Review: Now, you too can experience true love in less than a day at the low cost of only $19.99!!
Note: Actual experience may vary.
For many Japanese otaku, or anime enthusiasts, the visual novel genre has been one of the most successful types of games in Japan. Relying solely on graphics, text, and music these games bring players on the journey towards falling in love with different characters in a game through a system of ?choose-your-own-adventure' style gameplay. For every gem such as Ever 17 or Hourglass of Summer that takes the players on an emotional roller coaster of epic proportions however, there are plenty of downtrodden awful ones as well where the only goal of the game is to date the girl.
While the title ?Day of Love' may suggest that the game belongs to the latter, it isn't. Though it doesn't quiet reach the lofty heights of the former either. In the game, you are Haruki Tojo (yes, literally as you never see his face in the game), and one day a beautiful stranger by the name of Maho approaches you asking you if you remember who she is. When Haruki doesn't remember her, she becomes infuriated and decides to seek revenge. So what does she decide to do?
CROSS-DRESS! Seriously. She attempts to enroll in the hero's high school by disguising herself as a guy and living with him. Hoping to get him to fall in love with a false persona and then crush his heart. As she gets closer to him through her boyish persona, Mao, the two share an experience, which ultimately leads to her plan going awry and the two falling in love with each other. You can pretty much guess what's going to happen from here.
Though the main storyline does revolve around Maho in the beginning, the hero gets the chance to fall in love with other females including Isami Anayama, Ayano Kazekiri, Michiru Hiragi, Nanaka Sayagusa, and Yayoi Muto. Each of the girls are developed fairly well throughout the game, with the hero having his own personal reason for falling in love with each one.
Although the story seems interesting at first glance, it's when you decide to follow the paths of other characters that it begins to crumble. For instance, if you decide to pursue Isami, Maho will begin to get jealous of her during the story and then suddenly takes a backseat role the rest of the game. Personally, I was hoping for some sort of grand revenge scheme on the two by Maho, but sadly it never happens.
Akin to most of Hirameki's early games, ?Day of Love' was released on AnimePlay DVD format filled with the usual nuances: the occasional grammar mistake, lack of customization, password reliance, and automatic scrolling text. What really hurts this game however is the lack of password and save points. The only time that you can actually save is during the critical points and they're few and far between (you can go through the game with only three decisions). Not to mention, the fact that none of them really impress any sense of urgency or pressure in the player.
Graphics-wise, the game fails to impress. It's your standard set of classroom and drama backgrounds with static characters who seem fake and plastic in their emotions. Unless you have really sharp eyes, you won't notice any emotion on the characters, as they remain static throughout the game with hardly any noticeable changes in emotion. As expected, the game's CG graphics and colorization are well done. It's just the rest of the game that leaves a lot to be desired.
Audibly, the game isn't anything new. It uses the same standard set of synthesized music that many anime fans have associated with the ?harem' genre, although they're very appropriate for the general direction of the game. While the game's secondary characters are all voiced, the lack of a voice-over by the protagonist really hurts. Often, your left staring at the screen with nothing more than music accompanied by a background as you read the same line over and over due to the inability to scroll through text.
In summary, ?Day of Love' fails to reach the lofty heights of the great visual novels. Although the paths in the story are interesting as character development prevents the girls from falling into the category of ?flat' none of them connect. Given more time and development, including flashbacks of the hero's childhood in the Maho arc, the game could have been well above average. Instead, we're left with a less-than satisfactory game that barely warrants its inexpensive price tag. Play the game if you've enjoyed the rest of Hirameki's products, but avoid it if you're a first timer. As if you're ever asked if you remember the game by a mysterious woman one day, you'll be left like Haruki: stumped and trying to figure out what she's trying to talk about.