Company: Otomate, localized by Aksys
Cost: $49.99 hard copy, $10.99 PSN
Synopsis: Saki Inafune is invited to the opening of a new, video game themed amusement park by her uncle who helped create the park, Keiji Inafune. However the opening ceremony is hijacked by a man wearing an evil version of the park mascot who calls himself Count Hogstein. Hogstein takes the park’s administrative staff hostage and announces that seven people must participate in a week of games or else the hostages will be killed. Six of the players are chosen by Hogstein himself, and Saki volunteers to be the seventh in order to rescue her uncle. Now Saki along with a police officer, a host, a shut-in, a journalist, a teen idol, a psychic must band together in order to survive a week of the count’s twisted games and save both themselves and the hostages
MC: Saki is a great MC. She’s not your average 18 year-old nor is she your average otoge protagonist. She is quick witted, intelligent, and observant to the point that her insights are what saves everyone on several occasions. She is brave enough to put herself in dangerous situations to save others, but she is also sympathetic to the others who did not have a choice in entering Hogstein’s game. She’s not as physically able as some of the guys and she does tend to overexert herself, but she’s not shy about getting her opinions across. Best of all, she has an explosive temper and when she snaps, everyone cowers in fear, Hogstein included
- Ayumu Shirabe: A 32 year-old freelance journalist. He would do anything to learn the truth behind a situation and spends long, sleepless hours seeking it out
- Kimimaro Urabe: A 26 year-old famous fortuneteller. He is very calm and has a gentle presence which causes him to mediate things when arguments start breaking out
- Kouta Meoshi: A 19 year-old shut in who is a video game fanatic. He is awkward, shy, and very unused to talking with people in person
- Makoto Mikami: A 20 year-old college student who works at the amusement park. He is easygoing and sunny, but there just seems to be something about him…
- Ryusei Mitarshi: A 24 year-old popular host. He is wild, impulsive, and has a thing for theme parks
- Subaru Shidou: A 22 year-old police inspector who was in charge of security for the park’s opening. He is stiff, cool, and is always trying to stand between the others and danger
- Towa Wakasa: A 17 years-old and a member of the popular idol group Junior Jr. Boys. He tries to appear cool, but he is neither the bravest nor the most manly of the group
Impressions: This is an excellent game and I think every otoge fan should give it a try, especially since it is so cheap to download. The MC is lively and fun, and the love interests are super varied so there is almost certainly someone there for everyone. I know that some people are turned off by the art style, which I happen to like, and I would say that even in the case that you don’t like it, if you accept it for what it is then you’ll get used to it. The surface story about being forced to play video game themed death games is interesting, although the underlying plot about why the players were chosen is a bit meh. On that note, probably the worst thing about this game is the secret route, which has been known to drive people to rip their hair out.
One bit of game play that I didn’t feel really added anything, but didn’t hurt anything by being there was Saki’s Explosive Insights, which is closer to being a mini-game than it is to being anything else. It does allow for Saki to participate in the puzzle solving and also provides horrible ways to die if you flub. But it isn’t particularly riveting as far as mini-game (type things) go.
So, story is good, MC is good, character are good, art is good, mechanics (save, quick save/load, changing affection levels) are good, music is okay, but the final jewel in this game’s crown of achievement is how clever it is. For example, Dasoku of Utatite fame sings the ending theme, and he has an in game sprite as a wink to that, and Keiji Inafune, Saki’s uncle, he’s a really life game developer who actually worked on the game. Neat right?
If you’d like a walkthrough then I’d suggest the one done by Sakamichi. This is completely optional because it is super easy to fix things after you screw up an explosive insight and changing the affection levels to get the best ending is also super easy. When considering the play order, which is very important if you’re interested in the mystery aspect of the game I would suggest the following:
Ryusei -> Towa -> Kouta -> Kimimaro -> Subaru -> Shirabe -> Makoto
Favorite Guy: Towa and Meoshi
Favorite Route: Meoshi (although I think Urabe has the best ending hands down)
If You Like This Game Try: