It should go without saying that I am especially thrilled with what the otome genre is offering this coming year and beyond. Voltage Inc. have stepped up their game with the announcement of a surprise Switch exclusive title, Idea Factory International re-joined the foray of localising otomes with Cupid Parasite this past year, and the west is seeing a substantial amount of many notable indie endeavours, both newly released (the splendid reception of Blooming Panic, for example) and plenty of upcoming titles we’re covering here.
To say that fans are excited for how much we have to look forward to is an understatement, since a number of us would not have expected the degree of coverage and new material coming out a mere couple of years ago. Let’s cover what games I’m most excited for to highlight just how well and truly treated we are going to be in 2022 and beyond!
These will not be all the titles I’ve got my eyes on, since I have already mentioned enough times how I know that I’m going to love Variable Barricade enough that it has become an echo chamber at this point. Instead, let’s highlight the otomes we’ve not yet covered here on Rice Digital to give them the coverage that they deserve.
even if TEMPEST
As someone who took great enjoyment from Star-Crossed Myth, one of Voltage Inc.’s most popular otome titles last year, the surprising news that the company — who primarily focuses on the mobile market — are bringing a new, exclusive otome to the Switch was a delight to hear.
even if TEMPEST stars a heroine who looks extremely promising, donning an uncommonly short haircut similar to the one that I complemented Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani‘s leading lady for, and seemingly possessing a weapon of sorts if her full portrait is anything to go by.
Its premise is just as exciting, setting up a fairy-tale plotline with a dark edge to it. Anastasia has suffered through a lifetime of mistreatment by her stepmother, who isolated her in a filthy attic. Her luck is turned around by obtaining the Fatal Rewind ability, which allows her to time-travel; however, repeated usage of it may make for a fate worse than she could have ever imagined.
The game is written and directed by Ushio Ayane, who was the director and scenario writer of the Vita exclusive otome Norn9; this should give you an idea of how much potential the product is packing.
With four love interests, it also features an exciting, familiar VA array. Furukawa Makoto (Lugus from Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk, Adage from Steam Prison and Allan Melville from Cupid Parasite) plays the seemingly perfect commander and ladies’ man Crius Castlerock, while Ishikawa Kaito (Hikage from Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly, Dante from Piofiore: Fated Memories and Il Fado de Rie from Café Enchanté) plays burdened prince Lucien Neuschburn.
even if TEMPEST will release digitally on the Nintendo Switch eShop later in 2022.
Peachleaf Valley: Seeds of Love
Peachleaf Valley: Seeds of Love is a dream come true of a product. It looks absolutely divine to say the least, drawing inspiration from classic farming sims to go along with its visual novel formula.
Coming from the creators of cosy indie otome Love Spell: Written in the Stars, and sharing the same narrative universe, Great Gretuski Studios LLC have raised the bar of what an indie otome’s production value and potential can be with this upcoming release.
The game will be partially voiced with a nameable heroine, and its love interests all represent the seasons. Autumn is Jude, a granny’s boy who is very quiet, so much so that he comes across as antisocial and cold with anyone who isn’t his grandmother. Spring is shown through Skylar, a well-off nobleman who enjoys being dramatic as much as he does collecting art. Summer is presented by Hunter, a kind-hearted, valley boy who lives and breaths the countryside lifestyle, and finally, Naadim is designed after Winter, the mysterious dancer of the town who seems to keep people at a distance.
Having lost her home and job, the game’s heroine is given a new, refreshing restart to her life during this dark period in her life, and it refills her with hope and a new sense of purpose for her future. Peachleaf Valley: Seeds of Love exudes a feel-good, cosy and positively charming journey with a satisfying amount of replay value, offering three different endings (good, bad, and secret) for each route and special stories from the love interests’ viewpoints. Waiting on its eventual release is proving to be a challenge!
Snail Story: Love Edition
Slated for a June 2022 release, Snail Story: Love Edition follows its heroine, Ms. Escargot (first name is given by the player), an orphaned snailfolk of Shelltown. Unsure of her identity and burdened with a cracked shell weighing heavily on her back throughout her life, she applies to a human university to discover who she truly is and what it means to be a snail person.
Snail Story: Love Edition has a demo available through Steam or itch.io, and having a mere taster of its potential will make you impatient for its upcoming release. Its worldbuilding seems especially intriguing, and we can’t help but hope it further explores the inner workings of how a snail person society would really work compared to our own.
With plenty of snail puns along the way, Snail Story: Love Edition is an entirely engrossing experience with its gorgeous visuals and multiple plot-lines that enrich its setting, characters and depth.
The game presents snail person disappearances, a mysterious origins story for the heroine, the questionable authenticity of the first snail person Dr. Schneil, and the seemingly imperfect Shelltown that may not be as idealistic as it appears on the surface. The game will release with two routes – detective Bobby, who the heroine is unfamiliar with, and Jefe the Snailor, whom the heroine is already crushing on.
The latter behaves in a himbo fashion, acting on his emotions and not being the brightest tool in the shed — other than being surprisingly gifted in Spanish. He’s adventurous, as his “sailor” position suggests, whilst Bobby is a level-headed, justice hungry member of the police, and currently intertwined with discovering the truth behind the disappearances.
The full game is expected to last around 12 hours, with the possibility of extended content depending on its budget. Its heroine is established as a shy character who was often ridiculed for her imperfect shell, but her personality will be shaped somewhat through your choices. Endings also already seem to be a highlight to discover, since they can sometimes be humorous, and other times surprisingly dark, even being depicted with CGs. Additionally, there is a collectathon element through a point-and-click function tasking you with locating “Snaillies” in the backgrounds that can then be viewed in the Snailarium.
Stay up-to-date with the game’s progress on developer Squish Potato’s Twitter!
Apocalyptic Dream will most likely be the last to release on the list as it is slated for release sometime in 2024, but my excitement for it is unmatched for anything else based on its plotline alone. Developer Midnight Springs attempts to do a lot with a unique and dark premise for an otome set during a zombie outbreak. It features a dual-protagonist setup that swaps perspective during the story, with players being put into the role of its twin characters. With a total of 10 love interests — six for Mikuru and four for Toshiro — the option of keeping both single will also be present.
While players can choose to pursue romance, its endings are mostly affected by how well the players connect with the side characters, and to what level they explore the story and locations through their decisions. No character is safe in Apocalyptic Dream, and some will have to die for players to encounter different branches in the narrative. Additionally, some choices unfold as timed events, though this feature can be turned off. It will be voiced, featuring character backstories that can be unlocked depending on your choices in the game, and has animated sprites with blinking effects.
Apocalyptic Dream’s main point of intrigue is that it marries two formulas of a visual novel for separate audiences with its two gender differing main characters, blurring the lines between an otome and bishoujo title. It’s especially exciting to see this reach such a widespread audience for this reason alone, and as a selling point of being a darker otome, inspired by the likes of Corpse Party, Zero Escape, and WorldEnd Syndrome, 2024 can’t come soon enough.
Idea Factory International’s mystery title
In all honestly, my excitement for this release is ultimately because it is covered in mystery. Idea Factory mentioned a third, unnamed localisation alongside Cupid Parasite and Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei, and the speculation surrounding it has only heightened the tension for its eventual unveil.
There has been a number of suggestions as to what it may be, with the two most popular ones being either My Next Life as a Villainess – All Routes Lead to Doom!, or Shuuen no Virche -Error:Salvation-. Both are newer releases that make sense with the time frame of unveiling either considering both their releases in Japan during the time of announcement, but the former has arguably the most potential of being the unnamed localisation due to its established familiarity in the west.
Other mentions have been given to ports of either Amnesia which was originally exclusive to the Vita digitally, but was brought to Steam later, and Hakuoki, which has received a number of ports already. Both would be understandable selections considering their existing popularity.
On a final note, is anyone else keeping in mind Broccoli’s teaser statement back in March of last year about a possible Jack Jeanne localisation? Because that’s easily my most hyped otome release of all time if it becomes a reality! Any time now for an update, pretty please?
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