Original Japanese Title: 黒蝶のサイケデリカ
Romanized: Kokuchou no Psychedelica
Translation: Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly
This is going to be a non-spoiler review (except for some CGs. There are definitely CGs in here), minus a section at the end which you can skip if you want to avoid spoilers. This is the first otome game I’ve played in a while so I decided to review it even though I hadn’t had the intention of doing so initially.
A lot of other bloggers did a really extensive and fantastic job of doing more detailed reviews revealing the plot so I’m just going to do a general review on how everything unfolded and how the playthrough went for people interested in the game and wanting to know more about it before they decide whether they want to play it or not.
The basic story is that the heroine (Beniyuri) wakes up in a mansion with no recollection of who she is and has no memories of her past. While in this mansion, she encounters monsters and other guys who also have no memories just like her. It is revealed that the “master” of the mansion wants their help in completing a certain “Kaleidoscope” by killing the monsters and collecting Kaleidoscope shards from them. If they help him complete it, then he will let them leave the mansion and return home.
The set-up of the story was really right up my alley so I’m kind of surprised that I didn’t immediately want to purchase it when I heard about it. I’m a big sucker for games with a lot of mystery and intrigue. Thinking back, I think I was worried about it being “too scary” because while I like a lot of dark and twisted mysteries (if I’m being honest with myself I do gravitate towards these), I’m also easily terrified and can’t watch or read horror stories because they haunt me forever. This game was not like that. It really did play the mystery thing but it didn’t get scary. The reason it stays with me is more because the story was crafted well. You’ve probably encountered a similar story in some other form, so it’s not the most original story in the world, but I still found it very enjoyable despite this. A big part is how you present the story, and I think the team who worked on this game did a good job on that.
The plot revelations were a big part of the progression of the game and the romance was minimal. It wasn’t nonexistent, but it wasn’t the main focus so if you prefer your otome games with copious amounts of romance then this one might disappoint. If you’re up for a good and engaging story with romance integrated in it then you might want to consider picking this game up.
Also, if you plan on playing this game, I would recommend you not read anything more about it because this is one of those games where it won’t be as good if you spoil yourself. The way the mystery unfolds is a big enjoyment factor of the game and once you know what’s happening it’s not as interesting.
I think one of the reasons the plot was so riveting was partially attributed to the characters. They all had the types of insecurities and feelings I could see real people experiencing so they were very relate-able and therefore easy to sympathize with. One character’s situation was a little unique, but I think it was still painted pretty realistically.
The seiyuu all did a really good job too. I felt a lot of emotion from their voice-acting and I think it would’ve been hard to get into the story if they didn’t do their part. I do admit I had to tinker with Karasuba’s voice a little to make it one notch softer than everyone else and sometimes Yamato’s voice was a little too soft (could be because his voice is lower) but I didn’t end up adjusting his.
While I think they all did a good job, Ishikawa Kaito’s Hikage, Hosoya Toshimasa’s Yamato, and Matsumoto Yoshitsugu’s Monshiro stood out the most to me. Actually, scratch that. Beniyuri’s seiyuu Nakahara Mai also did a fantastic job. I’m a huge fan of voiced heroines and while the game would’ve still been good with the more common unvoiced heroines, I think it was easier to get into because Beniyuri was voiced. It was easier for me to invest in her as a character and understand her perspective this way so I’m glad Otomate decided to have her voiced.
ART / CGs
When I first saw the game’s art, I thought it was nice but I wasn’t 100% sold on it. The more I looked at it, the more I liked it though. I’m not sure if it’s at the level where I would buy an artbook for it, but it’s nice enough that when I looked at it left me with a good feeling. Some of the poses were a little awkward sometimes but they weren’t too bad. The main backgrounds were dark but there were also splashes of vibrant colors that matched the mood of the game. I was pretty fond of the color scheme.
I felt like there were a good amount of CGs because just when I would think it’s been a while since I saw a CG, one would pop up.I don’t recall ever getting the thoughts that I wish certain scenes had CGs or wondered why some scenes did have CGs so that’s always a plus in my book.
What I thought was interesting too was the way the CGs were divided in the Gallery. I’m used to each CG only belonging to one category, so if it’s a group CG it would be under the category “Other” more often than not. What they did for this game was the same CG could be categorized in multiple places. If it had five people, it would be in the Other category and then in each individual person’s album. I liked this touch because it felt more collective.
I LOVE the music. A+++. The game has a lot of good tracks. While the upbeat tracks are good too, the slow and melancholy ones are really what took the cake for me. Even the everyday tracks were pleasant to listen to. Thanks to this game and my buddy Jyuuguchi, I learned how to rip audio from the PS Vita too. If you know anything about me, I get super passionate about music (ones with vocals and BGMS as well) and the songs from this series called to me.
Also worth noting I like the main Ending theme that has the same title as the game. I’ve never heard of Shimamiya Eiko but I liked her performance of this song. I liked it enough that the next time I do order I might end up buying the single.
GAME STRUCTURE / EXECUTION
Short Episodes: I enjoyed the content of the Short Episodes a lot. They basically felt like scenes that might’ve been hard to fit in to the overall story to prevent it from dragging but were still important…though I admit that I was a little annoyed that I needed to play so many of them to unlock the continuation of the main route. Being forced to play them when you just wanted to continue the main story made them feel like a chore rather than a bonus. However, in the end I did like them. I just wish there had been a better way they could’ve been incorporated into the game. At the same time, because they were external from the main story, it helped with pacing and it made it much quicker to skip through the game when you replayed for different endings. This probably adds to why the game feels “short.” So in the end, while I wasn’t exactly fond of the organization I can’t actually think of a good solution to it.
One complaint I had is that you can’t tell who the Short Episode contains until you play it. It shows how many people will be in the short story by using these little icons, but not who the people are. After you play it at least once it unlocks the little avatars of the Short Episode participants. I would’ve preferred to know who the stories were for before playing them in case I wanted them to jibe with whose route I was playing. This is really just a minor complaint though. A lot of the stories had multiple people so it really could’ve fit whenever.
Flowchart: It was pretty easy to navigate through the flowchart. The progression of the main storyline was located on the left-side and the short stories on the right. If something was read, a black butterfly would appear on the scene in the top right corner kind of like a badge.
You could navigate using the arrow keys to jump from scenes or you could scroll using the touch screen. I preferred the touchscreen but sometimes it would register my movement funny and I’d either accidentally zoom in or move across to some place I wasn’t trying to get to.
I would’ve liked to be able to scroll out more on the flowchart. I realize that meant I wouldn’t have been able to read the text anymore, but being able to see the whole picture would’ve been nice. There were a few times when I wanted that capability but I couldn’t do it so I had to settle for lots of scrolling.
I don’t know what to call this because it’s not really a bug, but if you access the flowchart from the Album menu from the main menu, you can only play the actual scene and it would not progress in the story afterwards. In order to actually continue playing from a flowchart scene, you needed to access the flowchart while you’re already playing the game. That was also annoying because it added extra steps to do something that should’ve been simple. It would’ve been much easier to be able to continue the story from the flowchart from the main menu versus continuing and then accessing the flowchart. It really probably took about the same amount of time to access the flowchart for story progression honestly, but it just seemed like it would’ve been an intuitive feature. Why would I want to access the flowchart scene and NOT progress in the story? I just didn’t get it.
Minigame: This might be kind of surprising, but I didn’t hate it actually. I did complain on Twitter that I was only getting lukewarm phrases from the guys in the beginning because I suck so bad at minigames, but the more you play the game, the more rare butterflies appear. When rare butterflies come out, it’s really easy to score higher. I wasn’t getting any better at the minigame, but because I was hitting higher point-giving butterflies, it became really east to get an S score without trying too hard. I swear I was missing around 40% of the butterflies that came out too.
You basically needed to play the minigame to get points needed to open the short stories. At first I thought I needed to get a lot of points but I think I only played it three times outside of regular story progression to get more to open the side stories in the very beginning (when I had only a little bit points because I couldn’t score higher than a C) and then I never really needed to play the minigame after that. You could also skip the minigame if you didn’t want to play it or you didn’t need the points so that was nice. I would’ve been a little annoyed if I had to keep playing the game when I didn’t need to even if it wasn’t hard to score well the more you played.
For the minigame, all you need to do is lock-on to butterflies that appear using the cursor and then press the “Shoot!” button to…well, shoot them. I think you score higher by shooting more at one time but the butterflies will keep moving closer to you and if you wait too long they disappear and you miss them. The guy you’re fighting with will also say some encouraging phrases while you’re playing the minigame.
Couple of other issues that were not necessarily bugs but made it a little less convenient to play:
After playing any short episode or finishing a scene, the game would ask if I wanted to update my system data. If you’re like me, I don’t like being asked this question because it’s like if I open a word processing document, make no changes, but the file will ask before I close it if I want to “save” my changes so then I second-guess myself that I actually did change something?? In this case, I know that if I played the scene for the first time then I made a change, but at the same time…if I’m playing through Short Stories in order to unlock the main story continuation, why on earth would I NOT want to save the changes to the system? It wasn’t too big of an issue really, but I would’ve preferred not having this dialogue pop up.
This could just be me but I couldn’t find a way to prevent the screen dimming when I used Auto-play. You had the regular Otomate programming of letting you Skip Everything Read, Skip All, and Auto-play, but when I selected Auto-play, the screen would dim after a certain amount of time of inactivity. However, if I touched the screen it would turn Auto-play off instead of just making the screen light up. On some of the other Vita games I’ve played the screen would either not dim while in Auto-play or lightly touching the Vita’s back touchpad would do the trick, but it didn’t do that in this case. So any time I wanted to use Auto-play, after the screen dimmed I would need to turn Auto-play off and then turn it back on. I found this pretty irritating after a while. This was probably my biggest annoyance in the game actually.
Guide or No Guide?
I’ve heard from other people who played this game that you need to be careful about the guide you pick because some contain spoilers. If you’re good at playing without a guide, you might want to not use one just to make sure you can avoid possible spoilers. If you’re like me, make sure you’re careful. I learned from experience that I can’t really play games without guides unless it’s really, really obvious/easy to navigate (Moujuutsukai had two choices for everything and gave you a little animation if you chose right, so if I saved before every choice, I would be able to fix it easily if I picked the wrong one). For this game, I used momokan’s guide.
Overall, this guide does not really contain spoilers, but something about its structure might make you question/start thinking about certain things like I did. The pros of this guide is it seems to try to minimize the amount of save files you need and the creator actually changed some of the ending names so while you know you’re playing a “good” or “bad” end it gives away as little as possible about it (because ending titles could be spoilers too). In the end, that might be confusing, but I appreciate that she tried to avoid spoilers because spoilers can really ruin this game.
Besides the structure, the biggest con to this guide for completionist players at least is it tells you how to get all the ends, but it doesn’t tell you how to get all the trophies. I had a situation where one of my stories closed (and it had originally been open at some point) because I hadn’t played one scene as the guide told me to choose Answer B to continue in the proper route. That part worked fine, but the guide didn’t tell me to save first, choose Answer A to get the scene, and then go back and choose the right answer (Answer B) to move on to the proper route. If it had, I wouldn’t have had that problem. In a way, it was good the scene locked because it helped me to get 100% completion of scenes but it was still a little annoying. I realize if I had thought about it then that would’ve been common sense, but when I use a guide I like it to be as dummy-proof as possible because I don’t want to have to worry about things like that.
OVERALL CONCLUDING THOUGHTS
I really loved this game. It was really the best choice for me to try to get back into gaming and I’m glad I picked it up. The story was rich, it had a lot of mystery and touching and sad moments but I think you’re left with a nice feeling at the end (even if sometimes you’re internally screaming over certain characters for…reasons).
Once you get to the end of the story, where the main mystery is revealed and the story winds down, while the endings were satisfying in terms of closure, they also felt a little rushed or at least not completely fleshed out to me. We spend so much time with everyone in the mansion and finding out what’s going on there that I felt like the ends were too quick. This might have been partially attributed to the fact that each successive playthrough gets faster because you have more to skip through and less new content, but even knowing that I still felt like the endings didn’t have a lot of content in comparison to earlier parts of the game. That was a little disappointing because the opening of the game was so strong. Having said that, I don’t want to give the impression that the endings were bad. I liked almost all the endings. There were maybe one or two that I didn’t quite get as much significance from, but over all they were all worth playing through.
I’d like to add as an afterthought that I liked the series so much that I’ve already gone bought almost all the tokuten drama CDs for the series. I’m hoping they’re good because I honestly didn’t really read what the scenarios were. This was done in a bit of a backwards order, but I also plan to eventually get the character song CDs for all the characters because I heard good things about them. A lot of people have told me that they really add to the story so I’m hoping that will give me more of what I felt like was missing.
SPOILER SECTION THOUGHTS / QUESTIONS
I’m going to take a page out of my fellow blogger Yume’s book and make this whole section white text so you can highlight it if you want to read my thoughts. These are basically all the questions I had left after playing. I admit part of it could be from things I missed because I did play through this game rather quickly (which means I actually didn’t look anything up that I didn’t 100% understand so I could’ve missed things there) so if any of you catch something I just dumbly missed that was actually addressed in the game, please let me know.
1) They never explained about that inner voice that appeared when Beniyuri was questioning/berating herself that led to Kagiha’s End. At first I thought it might’ve been an external influence because Yamato heard a voice in his bad end as well, but I’m not too sure. Is this somehow Hikage’s doing with his special master of the mansion powers or is it the darkness within herself that ends up taking over because she can’t fight it and it ends up consuming her? I thought this inner “dark” voice would play a bigger role but it kind of just appeared once and disappeared in other routes.
2) Beniyuri was always really exhausted after she fought against monsters but she was the only one. I can’t imagine her physically being that much weaker than the guys that it would make her so winded. When I played the first time I thought there might be a reason for it but it was never explained.
3) The ribbon Ai lends to Kazuya for his cut is never fully explained either. I understand that it could manifest in the Mansion world because of Kazuya’s feelings, but no one else had an item like that that connected them so strongly to the real world and that “protected” them. At first I thought it might’ve been protecting him because he was using it as his anchor and not because the item itself was special, but the item itself had power based on what we can see in Monshiro’s route. Why did this ribbon have so much power? Why did Kagiha taking it away from Beniyuri make her more susceptible to be tainted by her darkness? Why was it able to lead Beniyuri to Monshiro in the hellhole and why was it able to bring her (and Monshiro) back to the real world in his Good End?
4) What’s the deal with the seller and the hairclip that appeared in the Real World End? It obviously seemed to foreshadow into what follows, but it was just kind of presented, added some mystery, but was never expanded or explained.
5) Why is Hikage’s real face never revealed? In the Mansion I can understand why he might not have one because of people losing their identities (faces, names, and memories) but I don’t understand why even in flashback CGs it was never there. I, for one, was curious about what he really looked like. Like…I’m really bad with CGs and it’s possible that part of his real face is revealed? There were times when it looked like he had one red eye and one purple one (almost as if his real face was bleeding into the one he took from Kazuya) and he also had this double beauty mark under his right eye that appeared in all his faceless CGs too, but I don’t think it was a different face, just different expressions. So in the end, it still wasn’t “his” face. I’m wondering if they did this because he’d taken on a different identity so many different times that he lost himself (and actually he probably lost himself before that if you think about it), and therefore lost his true face but…I can’t tell if this was done purposefully or if it was just overlooked.
6) Speaking of that, how did he even get the name Hikage? I know Hikage and Usagi probably don’t remember their real names, but it was just never explained completely. Were the room plate names just something that materialized as a quirk of the Mansion and Hikage took advantage of that or did Hikage “choose” the door names for fun? I realize that in a conversation Hikage had with Usagi in one of the short stories that it was explained he had used the name “Hikage” on more than one occasion and that Natsuki used “Kagiha” multiple times too, but I couldn’t tell if the room name plates just happened to be that that way and Hikage would always use it for his plans or if he had some hand in it. On top of all the Mansion names seeming to make sense to their characters, the amount of rooms also matched the amount of occupants. Monshiro joins later but there was still that one extra room he could use so he could join the group later so it seems possible that Hikage could manipulate the number of rooms and the room names.
7) Expanding on this, how many other people did Hikage and Kagiha manipulate to complete the Kaleidoscope? It seems like it was always groups of people and done in this elaborate fashion because Hikage got a kick out of betraying everyone and seeing their despair. I realize it was heavily implied that this was the case, but I personally think it would’ve been really interesting if this was expanded on or at least explained it a little more. I would’ve gotten a better sense of how this group was different if there was more information on what happened to other people in the interim. It wouldn’t need to have been really detailed, I just wanted to know a little more.
8) Everyone had one piece of the kaleidoscope from when they were children and went to the original Mansion in the real world, but Beniyuri seemed to be the only one who had it at the Mansion between Life and Death and hers was, of course, the last piece. I mean everyone had their jewelry pieces that would get blacker from being tainted and indicated if they were close to becoming monsters, but none of those were pieces for the Kaleidoscope except hers. The other thing was, if her piece was the last piece from the get-go, was that the only “real” piece? Why did Hikage say she had the last piece from when they first entered the mansion? Did the other pieces they collected from shooting the monsters not actually do anything and were there for show so everyone would work together to complete the Kaleidoscope?
9) What dictated whether a person went to that Mansion after they passed away (or were in comas like Monshiro)? Did they all get exposed to the shards or something? It didn’t seem like all souls that died went there, but I couldn’t really figure out what led them to go to the Mansion.
10) I feel like this is a random point here but…why is Monshiro’s hair white in the Mansion? Does it have to do with his coma? Is it to show his soul has been aging separately from his body while in contrast Natsuki just looks like a grown-up version of himself because he actually died and so he technically was being falsely aged? Ai’s hair sometimes looked red and sometimes brown too. I’m kind of confused about this. At first I thought maybe her hair was brown in the real world and red in the Mansion, but then she had red hair outside the Mansion too so I was like ??? Is there any meaning to this hair color changing or not? Why does everyone else seem to keep their hair color except these two?
11) I feel like they should’ve expanded more on Yamato’s transformation. Like, we know he fell into despair and became a monster, but he also changed back although he maintained an aftertaste of that transformation (the black butterflies, his long claw-like nails, etc). I know that Beniyuri helped him remember himself and escape that despair but why could he only partially changed back?