Having finished quite a number of routes, I can say this… the game is pretty good. As in, so far I only found 1 character I dislike, but I know he’s actually pretty popular among the fans of the game so maybe it’s just me. There are 9 routes in total, 6 for the guys, 2 for Amy and Elphart-sensei, and 1 for “Everyone” (the guide I followed called it the Harem Ending, but it doesn’t seem suitable…).
The first impression I got while playing the game was… this game felt A LOT like Harry Potter otome game (minus Quidditch). It’s the setting, I guess…? European-style magic academy, students wearing robes, dormitory… admittedly that probably described all of the magic-school setting games, but… can’t quite explain, it just felt so much like Harry Potter.
Gameplay is rather tedious, unfortunately. Every weekday can be broken down to this:
- Meet a random character on the way to class in the morning.
- Choose your activity for the day.
- Meet a random character having problem with their study/project and offer to help him.
- Meet a random character on the way back to the dorm in the evening.
- Choose your activity for the night.
Sadly, you can only skip until the next ‘choose activity’ part (fortunately you don’t need to hold down the skip button). So… no such thing as skipping until the next answerable question, even when arguably you’re just doing the same thing over and over again. The ‘meet random chara’ part doesn’t do anything to the storyline, they’re just… an extra touch, I guess? Like, as a guy’s affection for the main chara increases, he’ll start accepting her invitation to walk back to the dorm instead of refusing, and when his affection is even higher he’ll start waiting for her so they can walk back to the dorm together. A nice touch as you can see the guy’s various reactions etc, but ultimately… it’s just an extra bit which doesn’t really make the game replay any faster. Sometimes, you’ll get an event with the guy you’re after in between choosing your activities. But there’s only about 3 of these events, so most of the time you’re just doing the same things weeks after weeks.
Also, that ‘choose activity’ bit… the guys will appear randomly on the map, so it might take a bit of QuickSave-QuickLoad if the guy you’re after is not on the map…
For the guys, each guy has the same number of events:
- 3 Private events (happens randomly on a weekday)
- 6 Dates (the guy will invite the girl to go out on the weekend)
- 3 School events (happens on a fixed date/week)
Now spread those among 22 weeks… and everything else apart from those events remain the same. And the extra routes like Amy’s have even less events. The ‘Everyone’ route… has no event.
Main chara of this game… despite being the typical otome heroine (naive, well-meaning, cheerful, overall kind etc etc), I didn’t find her annoying. It’s probably because her personality hasn’t been well-defined (apart from her appetite for food and sweets), that she adapts to the guy’s personality… not enough to make her seem like a completely different person from one route to another, but enough to make her seem like a good match to the guy whose route she’s on. What I liked was that in some story parts where she’s in shock/despair, she didn’t go emo. There’s probably like, what, 1 paragraph of her feeling sad/guilty before she decided that she better do something to fix the situation. And I appreciate that in an otome heroine, since I don’t really play games to get emo…
…if you’re looking for romance though, you can skip this game. I finished 3 guys’ route, and only saw 1 kiss. I guess this game is more about how the characters got to know each other and how they started getting attracted to one another, and ending with them becoming a couple… lots of confusion and blushing and cuteness and awkwardness and such, but not as much romance. I heard that’s what the fandisc is for, where the game would start with them already being a couple *is still waiting for the fandisc in the mail…*
I really like the art, and it suits the setting and atmosphere well. Character design is also distinct from one another, and you get quite a good variety of guys to choose from. …I think I’m biased though, since I liked the art before I even played the game and even bought the artbook… Event CGs were well-done, although I wished there had been more of it. For each guy there’s a total of 11 Event CGs + 2 bonus CG, which was not bad. The spread was rather odd though… 6 CGs for the special events, and 5 CGs all in the final week of the game. Characters’ pose and facial expressions also varied, and always well suited to the situation at hand.
Music was well done, I think. Nothing to warrant you going out to buy the OST, but enough not to start getting annoying. It helped that each guy has his own theme song… because when you meet the random characters throughout the day, the song changes to their theme song, so you’re not stuck with the same general background music all the time. Each romantic/sad/comedic/tense moments also has its own song, and each of them was pretty well done.
Character’s voices were excellent. Everyone (apart from the main character but including random strangers) was fully-voiced, and each seiyuu fit the character’s personality well. It probably helped that the game has a LONG prologue to introduce you to each character and get you used to their personality-voice. … and when I said LONG, I really mean LONG. And this was a game where I found that I liked all of the characters… until I played one of them, anyway.
The first playthrough of the game will definitely take long, since you can’t skip the dialogues. The replays after that… maybe… 3-5 hours per route depending on your reading speed? It’s not the game to play if you just want something which will skip until the next question part…
The game has *a lot* of extras, which I found rather cute. For example, when you start the game, you’ll get a short scene where a random chara will tell you of his first memory/encounter with magic. When you’ve completed a chara’s CG album, you can view each CG with an additional commentary. The chara will comment about the event, and what he thought/was thinking of that time. These commentaries ranged from sweet to insightful to hilarious. Also, all of the special events are replayable from the Album, which I really liked, because then I didn’t need to create different save files just to replay some events.
In terms of story… it’s pretty well done, I think. No heavy or convoluted plot, which helped to keep the game’s mood light-hearted. Relationship with the guys progress quite reasonably that at the end you can see them becoming a couple and it doesn’t feel like it came out of nowhere (except for 1 chara among the ones I’ve played so far, but that’s another rant). The final week of the story deals with the guy’s issues (with a reasonable amount of drama), and usually there’s enough foreshadowing in the special events so it didn’t feel conjured out of nothing (again, except for 1 guy… but that’s a separate rant again). Quite a number of hilarious events as well, which I found awesome.
Personally, I think it’s a good game to play when you want something more cute than romantic, and have the time to spend. I liked it enough that I ordered the fandisc, and will be ordering the sequel regardless of whether or not I like the fandisc. Not recommended if you want something short and romantic though…