Friday, September 9, 2016

Collar x Malice - Review

 Game: [Collar x Malice].
Genre: Otome game Visual Novel.
Developer/Publisher: Otomate
Platform: PS Vita.
Release date: 2016-08-18.

 With Otomate being hit and miss ofcourse I had doubts about this otome game.
I had to choose between this game or 7'scarlet and I can't say it was an easy decision
since both games are mystery themed so it had to be one or the other, for better or for worse
 I decided to pick up Collar x Malice! since at times you just have to choose one or the other.
Anyway you may have guessed it but CxM focusses more on story than romance.
This IMO is good but for those expecting more romance, may be disappointed.
The team.
If you want a play order this one should be ideal:
Mineo > Kei > Takeru / Shiraishi > Aiji.
Please note that Shiraishi's route is locked till 2nd play, Aiji doesn't unlock till you've done everyone.
Mineo's route is very light on plot content so I recommend him first and Kei 2nd.
Takeru's route is pretty well balanced so he's perfect to do before the final two routes
though i you do Shiraishi before him or not shouldn't matter.
I have to add that after I did Takeru I was even more motivated to do the rest!

- Story.
- Characters.
- Art and bgm.
- Individual route is self-contained.

 - Many Bad Ends.
- Long routes, honestly this is both bad and good.
- Those expecting more romance may be disappointed.
- Not light-hearted in the slightest, can get pretty dark.
Hands where I can see them! :P
This game was fairly decent in length and actually managed to draw me in
because it was very suspenseful at times but in other areas like romance it was a little lacking.
 Though there were still enough cute bits because it is an otome game afterall.

The first route alone took me around 10 hours (give or take), I'd rather have a VN takes it time
 than rush itself, the story was really good so I can't even complain even if lack of romance.
Also I think Collar x Malice would have benefit from a voiced heroine! but sadly this isn't the case.
The heroine was really likeable atleast, also her brother didn't really care that much for her
which was nice considering how many games follow the onii-chan trope.
Kazuki is still a tsundere siscon even if he barely shows it at first. :P
Sadly Ichika doesn't know how to handle technology well.. which considering the setting is weird.

Also I am disappointed this game had no ending list, like I fully completed the game cg and all
but I was at a loss to see what bad ending I missed  and there are a lot.
Like come on otomate, when a game really needed one you go and pull this crap?!
Even Reine des fleurs has one... so why not Collar x Malice?
This is probably the only thing I am discontent about like seriously but oh well it can't be helped.

If you need a guide I recommend this one:

More ramblings and minor spoilers/CG's after the jump.

Enomoto Mineo.
CV: Saito Souma.
 I did the hetare boy's route first and for the most part I wasn't disappointed.
He may not show at first but he's a great guy, he doesn't make friends easily
due to some stuff that happened in the past but Ichika tries to befriend him either way.
The part where Mineo got drunk was pretty cute and funny but then Kei walked in on them lmao.
Anyway his route was light in actual plot content and also very self-contained
the ending of his route was really sweet, sigh Mineo is such a sweetheart.
This route is perfect to do first since like I just said its light on overall plot content and
doing it later would only show you how disconnected it is and also hao2rezolvepl0t?
Overall Mineo's route was great, the next route that being Kei's may have had the better story
but in terms of character Mineo has an advantage over Kei.
 Romance ★★★☆☆
Plot ★★☆☆☆
 Enjoyment overall ★★★☆☆

Okazaki Kei.
CV: Kaji Yuki.
 Kei... is the typical mr: nice guy but eh you know how they usually go.
During a case Kei found out about the collar and the first thing he did was aim a gun at Ichika...
Because he saw her collar...
I was like dude please chill out, relax and put the gun down! orz.
The overall story was a lot more serious than Mineo's and once Kei realizes Ichika
wouldn't ever betray him, he turns around and trusts her again and even vows to protect her.
After all this he's back to being mr:nice guy and slowly shows his real self...
 Kei's backtory was interesting despite me not really liking him at all.
 I can't say I liked Kei, also that one sprite* and the way Kei treats Ichika...  just made me go NOPE.
The way Ichika fell for Kei just felt off, she was charmed by his smile so easily in his own route
yet in another route Ichika was wary of Kei...i'm like girl please.  (눈_눈)
*Such slender fingers he has...
   Good thing is Ichika is a great heroine and will have nothing of Kei's derping over
what happened the past and what not because he sure went and do that at one point.
Sadly for the most part I just wanted the route to be over with because I couldn't stand Kei anymore
even though the plot/mystery was better than Mineo's, Kei's personality kinda ruined it for me.
Despite all that this route still had some nice moments my favorite being the one where they watched a movie.
I don't think Kei is a bad person but eh he's so too nice his kindness is just too much...
I even felt something was off and waited for when he's show his true colors
but in the end said kindness was genuine and here I was mistrusting him the whole time.
As adorable and kind as Kei is  he just wasn't my type I guess, over and out.
I'm pretty sure most people will love him anyway. ^_^
Romance ★★★☆☆
Plot ★★★☆☆
 Enjoyment overall ★★☆☆☆

Sasazuka Takeru.
CV: Namikawa Daisuke.
The moody donut lover, calling you a baka-neko every odd sentence.
Ichika and Takeru didn't get along at first which after Kei's route was really refreshing.
But... you know how these type of guys go right? 
Sasazuka Takeru: Its not like I wanted to give you a donut or anything, baka.
There was also this amusing scene where this kid got arrested and he flipped
when the cops tried to take away his phone since he had to rank an event.
(I feel like a lot of people could relate to this unlucky guy, lmao.)
The guy was a real fruitcake and kind of shows just how addicting mobage are.
Later on their was a scene with Takeru coming over to Ichika's home and formally announcing
his relationship to her brother Kazuki was hilarious as he didn't quite approve at first.
Oh well maybe its just a phase of his... otouto-kuns these days, le sigh.
Takeru: Kazuki what are you a siscon? Kazuki: As if!
Anyway the pacing of the route is better than the previous two I did so far, everything
just falls into place so well no matter what type of scene it is.
Takeru's route had so many great scenes and honestly when it came to both story and romance
he had the most balanced route in the whole game, I really enjoyed it.
 Oh and Namidai's voice was absolutely perfect for Takeru.
Takeru was just such a cutie pie in more ways than one and he had such a good route.
He's definitely my favourite, Mineo came close but donut boy has managed to win my heart.
 Romance ★★★★☆
Plot ★★★☆☆
 Enjoyment overall ★★★★☆

Shiraishi Kageyuki.
CV: Kimura Ryouhei.
Shiraishi is quite mysterious and seems to know more than he's letting on, also a bit of a troll.
He apparently loves cats, well because of that he certainly got my approval fast!
I gotta admit he does seem creepy in cg's but looks can be deceiving I guess.
 So when Ichika got invited after work for drinks with her female colleagues
they were gossiping about various topics including Shiraishi and well as turns out
he might've heard the whole thing as he and the other guys came in a bit later, lol.
 Hilarity ensues and well Ichika passes out from drinking a bit too much?
 Well that sure was amusing and well it only gets better!
 TFW you get invited into someones home and you snoop around
trying to find out more about him but he catches you in the act. >_>;
Ichika let's just say you had it coming...
This route was super interesting, Shiraishi is so mysterious I almost couldn't put the game down. 
No wonder this route was locked  till 2nd play.
I won't post the juicy details aka spoilers but let's just say Shiraishi needs a hug, lots of hugs.
To be honest I knew something was off about him but I'd never expected it'd take that turn...
Anyhow please understand Shiraishi and love him, he needs it. T~T
It should be obvious but Shiraishi had a good route but he deserved more, I have to admit
I thought I would dislike him at first but i'm glad this wasn't the case!
 Romance ★★★☆☆
Plot ★★★★☆
 Enjoyment overall ★★★★☆

Yanagi Aiji.
CV: Morita Masakazu.
The final route of the game and won't unlock till you've done everyone else
so at the same time it also acts like a sort of truth route.
Aiji's the leader of ''the team'' a group composed of former police officers and Aiji himself left
the force for personal reasons. He's good at cooking and he acts like a father to everyone in the team
but actually hates being called out like one, lmao.
His route was longer than the others, he even gets his own prologue.
Sasuga main character.
 Though I can't help but feel it dragged on at certain parts because they touched upon
parts the other routes had covered for the whole true route revelation flavor.
Would've been better if they TL;DR some of it but whatever I guess.
There was a part where Kei was being discontent about stuff and well the
context of the cg was kinda like Aiji don't keep Ichika all to yourself.
Meanwhile I'm like Kei please, this isn't your route back off.
Oh well it was amusing nonetheless.¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  Though I liked the part where Ichika and Aiji  helped a lost child return to her parents and the route
 got better when Ichika collapsed at Aiji's place and remembered ''the past'' which
 gives us the hint that they've most certainly met before.
As for the culprit, in the first half of this route I had a feeling who it was and when I compared
 that mysterious person's sprites with another character I shook my head and screamed inside.
Also I just couldn't trust that person in general and no won't spoil who it actually is here. :P
  That person also had an ending in Aiji's route but honestly
afer I knew the truth I couldn't care less about him. >_>
I loved how Aiji offered Ichika mental support after finding out whodunit.
Everything's gonna be alright.
Overall this was great route, it did drag on at certain parts and they could have handled it better
but oh well it is what it is, Aiji is a good guy no matter how you look at it, sometimes
you have to do what you think is right no matter what the consequence is.
 Romance ★★★★☆
Plot ★★★☆☆
 Enjoyment overall ★★★★☆
Slighly lower plot rating cuz of all the TL;DR...

Route ranking:Aiji > Takeru > Shiraishi > Kei > Mineo.
So let's digest why.
Story-wise Aiji's route has it all and the romance came along nicely its also
 longer than the others for dat true end revelation.
Overall Takeru had the most balanced route in the game, everything just fell into place so easily.
Or maybe I am just biased for donut boy...
Shiraishi and Kei were fine I guess but Mineo arguably the worst route
best to do him first since his route had the weakest story and wasn't resolved properly.

Fav character:
Takeru > Aiji > Shiraishi > Mineo > Kei. > ???.
Takeru best boy! Aiji after that, Mineo and Shiraishi are great too and Kei...
well I just don't know about him sorry he's not my type I guess.
Got nothing against Mineo but I need more time with him... the route barely
scratched the surface of their relationship same for Shiraishi actually.
As for ''???'' no thank you...but if CxM got a FD he would probably get a full route. >_>
I'd admit he's handsome and all... but I wouldn't go that far.

Final Thoughts
 Wow, well this certainly managed to be better than I expected.
The routes were all decent in length and don't feel rushed at all, I'd actually had
abandoned all hope on a meaty game from otomate but I'm glad they still have it in them.
I can see why a short and sweet game is nice after a long and story heavy game like Collar x Malice.
But that's no excuse to go rush it otomate. /Looks at Period Cube and Beast and Princess.
This game was very story focused but I still think it managed to balance the romance quite well.
Mineo and Takeru's routes were much lighter in terms of story than the others so
I recommend to balance them in between the heavier routes like Kei and Shiraishi.
Like said at the start of the post I recommend Mineo > Kei > Takeru > Shiraishi > Aiji.
Honestly it shouldn't matter whether or not you do Shiraishi before Takeru or vice versa.
Speaking of routes, all the routes were self-contained as each guy has their own story to tell
while keeping the real route for the fnal route aka Aiji.
The endings were satisfying but I can see why one would want a FD!
Because most of the time Collar x Malice just doesn't have time for fluffy romantic stuff.
The bad ends were great, some of them were stupid like choosing a shortcut would
 lead to one, I found Takeru's first bad end to be hilariously bad.

Collar x Malice was in no way a light-hearted game, bad ends or more like landmines everywhere!
Have fun playing this without a guide I didn't but it might be even more suspenseful
playing this game without a guide than with one but eh to each their own.
Overall this game was really good, I think even people that don't play otome games
could enjoy it for the mystery aspect alone because in my opinion it doesn't disappoint.
As for the heroine? Ichika was fine, she can hold her own for the most part
and I can't really complain she's not perfect but eh no otome game heroine is.
Collar x Malice is a well crafted mystery otome game, even if the
romance is a bit lacking because it focuses on story it certainly is worth a try.

Characters ★★★★☆ (Likeable bunch.)
Art  ★★★★★(No complaints.)
Scenario/plot. ★★★★☆(Just don't compare silhouettes.)
Music★★★☆☆ (Its okay... some elevator music stuff though.)
System  ★★☆☆☆ (Comfy but bad end list where...?)
Enjoyment overall ★★★★☆ (Its satisfying.)
Anyway i'm glad Aksys Games picked this game up so fast, they knew what's up thats for sure!
Anyway if you're interested pick up the english version when it comes out, so
we can show aksys the support they need to continue bringing over otome games.
Though I hope that they've learned from norn9/code:realize fiasco last year
and actually spread out their releases which gives them time to QA their releases more.
That being said please support Aksys Games! if you want the otome game genre to succeed
in the west then you know what to do, buy the games officially, lack of money?
Then save up or wait for a sale because sooner or later those are bound to happen.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review ^^
    I always like to check your otome reviews ^-^

    I also totally agree with you about Kei. I don't hate him, but most of the route I felt he is an iceberg XD. He only really becomes genuine with his feelings and actions towards Ichika after she seriously talks to him and slaps him (OMG I was sooo happy when she slapped him! Half of the route I was like "Girl, please slap him, please!!" and when she did I was just happy because he really needed that slap XD)
    Also, I felt that Kei was the opposite of Shiraishi. I expected Kei to be very kind and cute (although he is in a way, but most of the time I did not feel it was genuine), and he turned out much more differently (somehow obsessive and controlling?). Shiraishi was the opposite, I liked him the least out of the bunch and he ended up being one of my favorite characters. I thought he would be the obsessive controlling cold one, but he turned out much more differently I was seriously shocked by how cute and pure he is XD.

    Sorry for the long comment but I got excited when I saw you had a similar opinion on Kei as most of people who played the game actually liked him XD.