Period: Cube – Shackles of Amadeus is a new Vita visual novel from Aksys games that falls within the Otome sub-genre. Here is our review.
We’ve seen the Vita drift away from its initial positioning as a platform that could deliver console experiences on the go to a gaming system that now mainly receives indie releases and a relatively high number of visual novels. Luckily, there are plenty of gems in both those categories, and Aksys is one of those publishers that has shown strong support for the visual novel genre.
Their latest is actually an Otome title called Period: Cube – Shackles of Amadeus. For those not familiar with Otome, it’s a genre mainly targeted at female gamers with a large emphasis on romantic relationships between the game’s protagonists and various other characters. As such, it’s of course an acquired taste – but unlike some videogames that are targeted at men these titles are often very well done.
Period: Cube is no exception, and begins with an interesting premise that involves a game world within a game world, as the characters you interact with are playing an MMO while also being real life characters. What ensues is a bit of a meta-game which explores an interesting dynamic that especially MMO gamers will recognize from real life scenarios – even when they’re not of the romantic type.
In Period: Cube, you’re actually trapped inside one of these MMOs and trying to get out. When you do, even if it’s for a brief moment, you engage with people in the real world – whose avatars you might also encounter in-game. As is the case in the real world, this can result in alter egos that either differ strongly from or magnify the personalities of the people behind them. The story itself isn’t spectacular and the writing didn’t impress me, but the character interactions are strong and well developed. This starts with a cast of distinct characters, but it’s great to see how well fleshed-out they all are once you start exploring all the different story branches.
In this sense, Period: Cube is a very mature kind of visual novel. Where older titles in the genre suffered in terms of being able to replay them, this game allows you to visually follow and navigate your timeline and go back to try and explore other ones. There is always going to be some story overlap and finding every possible outcome is really only for die-hard fans, but it’s a big plus that you can get some extra mileage beyond your initial playthrough.
The audiovisual presentation of the game is about what you’d expect from a title that was exclusively developed for the Vita in Japan. Crisp anime-inspired graphics that are enhanced by subtle animations here and there, and backed up by a cast of voice actors. Unfortunately, at least for me, it’s Japanese voices only – but I realize a lot of people really enjoy that as well.
It’s definitely not the best visual novel out there on the Vita in terms of its writing (obviously the main draw for any visual novel), but it’s still more than competent in every regard. The Otome approach might keep certain gamers away, but you won’t be disappointed if that doesn’t scare you off.