7’scarlet review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: Aksys Games
Developer: Otomate
Medium: Digital/Vita Card
Players: 1
Online: No

Of all the visual novels I?ve played, I have to say that 7’scarlet may just be the one that lives up to the ?novel? part of the genre name the most. I don?t just mean that it provides endless amounts of exposition — though, like most other games of this type, it certainly does that. Rather, I mean that 7’scarlet is the one that feels most structured like a proper novel. Where most otome novels seem to follow a pretty specific formula — you meet the heroine, and moments later, you basically meet every one of her potential love interests all at once — 7’scarlet takes its time introducing its cast of characters. The story is given room to breathe, and the various suitors are introduced relatively naturally, instead of the plot contriving some reason for half a dozen or so unconnected men to be in the same room at the same time.

I should note, of course, that just because the suitors are introduced in a slightly different way, it doesn?t mean that they?re anything other than the usual stereotypes that populate the genre. They?re all floppy-haired and slightly feminine. They all have a passionate interest in everything the heroine does, even if she doesn?t seem all that interesting. They hit the archetypal bases of the nerdy one, the friendly one, the cold one, and so forth. 7’scarlet is different, but it?s not that different, you know?

Still, 7’scarlet is a mystery novel, and by meting out its mystery slowly, rather than all at once, the game does a pretty good job of building the tension. Half the time when I play these sorts of games, I?ll hit a point where I inevitably have to stop myself from fast-forwarding the dialogue, because so much of it just seems like it?s repeating the same plot points over and over. Here, by building things up gradually, you can?t help but get sucked into its story.

I also have to say that 7’scarlet looks a lot nicer than many of its contemporaries, at least in places. Most of it is just your standard ?talking heads zooming on and off the screen?, but there are places here and there where the game decides to show off the environment. I wouldn?t say that the graphics are incredible or anything, but they still do a nice job of establishing a sense of place when they show a train chugging through the countryside, or a babbling brook. Other games would be well-advised to follow this lead, rather than just allowing the dialogue to be everything.

To be sure, the usual caveat still applies: 7’scarlet is by Otomate, which means that you need to go in expecting the story to take more than a few seemingly unnecessary romantic detours. But, like Bad Apple Wars and Psychedelia of the Black Butterfly before it, has a decent story underneath all that romance, and if you?re willing to give it abit of a chance, it definitely pays off.

Aksys Games provided us with a 7’scarlet PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: B+