakuoki, much like the Furies that inhabit it, is an undying beast of a visual novel lurching its way to new systems. This time, it’s wrapping up a tale. Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms finishes the saga started in last year’s Kyoto Winds, bringing closure to its 13 storylines. While things may feel a bit different, it ends up feeling more efficient.

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