Games where you have to read are like childrens books without illustrations – you can do it, but something major is missing and you're going to miss a huge audience doing it that way. Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms is like this, but it does have many strengths that make it a better example of this type of video game.
You are Chizuru. You're a strong, independent Japanese woman, which of course means you need to find a husband from several eligible bachelors. However, things go to hell in a hand basket. This is essentially a continuation of Kyoto Winds, but with a fun mix of historical Japan, The Bachelor and Stranger Things kinda combining together. I was on the edge of being for or against it, but the parts where Chizuru honestly breaks away and starts to do things for herself sold me that this game does have character growth, and contributes to the story well. So, for the story, not bad.
Graphics use the same (to me) lazy use of Manga rather than animation. It's a graphic story. And yes – the art work is great and creative, but it's supposed to be a video game. It's supposed to be engaging, like a game, but it goes for the choose your own adventure route again, so graphics are constricted to be stills, and that creepy eye/mouth movement only stills. Games like this could always be better.
Playing on the Vita, there's not too much to say for controls. You literally click through what you want to say/do. On one hand, it's insulting easy, but on the other, it's really hard to screw it up.
Gameplay is the same. It's a Japanese virtual choose your own adventure game (I know there's a proper term for it, but it's way more fun to call it that). You read and click where you want the story to go. I guess it has elements of The Bachelor in it, and just by typing that, I feel just a smidge ashamed. It's really all up to if you like games like this.
Music is classic, old-style Japanese music and piano, going into softer piano and more upbeat themes. Figure soap opera music. It works – not too much to say beyond that. As for the sound, the actor voice quality is really good. It sounds a bit like they're too close to the mic sometimes, and some characters have that video game tic of not sounding like any real person who has ever talked ever, but all voices fit and are done quite well.
Edo Blossoms, being that minimalist sort of game when it comes to animating, has no faults in the glitch or frame rate issue area. Everything keeps up fine, and all options you pick pan out fine. This game was obviously rigorously tested, and it shows. A few musical cues were off, but honestly, that's the only thing I noticed.
Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms has a few genres clashing together for a type of game I really don't see as a game in the traditional sense. That said, it does a lot right, sounds great and combines patience and quick-gratification like not many games can. It takes it's time, but it also keeps up the pace. If you're a fan of the series, I recommend it.
Final Score: 7.5 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.