Just finished the game last night, so here’s the first of probably multiple reviews for a massive game! First, here’s a review of the dating aspect of the game.
Before we begin, I just wanted to say that I chose to only officially date one girl in this game. However, I tested and reloaded a couple other routes, and you go through ranks 1-8 before you have to make a decision at 9, so you experience a lot of the “dates” even if you don’t ultimately choose to pursue a romance.
Secondly, this is from the perspective of a girl who dates guys playing a guy that dates girls. I don’t actually find it hard to identify with/date girls as a guy in video games because I see it as role playing–I try to choose the girl that has the most chemistry with my main character. My personal favorites are often different. For example, in Persona 4 I paired my main character with Rise (and had an affair with Marie ;_; I regretted it for the rest of the game), but my personal favorite girl was Naoto. In this game, I chose to date Ann (by the flip of a coin, but it ultimately felt right), but my personal favorite was Futaba.
I tried to keep this mostly spoiler-free, but obviously there will be minor spoilers. Some social links were hard to talk about without spoilers at all, so I put those under highlightable spoiler tags.
Anyway, on to the ladies!
Ann Takamaki – Lovers
As it has been with the Lovers social link in previous games, Ann is the model/actress of the game. Personality-wise, she’s an interesting balance between femme fatale and a very charming innocence that makes her optimistic even when other girls are being nasty towards her.
Throughout her route, you learn more about her family situation, about her life as a model, and about her relationship with her best friend. She also has a little tsundere in her, which is fun and cute. For conversations, you get some nice options for things to say that are somewhat flirtatious. Practically, progressing her social link gives her the standard party member abilities along with more negotiating opportunities when you fail.
I really like Ann! I initially felt like she was too much of the default choice for the main character, but I think that her little imperfections give her character more dimension than expected. It also looks like she’s not the most popular choice from google searches, so that works for me.
Makoto Niijima – Priestess
Makoto I think fills the “takane no hana” anime and manga trope, or the perfect “distant flower” that is meant to be gazed at from afar. She’s the student council president, is smart, is elegant, is a strong woman, and more or less achieves overall perfection.
I instantly friend-zoned Makoto :x.
I liked that she was smart, strong, and independent, but I think because of that I respected her as a friend/comrade and didn’t really see her as a romantic interest. Throughout her route, you’re pretending to be her boyfriend so that her friend will listen to her, you learn about her family’s story, and you support her as she struggles to figure out what she wants to do in life. I felt like any sexual tension/chemistry was very lacking in the route until you choose to romance her, although you could certainly do some innocent flirting as you pretend to be her boyfriend. Practically, her route gives you standard party member abilities and some negotiation skills.
Futaba Sakura – Hermit
I love Futaba. She’s a nerd, she’s smart, she’s eccentric, and she’s hilarious. She’s probably my personal favorite of the females, and I did test out her romance route just to see what would happen. I even went a week into it before ultimately feeling like I needed to go back and choose Ann, and it’s all for one primary reason.
I’m going to do my best to describe this without any spoilers.
Futaba sort of fits the trope of an otaku who is (extremely) socially awkward, so you spend much of her route reintroducing her to people, learning about her family story, and interacting with another social link in the game who is part of the story. I think Futaba has the biggest character arc due to her story and how you meet her. I also think that because of the relationship between Futaba, the main character, and the third social link, it is hard to see her as a romantic interest. [Spoiler begins]I saw her primarily as my little sister, and with Sojiro we felt more like a family of misfits.[Spoiler ends] However, there is definitely some chemistry between her and the main character, and you get some nice options for answers you can use to flirt with her :). Practically, Futaba gains more opportunities to support your team as the navigation party member.
Haru Okumura – Empress
Poor Haru. I think she’s less popular girl because she joins the party super late into the game. You’d have to dedicate your free time to her route once it’s available in order to complete it in time, although her route is very forgiving in terms of answers that will give you points. Haru is sweet, a little ditzy, and an ojou-sama, but she is still modest regardless.
Through Haru’s route you learn about her family story (including where her father’s company started), about her struggles with her designated fiancee, and about what she wants to do moving forward. She’s really great with plants and supplies your party with SP-recovery vegetables that she grows, and you help her from time to time with her garden.
Haru is a good girl, but I think her route is like Makoto’s and lacking in romantic answers until you choose to romance her. I always feel like it’s strange for things to take a sudden turn, and I like my romances to build steadily. By progressing her route you gain better vegetables from her garden.
Tae Takemi – Death
Ann is very attractive, but I think the sexy award has to go to Takemi. That combination of short skirt, high heels, choker, and heavy eye makeup is like woah. And the way she casually leans back and crosses her long, bare legs when she’s selling you medicine…
Takemi is intelligent, mature due to being older, more than a little S (and you are M–her guinea pig), and super punk. She’s a little tsundere to her patients (but sadly not towards you), but she does deeply care for them. Throughout her route, you learn about why she came to become a small town doctor and why she wants to develop a strong medicine that she tests on you.
There’s definitely opportunities for chemistry here. I think her body language towards the main character is suggestive, and I think older players will find her more appealing. Takemi’s social link will provide you with discounts and better inventory at her clinic.
Sadayo Kawakami – Temperance
I don’t know how to review this one without spoilers because the first encounter you have in her route is a spoiler, so I’ll put this all under a spoiler tag.
[Spoiler begins]Kawakami, your home room teacher, is a maid employee at night that offers cleaning services among other suggested “services” (although the extent is not fully revealed). You can call her to provide her maid services to you, although I think it’s hilarious when she drops the maid facade and slacks off on your couch or on your bed because she has to do two jobs every day. She also gets embarrassed in cute ways when you compliment her, and she decides to let you slack off in her class in order to keep her secret.
Throughout her route, you learn why she picked up this embarrassing second job. You also learn about her passion for teaching and encourage her to embrace it again. Her route is PACKED with sexual tension, considering that she spends time with you alone in a suggestive maid outfit, and her job description suggests that she might perform sexual acts as well. By advancing her social link, you gain chances to slack off in class and spend school time reading, making infiltration tools, or sleeping. If you choose to romance her, she initially resists because of the teacher-student relationship, but she eventually comes around ;).[Spoiler ends]
Hifumi Togo – Star
If you like an elegant, mature, smart woman in the package of a high school girl, Hifumi is the one for you. She is also a model like Ann, although she has more of the image of a traditional beauty. She is a shogi (chess) player, which makes her very intelligent. She’s generally fairly quiet and composed, except for her very special quirk when she is playing shogi–she verbalizes the role play of her shogi units :D. Charge, valiant knight, and defend your kingdom!
I think her quirk is absolutely adorable, and Hifumi was a great option outside of the main party. Throughout her route, you learn about her personal conflict with her mother and about her struggles balancing her modeling and shogi-playing life. She has no interest in modeling and would prefer to play shogi, but her mother wants her to model. There’s good chemistry between her and the main character with plenty of options to compliment her, and there is even an opportunity to sneak away with her at the school trip. Practically, her social link will provide very useful skills for the party during battles, including guaranteed escape and changing party members.
Chihaya Mifune – Fortune
Chihaya is a young girl with a special power in fortune telling. She also believes very strongly in the fates that she reads to her customers and is surprised when those fates change. She is overall a kind girl that has been through some unfortunate circumstances and made poor decisions.
Throughout her route, you will learn how she came to the city from the countryside, what led her to doing some questionable things she is doing, and how she tries to get out of her situation. You also lose 100,000 yen just to start this route! I’m not so sure about chemistry, but it does feel like I’m helping her find her way in life again. Chihaya is also pretty cute, so there is that. Practically, her route will allow you to forecast events in the game like when certain social links will be available to advance.
Ichiko Ohya – Devil
I’m sorry Ohya, I’m just not really sure anyone really chooses you as a romantic interest…
I got to about rank 6 with Ohya, and she was the only girl I didn’t max. You learn about why she’s doing the work she’s doing and what injustices have happened to her on the job in the past. She also uses you as her fake boyfriend so that she can continue pursuing the news that she is interested in, which means that you go on fake dates with her throughout this social link. However, I really didn’t find her story particularly compelling. I don’t actually remember what her ranks provide, either :x.
Yusuke Kitagawa – Emperor
Because if he were an option I would totally choose him, and he wants you to strip ;).
Caroline – Strength
Because she’s tsundere asf <3.
Because why not? And she totally would have made a great confidant.