Era of Samurai: Code of Love is the latest otome game featuring the Shinsengumi as protagonists. Otome game vetrans will remember the Shinsengumi being featured in Hakuoki (retail PSP, PS3, 3DS, Google Play/Apple Apps, PC), Forbidden Romance: The Amazing Shinsengumi (Google Play/Apple Apps), Bakumatsu Shinsengumi (Google Play/Apple Apps).
The Shinsengumi were an old samurai coalition who famously wore blue kimono. You, the protagonist, are taken in for protection after your house was burned down. That’s err… literally the set-up to all three. Well look, it’s not really the premise that matters, it’s the men themselves. The setting is popular because it’s a great way to have internal and external conflict. On one hand, you have the period itself, with a lot of corruption and fighting. On the other, you have the beginnings of the modern age, with weaponry being transitioned to guns and the western world becoming a wider influence. Hopefully, with these characters, we’ll get to see many ways to make them grow.
To start my Voltage Shinsengumi journey off, I went with Okita.
Err.. yeah. Just because of that. I mean, I’m surprised to see blood on a sprite, so I figure his must be interesting. Okita’s rather… err… mean too.
We all know I have a guilty pleasure for those types.
Anyway, he’s pretty mean in the first couple of chapters, but after that’s he’s not at all. It’s more of good-natured teasing than anything else. He’s actually a really kind character with a horribly tragic backstory that made me tear up a bit.
This dichotomy between Okita’s perceived nature and true nature is the main conflict in this story. As we grow and see who he is inside, and how he uses that cruel mask to maintain a certain image for others, we come to understand him better.
There’s three sides to Okita that we learn about: Okita the killer, Soji the informant, and Okita the man. The killer is the cruel personality we meet in the opening chapters. Soji is the person the people of Kyoto know, who is jovial and kind. The man, for lack of a better word, is the one that only the MC gets to witness. His vulnerability, if you will.
In many ways, this story does everything a seasoned otoge player knows. We have the scene of seeing him covered in blood, where we are terrified of what he can do. We have the “sickness” scene, where a high fever and a late night make for honesty between the two. We have the “understanding” where we see him covered in blood again, but we know enough about him to not be terrified. There are many scenes that soften him up but worry not, he does retain his teasing perversion towards MC (Which is what you want with this archetype)
There are several loose plot threads, but there’s one that basically undercurrents the entire story that is never solved. I’m irked by that. Because of that thread, I expected a bad or melancholy end, and I didn’t get it… and I’m upset by that? Hahaha how dare they give me two happy endings! It would have been a nice fit with MC’s skills. Perhaps it will show up in the sequel stories.
The “written by love” ending is super, super, super, candy-coated, diabetes in 500 words, sweet.
The second ending, “written in fate” was okay. I mean, it’s not as sweet as the love one, but the CG was better, so I guess it has that going for it. The level of intimacy in the fate ending is lower, I suppose if the love ending they are already in love and confirming it, in the fates they are at the beginning of love and starting to move towards it.
The special movie, is hmm… I guess it’s alright? He’s basically acting like he did in the beginning. It’s when he makes the kissing noises that I LOL, though. Those movies just aren’t to my personal taste, but they are well done, and if you like him I can see how it’s a cool bonus.
On a technical level, Voltage went all out with this one. There’s the image of walking, moving closer and farther, moving side to side, opening eyes (from a heroine’s perspective), and dynamic character CGs that are mildly animated (if you’ve ever played games like Odin’s Sphere or Muramasa, it’s the same principle where only a single part moves of the spite). There are a variety of sprites, and though their range of expressions doesn’t rival My Mystic Romance, the fact they do more than just sit there is nice. They seem like cheap tricks, but they really work to increase immersion in the story. I think the last game I played where I remembered being impressed by the effects was the Moonlight/paranormal one. Is there a division of teams over there or something? The ones who work on normal games and then the ones who work on something like this? Who knows hahaha
This doesn’t do anything special. But it does execute its story well, despite falling into the usual pitfalls of an otome game. The heroine has some spunk and isn’t entirely a doormat, though she is rather naive. I liked how she was going to be a medical doctor, but it seemed to not be a big deal as the plot went on, which kinda sucked. But I’m proud of her for not crumbling under pressure and sticking to her convictions. In the spectrum of innocently naive main characters, she’s a good seed. It doesn’t have to be 100% unique to tell a satisfying story, and I feel this falls under that category.
My heart scale is defined as follows – 5 hearts = a story everyone will fall in love with, regardless of preferences; 4 hearts = a well-done story that people who love the concept will adore, and people who don’t may end up liking it; 3 hearts = if you like this type of story or this type of hero, then you will enjoy this, but those who do not like either of those things will probably not; 2 hearts = it had potential, it squandered it; 1 heart = just a waste of time from the get-go; 0 hearts = why was this made?
He’s not as deranged as they make him seem in the beginning.
Out of context statements that mean entirely different things~
We all know this means chores. Just once I’d like to see a MC be all “AWWW YEAAAHHH TO THE ROOM, LOVERBOY!”
And that makes for good stories.
I don’t know how I should feel about myself when this line just makes him more interesting to me instead of scary.
The good kind of unpredictable involves food, always.
See? Such a good guy.
Out of context statements that sound better out of context for $1000, Alex.