Also on: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
The worst visual novel I?ve ever played was a terrible, dull romance called The Language of Love. It had no stakes, no tension, and none of the characters were particularly interesting. It was also the worst kind of visual novel: the sort where literally the only thing it asked of players was to press X to advance the text. No branching storylines, no choices, just one storyline that went A to B with nothing interesting happening in between.
Blackberry Honey is by the same developer, Ebi-Hime, and it, too, is a romance where the only thing players need to do is press X to advance the text. In fact, you don?t even need to do that ? you can just turn on auto-forward, and the whole story rolls along without you needing to do anything. It?s as undemanding as they come.
To the game?s credit, at the very least the story here is ever-so-slightly more interesting than that of The Language of Love. Blackberry Honey is about two maids falling for each other in Victorian England, and?well, that?s pretty much it. The game follows their relationship in slow, painstaking detail, telling you every single detail about not only their interactions, but also everything else that happens in the main character?s day, every day, for months and months on end.
Strangely, despite its lengthy word count ? as it proudly states, it features around 100,000 words ? while Blackberry Honey does a decent job of fleshing out the main character, Lorina, and her love interest (a mysterious maid named Taohua), most of the other characters are pretty one-dimensional. They generally feel more like plot devices and scenery than anything else.
The other big issue here is that Lorina looks absurd. She?s comically well-endowed, and every single time she appears on screen she?s struggling to hold her boobs up with one arm. I know what you?re thinking: it?s a visual novel about lesbian maids ? what else would you expect? Except Blackberry Honey isn?t one of those kinds of VNs. For the most part, it tells its story straight (pun not intended), without resorting to the kind of tawdry innuendos that you might expect. Having the main character look like she?s dropped in from Senran Kagura is an utterly bizarre design decision.
On the whole, though, Blackberry Honey is pretty harmless and inoffensive. It doesn?t ask anything of players and it probably won?t stick with you for very long after you finish it, but if you?re in the mood for reading something long and unobjectionable, you could probably do worse.
Ratalaika Games provided us with a Blackberry Honey PS4/5 code for review purposes.