Like otome CDs, it is no secret that I indulge in its game counterpart: Otome games, better known with its portmanteau of otoge.
Ever since I was introduced to the genre, I decided to get what I can with Voltage Inc.‘s offerings on Android, and filter out what I liked best. I picked out my First Four, rotating among the games just so I don’t get bored right away, and I finally wrapped up my first otoge: Kiss of Revenge (hereby abbreviated to KoR).
I’ve hmm and haww’ed over how I should present my review, and after swinging between the srsbzns route and the light and casual tone I used in my first impressions, I decided to stick with the latter. Besides, I can keep it short, sweet, and spoiler-free. I will be presenting my impressions for each of the four routes, and wrap it up with my final verdict for the entire game.
Please note that only played the main routes and their alternative timelines (“Another Story”). I forwent playing the respective epilogues, and KoR’s sub stories. I will also refer to the character that the player (well) plays as the Main Character (hereby abbreviated to MC).
That said, let’s get started!
As I mentioned in my first impressions, I purchased Irie’s route first, because megane I found his character the most intriguing — and I wasn’t disappointed.
Irie’s route set a high bar for the game for me, as I found myself feeling the nervousness and tension at being found out coming from the MC. Irie is a frighteningly observant man, and his replies come across unassuming, all the while carrying that subtler note of warning that you do not mess with the hospital or else heavens help you.
It’s this dancing among the inner questions of, “Does Irie know?”, “What does he know?”, “Surely he doesn’t know?” that sold the route for me. It’s no mystery that Irie stands for the good of the hospital, and since you want to drag the director’s name through the mud, along that of the hospital, needless to say, Irie is not going to let that happen.
Now here come my gripes about the route —
Much as the intrigue sold it for me, the love story felt rushed and phoned-in — even in his “Another Story”. I almost forgot that an otoge is supposed to be a love story. It felt underdeveloped, and it also felt that even the characters, at the wrapping up chapters of the route, suddenly remembered they were in a love story, and that they had some catching up to do. Perhaps I should’ve checked out the epilogues, but I am of the belief that everything that an author wishes to deliver in a story should be made known in the main narrative.
Irie’s the most decently designed megane character in the Voltage collection, but I am just not a fan of his penchant for cardigans. I understand that he’s the oldest character in the series (40!) but there are other ways to show his age, and it’s not through the wearing of frumpy grandma cardigans. I mean look, George Clooney is 50 years old and he does not wear frumpy clothing.
All in all, I enjoyed Irie’s route. I just wished that Voltage could’ve taken the risk of veering away from your typical love story, and left it at unresolved sexual tension — sometimes, the unattainable is the most tempting, after all.
I’m sorry that I just had to stick with the “free” CG. But I’m not sorry about Junpei’s sweet smile, he’s a cutie.
I had a lot of expectations about Junpei’s route, and not just because this one followed Irie’s; it’s because he is the only one within the cast who has knowledge of the MC’s past. It’s a recipe for disaster! Everything could go so horribly wrong 8D!
… but that didn’t happen, and I suppose that’s just me expecting so much from Voltage. Junpei’s route delivered a love story, albeit one that started off as one-sided. See, even if he did have a past with the MC, unchecked sorrow and a thirst for revenge can bury positive emotions. What Junpei did was to look after the MC — something that he believes he should have done in the past 12 years.
The route played out over who has the stronger will — you with your dedication to your vengeance, or Junpei with his dedication to you. If that ain’t toothachingly sweet, then I don’t know what is.
What I didn’t like about the route is that Junpei came across as clingy to the point of being annoying. He just doesn’t take “no” for an answer, and he doesn’t know how to back off. Now, while I appreciate how people in real life really don’t give up so easily over the ones they love, they also know how to keep their distance. I understand that otoge are in the realm of fantasy, but a bit of realism would help the player connect more. There were points in the game where I wanted to find an option to file a restraining order against Junpei because he doesn’t know what “leave me alone!” means.
… but he has such puppy eyes, uuuuuuuugh
Oh, and another thing: Nurse Saomi’s crush on Junpei. It is so damn adorable, and I just felt sorry for her because, well, no surprise as to with whom Junpei’s ending up. And the kicker? The crush is also expressed in Issei’s route. I just want to root for her. Nurse Saomi’s so cute and sweet, she deserves to be happy TT^TT !
It’s okay girl, there are other cute businessmen out there. That purple blouse is really cute, too.
I dunno about you guys, but I just find Kyousuke so heart-rendingly gorgeous.
I fuckin’ SQUEED.
That’s all I have to say about this route.
I love how he embodied “the brightest smiles hide the deepest of sorrows”. Dr. Narumi truly has more to him than he lets on. He’s the guy who shows the MC and makes her realize what it means to be a doctor. You don’t have to be the best, you just have to have the heart to give your best to your patients — and to do it with a smile.
I have a weakness for characters who are close to their parents, and Kyousuke delivers that. I was just like the MC in that I ignored what the Head Nurse’s last name is (and it doesn’t help that the game only refers to her as “Head Nurse”), and I just found it so sweet that mother and son are working together in the same field. I enjoyed how a background character is given a bit more life, and I enjoyed Kyousuke’s interactions with his mother.
Kyousuke’s route became my favorite, trumping Irie’s in that Kyousuke and the MC grew together. Irie’s sentiments weren’t as clear-cut, while Junpei was just too clingy for my tastes. Kyousuke can be considered clingy, but he was more subtle and humorous about it. Besides, the gorgeous hair and his getting you coffee didn’t hurt.
I suppose I have become blind with Dr. Narumi’s gorgeousness that I felt that I didn’t have any notable gripes about his route. Though I would pay for a CG where he gets slapped by his mother.
By the time I played Issei’s route, I have already played other games’ “main guy” routes: Genji (In Your Arms Tonight), Minato (Our Two-Bedroom Story), and Miyabi (Enchanted in the Moonlight). These three guys are very similar in their character mold (arrogant, annoying manchildren with redeeming qualities that you have painstakingly dig for), so I set my expectations pretty low once I got around to playing Issei’s route. What kept my hope up was because of SPOILERS I learned from Irie’s route, and that the intro video should deliver in some way, right??
I proceeded with my playing, thinking that since there are only four in this series, I might as well complete the set, right (… then I find that there’s another untranslated character)? But as I went on, I realized that I was glad to have saved this one for last. It is a main route to end all main routes, and Issei Sezaki’s is deserving of it’s position as the route to play in the series.
… and not just because he has the most adorable blushy face.
I like how the intrigue and the love story tied together and worked together to bring Issei’s development and that of the MC. I also enjoyed how the other guys were present in the route, to bring color to the narrative and well-timed insight to Issei’s otherwise elusive character.
Issei’s determination and struggle is affective, and as the player/reader, I couldn’t help but sympathize with him, too. I felt his struggles as such that his rare smiles were just so precious. I just had to pause and absorb that smile, it was just so heartwarming.
I have no real gripes about this route, and something came as a pleasant surprise near the end of Issei’s “Another Story” (highlight between the square brackets should you wish to know): [that Director Sezaki was shown to be human who makes mistakes, and not as a monster shown in the other three routes. I sympathized with the fact that he had to make difficult decisions based on the bigger picture, in that he chose to make one person suffer so as to be able to save thousands of more lives down the line.]
I honestly don’t know as to how I should approach final verdicts, but this is what I can say:
Will I play it again? YES.
Will I recommend it to other people? YES.
— and I think those are good things!
I just have a few parting remarks: while I was rooting for the MC to be able to exact her revenge (used as I am to playing God of War, and being exposed to various fictional works where the vengeful main character saw their goal through), I was actually happy that a true effort was put into her not going that route. I can only imagine what kind of pressure she put herself through, thinking that the only thing that would make her happy to take someone else’s life away.
… Though I really would’ve wanted a route where she is successful in exacting her revenge. Sort of a bad ending. Then again, Voltage doesn’t go that route. Boo.
Right now, I have uninstalled KoR from my phone, but I can’t wait to reinstall it and play it again, just to nitpick at it X3! I recommend this game to fellow otoge enthusiasts, specially if you want something relatively dramatic and emotionally heavy.