Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms Review

The Hakuoki Otome Visual Novel adventure continues with Edo Blossoms, the second and final section to the Hakuoki Shinkai: Fuukaden series released on PC by Idea Factory in March 2018. I played the first half, Kyoto Winds, back in May so I’ve been intrigued to finish the whole story… And now I have, 100% completed in fact.

This series has become one of my favourites, spending over 120 hours in total over the entire two parts, 62 hours on Edo Blossoms specifically. If you’re interested in the series, I suggest you firstly experience Kyoto Winds (you can check out my review here), but the romance really begins to blossom in the second half.

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The story continues directly from where you ended the previous chapters in 1860s Japan. This time around, you pick the character route you wish to proceed with before starting the game. I started with Hijikata’s route which is depicted as the “true” ending. Although there’s no defined way you should experience these routes, I recommend leaving Kazama until last again (although it’s not as important this time as it was previously). All 12 characters available in the first half are all still here and you even get to experience Chizuru’s ending. Each character has a ‘game over’ ending for each chapter, a bad ending, unrequited love ending and the true ending. Hijikata also has an extra chapter to his route.

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I much preferred the story progression in Edo Blossoms. By choosing your route beforehand, you play out the story for that particular character only. Although you still makes choices along the way, these only affect which ending you will get for the specified character and will not determine who’s ending you will get, unlike Kyoto Winds. The way this mechanic works gives you a separate story for each character rather than playing through the same story with different scenes thrown in every now and then. Some events and scenes did overlap, but they were experienced in a new light which kept it interesting rather than opting to skip the sections you’d already read which was so much smoother than before.

I found that my favourite routes differed slightly from the previous game due to the content and story lines. Saito was my number one during Kyoto Winds, but I didn’t find his Edo Blossoms route to be that captivating. I actually really enjoyed Harada’s and Souma’s routes despite not being particularly invested in them during the first section, especially in Souma’s case. The beginning of Souma’s final chapter had me in stitches!  Kazama’s route really surprised me and it was actually touching to see his softer side, but I think Iba will always claim the top spot in my books.

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There were a few story routes I was a little disappointed with, particularly Heisuke’s. Personally, I think Chizuru and Heisuke are the cutest of all the couple’s and I would’ve liked to see a little more development here. The writers definitely missed an opportunity that could’ve made a perfect story of young love considering Heisuke is the youngest of all the captains. I sometimes felt like some of the other characters were too old for Chizuru, so to see something special blossom with Heisuke would have been wonderful. Saying that, I did love his banter with Kazama.

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I was pleased to find that the game’s layout, style and interface were identical to the first part of the game. It felt exactly the same, like I’d never even left. As always, the voice acting was phenomenal and I didn’t find any faults with the translations (other than the odd few typos). The audio honestly was a joy to experience, music included, but some of the sound effects could have been updated. They were the same sounds used in Kyoto Winds though, so I can’t grumble.

Hakuoki is honestly incredible. I cannot recommend this series enough to people who like visual novels. Although the genre is based on romance, the historical setting alongside the main story plot creates a fantastic environment. I would 100% replay this game in a few years time despite fully completing it, that’s the extent of my love for this visual novel.

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In a way, I feel kind of sad that the story is over now as this game has taken a lot of my time over the past 6 months. I just wish Hakuoki: SSL would get ported to PC already…

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