Speakeasy Tonight: Donovan POV and Julius POV Impressions and Review

If you’re looking for a review on Speakeasy Tonight’s main story routes, here you go.  This review assumes you have read Donovan’s and Julius’ main stories and makes no attempt to keep those stories unspoiled.

The release announcement for Donovan and Julius POV routes caught me by surprise. Has Voltage USA done POV routes before? The original Voltage brand’s POV routes usually leave me disappointed, and I was skeptical of these.

But they’re good. Really good. The advertising blurb mentions “finding out what he does when not with you,” and it delivers. New characters are introduced, more time is spent with secondary characters, and the background mystery plot from the main route is explored more fully. And, with the exception of the “surprised” face, the MC’s different sprites are lovely. The programming and editing are spot-on as well.

Donovan POV Route

Donovan comes across as the same grade-A jerk he seems in the main route – possibly worse. He’s not softened at all; he’s hard, bitter, manipulative, and focused on his goals at all times.

And that’s why I love this route. The writer doesn’t try to soften his character or give him some past tragedy he constantly revisits to make him more sympathetic. Donovan’s a rough character in a rough setting, and it feels much less like a fairy tale than some of the other routes.

Favorite Moments

  • “Most folk manage to do their jobs without bein’ pricks about it.” – Donovan

  • Liam looked like he wanted to say something, then scratched his head and changed the subject.

  • The package from Gerry to Donovan is priceless.

  • “Hell’s bells, she’s like a lamprey!” – Donovan

Julius POV Route

I enjoyed this route for the interactions with secondary characters like Connie, Larry, and Gerry, but it won’t change anyone’s perception of Julius. The relationship waffling on Julius’ part is just as present in this story as the main route. If that drove you up the wall in the original route, skip this one.

Favorite Moments

  • “Vincent Moretti, are you and I having a moment?” – Julius

  • “Add more emotion into it, will you? I don’t think the room is depressed enough.” – Neil

  • “I know, I know…you told me so. Why don’t y’all just form a nice line…” – Julius

I’m looking forward to Vince’s and Cliff’s POV stories. We get Neil’s after those, right?

Voltage Entertainment USA’s Speakeasy Tonight is available on iOS.

Knight of My Heart: Henri Spin-off and Sequel Impressions and Review – Spoilers at End

You can find Henri’s main route review here.  This review will focus on his spin-off and sequel.

Henri’s The Suitor is one of my favorite secondary stories from Voltage.  Instead of action sequences, over-the-top dialog, and grand gestures, I found two intelligent people facing real relationship obstacles in a believable manner.  Go buy it.

Henri’s sequel is more of a mixed bag. I enjoy the dialog and secondary characters enough to recommend it, but the main couple really irritate me.

Positives

  • More time spent with Catherine, Isabelle, and Jacques.  I also like the new secondary characters.
  • The intrigue plot ties into the main route’s story, and the two orphans make a reappearance.
  • Word choice again transports the player to a different time, and much of the dialog is amusing.  I suggest you try all the options so as not to miss the funniest lines.

Negatives

  • The wrong sprites appear for Henri in two different scenes.
  • The royal nurse never makes an appearance even though the main route says she will be summoned.
  • The couple’s disagreement scenes feel like forced drama compared to the other stories.  Both the MC and Henri have valid points, but her overly emotional reactions and Henri’s anger didn’t feel like quite the same couple as the main route and spin-off.

*Spoilers Ahead*

    • One chapter in particular had me yelling at the screen.  I was annoyed the MC asks her father to change his mind about Henri’s assignment and equally annoyed that the King does not dismiss his adviser.  In The Suitor, the King and the MC seem pretty close and see each other without other people around to talk about important matters.  I was annoyed with both the MC for being unreasonable and with Henri for being so pushy.  And I was particularly annoyed when I chose the “get out” option and instead got an angry sex scene. I had had enough of these two, thanks. Fortunately, a good scene with the secondary characters follows.
  • For someone who declares “I am the Princess of Valois, someday its queen, Henri, and we live not in some fairy tale kingdom but in a place plagued by difficulties and more than a few enemies,” the MC makes some spectacularly stupid decisions.  She leaves for a public appearance with only one guard.  She throws herself into battle and nearly dies during an encounter that did not require her participation.  She determines to rescue Henri herself when her presence only adds to the rescue party’s responsibilities. Her safety as sole royal heir was important enough to conceal her identity for years, and now she doesn’t seem to give a damn. Later in the story she muses:
      • “It makes me question the motives behind actions I have taken about my determination to put myself at risk despite the very real concerns expressed by Henri and Father.”

      • Do tell, MC. *sighs*

      • She feels more intelligent than this in the other stories.

At least she’s still funny.  Here’s my favorite quote:  “Thank you, Jacques. I will dedicate my next nightmares to you.”  XD

Voltage Entertainment USA’s Knight of My Heart is available on iOS and Android.

 

Dreamy Days in West Tokyo: Takeshi Sequel Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Basic Premise: The main character and Takeshi pursue their post-high-school goals while trying to make a relationship work.

Positives

  • The flash-sequences are still as goofy and funny.

  • Ichigo has taken over Rihito’s job of being unimpressed by cutesy moments.

  • The MC looks at her interests and gifts and chooses a college path separate from Takeshi.

  • I still like both the MC and Takeshi for the most part.  The relationship also still feels like two teenagers figuring thing out, not like an overly grandiose drama.

  • The secondary female characters are people, not caricatures.

  • Both the regular and best ending are good, but I prefer the regular one.  It has more funny quotes, including my favorite of the game:
    • Takeshi: “We haven’t done anything yet.”
    • All: “What do you mean, ‘yet’!?”

Negatives

  • The MC has a couple of “engage your brain” moments in service of the plot.

  • Absolutely everyone comments on Takeshi and the MC’s relationship.  Does no one in this town have anything better to do?

  • Oh good. Here’s *another* family member who won’t talk directly to Takeshi about how they feel.

  • The grandmother’s unresolved plot from the main route is not addressed. Maybe it will be picked up in the next release?

  • As in the main route, some of the word choice is off.

Overall: Recommended to those who enjoyed the original route; it feels like the same writer did both.

Voltage’s Dreamy Days in West Tokyo is available on iOS and Android.

Dreamy Days in West Tokyo: Takeshi Main Route Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Basic Premise: The seventeen-year-old main character moves back to the town and friends she left ten years ago.

Positives

  • The plot and relationship development felt awkward and circuitous. Normally I would be rolling my eyes and wishing the story would get moving, but it fits here. It feels like two teenagers figuring out what they want.
  • I like both the MC and Takeshi. They are believable and sweet and skipped ridiculous gestures and angst.
  • The MC’s memories with the guys are told through flash-back sections, not long sections of dialog where character A recounts what she did with character B in excruciating detail.
  • During the occasional cutesy dialog or situations, Rihito would voice the “seriously?” reaction I felt. Hee.

Negatives

  • The story doesn’t care much for parents. Takeshi’s father appears once in the present-day story (not with his son), and the rest are relegated to the flash-back section. None of them seem to have any influence on the primary characters. It feels weird.
  • Some of the word choice is odd. A favorite is “I’ve got some issues with semicircular canals.” Any guesses as to what is meant?

Quotes

  • “Have faith in yourself.  Live with your flat chest full of hope!” – Ryu
  • “Ryu, don’t wipe your nose on me.” – Takeshi
  • “So…we’re still awkward.” – MC

Overall: Recommended.

Voltage’s Dreamy Days in West Tokyo is available on iOS and Android.

Knight of My Heart: Henri Main Route Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Basic Premise: The main character copes with new responsibilities and dangers after abruptly learning her royal lineage.

Positives

  • The MC has brains, initiative, and a sense of humor.
  • The setting is reinforced by word choice and syntax.
  • Editing is spot-on.
  • Henri’s personal story is the most interesting of the routes I tried.
  • Henri’s horse, Phillipe, is just as amusing in this route as Jacques’.
  • My two favorite secondary characters have a good ending.

Negatives

  • As I’ve mentioned in other route reviews, the art style is painful, and the prologue is blah.
  • I *think* the game means “dressing gown” rather than “nightgown.” I can imagine hiding a picture in a robe pocket or tightening a robe – not so much a nightgown.
  • The MC can’t kiss Philippe when she’s told to reward her champion. I really wanted that option. XD
  • The MC goes from outrage and bitter disappointment to complete acceptance and reconciliation very quickly in a couple of scenes, almost like she could flip an emotional switch. I would have appreciated slower pacing.

Overall: Recommended; this is my favorite of the main routes so far. You can find my thoughts on Henri’s sequel and spin-off here.

Voltage Entertainment USA’s Knight of My Heart is available on iOS and Android.

Knight of My Heart: Jacques Impressions and Review – Spoiler Free

Basic Premise: The main character copes with abruptly learning about her royal lineage and with being under constant threat from would-be usurpers.

Positives

  • The relationship dynamic between Jacques and the MC is quite similar to that of my husband and myself so it felt believable.

  • Setting is reinforced by word choice and syntax.

  • The MC is well-read and usually makes sensible choices.

  • Ser Isabella is awesome; she needs her own spin-off.

  • Phillipe, Henri’s horse, has such an attitude that I laugh every time he appears. I tried Henri’s route just for him.

Negatives

  • The relationship dynamic between Jacques and the MC is quite similar to that of my husband and myself. I already have someone with whom to trade barbs and discuss literature and philosophy.

  • The art is painful. At least there are no comments about how handsome/pretty a character is. Those passages feel like wasted time in nicely illustrated games and completely jarring in poorly illustrated ones.

  • Some sentences use both “I” and “she” when referring to the MC.

  • Since the MC is well-read and has a fair grasp of the kingdom’s history, her surprise at Pierre’s pointing out that royal relationships have political ramifications felt out of place.

  • I want Jacques and Isabella together, dang it.

Wait-a-Minute Moments

  • The king’s initial plan to keep the MC safe does not seem particularly wise.

  • How did this village girl gain access to so many books?

Overall: I recommend Jacques’ route to anyone who likes an intelligent MC and can get past the art style choices.

Voltage Entertainment USA’s Knight of My Heart is available on iOS and Android.

 

My Forged Wedding’s Kunihiko Review and Impressions – Spoiler Free

Basic Premise: The main character and her leading man fake a marriage for business interests. (I really have a talent for making this section dry every time, don’t I?)

Positives

  • The MC and Kunihiko have comfortable, friendly banter.
  • The awkward phase between friends and lovers was well-paced. It didn’t drag or gallop by.
  • Since the MC has been working at Kunhiko’s bar rather than immediately being shipped off to live with a complete stranger, it doesn’t feel creepy. The “you do need a job, right, now do as I tell you with a strange man” introduction in the other routes gave me the heebie-jeebies.
  • The MC and Kunihiko can choose to be friends rather than a couple.

Negatives

  • The main antagonist is a soap-opera villain. She’s ridiculous and over-the-top and says horrible things without other people standing up to her appropriately. That paired with such a believable relationship between Kunihiko and the MC gave me serious genre whiplash.
  • Why does the MC keep referring to Kunihio as “Uncle” when they are not related? It’s off-putting.

Overall: Recommended if you don’t mind a mustache-twirling villain. This MC is my favorite of the My Forged Wedding routes.

Voltage’s My Forged Wedding is available on iOS and Android.

Neighbourhood Necromancer Impressions

Neighbourhood Necromancer Picture

Basic Premise: In Neighbourhood Necromancer you play teenager both blessed and cursed with the ability to control the undead.

Positives

  • Many of the choices are somewhat random and quite funny.
  • Even before I read the author’s biography, I could tell Inglis taught. It comes through in lines such as this: “School. Long days in hot rooms with dazzling sunlight, large windows and no blinds; rammed together with a bunch of no-hope thickers whose finest moments in life will be the torments they inflict on the smarter kids here.”
  • The editing is superb.
  • The trivia game asks different questions on different play-throughs.

Negatives

  • You need a particular sense of humor. I found the flippancy and irreverence hilarious, but I know some of my friends would not enjoy it. Try the free sample and gauge for yourself.

Choice of Games’ Neighbourhood Necromancer is available on iOS, Andriod, Kindle, and Google Chrome.

Impressions based on a provided beta code.

Knight of My Heart Nicolas Review and Impressions – Spoilers

Knight of My Heart‘s Nicolas route is so poorly executed I nearly quit in the second chapter. The knights are incompetent bodyguards. The main character and Nicholas have no natural relationship growth. Plot holes abound. The syntax and grammar need help.

I will say the MC improves as the story progresses. Her conflicted feelings about her new station and her willingness to take necessary action made me cheer at times. If I could divorce those parts from the unbelievable romance interactions I would really like her.

The only way I finished the game was to keep a running snark commentary as I played. I ended with four pages worth of cringe-worthy moments.  Here are a few of the worst offenders:

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

  • The characters talk like modern Americans.  No attempt was made through word choice and sentence structure to make it feel like a different time or place.

  • The cat’s eating bread. Why is the cat eating bread? And why can’t MC pet it? She could love on the horse (Phillipe) in other routes.

  • “I speak and act from my heart. What more do I need?” A tactical brain would be nice, MC, though as your knights seem as idiotic I won’t fuss at you alone.

  • “He picked me up and moved me.” Without warning or a by-your-leave. I treat my toddler with more respect than Nicolas does a grown woman. And she just accepts it.

  • Nicolas: “We have explained time and time again that no taxes have been collected against their will, but…” Pardon me, Nicolas, but that is either an incredibly bad interpretation of your Japanese counterpart’s line or the stupidest sentence I have ever found in a Voltage game. What, a serf or merchant can just DECLINE to pay his taxes and the government will be totally cool with losing that revenue and respect the decision? The mind boggles.

  • Robert, the rebellion leader, tries to recruit others to his cause and provides good reasons for doing so. Frankly, if the king and knights are an example of the monarchy’s competency, I’m with him.

  • Oh look. Deus Ex Pirachina. How on earth did the pirates know where and when to appear for their rescue?

  • Have a couple of syntax/grammar doozies: “eyes lingered on the handkerchief with such mysticism” and “peaked my interest.”

If you wish to try this MST3K-worthy route, Voltage Entertainment USA’s Knight of My Heart is available on iOS and Android.

I’ll be back with one of the good routes within the week.

The Royal Trap Review and Impressions – Spoiler Free

the_royal_trap___game_promo_by_hanakogames-d5wa8zp

In Hanako Games’ The Royal Trap, you play a prince’s retainer as she navigates a foreign court’s politics, conspiracies, and central mystery. Like Cinders, you have many routes and endings to explore.

  • Music: I like many of the tracks individually. The transition from one to another can be jarring though.
  • Visuals: The event stills are beautiful, but the sprites themselves made me cringe. The color combinations are often bizarre, the proportions and perspective are off, and even people who expect to engage in combat have hair in their eyes. Stop it.
  • Writing: This political intrigue plot delivers. Once I got past the fluffy, cutesy prologue, I found a compelling world. I had to play through a good few routes to finally figure out exactly what had happened and the perpetrators’ motivations.

Principal Actors

  • Madeleine: an intelligent, competent MC; retainer to Prince Oscar
  • Prince Oscar: Madeleine’s charge; tasked with winning a bride
  • Prince Callum: host kingdom’s prince; Cassidy’s brother
  • Princess Cassidy: young heiress of the host kingdom
  • Prince Gaston: exuberant, foppish visiting prince
  • Prince Nazagi: calculating, cold visiting prince
  • Dolores: impertinent palace page

The plot has five main routes with enough variations to total fifteen endings. Many of the endings have no romance at all or it’s not the person you initially suspect. I appreciated the variety.

  • Oscar: I liked him, but felt really conflicted about betraying his family’s trust in the best version. The conversation that leads to the worst ending made me laugh.
  • Callum: It felt as though the author couldn’t come up with a believable way to start his attraction to Madeleine, gave up, and then started channeling some fourteen-year-old’s idea of romance. At least Madeleine can be calculating and circumspect about his affections.
  • Gaston: He’s original, crazy, sweet, and grand. Princess Cassidy has much more initiative and spunk in this route than the others – a definite plus.
  • Nazagi: The political manipulation aspect is most prominent in this route. Both Nazagi and Madeline are focused and cunning without being mua-ha-ha cruel. The best ending floored and delighted me. As Madeleine says: “this is not how fairy stories are meant to end,” but it made perfect sense for the story. ❤
  • ????: This one felt the most arbitrary, but the end CG is lovely.

Bottom Line: I recommend this to anyone who can see past the sprites to the intricate political plot underneath.

Hanko Games’ The Royal Trap is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.