Intro: Saki’s uncle, Keiji Inafune, is opening an amusement park featuring rides based on video games like FF. Saki shows up to support him when terrorists lock down the park and kidnap Keiji and several hostages. In order to free them, 7 warriors must overcome the trials Count Hogstein has set. Should they fail even one, Hogstein will kill the hostages. If one of them tries to escape, they will die. Saki volunteers as tribute to save
Prim Keiji. However, Hogstein isn’t here to play fair. Why were they chosen in this game and will the warriors survive? Or will they condemn both themselves and the hostages?
*Has a very 999/Zero Escape vibe and while at first it may seem the focus is the relationships between Saki & her comrades, revealing Hogsteins’s identity/motives is the main draw. You can only uncover this after playing through the secret character’s route. If anything, the romance feels like a complement to the main plot. You only need to complete one route in order to unlock the secret character.
My play order: Wakasa > Meoshi > Mitarashi > Urabe > Shidou > Shirabe > Secret Character
The first 3 routes are practically spoiler free so feel free to read my summaries if you want^^
Wakasa: CV: Yuki Kaji A pop idol that makes all the girls swoon but Saki can only go excuse me, who dafuq are you supposed to be? Wakasa is the coward of the group and immediately books it during the 1st trial. It takes all of them to prevent him from sealing their fates as dead men.
If anyone likes character development, Wakasa’s route is one of the best. For such a frightened, annoying, selfish, and vain person, he managed to become one of my favorite characters. He starts out as this pompous guy who believes he is the next messiah cuz he’s in a boy band and surely everyone has heard of him. Wakasa is only here to save his own ass and will stick to whoever he thinks can keep him alive.
And then he realizes that he doesn’t want to be that person anymore when he endangers Mitarashi’s life bcuz he was only looking out for #1. The near death experience hits everyone, but for Wakasa, it breaks him. As he struggles to piece himself together, Saki’s bravery inspires him & he realizes that he needs to grow the f up.
His route gives nothing away but it excels in showing the growth of a person put under extreme situations. Wakasa went from an annoying but understandably scared shitless boy to a selfless, strong, and compassionate individual. His friendship with Saki was a huge driving point in his maturity and the romantic aspects enhanced the story when it finally kicked in. A very good route.
Meoshi: CV: Masakazu Morita: The gamer who knows every detail about the park cuz he’s played all the games the rides are based on. He’s socially awkward due to a very traumatic experience in his past that has haunted him his entire life. He only came to the park bc they were handing out free DLC for his game lol
Because of this, he keeps to himself, gets creeped out when others talk to him, and can be very abrupt. He displays ninja skills lol he must have learned from Wiifit or smt in the 1st trial and Saki immediately goes DAYUM SON. Also idk wtf he’s wearing but it looks like he’s in some straight jacket. (this is explained in Shidou’s route and his own)
For most of the route we get to see Meoshi proudly inform the others about his knowledge of games, show off his level 9000 gaming skills, and how he matures. Honestly, it was a nice route. I liked how it challenged his anxiety and social awkwardness. He was forced to work with other people to survive and learned that interacting with humans isn’t bad.
I was surprised at how much this guy had to put forward. He had to cast aside all his fears to protect Saki when the time came despite his frail body. Meoshi was upset that he couldn’t be the hero in video games and finally got the chance to be that hero.
I liked his route except the ending made it seem like he thought Saki was second to his games…which contradicted the whole point of his route! WTF. It was cute but afterwards I couldn’t help but think she’d break up with him later cuz he didn’t pay her much attention.
Dango: CV: Satoshi Hino: An escort in Ginza at the club “Ulysses” who is easily angered and settles things with his fists.I wasn’t too sure what kind of escort he was as in Japan you have the normal male hosts that are forbidden from involving in sexual activities with clients bc lol it’s “classier than prostitution.” They usually are there to talk to women who need to vent and be complimented whilst wasting a ton of $ on alcohol. But considering how he’s always telling her that he cannot “fulfill her dreams” that she isn’t yet aware of lol I think we all what kind he is…
His route constantly makes innuendos of his job like how he dresses up and role plays for women and Saki could only go ┐(‘～`;)┌. He’s like a grizzly bear in that he’s very gruff and talks like a yakuza, but the moment he realizes he cares for Saki he’s soooooo unsure what to do. His job requires no attachments and no favors and considering they’re in a life or death situation, he’s afraid of losing her.
He distances himself but Saki is adamant about her feelings for him and these two KICK ASS. The only way you can even begin his route is if you constantly blow up at him and belittle him lol (do M anyone?) bc he likes his women strong and with their own minds. Thank you, Mitarashi!!! (ﾉ´з｀)ノ
I really liked how action packed this route was. The others were too, but the writers def took advantage of the fact that Mitarashi is this beast that can bend trees with his bare hands (ok maybe not that part).
Tarzan Urabe: CV: Junichi Suwabe: The Oracle of Shinjuku and gentleman of the group. Saki sews a part of his robe for him and thinks to herself that she should poke herself with needles more often if it means he’ll bandage her rofl do M much? As with every route, Urabe betrays them and they assume he died in the explosion. However, Saki can’t bring herself to abandon him if he’s still alive. So she runs off without the group to search for him.
This route was instant love. From the get go they both acknowledge they’re attracted to each other. He was a part of Hogstein’s plan since the beginning bc he has daddy issues. Turns out these issues were real since the dad was a murdering yakuza and he’s been plotting with Hogstein to kill daddy…wtf.
Saki somehow is able to look deep into her kokoro to accept this and clings to him throughout. While yeah, dude was keeping her safe, I couldn’t bring myself to care. Like holy crap dude. U call ur dad evil and yet here ur trying to kill him, and are endangering others, and now ur all dayum Saki’s some FINE woman there. No.
Anyways they reunite with the others and lol all of them tell Saki that it’s a shame Urabe snagged her since they all thought she was pretty fine. He turns himself in and after 2 years he and Saki live together.
Idk guys…I was super interested in his route from the get go but dayum talk abt insta love. I understand attraction can form at first sight and there have been studies that show men are usually the ones who instantly fall for someone, but I couldn’t take the route srsly. He had a lot of demons of his own but we never once got closure on his dad or the fact that he tried to kill everyone and then ditched it all to save Saki simply cuz she was pretty….no.
Shidou: CV: Kenichi Suzumura: A police officer who gets on the nerves of many due to his views on justice. Especially Saki, who he pisses off for telling her to STAHP TOUCHING THINGS UR A WOMAN!! Thankfully, Saki doesn’t take shit from no one. She immediately tells him to stfu and get his head out of his ass. Just bc she’s a woman doesn’t mean she’s going to endanger them, especially considering SHE saved their asses and will continue to do so when he believes all hope is lost. Thank you Saki! XD
As you can imagine, both Saki and I weren’t happy with this bishie. Shidou, Wakasa and Mikami were the closest to traditional otoge love interests in their design, and Shidou already was pissing me off. Thank Jesus this guy realizes he said smt super sexist and messed up and apologizes to her. Saki and him both admit to their impulsiveness and figure things out like responsible adults. I’m so proud of you.
Things happen, Shidou is a badass who really just wants to do what’s right, and omg this route was so good. Like I can see why he’s the canon and I approve. Ugh one of my fav moments was when he was watching Saki lol and Wakasa calls him out on it and they sound like cats bcuz they keep saying grin. OMG it was great.
This route delved into the question of why each of them was there in this game to begin with. They discover it has smt to do with a car accident that left many dead and welp, I’m guessing they never caught the ones responsible? Once again, Hogstein gets away but now we have more answers. A really good route that patched up that mess that was Urabe lol. The romance progressed naturally and he never suddenly was all I WUV U I must lock u up like Urabe did on their 3rd day….
And there’s man nipples.
Vash the StampedeShirabe: CV: Ken Narita: A journalist haunted by his friend’s death. His daughter is kidnapped by Hogstein and lol idk wtf the writers were thinking, cuz they literally sacrificed Shidou’s character by allowing Mitarashi to enter the next game while the perfectly healthy Saki helped Shirabe findd his daughter. Mitarashi was gravely injured and they’re like yeah, go after Shirabe. Daijyoubu dakara! No.
Shirabe’s route delves into the accident that links all the players together. His friend was killed in an accident that the police decided was simply an accident. Thanks to the fact that Meoshi was a witness, it gave him hope to find out the truth. However, Meoshi was only in the 2nd grade and was too afraid to let anyone know what he’d witnessed. So he never came forward.
I don’t really understand the appeal of ossans. I mean yeah, I get the whole crush on sensei thing but…idk. I liked how Saki did prove her maturity but seeing these together made me go shit, father and daughter right there. To make things even more awkward, they get the best kiss cg. What the actual f?! All the others were too “tame” or it looked like they were pressing the tips of their lips together but they went for it in this one.
Mikami:CV: Chihiro Suzuki: If you really just want to get to the bottom of everything, pick one of the characters you think you’ll enjoy the most and then sit back after the ending credits…because now it’s time for answers. Obviously u don’t want 2 raise affection w/ anyone which makes her super suspicious and no one likes her prying lol. Mikami’s route is particularly dark compared to the other routes of this game.
There are 2 plot points in this game: Hogsteins games, and the treasure boxes u collect at the end of successful games.Turns out these are hints laid out by Hogstein in the hopes that the warriors will realize they’re all here cuz they’re all related to the accident. And since the Bloodstained Hospital blows up in every route, they can never learn of his identity and motive.
The most terrifying cg in existence pops up and it’s only the first one. Like holy shit. Saki stumbles into some warehouse thingy and finds someone tied up in an animal costume. Guess who it is? This creepo is freed from his furry bonds and proceeds to stare w/ yandere eyes at Saki saying hey there might be a traitor among u lololol like dayum dude. How suspicious can you get? He then tells her to call him by his first name even though they just met and proclaims he’ll free the hostages…sure dude. Sure.
He’s a pretty smooth liar so unless u played either Shidou or Shirabe b4 his, u might accept some of his lies. If u played either of those routes or all, then already ur gonna be like HMMMMMM.
Dude shows up on their boat as one of the piglets and I’m sitting here all SHIT. This is how Mai was kidnapped. He smells of citrus too…like how does he have the time to do this?
Anyways it was really just a story about a man wanting to be free from the pain of his family dying and how revenge can warp you.
Fantastic ending song.
Final Thoughts: The whole point of this game was what revenge can do to a person. In a lot of movies where the villain thinks up this grand plan, their backstory is usually a mesh of the usual cliche mess: they lost someone/thing and cannot be saved from their pain. Saki gets the chance to save this man and give him the redemption he needs when his whole life he’s believed several people are guilty for being heartless when his family was murdered.
Tbh, I was expecting this game to be darker than what it was marketed as. However, what I got wasn’t bad. In fact, it was really enjoyable. Not once did one of the characters overpower Saki. They didn’t drag her around or force kisses on her. Saki herself was very strong character and I was so thankful she had a mind of her own. There was a surprising amount of humor and lightheartedness at the core of it. A hope at the end.
All of the characters were fleshed out and despite how I really didn’t like Urabe’s route, I could empathize with him. I could understand a little why he did what he did and his actions and sudden obsession with Saki. It made sense, even if I wasn’t fond of it.
One thing that’s really rare for visual novels is for the characters to genuinely feel real. This one managed to not only have characters (designed by Ace Attorney artist Tatsuro Iwamoto) that looked more human than the usual, but I honestly could empathize with them. They had so many flaws and so many good points. They were gray, not black or white, and it was lovely.
Saki herself was a very empowering lead. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to have a female lead who is either sexualized, downplayed because she’s a woman, or is literally just a male character with boobs. She is none of that, and it’s such a shame that she isn’t more prominent in the otoge/gaming community. She’s no badass but when she sets her mind on something, she puts her all into it. And she gets rewarded for getting pissed off!! Thank you.
The translations were ok. Honestly, there were many times where Aksys felt they needed to stylize the characters diction and it worked. The Japanese wasn’t as colorful as these translations, but that doesn’t mean it was far from the original. Yes, there were instances where a few extra lines were tossed in that weren’t there in the Japanese version, but I think it only served to help bridge that gap for players who are new to Japanese games. And it isn’t the mess that Norn9 was.
The music was good and fit the scenes well. Some were a little repetitive but others were catchy. It ranged from electric guitar to soft orchestral to jumpy electropop. The art was really good and for some it might take a little to get used to but it fit the game and I liked how these characters looked more “realistic” than usual. Instead of focusing on which characters looked hot lol, the player was able to grow attached to the person beneath that-which is something I very much appreciated.
My favorite characters…this was hard. I liked Shidou but thought his route was better. I liked Meoshi as a character, but his route ended up a little contradictory in the end. Wakaska HOLY CRAP I didn’t expect for him to become my favorite in both route and character. He started out as the most infuriating, annoying, Bieberwannabe piece of shit and then BAM he grew up. He matured and I loved it. Best one right there. Shidou would prolly come in second. Mikami was a very cool character broken down by so much hatred and pain and I wanted everything to be alright. Idk, I guess I was expecting smt more from his route but I was really, really, really, happy that he wasn’t some crazy yandere.
Everyone respected each other and it was easy to believe in their trust. I really liked how it wasn’t this super dark game when that’s what I signed up for. I wanted the darkness of 999 but I got a hopeful story of redemption and growth. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Give this one a try. It’s more visual novel than anything, so prepare for reading. And it was a very good one at that.
Pick it up on PSN for $9.99 or on your PSP if you go old school 😉
What did you think of Sweet Fuse? Who was your fav character?
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