Collar X Malice -Unlimited Review (Nintendo Switch)

Game: Collar X Malice -Unlimited
Genre: Visual Novel, Otome, Adventure
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer/Publisher: Idea Factory |Aksys Games
Age Rating: EU 16+| US M
Price: USD $49.99 |UK £ 44.99 | EU € 49,99
Release Date: August 13th 2020

Review code used, with many thanks to MMPR!

What IS A Collar X Malice?

Collar X Malice -Unlimited- is a visual-novel otome (romance) game where you will step into the trendy shoes of the cute protagonist: Ichika Hoshino. 

Of course a cute protagonist must have a cute phone! I want this phone!

Ichika is a hardworking and diligent police officer who just so happens to work with several very handsome men. These men, of course, are just waiting to fall in love with you. Talk to them, discover their interests, make the correct dialogue choices and WHAM-BAM you can hold their hearts in your hands. But be careful with those precious hearts; these men may look rough and tough on the outside, but inside they are all protecting past hurts and traumas.

One of the great joys of an otome game such as this one is that ability to delve deep into a well written character’s story and join them on their journey, a journey made better by discovering love!

Another indicator of a good otome game is when the main character – whose shoes you, as the player, are stepping into –  has a personality of their own, and luckily Ichika does have this. She’s fierce and very loyal, cares deeply about the people around her, and strives to uphold justice. 

-Unlimited- Means Sequel

The thing about Collar X Malice -Unlimited- is that it is a continuation – or after-story – of the previous game: Collar X Malice. If you are like me, and you are just hopping into Unlimited without playing the first game, you might find yourself a bit confused at first.

I’m glad to be on Sasazuka’s good side.

When Unlimited starts, you play through a prologue where all the characters have a discussion about a criminal case that you all worked on together in the past called the X-Day Incidents. During the X-Day Incidents, Shinjuku (a district in Tokyo) was terrorized by a group called Adonis who wanted to create an “ideal Japan”. 

Unlimited assumes that the people playing it have already played through the first game. I felt slightly confused, and left out of the loop many times while playing. It didn’t bother me that much because I found the characters and romance fun and fascinating, but I definitely felt like I was missing some depth and richness to the story by not having played the first game.

By paying close attention, and reading all of the extra text in the glossary, I was able to piece together the gist of what had happened in the past, and thus what led Ichika and her gang of cuties to where they are now.

For example: during the X-Day Incidents in the past, our heroine Ichika had a poison collar placed around her neck (hence the word “collar” in the title I would assume). I honestly didn’t really understand why this happened to Ichika, or how she survived until I played through some of the romances in Unlimited and discovered, through flashbacks, that it had been activated and Ichika had lost all of her memories. Only now, several months later, Ichika has recovered her memories and has returned to the police force. As well, many of the romance-able characters in Unlimited work in a private detective agency, but apparently they had all worked together for the police during the first game.

To make a long story short, playing through the first game before Unlimited is definitely going to create a much richer experience. 

How to Navigate Such an Unlimited World

The game is standard otome/visual-novel adventure: read a lot of text, and then make a dialogue choice every so often that affects which ending you get.

In Unlimited you will enter the ‘New Memory’ menu. Here you will be able to choose what story to play. The first available story is the Prologue (and the rest of the choices will simply be question marks). Playing through the prologue has a man arriving at the private detective agency asking for help to find his lost friend. As you all listen to his story he gives you a letter that looks suspiciously like something from Adonis. After much whispered conversion, you decide to take the job. What you specifically decide to do about the letter, as Ichika, will determine who’s path you unlock. 

Basically, you have to play through the prologue a bunch of times to unlock all the romances/stories. Once you select a character’s story to unlock, you will be given a bit of background about how he and Ichika came together during the X-Day Incidents in the first game, and eventually fell in love and are now dating. 

Visuals and Sound

The artwork is stellar. Like, above-and-beyond beautiful. This is the kind of artwork that, when I see it advertising an anime, I WILL watch it. The background art is so good, the shading and shadows on the characters is brilliant, and things like the facial expressions are on-point. Of course, it wouldn’t be an otome game without stunningly drawn gallery artwork to collect.

I liked how artistic they made the group conversation scenes look.

The first time I had a run-in with one of my chosen beaus after he’d had a bath, and the steamy picture popped up of his unabashed shirtless-ness, well I knew I was playing a quality game.

The music is (as always in these high-quality otome games) instrumental, stellar, and perfectly underscores the mood of every scene. 

The artwork alone is worth the price of the game; but when you add on top of it the well-written stories, the delightful characters, the cute and steamy romance, and the music and sound effects… well, you’ve got yourself a great game.

Of course, the game is fully voice acted by a Japanese cast; a caveat to that is that our heroine Ichika is not voiced. So if you’re spending some free time studying Japanese, immersing yourself in this game can only help you on your language learning journey. 

Final Verdict

The game had an intriguing story, and characters with some deep dark pasts that I loved delving into. The artwork is to die for, and if I could get my hands on some prints of my favourite beau (Shiraishi!), I definitely would! 

Shiraishi is verbose.

HOWEVER, while I did like the game by itself, I do think it has to be a much better experience if you play through Collar X Malice first.

There is a whole section of unlockable stories in Unlimited called Adonis. These are some “what if” side stories that allow you to see what could have happened if you had joined Adonis in the original game. It is things like this that would be so much richer if you play through Collar X Malice first.

Handsome hunks and healing hearts, cracking crimes and courting cuties. Collar X Malice -Unlimited- will provide hours of enjoyment if you are a fan of the genre… just, play through Collar X Malice first.

Final Verdict: I like it a lot!


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