By Benny Carrillo / May 19th, 2017
The Cracks in the Shinsengumi’s Armor ~ Issues
Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds’ issues can really be divided into two major blocks. Problems with splitting Hakuōki ~Shinsengumi Kitan~ into two parts and problems with the actual localization. Let’s start with the splitting of the game since that’s a problem with development and is something out of IFI’s hands.
The decision to split Hakuōki ~Shinsengumi Kitan~ is one that I don’t agree with. This is the first Hakuoki game I’ve played and even with no idea of where the story will go, this feels like a lot of setup with little payoff. It feels like “one game for the price of two” since we don’t get a lot of answers and there’s a lack of romance despite being an Otome title. We also don’t know if Hana no Shō will get localized. However, I assume IFI wouldn’t bring one without the other. But there hasn’t been any announcement so we can only hope. I will say that the stopping point in Kyoto Winds does feel natural and narratively makes sense. It’s just that this game was not originally designed to be in two parts and it shows as you read through it. Speaking of reading we need to talk about the localization for a moment.
As a whole, the localization of Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is good. The characters are well written, feel natural, and you can tell IFI had fun with it. Which is always a good thing. The problem here lies with quality assurance. There were quite a few grammatical errors I noticed, a pair of misarranged text boxes, and even an odd translation quirk. It’s odd considering IFI usually has a good QA department and I’ve never noticed stuff like this before. I reached out to IFI for some clarification and they did answer me.
Regarding the grammatical errors, they did have an in-house editor working on the project. Thus, I assume that the errors come from the script being coded back into the game. Something that is outside of IFI’s control (usually this is handled by the development team back in Japan). Things like this are usually fixed in QA testing, but the focus was on fixing new bugs and issues that arose from doing this. This is common, just ask any computer science major and they’ll tell you that any changes to code can result in bugs. This goes double for fitting text into textboxes it’s not designed for (remember, Japanese is far more concise than English). As for the localization quirk, well that’s more of a nitpick.
Remember Souma calling Chizuru “Yukimura-senpai”? Well at three points that got translated as “Miss Yukimura”. Which does make sense, since Souma is being polite. The problem is that this gives away Chizuru’s gender… whoops. Souma does know the truth, but it still doesn’t make a lot of sense. Per IFI, this was accidental. My guess is that this was from an earlier version of the script. I only bring this up because it is an inconsistency. In the grand scheme of things, it’s minor. I admit, I’m disappointed, but I understand. I’d rather have a working game that has a few spacing issues, than a buggy one. I just hope this was an anomaly and the next Otome title by IFI (or if this gets ported to Steam) gets that high-grade polish that I’m used to seeing. That all said, let’s wrap this up.
A Promising Start with Room for Improvement ~ Summary
Back at the start of this review, I asked if Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is an Otome. By definition, yes, it is. However, I think it’s better to call it a visual novel with Otome elements as it deviates from the usual Otome formula. That’s not a terrible thing either, as there is a ton to like here. The story is interesting, the characters good, the visuals and sound awesome, and there’s plenty of epic moments to go around. If you’re looking for a romantic story, however, then I can’t recommend this since we really don’t get into that here. So those are the pros, what about the cons?
In short, the key sticking points are the decision to split the original game into two and the localization issues. The main problem here was the splitting of the game and it does affect the score. There just wasn’t enough payoff here for my liking. Did I enjoy the game though? Yes! It was still a fun read, especially as I got to characters that I really did enjoy learning about and, Chizuru is awesome in her own right. I really did feel for her and I hope she gets to shine more if we get Hana no Shō.
At the end of the day, you’ll have to decide for yourself if the game is worth it. For me, even after playing it for review I kept my order of the $72.99 Collector’s Edition. If that seems steep then fear not for the regular edition will only run you $39.99. Plus, you can always wait for a sale if you’re on the fence. Lengthwise, the game took me about 40 hours to 100% and Platinum which is perfectly fine. In short, I think this is a visual novel not just for Otome fans, but for anyone who enjoys a good story. Chizuru’s tale is one that may be incomplete but is worth delving into, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
HakuokiHakuoki Kyoto WndsIdea Factory InternationalOtomateOtomePlaystationPS Vitavisual novelVita