This is a little post of remembrance and gratitude to the men of Hakuoki. My first encounter with them was in Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi for the 3DS and since then I’ve developed a intense love and sense endearment to them.
Memories of the Shinsengumi was my first hands-on experience of a visual novel, as they are quite rare in the UK. I knew what to expect from the genre – basically reading a story but my choices can effect certain outcomes and I get to pick a character route to go down. I also expected the focus to mainly be on the romance and the wooing and such, but it seems I was to be proven wrong.
Yes, Hakuoki does focus on romance but it also has it’s own story going on, of which I must admit sometimes went over my head as it involved old Japanese politics (and hey, let’s be honest, I don’t even understand modern day politics) but what I did know was that slowly over time I was becoming attached to the band of sword swinging samurai.
I say slowly, because the first chapter of the game is just the Shinsengumi deciding whether to kill poor Chizuru or not, and since she saw one of their darkest secrets you guess what the answer was. Of course, that nasty fate was avoided but Souji Okita didn’t do well for his first impression in that chapter. But that was the thing with Okita – He was quite the asshole when you first meet him, but if you go down his route then you discover that he’s not actually that bad and can be quite sweet too. That was something I loved about Hakuoki: Memories – you didn’t get to really know a character unless you stick with them right to the end.
Th story plays out the same each time up until chapter 4, where you will branch off with the character you have the highest affection with. And it’s after chapter 4 when all the heart break starts.
When the chapter number pops up you have a image behind it for the first three chapters, but on chapter 4 and every chapter after you get a close image of your chosen samurai, from the nose down (it looks better than I describe, trust me!)
It wasn’t long after this on my first play-through – when everything was new and shiny – that my dear Saito got a corruption bar on his profile, and then a cold pulse of fear ran through me. Was his life in danger? Was there a chance that my sweet Saito could die? Would it be my fault? Or was it something that I couldn’t prevent? I began to worry that the image of him on the chapter change would one day disappear.
It was a genuine fear of mine. And I loved it.
I wasn’t expecting such worry, nor was expecting the chance of game overs. Yes, Memories has game overs, as in you die or your beloved dies. We aren’t playing My Forged Wedding here, people!
Points yet again go to Okita for game overs, as there is a choice near the end of his story which can lead to one of his game overs and let me tell you, it’s like a punch to the heart!
You punched my HEART, Okita! My Heart!
Of course, you may need to play through each character’s story several times to get all their CG/Artwork but that’s to be expected from any branching story set up.
So now, I get to excitedly look forward to the arrival of PS3’s Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi – which will arrive the day after my higher history exam, bliss! – Where I’ll get to experience new memories with the wonderful men of the Shinsengumi, and I’ll never regret a single second I spend with them.
Except maybe Sanan…that dude’s creepy…