2017 in English otome releases

Another year has passed, so it seemed like the perfect time to reflect on some of the English otome releases of 2017 – and look forward to what 2018 might have in store for us otome fans~!

Starting with a disclaimer: I realise this isn’t an exhaustive list of every localised otome title of the year—only the ones I have enough knowledge of to write about. Also, this can be considered my otoge master post for 2017, with some more walkthroughs being added later.

Now without further ado: let’s get to looking back on some of the great (and not-so-great) otome localisations of 2017!

Nightshade | Hyakka Hyakurou ~Sengoku Ninpouchou~

Release date: April 12, 2017

During the Sengoku Period the two main factions of ninja clans, Iga and Kōga, warred against each other for decades.
In the year 1593, Nobunaga Oda started the Tenshō Iga war, decimating most of the Iga ninjas in the process.
The very few that survived were absorbed into the Kōga clan, despite their past rivalries.

After 17 years the Sengoku Period finally came to an end, and Japan was unified.

Enju (Protagonist), daughter of Kandō Ueno, the Head of the Kōga clan, spends her days training diligently in hope of becoming a full-fledged ninja like her peers.

At long last she is assigned to her first mission, but finds herself caught in a dark conspiracy…

(Story summary taken from the official website)

Reflections

Spring came and brought with it my hidden otome gem of the year—I enjoyed it so much that I would rate it as one of my favourite otoge to-date. A post-Sengoku period setting, an awesome heroine, five handsome ninjas voiced by incredible seiyuu, gorgeous art and beautiful opening and ending songs—I adore so much about this game and can’t recommend it enough.

One thing that may be a downside to some people is that it’s currently only available on Steam, and it’s unlikely we’ll ever see the PS Vita version in English. However, the additional scenarios that were previously only playable in the Vita version have recently been added to the Steam store, in case you can’t get enough of this great game.

Go to walkthroughs 

Where to buy?

You can purchase Nightshade on Steam here!

Period Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~

Release date: April 28, 2017

In search of your older brother’s whereabouts, you join the online RPG, ‘Arcadia’ in hope of discovering clues. Having lost consciousness after being drawn into a mysterious light, you wake up within the game’s fantasy world! Confused and shaken by your strange yet familiar surroundings, you learn that the only way to escape this world of life-or-death is to clear the game. As the game world begins to crumble and fall apart, you’ll have to rely on your expanding powers for survival!

(Story summary taken from the official website)

Reflections

April also brought us Period Cube, not a game I would call the highlight of the year. The paper-thin siscon plot was a bit too cringe-worthy and unoriginal to be really entertaining, and the romance was way too rushed to feel believable. Combine that with a heroine lacking a fair amount of brain cells and you get a pretty mediocre otome game.

It wasn’t all bad though, if you could look past the plot holes, some of the routes had cute moments, the voice acting was great and the art was mostly quite pretty—apart from the strange kissing CGs anyway.

Where to buy?

You can purchase the English version of Period Cube here:

UK: physical copy on Amazon.
US: physical copy directly from the Aksys store or on Amazon.

Gakuen Club ~Himitsu no Nightclub~

Release date: May 10, 2017

Our heroine is entering her junior year of high school when she finds out she will be suddenly transferring to the famous Kirika Academy located in the city due to her father’s new job.
She is quite excited about starting her new school life, but she stumbles upon a secret night club that is being operated after school hours, and gets herself roped into working the kitchen…

As she grows closer to the other waitstaff of the night club, she learns of their past, and finds herself becoming more and more involved in a complicated web of human relationships and romance…

(Story summary taken from the Steam store page)

Reflections

Another English otome release on Steam this year was Gakuen Club, originally a mobile game, which has since been ported to the PS Vita in Japan. It has also been released for Android and iOS in English, although you have to pay for individual bits of content in those versions. (Edit: the mobile version is no longer supported)

Since it is essentially still a mobage, don’t expect much from the story—character development was shallow in most routes and the heroine isn’t exactly interesting. The art however is quite pretty and the voice acting also makes playing this game more enjoyable. Overall I wouldn’t recommend buying this game unless it’s on sale and you’re really hungry for otome content.

Go to walkthroughs →

Where to buy?

You can purchase Gakuen Club on Steam here!

Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds

Release date: May 16, 2017

1863. As the end of the Bakumatsu period draws closer…

A lone Chizuru Yukimura travels from Edo to Kyoto in hopes of searching for her father who mysteriously vanished. As she ventures through the unfamiliar city in the dark of night, she is suddenly attacked by a gang of samurai. Amidst the chaos, a mysterious figure approaches her, hungry for the taste of blood. As the threat of danger approaches, she is saved by none other than the Shinsengumi.

After their encounter, Chizuru lives with the men of the Shinsengumi to fulfill their common goal: seeking out her missing father. However, she slowly uncovers the Shinsengumi’s dark secret: the Furies. A group of men calling themselves “Demons” eventually confront the Shinsengumi, standing in opposition to their secret Fury identity.

Upon meeting these Demons, Chizuru is forced to come face to face with the secrets of her past. This story is about a girl who allies with the men of the Shinsengumi, who are struggling to uphold their faith in an era of rapid social change in Japan.

(Story summary taken from the official website)

Reflections

Hakuoki is a pretty established otome series and while this game doesn’t introduce a new story (nor is it a complete game), it does do an amazing job at retelling and expanding the original story. Three completely new bachelors have been added to the already impressive line-up, while three existing characters got proper routes now—previously they only had a few moments with Chizuru in the fandisc which was included in the PS3 version of Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom.

On top of this, the soundtrack was enriched and remastered, visual effects and character animations had a makeover and new CGs were added to already existing routes—albeit drawn by a different artist than the original, but still just as lovely. I personally thoroughly enjoyed playing Kyoto Winds and am very much looking forward to the second part, Edo Blossoms, which has been announced for Spring 2018~

Go to walkthroughs →

Where to buy?

You can purchase the English version of Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds here:

UK: physical copy on Amazon.
US: physical copy on Amazon.

Collar x Malice

Release date: July 28, 2017

A dangerous shadow organization launches a campaign of fear and violence in the city of Shinjuku, pushing society to the brink of chaos. As a young police officer tasked with restoring order, you become the target of an attack, and have a poisonous collar attached to your neck. With the situation spiraling out of control and time running out, five mysterious strangers appear to aid you in your quest for the truth.

Who can you trust?

Will you be able to save yourself and the soul of Shinjuku from the clutches of oblivion?

In a city bound by malice, you are the only hope for salvation!

(Story summary taken from the official website)

Reflections

Despite Aksys’ awful promotion for what was probably one of the biggest otome game releases in Japan in 2016, I was incredibly hyped for this game. The darker story setting, the incredibly beautiful character design, the rumours of a bad-ass heroine, the raving reviews for this game in Japan, the seiyuu cast… everything about this game appealed to me and my copy couldn’t arrive early enough.

I was not let down. Many people have already written about the ridiculous lack of quality control for this localisation, which I completely agree with, yet I don’t let that ruin my love for this game. In fact, if you only pick up one localised otome game from last year’s batch, make it this one. How are you even supposed to choose one favourite route of this game anyway?

Go to walkthroughs →

Where to buy?

You can purchase the English version of Collar x Malice here:

UK: physical copy on Amazon.
US: physical copy on Amazon.

Bad Apple Wars

Release date: October 13, 2017

Fate strikes when you least expect it, as our heroine soon finds herself on the grounds of an unknown, otherworldly academy. One of many souls left behind by death, she must choose between two warring factions within the walls of the academy. Will she follow the straight path set before her by the disciplinary committee, goaded on by promises of Resurrection? or will she stray into the mire of Bad Apples and find a different kind of salvation? The outcome of the Bad Apple Wars is in your hands!

(Story summary taken from the official website)

Reflections

Strangely, the localisation of Bad Apple Wars was promoted so much more than Collar x Malice, yet I hadn’t heard that much about it before. The art, however, looked appealing—quite different from a lot of otoge art—and the story sounded interesting too. The voice acting is top-notch, the soundtrack and use of colours suit the game setting a lot and the date-able characters are very diverse.

The thing is though… I don’t really know how to feel about this game. I didn’t have one route I disliked—in fact, all routes were very heart-clenching and emotional. But I didn’t really get that feeling of “I need to play this game, I have to find out what happens”, which I normally get with great, engaging otome titles. This was mainly due to the fact that the common route was so long compared to the romantic routes, so it just never felt satisfying. So despite the fact that I enjoyed the game overall, I wouldn’t put it at the top of the otoge releases of 2017.

Go to walkthroughs →

Where to buy?

You can purchase the English version of Bad Apple Wars here:

UK: physical copy on Amazon.
US: physical copy on Amazon.

Final thoughts

As I mentioned before, this isn’t a complete list of English otome releases of the year—there were some smaller releases on Steam and we can’t forget the debacle that was the Taisho x Alice localisation—a game I was very much looking forward to that got butchered in an almost depressingly hilarious fashion. Not so fun though for the people who actually spent money on that monstrosity, and it sadly leaves me thinking I should just pick up the game in Japanese.

In all, 2017 was a pretty good year for otome fans. The genre is slowly growing in the West, and I hope it keeps doing well, so maybe Aksys can finally afford some decent QAQC on their games. We had some amazing games that I now count among my favourites and some titles that are better played for the cute boys and moe than for the plot—which sometimes, is also a valid reason to play otome games.

On top of this, there have been some exciting announcements for localisations coming our way in 2018~! I will be covering these in the next part of this blog post, so as to spread the otome love and get more people hyped (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

Thank you for reading my ramblings and/or finding my walkthroughs useful, I hope I can provide more interesting and helpful content in 2018. Happy New Year! Here’s to another year full of beautiful ikemen, emotional story roller coaster rides and blushing tsunderes~! ♡


Banner image (left to right):
– Collar x Malice | IDEA FACTORY / DESIGN FACTORY
– Nightshade / 百花百狼 (Hyakka Hyakurou ~Sengoku Ninpouchou~) | Red Entertainment & D3 Publisher
– Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds | IDEA FACTORY / DESIGN FACTORY
– Period Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ | IDEA FACTORY / DESIGN FACTORY

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