Game: Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani
Genre: Adventure, Visual novel, Otome
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer|Publisher: Otomate | Aksys Games
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US Teen
Price: US $49.99 | UK £44.99 | EU € 49,99
Release Date: December 2nd, 2021
Review code provided with many thanks to Reef Entertainment
I’m not your average Otome gamer. I do like visual novels, but more for their storyline than for the romance, and I’m not one to fall in a swoon for the romantic interests in the game. Nevertheless, when I read the promise for Dairoku I couldn’t wait to give it a try.
“Working for a secret government, Agent Shino Akitsu is able to see what others cannot. She is excellently suited to work with the powerful beings who travel between realms.
Part gatekeeper, part travel guide, she does her best to keep these otherworldly individuals from getting into inter-dimensional trouble.”
I loved my time with Café Enchanté a year ago. And reading this intro for Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani I expected not just romance, but some adventure and mystery as well. So, it this new Otome game made by Otomate another perfect experience for me?
Enter the Realm of the Dead
The opening didn’t disappoint. We meet Shino Akitsu who is applying for a job at the government, along with many other applicants. Of course, a nervous time for Shino, as she really wants this job. When she encounters one of the examinators, Tokitsugu Semi, accompanied by a guy dressed a traditional Japanese clothes, we find that Shino is a special girl.
She sees the guy in the traditional clothes just vanish into thin air, and she isn’t even doubting her sanity! Seems this has been a thing for her since she was born. She sees beings that other people don’t, and she has learned to conceal that fact in her everyday life.
It is this special ability that nets her a job, but not the one that she was applying for. She works as an Agent for a secret part of the Governance, the Ocult Bureau Division Sixth. It’s the division that manages relations with beings in the realm of the dead called Sakuratani. Sakuratani is the home of the Ayakashi, and the Sixth has jurisdiction there.
Shino learns that her special ability can be turned to good in this very special job. Plus, it brings her romance, in the form of 5 datable characters. There’s Shiratsuki, the shire of Kikutsune, who is a nine-tailed fox. There’s Hira, the shire of Amatsuna, Akuroou, the aide of Hajun who is the shire of Makutsuhi. We have Shu, who is a snake youkai and the shire of the Mitsuchi group. And of course, there’s Tokitsugu Semi who is Shino’s supervisor and human, like her. Enough to keep you busy with several routes in this 50 hour experience.
Another Adventure Otome?
Despite the lovely opening of the game, I found that I didn’t get what I had hoped for in my quest for another Café Enchanté. After Shino was roped into Division Sixth she went off on a training camp to learn all the details of the realm of the Dead and how she would be maintaining peace there. Now that is what I wanted to witness in Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani. Instead, after the prologue, we met her again for her first day on the job. So much opportunity to discover it together with her, but it felt rather flat for me. Sakuratani felt totally alien to me, but apparently not to her. Must have been because of her training. She has a page now, a magical beast called Kouya, and even that is presented matter-of-factly.
Reading we were going to the Realm of the Dead also conjured all sort of possibilities for me. Now there was a story to tell! But like with the training, it was presented without any feeling of wonder. Instead, many, many Japanese terms popped up in the main route that really distracted me from enjoying the story. Some appeared in the in-game dictionary, others didn’t. Terms like Oboroguruma, Tengu, Shikigama, Zashikiwarashi, Hitsosumekozo….at times it felt like trying to read a book in a foreign language. Let’s just say Wikipedia was my friend!
Another component of the game that had me exited where mini-battles, but they were so few and far in between. I felt there was another chance at adding something very different but it seemed lacklustre.
So, to answer my question in the title of the chapter: no, this didn’t feel like an adventure Otome at all.
Fifty Shades of Purple
From the start you can clearly see where you are in the storyline, a map lets you choose where to go next. There’s a lot of customisation you can do in the options, and of course you can go for autoplay so you don’t have to keep pushing the button or touch the screen to progress. I did find that autoplay wasn’t the most dependable, with strange shifts in tempo. But of course you can also check back to what was said.
The color scheme of Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani was different shades of purple, grey and black with some flares of colors where it mattered. I strongly hoped, after the prologue, that this would change but it didn’t. It did make the characters in Sakuratani stand out more, but the letters were hard to read for this lady with reading glasses.
Although I felt that the backgrounds looked a bit too simple, the artwork of the characters was lovely as I’ve come to expect from visual novels brought to us by Aksys. Voice-acting is good, and the soundtrack produces some nice tunes to download to my playlist.
Although I did like my time spent in Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani I have to say I was expecting more. And I don’t think it was just due to my wanting to play another Café Enchanté. They could have done so much more with the main storyline and with the battles they introduced. I felt that an intriguing plot was missing. A missed chance.
Overall I have thought hard if I would go for a rating of I’m not sure, or an I like it. In the end I decided on the rating below as I must say the love interests and the side characters were fun.
Final Verdict: I Like It