Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms Review – Thirsty AF (Vita)
The PlayStation Vita getting an enhanced version of Hakuoki, the visual novel revolving around romancing various members of the Shinsengumi, was a fantastic idea. After all, the genre just feels right on a portable system as there’s nothing better than enjoying a tale of romance in your own bed or on the go. Especially if your idea of romance is a girl slicing open her own neck and letting you suck up her blood.
If you missed out on the first half of the story found within Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds, I guess I should give some context. While there’s a very factual historical basis for Hakuoki, it goes completely off the rails for its original story. The player’s main character is part demon, which means she is able to heal at a rapid pace, and the romanceable boys have become a strange vampire-hybrid called a Fury. They have an insatiable bloodlust, and sometimes you gotta treat your man right by slicing yourself open. I mean, I guess. I’m not into kink shaming, so I’m just gonna let it slide.
Seeing how the first half of the story was released in May 2017, I was slightly worried that I wouldn’t recall all of the various characters in Hakuoki‘s story. Thankfully, the game does a good job of giving optional background information, so it was never a problem. If I forgot who exactly someone was, I just had to access the in-game glossary. It’s a great feature, and one that was really a must for how the game was structured.
Suck Me Right
One of the highlights of Kyoto Winds was how it managed to balance its serious tale of the Shinsengumi’s journey with some really great humor. Sadly, that’s largely absent here. Edo Blossoms comes across as a much more serious game, which makes sense due to the deaths that occur during the last game. The problem couldn’t be avoided here, and it mostly speaks to the game’s struggles of being split into two halves while originally being a whole game on PlayStation 3 and elsewhere. Hakuoki was never meant to be split up, and playing it in two separate halves with a year spacing only weakens the story.
However, there are positives to Edo Blossoms‘ half of the story. Kyoto Winds lacked much romantic action, but players will get to see each relationship progress to a deeper level here. Heck, during one pivotal moment the game’s protagonist even slices her mouth open in order to give blood via an intense make-out session. That’s a relationship goal if I’ve ever seen one.
Edo Blossoms is also the shorter of the two games. This means that if you’re only interested in a few of the romances then you might be disappointed by how quickly things wrap up. That said, there are a dozen of cute samurai boys to romance, so you’ll largely get your money’s worth as long as you want to see every possible outcome.
If you played through Kyoto Winds then you largely owe it to yourself to finish the story here in Edo Blossoms. The story’s finale isn’t quite as interesting as its beginning, but the romantic fireworks that occur are certainly a payoff. It’s just too bad that the best way to experience Hakuoki is through two awkwardly split in half releases.
Hakuoki Edo Blossoms review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on Vita. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.