By Steve Baltimore / January 3rd, 2022
|Title||VenusBlood HOLLOW International|
|Release Date||November 25th, 2021|
|Genre||Visual Novel, RPG|
I was a huge fan of VenusBlood FRONTIER when it launched back in 2019, and when Ninetail announced they would be bringing a new game to the franchise in 2021, I was very excited. I couldn’t wait to dig back into this fantastic world filled with fantastic characters and great combat. Finally the wait is over and VenusBlood HOLLOW has released. I couldn’t wait to dig in and see if this entry was as much fun as the previous one, so let’s dig in and see.
The story takes place in the Holy Land of Helvetia. This was once a wondrous place that flourished under the protection of the Goddess, Elnath. This peace was shattered one day, when demons began to pour into the land from below, and a war started. Soon the Goddess was defeated and the humans that live there, are now ruled by powerful demon lords. They are treated very poorly by the demons. Some have their souls farmed to create Tactica, an object used for weapon materials and fuel. The turmoil for this land is just beginning, however, rumors of Empress Karvia’s plans to take over the world spread quickly. The Dark Lords all declare war on the empire, but a special force, Black Arme Vapula, is sent to quell any resistance quickly. Their leader, Leonhardt Arknoah, is a war hero to many, but he has a plan of his own that he will stop at nothing to make a reality!
I have to say, I really enjoyed the overall story here. Leonhardt is a very crass man, but he has led a rough life, and many things have been taken from him. Anora is probably the person closet to him, and for good reason. Through some events that took place, he basically has to share his anima with Anora to keep her alive. She often refers to herself as his other half, and would walk through hell’s fire with him. The Dark Lords are all filled with personality, and their lands are very unique as well. The Eastern themed land of Rakshasa has a very headstrong oni leader named Tsubaki. The volcanic land of Archlond is ruled by their leader, Julia von Archlond. Her rule is very heavy handed, and she treats the wingless, whom she sees as weaker beings, very badly. Her only soft spot is for her younger sister, Liese, whom she treats much nicer than most people. Necrograd is a land ruled by science. This is where most of the research into weapons and technology in this world takes place. It is ruled by an ice cold woman named Eleanore de Victorique. She sees those weaker than her as nothing more than tools, or cattle as the case may be. Her greatest invention, a Golem named Tetra, assists her in many ways as she works on her various research projects. Last, but not least, let’s talk about the Empress’ sister, Sylvia Hamartia. She is very unique in this world as she has half demon energy and half divine. She is very young, and kinder than most of the demons in this world. She hates to see the other races treated badly and would like to create a world in which everyone can live together in peace. Her and Leonhardt have similar goals, so they may just end up working together.
The lore of this world is simply fantastic. All of the sub characters and their stories just add a ton of depth to this experience. VenusBlood HOLLOW has two main routes to choose from, a Law route and a Chaos route. These are determined by your choices in-between battles. Will you choose to corrupt the Dark Lords and bend them to your will, or will you befriend them and have them fall in love with you? Each route has endings with most of the girls and a few special endings, as well. I really thought both were entertaining, but the Law route gave you quite a bit more character stories. One major thing to note here is if you corrupt Sylvia, it will automatically put you on the Chaos route, so choose wisely on how you want to interact with her.
The gameplay is very similar to what was found in VenusBlood FRONTIER. Players will take a number of units and try to control areas on the map. The maps this time around are smaller, but I feel like they had a bit more variety. The other big change here is that now you will control up to three divisions at one time. This not only gives battles a much larger scale, but you can employ more strategy as well. Another big change is the addition of Shell Skills. Units with these skills do damage to enemy divisions at the beginning of a battle. These can quickly give you the advantage in a sticky fight if the opposing side doesn’t have Shielding Skills. The combat system in this franchise is very deep, but the difficulty is very customizable to your needs. Playing the game on Easy let’s you use an instant win button, or you can use this difficulty to carry over more powerful units to challenge the game on Normal or Hard. There is even a Battle Royale mode that unlocks once you complete the game, that lets you fight in all of the glorious battles without any story at all.
Overall, the graphics aren’t that much different than the previous entry, though some of the chibi combat units look even better this time. I really love all of the character designs. Anora, Tsubaki and Sylvia were my favorites, likely to the surprise of no one. I really loved all of the random units they included in the Pool of Destiny. This is a random pool of units you can unlock by spending the Keys of Destiny you earn during battles. Some of these units include overpowered heroes, goddesses and maybe even an old friend from a previous title. The CG’s here are mostly the H-scenes, and they are all top quality. In fact, the H-scenes here are well written and a good enough length where you’re entertained, but they don’t overstay their welcome. There are some forced scenes here which may bother some folks. If those kinds of scenes are not your cup of tea, you should take that into consideration before diving in.
This is one of my favorite soundtracks in any visual novel I’ve played to date. The battle themes are all upbeat, and you will often catch yourself humming along as you move your units around the map. There are some somber tracks for the more emotional moments, and even some vocal tracks that are completely sung in English. The voice acting here is outstanding as well. Each of the actors really bring these characters to life, and it really helps the overall feel of the game.
I can safely say, VenusBlood HOLLOW is one of the best visual novels released in 2021. Ninetail and JAST have delivered another outstanding entry in this wonderful franchise. The amazing combat and characters kept me hooked until the very end of both routes. Both routes took me around 50 hours to complete, but there is plenty of gameplay left here to unlock a few additional scenes or play the game on higher difficulties with different options. The game is worth every penny of the $44.99 asking price, and if you’re not into adult content, an All Ages version is also included. Anyone that loves a great story with memorable characters and great strategy action should pick up VenusBlood HOLLOW today. You will not be let down by your purchase.
Game was purchased by the reviewer.
JAST USANinetailReviewsRPGVenusBloodVenusBlood HOLLOWvisual novel