A blog for reviews… that's really not much of a blog

Foreword: When one of my favorite companies release a game, it’s with no doubt that I’ll have said game on the highest priority on my list. Generally speaking, this game from Palette Qualia was almost on par with the more recent Palette release, Sakusaku, but was lacking in some areas as well. However, it was also good in other areas, and I’m here to discuss both of those traits.

I often wonder why producers would change their names like this. I mean, there’s really not that great of a reason to release this game in a different name when you’re already a branch of another company, right? (e.g. Palette vs Palette Qualia). It usually happens that this “debut title” is also the only title that the new company produces, so there’s that too…

Title: オトメ*ドメイン (Otome Domain)
Producers: Palette Qualia
Release Date: June 24, 2016
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v18149
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=869780
Game Type: Comedy Romance Novel

Summary: Minato’s last blood-relative, his grandmother, passed away and now he is all alone in this world. He thinks about how he was blessed to have family, but dryly laughs about how he’ll need to take care of himself now.

However, during the funeral of his grandmother, someone named Kazari approaches him and offers to admit him into a prestigious school, in addition to providing him a place to reside. Minato immediately and thankfully takes up on this offer, but soon realizes that the Suzu Academy is an all-girl’s school, and the “ojou-sama” that he’ll be residing with has flaws of their own which really shattered his expectation for a high-class lady.

Story Length: Moderate (20 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Easy
Comments: Only four choices within the entire game, it kinda sucks how the choices were so obvious since I personally thought this was a pretty nice game (and thus would have liked a bit more complexity in the layout of the routes). Route splits occur after what seems to be “Minato’s Route”, where he attempts to leave the dormitory (house).

Character Design Rating: 7/10
Story Rating: 8/10
Protagonist Rating: 8/10
Game Quality: High
Overall Rating: 8/10
Rating Comments: An overall “decent” game, the protagonist takes the cake as the best portion of the game (oh the irony), as Minato is often seen as very resourceful and much more superior to the other heroines in many fields. He is good with sports, academics, good-looking ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°), and even finds housework to be a “hobby”, which allows the company to advertise his design with the quote “#1 wanted as a bride (but he’s a guy)”.

Truth be told, I kept forgetting Minato was a guy throughout the game

In return, his superior design actually caused a bit of kinks in the design of other fields: the heroines themselves seemed extremely useless and the story suffered as a result since you have essentially a “perfect” protagonist falling in love for almost no reason at all to said “relatively worthless” heroines.

Story is much better than what I originally expected, with the scenario writer as NYAON, the person who wrote both Otenkiame and Moshimo ashita ga harenaraba, the latter title very highly rated by fellow galge players. As with these aforementioned titles, Otome Maiden has an amazing flow of scenario as well as a great set of transitions between scenes, and a lot of relevance across each scenes. As an example, I especially enjoyed how a certain element (Hinata’s “other identity”) would be introduced very casually or even humorously in the game, but that same element then becomes the main conflict in the heroine route.

Heroines as mentioned previously do become a lot more lackluster as they’re often compared with the essentially perfect protagonist. It’s quite unfortunate that the game also spends too much time actually MAKING the player compare them (though humorously), and spends too little time “selling” the characters. Storywise this works out, but in terms of actually feeling affection for the characters, Otome Maiden did fall a little.

Character Summary: I think it’s probably a good idea to go over Minato as well, since he was also pretty relevant in the common route

“The perfect heroine”…. if he was a girl. Being pretty with a submissive personality while being amazing in athletics, academics, and housework makes this protagonist quite ridiculously “OP”, and was generally a good trait. The plot-twist of having Minato be that “perfect bride candidate” but also a male made it quite a good design to initate various running gags, including how throughout the entire game, female characters (both heroines and subcharacters) would compare themselves to him.

The common route seems to focus on the protagonist a bit more in addition to presenting of the heroines, in the sense he becomes accustomed to his crossdressing, and obeys the request from his now-deceased grandmother to “Look after her (Kazari)”. As he starts to see that Kazari has received his assistance and improving, Minato believes that he is no longer needed in this group and reluctantly tries to leave.

As a character, Minato was superbly designed and I appreciated that he was quite the resourceful protagonist. However, because of this same reason, I wasn’t too fond of how he fell in love with the heroines for the mere fact that “it’s enjoyable around her (the respective heroine”, as he explicitly states, and wish that there could have been more 1-on-1 interaction between him and the respective heroine even after getting into her route (There are some, but not enough for my tastes).

Minato is fully voiced by Ayumi Sara, who I remember for voicing Yuu from Koikuma. Voiced protagonists are always appreciated :)

The heroine who invites Minato to attend the Suzu Girl’s Academy and offers him a place to live, the very beginning scenes shock the player and absolutely crush the stereotypes of an “ojousama” with this heroine peeing into a plastic bottle instead of going to the bathroom properly. Furthermore, it seems that she does this in front of Minato fully aware of his identity as a male, which adds to the question of why the heck she acts like this. In addition to this, this seemingly-super-high-class ojousama also has a severe flaw in terms of academics, quite ironically to her background…

Kazari: No please…

Which is that she is the superintendent of the Suzu all-girls Academy. It’s because of this position that Kazari is able to hide the gender of Minato and allow him to join the school. In correspondence to her design however, she is also quite passionate about making her school as best as she can, and often goes out of her way to help the students who are troubled.

Kazari’s route goes to describe how she and her father do not seem to get along, and her father demands that she step down from the position of the superintendent. Despite all her efforts, Kazari seems to be relatively obedient to this order, but Minato can tell that Kazari is very reluctant about this.

Outside of this, it almost seems as if Kazari doesn’t really look at Minato as a guy, seeing how she takes him into girl’s bathrooms or pees in front of him (LOL), but all of this is overturned in her own route

Image relevant for reasons

Overall, Kazari was a character who was decent at best. Her design to be Minato’s childhood friend was something that really came out of the blue and was never hinted, and how the game tried to explain her affection using the aforementioned element made her character pretty flimsy.

Voiced by a CV named Anzu Hana (I thought it was read as Anka, to be honest), this CV voiced Noah from Sorcery Jokers, and is actually quite a minor CV.

Probably more lady-like on the outside, readers will definitely be able to preduct there’s also something wrong with this girl after seeing both Kazari and Hinata as the complete opposite of an “ojousama”. The first thing about Yuzu is that she is extremely messy; her room is absolute chaos the first time Minato enters, while Yuzu herself claims that it is easier to find things this way.

The second is that her cooking skills are horrifying to the point the mere stench of her food incites both Hinata and Kazari to vomit, and her absolute lack of skill in housework causes all characters to fear her cooking and banish her from the kitchen. Not surprisingly, she is the heroine who is teased the most about “how not-so-lady-like” she is, purely because outside of her appearance, she is worse than your average male in terms of housework.

Yuzu’s route starts off with her noticing that Minato is indeed a male simply by how she notices his glances at her body. Surprisingly, she is neither offended or angry about this event, and rather feels very appreciative how much work Minato has put into taking care of her. From this point, she starts to make approaches to the protagonist in the hopes of getting him to like her, but as mentioned previously, this would be very difficult since most of the appeals she can make towards Minato (e.g. cooking or even looks…), he is already far superior than her.

This kind of contrast was actually pretty hilarious.

Yuzu’s route contains a very slight love-triangle which is unfortunately quickly disregarded. She finds out that Kazari has been in love with Minato for a long time, and attempts to push Minato away after thinking she has nothing to offer to the protagonist and she is not good enough for him.

Overall, I personally thought Yuzu’s route was one of the better ones, seeing how her route gives specific heroine monologues to allow that original affection to amplify greatly, and supported the validity of the romance in her route. (e.g. Yuzu would reminiscence about how important Minato became in her life, and that only pushed her to work harder to get Minato to like her)

Voiced by Ueda Akane, I enjoy her voice since it already sounds “sweet” regardless of what emotion the character presents. I personally think one of Yuzu’s charm points was her voice.

Probably my favorite character in this game, Hinata is the girl one year younger than everyone who actually has something known as “chuunibyou”. Some of you may know what this term means via the anime, but it’s a condition during the teeange years when an individual excessively feels that they are special in some way and expresses it liberally to the point of delusion. In the game itself, Hinata dresses in fancy military outfits, collects random junk, and even refers to tea as “Blood of the Virgin Angels”. However, she sometimes digs her own grave by pushing her limits a bit too far; an example would be how she cannot drink coffee black, but claims this is how a Demon Commander enjoys it.

Unlike the other heroines, however, Hinata doesn’t especially have a detrimental trait outside of this; she is relatively skilled with cooking so she is able to assist Minato, and decently proficient with academics unlike Kazari. Despite this, Hinata is quickly shown to not have many friends due to her unique hobby, and often visiting the upperclassmen during breaks or lunch-time.

Her interaction with  Minato is more favorable, since as a guy, Minato is able to associate with Hinata’s hobbies or understand her mindset, and as the two become very close, Hinata starts to call Minato “Onee-sama” and even shows affection for him outside of her route (e.g. Kazari and Yuzu’s routes)

If I had to choose, I’d say Minato would be better matched with Hinata than any other heroine

Hinata’s route deals mostly with her background and how she became to acquire this “chuunibyou”–she had friends in the past who introduced her to this fantasy aspects, and Hinata came to enjoy this kind of “role-playing”. However, after meeting with the same friends years later, Hinata finds out that they have all outgrew this kind of “child’s play”, and even encourages her to stop.

While I’m not too fond of chuunibyou in general in any game, I personally thought the same element presented in Hinata’s character and route was actually more heartwarming than annoying. This is because the game gives the readers a good balance between Hinata’s “chuunibyou” moments, and her “real self”, which is clearly defined as a normal girl who wants friends but is often lonely and unable to relate to her peers.

Voiced by Himekawa Airi, I’m quite pleased to hear her voicing more characters because she is quite skilled with voicing the “loli” characters. She also does a great job voicing Hinata’s “fantasy settings”, and changing her tone of voice as necessary to each scenario (e.g. When Hinata is acting vs. when she’s not).

Hinata becomes heavily attached to Minato in every route, really amplifying her design

Sexual Content: Low

Comments: Okay, so for comments.

As with a bunch of previous games like Tsukiyori 2, Otome Domain seems to focus more on the protagonist than the heroines themselves, almost making Minato himself a heroine by voicing him completely even during H-scenes. As mentioned earlier, while I do appreciate that he was considered very worthy of being the protagonist, it also worked against the heroine design and the story even. I think it would have been much better if Minato had a couple of “flaws” himself that the other heroines compliment (e.g. Maybe a past event where he becomes suspicious of everyone, but one of the heroines help him overcome that past, as an example).

Otherwise, it seems as if Minato never receives anything from the heroines.

Characters themselves were very charming even with the continuous comparison to Minato, which makes me curious and somewhat disappointed to why the game was limited to just three heroines. Don’t get me wrong; the heroine interactions even within a heroine route was quite amazing (e.g. Kazari following Yuzu and Minato around). I guess with another heroine the design would have made this game much more complex.

I also praise this game for its amazing transition and introduction of story elements. A lot of the character traits relevant to the main story is introduced very casually or even humorously, making the entire story feel like it’s connected. However, on the other hand, the endings seemed to be rushed slightly, and each route ends almost immediately after the resolution of the conflict. This had the effect of getting me all hyped up for “What’s next?!” but instead made me say “Oh, that’s it?”. I’m not sure if other readers will feel this as well though.

One of the prime examples of the scene that had this kind of “feint”, if that’s the right word to use

On a side-note, it seems that this game offers extra scenarios as you play. These “omake” are available on the title page, and isn’t really much except for exactly what it means; extra scenarios. While extra scenarios were greatly appreciated due to how short this game felt in general, how these were located on the title page and not included with the main storyline made it quite strange why they would do something like this. If at all, I think the story rating would have been salvaged somewhat if the writers had placed all these extra scenarios within the main story

My reaction when I see there’s omake scenarios for a good game

Affection for the Characters: Moderately High

CG Score: 9/10. Okay, I might be a bit biased, but this kind of artwork is ON SPOT with what I would consider “ideal” in a bishoujo game. Highly intricate backgrounds for most of the CGs, there are plenty of animations in both sprites and SDCGs, and each character is well designed to be visually appealing. The score isn’t a perfect 10/10 purely because there’s not enough normal CGs.

I just love these kinds of beautiful CGs

Music Score: 7/10. The music is extremely similar to the string-themed soundtracks present in the previous titles written by NYAON (Otenkiame/Moshihare). If you’re into those kinds of music, prepare yourself for a treat

Addictiveness: Moderately High. I can definitely see myself coming back to this game in the near future.

Conclusion:

Pros

  • The entire game has an amazing transition between scenarios, and does a splendid job introducing each character.
  • Each heroine is very colorful, and has attractive traits about her even if said trait was something like chuunibyou or a horrible cook.
  • Protagonist is extremely resourceful and completely voiced, almost acting as a heroine himself
  • There are various animations in both sprites and SDCGs, adding to immersion of the novel.
  • Additional Scenarios are available as you progress the story.

Cons

  • The game unfortunately lacks in-depth romance development for Minato, the protagonist
  • Heroines may seem a bit more shallow or “useless” as the game continuously compares them to Minato.
  • The ending is curiously a bit more abrupt, and leaves a feel of disappointment for readers who may have just started to become engaged in the story.

Overall, Otome Domain is one of the better galge I’ve seen in 2016. This is already outside of my bias for the scenario writer, or even the name of the company itself, and I admit that I’ve had a higher expectation for this game which it met with relative satisfaction. Protagonist was much to my liking and unique, though his presence lowered the quality of heroines, but how Minato almost acted like a heroine himself was something quite different about this game when compared to others.

Players who have experienced previous games written by NYAON is HIGHLY recommended to play this title as well.

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Comments on: "The Haven for Maidens: Review of [160624]Otome Domain" (6)

  1. Aw, this was a really good post. Finding the time and actual effort to produce a great article… but what can I say… I hesitate a lot and never seem to get anything done.|

  2. Hey this is somewhat of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!|

  3. veshurik said:

    Are Ensemble games so bad? I know that they likes traps, and a lot of its products about that. I know that they are trying to change the concept (for “not to be stampers”) – protagonist the chef, the artist etc. But I don’t think that it’s bad games. CG are really pretty.

    About Otome Domain, I didn’t play and watch only first 40 minutes on YouTube, but I like the graphic. Thank you very much for review, will wait more!

    • The problem with ensemble (lowercase “e”, by the way :P) is that all of their heroine design is almost essentially a copy-paste from either another game, or is very generic. In addition to the poor design of characters, the scenario is also often a copy-paste from other similar scenarios (e.g. childhood friend heroines and the struggle to “deepen the relationship” kind of scenario) with very little fillers to differentiate said route from routes of the same variety.

      Simply put, ensemble games are very boring and only “spice things up” with different backgrounds or settings.

      I’m actually not upset about trap protagonists that ensemble utilizes. Trap protagonists are nice if it’s well developed (e.g. social taboos, past traumas, etc…) Otome Domain has a trap protagonist, and Tsukiyori (which is an awesome title) also features a trap protagonist. For ensemble, I’m personally sick of the ojou-sama heroine prevalent in literally ALL their games.

  4. First impression was quickly made 1 minute into the game. Otherwise it’s been ok so far.

    • I think it’s a game that you become really engaged in the more you play it. The beginning of the game does create a strong impression, but overall seems generic to a veteran (at least this was the case for me). However, getting deeper into the scenario was when I actually saw that this game was a bit different than other cheap charage that displays trap-protagonists in an ojousama environment *coff coff ensemble coff coff*

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