Foreword: Merry Christmas, Everyone! (Late Merry Christmas to the ones in Japan/Korea/other side of the Earth) Here’s a random clipart of a Christmas Tree for absolutely no reason!
2 months of no activity, but that doesn’t mean I’m dead! (Yet). As many suspected, real life stuff has been crushing me quite a bit, and it’s thanks to the Winter Break season that I actually get to enjoy my hobby a bit more. I can’t apologize to my readers enough for their patience and would like to present today another quality review to make up for that.
I do have a “Look-back at 2015” post planned very soon (Will most likely publish on the 30th or 31st), so please look forward to it.
Let’s get right onto this game, Witch’s Garden. I actually received the incentive to play this older, 2012 game from reading a Japanese blog (What, thought I was just a no-life eroge-addicted otaku?) rating this game at “S+” while the same author rated one of my favorite games, Suzukaze no Melt, at “A+”.
While this game DID have some points of interest, it unfortunately was only decent… in specific portions too. The Foreword is getting really damn long so let’s get right onto the review.
Title: ウィッチズガーデン (Witch’s Garden)
Producers: Windmill Oasis
Release Date: November 30, 2012
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v8438
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=727033
Game Type: Fantasy “Magic-Themed” Dating Sim
Summary: Yousuke is an outsider who recently moved to Kazashiro to live with his aunt and explore this magical wonderland that’s the craze nowadays. Apparently, something called “magic” exists in this place and both bewildered and ecstatic about his new atmosphere, Yousuke finds out that this mysterious city has events called a “Night Parade” when monsters appear and Knights and Witches are responsible for defeating them as a form of entertainment.
This game had an atmosphere similar to this game
His life starts with a beautiful girl named Ayari, who is staying at the same house that he will be living in. Along the way, he has many other friends to live this exciting lifestyle, but little does he know that his connections will soon drag him into the depths of the Truth of Kazashiro and Witches.
Story Length: Moderately Long (25 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Moderate
Comments: Your typical eroge length, I was actually quite pleased to find that the prologue was decently paced and took time to introduce the characters. Just a small reminder that Ririko and Misumi’s routes must be cleared before moving on to the other two heroine’s routes.
Character Design Rating: 6/10
Story Rating: 7/10
Protagonist Rating: 4/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 6/10
Rating Comments: Pretty crappy ratings if you ask me (at least relative to the expectation I had for it). The main problem I had with the story was that it was so freaking predictable. The game does do a good job presenting small “foreshadows” from the beginning of the story, but does this a bit too much to the point that sharper readers will see the plot that much more quickly; aka, have the story spoiled for them. It doesn’t really help that the Opening Movie itself has a huge-ass spoiler in it, and this lack of planning or at least mistake in flow contributed to the huge drop in Story score. In addition to this, the flow was way too slow; aka, the game places too much emphasis on meaningless interaction between characters in the beginning of the story and this “drags on” for several more hours for absolutely no reason. GET ON WITH IT, GAME
Like how it took so long for this relationship to be solidified…
Characters are decently designed, but also highly generic. Points were deducted more due to heroine’s abrupt and sudden changes towards the protagonist pretty much once you get into her route, and the only reason why this score seems high is because of subcharacters who at least had a more important role and salvaged this score quite a bit.
Subcharacters often play valuable roles especially with comedy.
Protagonist is also unfortunately far from ideal. As someone essentially no different than any other tourist present within the story, his quality of being a swordsman played very little role in all the stories as he was literally someone “at the right place at the right time” to have been the protagonist of this game. Simply put, Yousuke was a protagonist because the game made him one, instead of his traits making him BE like a protagonist. (To be fair, tons of games recently do this so…
While it is necessary to give him credit for all the routes where he was essentially a necessity to solve the problem at hand (think of him like a key to the boss rooms in video games), and was pretty active in Ayari’s rotue, I just wish he had more action in fighting or the “action” portion of the game. If at all, make him at least have some super-powered mode if infused with magic or something similar along those lines :|
So as the first character that I went through, this loli character was actually born in England and considered Yousuke’s childhood friend. She was the one who taught Yousuke about swordsplay, and Yousuke himself grew up admiring this “older sister” (who is now smaller than him *pfft*) and continuously hoping to meet her from the very beginning of the game.
The two, in the past
As Yousuke starts to take interest in being a Knight at Kazashiro, Ririko is the one who really gets involved with this the most, at least in terms of training who is like a younger brother to her. With the presentation of Night Parades, and his solidification of the “Desire to Protect”, Yousuke starts to grow stronger.
The problem I have is the later portions of the routes. It’s good that Yousuke’s showing physical and mental growth (although that’s very limited in itself), but he literally becomes this horny teenager after a certain point who starts to stare at Ririko’s legs all the time when it comes to training sessions or formal meetings. While this was supposed to be the start of the two’s affections, AND it was unique enough to leave a significant impression, this element was somewhat awkward, because that kind of sexuality really came out of nowhere; Yousuke literally, in one day, started to take interest in Ririko’s legs, and the reader’s like “Ooooookay…”
So yeah… Legs.
Though the ending wasn’t bad, it could have been greatly improved. The presented theme of “Witches” had very little effect as Ririko is granted a Magic Sword, but completely unable to use it properly. The ending portions of Ririko’s route shows how the two can “read each other’s movements in battle”, and while this would generally be a plus, it was somewhat ambiguous in itself because that phrase was only said by the subcharacters and never really “shown”. AKA, in order for this to have been a good element, the game should have had narratives AND CGs depicting this quality between the two characters.
Kind-hearted Upperclassman describes Misumi perfectly, as the first interaction with her and Yousuke involve the time when he came to the Girl’s Dormitories to visit Ririko but instead heard beautiful singing.
Misumi is depicted as a character who loves helping, to the point she is almost unable to refuse requests from others because of this trait. Eclair (someone who’s always with her) continuously warns Misumi of this, but Misumi would always smile it off.
I don’t think this game ever shows Misumi angry
Misumi’s route was, long story short, bad. It was too short to contain any form of a solid story and was centered more around Eclair instead (which is ironic because she has her own route). If there was anything good about Misumi’s route, it was the transitioning of the heroine and the protagonist from “Acquaintance” to “Lovers” (which was actually pretty adorable). Don’t expect anything else after this.
As someone following Misumi all the time, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Eclair isn’t exactly too fond of Yousuke after he starts to spend more time with this Autometa’s (Artificial Life Form) master. At first, Eclair treats Yousuke harshly with insults and threats to “defertilize” him (LOL), but her attitude changes sharply as Yousuke tells the two about the world outside of Kazashiro, which Eclair has great interest for.
To be perfectly honest, Eclair didn’t really need a route because she was just about well-presented in Misumi’s route than the game has done in her own. Essentially, the game goes to show almost the exact same story shown in Misumi’s route, except Yousuke interacts with Eclair much more and a bit of reminiscence scenes are present. Other than this (and of course Eclair’s H-scenes), this heroine route was greatly insignificant. Simply put, Eclair’s route was nearly the same as Misumi’s route, except with different H-scenes. Copy-Paste.
Very quiet and responsible describes this character, and in reality, she is even implied once to be an antagonist in the beginning scenes of the game when she interacts with some weird, super-evil-looking purple-lady. A witch herself, Suzuno participates actively in the Night Parade and takes extreme pride in her abilities as a witch and her family’s heritage, which leaves the girl (and her sister) with bleached hair and “Flowered Iris”.
Despite being considered an “ojou-sama”, Suzuno often uses 3rd person pronouns (aka, uses her own name instead of “I”), and quickly shown to have nothing other than this “family pride” which becomes shattered in her own route.
The biggest complaint I’d like to point out with Suzuno as a character is that previous to her and Ayari’s routes (aka, within the common, Ririko, and Misumi’s routes), she plays very little role in essentially everything, and the game suddenly brings this girl out of the shadows into pretty much the frontline of the story within a couple of seconds, which is very abrupt and uncalled for.
Out of… where?
Seems to me that the writers are having a hard time figuring out what elements to be gradual with, and what elements should be rushed a bit more.
In the end, her route is only good for the fact that it gives a teaser to Ayari’s true identity (WHICH WAS ALREADY SPOILED BY MULTIPLE THINGS ABURUIHFHJ), and as the “alternate what-if” storyline other than Ayari’s route, or the True Route itself.
Arguably the central heroine, Ayari is the first one that not only Yousuke sees as he enters Kazashiro, but also the one who left the most impression on him during this stay.
Quite a cute character, it might be possible to compare Ayari’s interaction to Yousuke as a form of IMPRINTING (HINT HINT), as the heroine essentially follows him very closely. At multiple points, characters and Yousuke himself comments that they’re not siblings, lovers, nor friends. This kind of relationship, as it is presented, I thought, would be a great trait since it would show a unique transition to being lovers (it actually doesn’t, which was disappointing T_T)
Please tell me there’s yuri. PLEASE TELL ME THERE’S YURI
Overall, Ayari’s route is considered to have much more effort put into designing, as shown by its significant contribution towards Story, Character, and even the Protagonist Scores. It’s Ayari’s route where Yousuke finally comes out from being a pitiful bystander and acts in order to help Ayari.
There was actually something I really hated about Ayari’s route despite me saying it was the best one. Due to the possibility of spoiling the game, I’ll be very vague about it, but most of the route seemed awkwardly insignificant. A lot of people may have been able to respond to the Conflict at hand with “So What?” since in essence, the characters in the route showed that said “Conflict” was unavoidable AND necessary, but simply didn’t like the outcomes after that. If I had to make a comparison, it’s like eating food to survive, but NOT wanting to go to the bathroom to have to expel the waste afterwards; it just doesn’t make sense.
In reality, I thought the problem presented in Ayari’s route was awkward, insignificant, and really nothing to cry that much over. However, this is solely from my viewpoint as other readers are more likely sympathize with this character.
All I will say about the True Route is that it’s the “meat” of the story. In reality, every other route really feels like a filler for this main story that all the effort was placed into, and while fillers are considered a result of bad planning, it’s also true that this Final Route saves a lot of the score for pretty much everything, so make sure you go through it.
Sexual Content: Low
Comments: Witch’s Garden, upon first impression, is your typical charage with a very poor effort at making a story. The writers seemed like they had no idea what they were going to do with this theme of “witches” that they spontaneously thought would be a good idea to write a story about and at the end started adding in new terms to forcefully push everything together. In that process, they completely forgot to include in-depth interactions between the protagonist and the heroine and pretty much slapped in the generic “We’re similar to each other so I love you” card in there just so this game doesn’t become a clusterfuck nukige.
When your weapon wields a weapon.
Yo dawg. I heard you like weapons, so we put a weapon inside your weapon so you can use a weapon while you use your weapon without using the weapon’s weapon.
However, the reader can definitely see at Ayari and True Routes that the most effort has been placed here, as it is now enough to call the game “decent” (exclusive to the two aforementioned routes though. The rest of the game still sucks). In fact, if they had kept it a charage, at least I wouldn’t have had extraordinary expectations for it; it feels like in my viewpoint, only the last routes available were worth playing for the story.
So yep, pick this game up for Ayari. Otherwise, you might regret it.
Fight Scenes were “animated” but only with the E-mote system. It lacked heavily in variety, climactic narratives (Go read Hello Lady if you want to see what I mean with this), and really didn’t feel like a “fight” because you just had sprites standing idle right there dependent on other animations for said “action scenes”.
Basically CGs like this.
This game would have solved a lot of its lack in the “visual” department by making this into an interactive SRPG or something.
Most of the SDCGs are “animated” enough to supplement this lack of visual elements though
Affection for the Characters: Low
CG Score: 3/10. The game does utilize E-mote to the fullest extent, which literally becomes an eyecandy considering there’s an option to control how much jiggle physics you can see (WAIT WHAT), this also became half of an excuse to neglect heavily on the quality and quantity of CGs that would have made this game more worthwhile, especially during battle scenes.
Music Score: 8/10. I absolutely freaking love it when characters have their own Insert/ED Songs. More games need to do this and if I had to really choose something to compliment this game for, it would be for this.
Addictiveness: Very Low.
Conclusion: I had high expectations for this game due to reading about it on an outside blog comparing this game to one of my all-time favorites, but it doesn’t come close to being a “good game” due to the presence of crappy routes outside of the main story and the main story being quite insignificant (to my eyes). Expect a charage for this title and you shall receive what you expected and possibly more. Loving the Character Songs, E-mote that lets jiggle physics please your eyes, and some of the icha-icha presented in a couple of the routes though