Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms Review - Blooming With Samurai and Romance

Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms is a brilliant addition to the Hakuoki franchise that maintains the heart of the original while adding new characters to the mix.

With up to 30 different endings and endlessly engaging narrative arcs, Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms easily rivals other titles in the Otome market.

Story

Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms builds on the story previously established in Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds. Players take on the role of Chizuru Yukimura. Chizuru is taken into custody by the Shinsengumi while searching for her father in Kyoto. After learning Chizuru is the daughter of Kodo Yukimura, the inventor of the “Water of Life” elixir that changes those who consume it into blood thirty berserkers known as “Furies” or “Rasetsu,” the Shinsengumi decides to use Chizuru to aide their search.

As the historical events of the Bakumatsu period unfold around Chizuru, she learns that there is more to her heritage than she’d ever imagined. Chizuru and the Shinsengumi are confronted by a mysterious faction that calls themselves demons. The faction’s leader, Chikage Kazama, seeks out Chizuru because, unbeknownst to her, she is one of the few remaining pure-blooded demons left in the world.

The game does a good job of reminding players of previous events without spending too much time on summary. There’s a brief narrative introduction and then as the game unfolds, highlighted text is stored in a convenient “glossary” section to further prompt players. The glossary consists of key events, characters, and other terms that players may have forgotten since playing the original game, so it is helpful without imposing on new content.

Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms takes place sometime before the end of the original game during the Shinsengumi’s stay in Edo. While the core of the story remains the same, elements change based on which routes and romance the player pursues. Unlike Kyoto Winds, Edo Blossoms allows players to pick who they want to romance at the beginning of the game, instead of forcing players to complete a prologue chapter with different choices leading to specific character routes.

Every character has their own unique narrative branch with multiple endings ranging from tragic to happily ever after. The story is ultimately determined by the choices players make when confronted with certain scenarios. Each choice can easily send Chizuru on a new path. With so many possibilities, it’s easy to keep going back. Once a scene is completed, players can skip text they’ve already seen to get to the new material. This makes replaying the game more user friendly.

Characters

Character variety is pivotal to success in the Otome genre. Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms offers players 12 different bachelors to choose from, each with varying personalities. While most Otome games easily fall prey to character tropes, the characters in the Hakuoki series are dynamic. This might be because they are based on Japanese historical figures. For example, Hajime Saito, the Third Division leader of the Shinsengumi is initially very taciturn, but he isn’t just a typical tsundere type.

Hajime is loyal and polite, and as his route progresses, the player comes to understand that his cold demeanor stems from his warrior spirit and samurai code. Every choice the player makes determines what they will learn about the character, making choices important for furthering relationships and getting characters to open up.

Even characters like Heisuke Todo, who is initially very friendly, experiences a fully realized character arc that shows a more introspective side to Heisuke. From sugary, sweet cinnamon roll types to cold, distant tsunderes, there’s something for everyone in Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms’ character options. Just remember they aren’t as shallow as the archetypes lead you to believe.

Art and Sound

The visuals in Hakuoki are stunning. The game features detailed CGs, spirited art, and solid animation. From backgrounds to character models, every aspect of the design is comprehensive and thoughtfully constructed. While the animations are minimal they’re impressively realistic. The lip-syncing matches the dialogue seamlessly, and small details like breathing and blinking give characters a lifelike quality.

The sound effects and music have a similar realistic eminence. There’s a subtleness to the sound effects that aren’t overbearing or out of place. While the spoken dialogue is in Japanese, even players who aren’t familiar with the language can appreciate the level of work that went into the voice acting. The tone matches character expressions when necessary and the emotional responses are satisfying. Similarly, the music sets the tone for each scene, and with a powerful opening and ending theme performed by Aika Yoshioka, the soundtrack is well rounded.

Verdict

While Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms is shorter than its predecessor, it offers the same enjoyable quality found in the original. Regardless of which character players choose, they’re in for a well-crafted narrative with compelling dialogue and realistic characters based on rich Japanese history.

Score

Good Bad
Vast Character Selection A Little Short
Engaging Narrative
Moving Musical Score
Gorgeous Art
Strong Voice Acting
Memorable Dialouge

- 9/10 -