Hitokata no Ou

And now I’ll combo break myself not reviewing another youkai chara-ge (it does have some youkai, though).

Hitokata no Ou is a 2006 game (actually two games) by Artel Team Prefab.

vndb 1 2

EGS 1 2 3

Yatsusaka Naoya is the eldest (and only) boy of the influential Yatsusaka family. He isn’t the successor, though, since the family has a very strict “only females” succession policy. So following the death of his father and crumbling health of his mother, the family head representative is Isuzu Satsuki, from a branch of the family. Naoya lives with her and the cheerful and somewhat naive Kuroba Nao (besides assorted butlers and maids), who came to live with them three months ago, following the gruesome death of her parents.

Naoya used to have a very poor health, but since some point in the past he got better. He does tend to relapse in summer, when he often dreams of meeting with a girl in the forest at night. Gradually he discovers it’s not just a dream, and starts remembering that he indeed used to meet that girl when a kid.

Loli Mizuha

And then there’s a fireworks festival, anticipating the upcoming festival, and Naoya attends with Nao. But she suddenly disappears, and after going to find her he takes a decision that determines his future.

Nao and Mizuha

Hitokata no Ou has two routes (originally two different games), Akashi no Kuni (Nao route) and Woru no Mori (Mizuha -the girl in the dream- route). It’s maybe better to play Akashi no Kuni first, since Woru no Mori quickly reveals things you discover later in the former; having gone first through the later may have some influence in this review.

The red Torii

First some technical aspects. Graphically, the game looks very good. There’s not many backgrounds, but some of them are gorgeous; the CGs are also nice (though the lack of number does mean that on occasion the graphics don’t match the text). The sprites are also not varied, but they manage to be very expressive without being exaggerated, and with a limited assort of faces .

Example of one hole

The music is not as good. The quantity of tracks is also limited, but that is not compensated with quality; the BGM is utterly unremarkable, and even becomes tiring in the longer scenes.

And now on to the scenario. My first impression was that this was trying too hard to be Fate/Stay Night (and to some extent Tsukihime). A short list of similitudes:

  • References to the beautiful moon (actually more of a Tsukihime thing)
  • The black sun background

Dark Sun

  • Battle CG and sound effects (I may be overthinking this)
  • Red text

Not something good

  • Gur snzvyvl bs gur cebgntbavfg unf n frperg eryngrq gb gur cnenabezny
  • Gur cebgntbavfg unq qvrq naq pnzr onpx gb yvsr, naq abj unf n cbjreshy negvsnpg vafvqr uvz. Naq ur nyfb urnyf snfg.

Some things are probably not exclusive to FSN, but the style of narration resembles Type-Moon enough that even things I would usually ignore ended up raising a brow.

But still, Hitokata no Ou manages to create its own identity, more anchored in Japanese mythology. That identity is not quite as good, though.

The narration is just not very entertaining to read. It manages to be slow without even being that long, and the battles are not as intense as they could. And there’s a whole lot of narration; at points it seems the characters are just standing there while the action is happening (the MC suffers a lot of this). The romance is somewhat on the background; though that means it doesn’t get in the way of the plot, is not very convincing either. Is not necessarily bad; what I mean is that the player has to fill some of the gaps. Mizuha route is better, but even there if one doesn’t like her the romance would simple fall flat. Luckily for me, I did like Mizuha, so that wasn’t a problem.

The plot itself is actually not bad. But I don’t think is that well distributed between both routes; playing one already spoils some of the other. And though that’s worse with Woru no Mori, that half is also better; Akashi no Kuni lacks direction for a great part (then again, that may be because having gone through WnM I already knew what was the point). And even though I just said that the narration wasn’t that good, WnM does manage to create a convincing atmosphere of hopelessness, as  the protagonists get cornered without light at sight. Along with a nice heroine, WnM manages to get passing grades.

But in the end, though Hitokata no Ou does have some remarkable aspects, on the whole doesn’t raise from average. Would I recommend it? Probably not.

2 Responses to “Hitokata no Ou”

  1. izmosmolnar Says:

    Yeah, bloody lacklustre games them are. I can barely remember anything of these two despite reading them only last year. When I first heard about this series, I actually had a gut feeling I would enjoy them but nah, I was proven wrong yet again.

    • Somewhat of a wasted chance. With a trimmed narration and better fight scenes (and probably also a better music track) it could have been a fun game (even if it would never have won any originality prizes).

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