Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds strengthens the Vita’s recent reputation as a platform for visual novel titles. After Aksys’ recent Period: Cube title, it’s now Idea Factory’s turn again – continuing their Hakuoki series of games.
Like Period: Cube Shackles of Amadeus, Hakuoki: Kyoto winds is an Otome title – titles designed around a female protagonist ready to pursue romantic interests. That may open the door for a very one-dimensional experience, but a lot of Otome titles actually have pretty decent storylines and Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is no exception.
On top of the layer of romance, a larger mystery looms as well – and because you have twelve suitors, you have twelve storylines to explore that each shed a slightly different light on the overarching mystery. Needless to say, this increases replayability for the game – though I couldn’t bring myself to keep going after my third playthrough even though the game makes it easy to skip past previously played sections. Perhaps I’ll get around to the rest eventually…
Progressing towards one of the twelve storylines (and thirty endings!) is done by winning the affection of one of the twelve men, and the game conveniently keeps track of your interpersonal relationships with each and every one of them. Hit “budding” as your level of interaction and a flower appears over them – allowing you to pursue romance and the associated storyline.
I haven’t played any of the previous Hakuoki games myself, but did notice that Kyoto Winds takes a different approach to the romantic angle than other Otome games do. When you meet the men that you can build a relationship with, they’ll initially show little to no interest in you – this isn’t a case of a dozen men all trying to woo you, but quite the opposite. This allows you to focus on the main mystery more, which starts out with your father being missing and you trying to find out what happened.
Once the romantic angle really starts taking off, the game ended rather soon after that. I didn’t feel like I had reached closure with my story yet, and after some research I learned that the full story has been split into two parts – Kyoto Winds being only the first half. This wouldn’t be too big of an issue, but I haven’t seen a confirmed release date for the Vita version of the concluding part yet – leaving me with the feeling that I got half a book and might never find out how it ends.
Luckily, the half that’s available is delivered with a high level of quality. It’s rich in story content, the game paints a detailed picture of historical Japan (which I’m sure history buffs will absolutely love) and the audiovisual presentation is excellent. It’s too bad that the missing content overshadows my enjoyment a bit (and made it hard to fully explore all twelve storylines), but I can’t wait for my stories to continue and come to a close either.