Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo Review

Game: Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo
Genre: Adventure Game, Visual Novel
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer | Publisher: Idea Factory | Aksys Games
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US T
Price: UK £44.99 | EU € 49,99 | US $49.99
Release date: May 18th, 2023

Review code used, with many thanks to Reef Entertainment.

An Oniwaban Mission

It is the 11th year of the Kyoho era when the Tokugawa family is in power. The family ruled in the Edo period. The story of Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo follows Suzuno, a girl who, ever since her father passed away, has been living alone in the snow-covered mountains. As we quickly find out, Suzuno isn’t an average girl because she has the unique ability to see people’s emotions as threads around their necks. Because of her ability, the villagers view her as an outcast and are afraid to come near her. 

One day she meets some men who inform her that her special ability is needed in Edo for a mission to destroy monsters that are called Blightfall. As we come to find out, the men belong to a group called the Oniwaban. The Oniwaban are a special force created to maintain peace and safety in Edo. They are a secret service of sorts. After some consideration, she decides she has no choice and joins them on their journey back to Edo.

The Routes

There are a total of six routes in Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo. These routes are split up into three different districts, and first, you must play three common routes before going to one route. The districts you can work at are Samurai Town with Kunitaka and Tomonari, Castle Town with Genjuro and Koichi and lastly, the Entertainment District with Kinji and Ohtaros.

At the start of the game, two routes will be locked; these are Tomonari and Ohtaro’s routes. You have to finish the affection ending of their district partner first to unlock them. Aside from this, there isn’t a strict order you should follow, but my advice would be this order: Genjuro > Kunitaka > Kinji > Yoichi > Tomonari > Ohtaro. The first three you can mix around if you want; the rest will spoil some details about the ending.

Genjuro Kuga

Genjuro is assigned to the relatively peaceful Castle Town area. His cover job is basically a police officer of the time. He patrols the streets of Castle Town all day and breaks up skirmishes when he needs to. 

He is very serious and keeps his head cool in stressful situations. Definitely a Kuudere-type character. Genjuro is the sort of person that, most of the time, doesn’t show any of his emotions. It is often hard to know what he thinks, but this changes when he warms up to Suzuno. This was the first route I played, and to be honest, it was a bit too slow-paced for me. They spent most of the route building up the plot, and therefore the romance between Suzuno and Genjuro blossomed very late in the route. The romance that they did have was very adorable, though. 

Serious and cool-headed Genjuro

Kunitaka Tojo

He is one of the first Oniwaban we meet in Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo. Kunitaka mostly patrols the streets of Samurai Town with his newer partner Tomonari, and they often find themselves at tea parties of the wives of samurai. He definitely has the big brother type down and tries to help Suzuno with everything. Not only does he take Suzuno under his wing, but he is also a teacher at a temple school for kids of the samurai family. This is where his compassionate personality truly shines. Kunitaka is just an overall nice guy and tries to accommodate everyone. 

In Kunitaka’s route, the romance picked up early on in the game, but because of Kunitaka’s chivalrous nature and his wanting to look out for Suzuno, it was stagnant for a while. The relationship in the end also felt a little forced because, at one point, he made a complete one-eighty on how he felt about Suzuno. The part I liked the most in this route was Suzuno herself; she was more outspoken and had some things to say to the Oniwaban.

Temple school teacher Kunitaka


A famous actor in the Entertainment District and a member of the Oniwaban. He performs as a Kabuki actor in the Kikuriya theatre, all the while collecting information for the Oniwaban. Because Kinji is a Kabuki actor, he is very proud of his appearance, and he probably spends a lot of time making sure he looks his best. He even discusses he looks pretty often with Suzuno; you could say he is a little vain…

Kinji also has a fun side; this shines through when he teases his coworkers and, most of all, Suzuno. He loves to embarrass her by saying overly romantic things to her. At the beginning of the route, I had a hard time getting into it. But once the mission started, I was glued to my switch. I loved the story and really got attached to Kinji. This was my second favourite route.

The GOAT kabuki player Kinji


Yoichi works with Kuga in Castle Town. His cover job is at the same brewery where he often seems to be slacking off, but do not be fooled. He is actually the modern-day supervisor of the brewery. 

Yoichi is very much the angry personality type. He doesn’t try to please the people around him by showing reactions they expect of him. Yoichi is always very frank with everyone and says what is on his mind. This is not my favourite type of character, but I understand the appeal. The romance route for Yoichi was definitely inspired by a popular romance book trope ( I will not give it away to you). This led to a lot of early romantic content. Which I enjoyed because in the other routes, you experience more of a slow-burn romance. The route itself was a little less interesting to me, especially after playing Kinji’s route. It did reveal some details about the final plot, but the bigger story just didn’t stick with me for some reason.

Sake Brewery supervisor Yoichi

Tomonari Takamura

This is THE poster guy for Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo and the route I expected to be the final one. But in this case, it was not. Tomonari is the first person that Suzuno meets from the Oniwaban, and he instantly feels a bond with her for an unknown reason. Together with Takamura, he is assigned to Samurai Town, and his daily job is to patrol the streets. Tomonari is generally not helpful and is often perceived as blunt, except with Suzuno. When he is with Suzuno, Tomonari is completely different; we see then that he is gentle and is very caring towards the ones he loves. This is probably his real personality. 

I liked Tomonari right away, he just had a natural connection to Suzuno, and this made them immediately close. At every turn, he showed himself to be caring and willing to do whatever it took for Suzuno. Playing his route, my hunch proved to be right, and I can confidently say Tomonari is THE best guy in the game for me and his route was also the best. I just couldn’t put my switch down with this one. And if you are looking for some more steamy romance, this route’s bad endings are the ones to look out for. 

THE poster guy, Tomonari


Meeting Ohtaro you will notice right away he is fit to work in de Entertainment district. This is because he loves to gamble and be around the colourful excitement that is the Entertainment District. His cover job is a street barker, where he has to attract customers to come to see unique exhibits. Ohtaro can be summed up in one sentence: He loves having fun. This is in missions, most often his main goal, and when something bores him, he comes up with something that will make the mission fun. But aside from having fun all the time, Ohtaro is very social and cheerful most of the time. Working in the Entertainment District, he also likes to gamble at gambling houses. 

I feel like the Entertainment District is the most fun to work in. The group teases each other a lot, but they care about each other. In most of the routes, we don’t see much of the Entertainment District group because they often work at night. But when they were on a mission with the other teams, something always seemed to be off with Ohtaro’s behaviour. In his routes, we, of course, find out the reason why. 

The route itself was pretty enjoyable, but having played Kinji’s and Tomonari’s routes before this, I was a little underwhelmed. Yes, it was nice discovering the overarching plot of the game, but aside from this, I still thought Tomonari’s route was best. 

Fun-loving and mysterious Ohtaro

Visuals and Sounds

Let’s start off with the artwork in Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo. Aksys and Idea Factory always do an amazing job with artwork in all their games, and this game is no different. The backgrounds are detailed with loads of Japanese patterns incorporated into them. This also goes for the character design; these were even better than the backgrounds. Every character has their own colour palette, and their colour palettes also complement their teammates.

The outfits of the characters were the stars of the show. There are loads of little details that are found in the clothing of each character. For example, Kinji wears a kimono with a checker pattern, which is called Ichimatsu. Apparently, this pattern is named after a Kabuki actor who wore this pattern often on his costume. I do not know if the makers of the customers had this intention, but nonetheless a fun little easter egg. Overall just a very beautiful game to look at. 

An extras screen with loads of information on the characters

As for the soundtrack of the game, it was very good. Almost every BGM song was a hit for me; the music definitely helped strengthen whatever the mood was. The opening and ending songs, sung by the artist manami and the lyrics written by aya, were really pretty and fit the game’s theme. I especially loved the opening song Yure Yurare; I cannot tell you how many times I have listened to this song ever since I could play Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo.

Overall thoughts

Upon seeing the Tokugawa name, a light bulb went off in my head. I did some research on the family, and as it turns out, the Tokugawa family is a branch of the Minamoto clan. And some of you maybe have already caught on, but the Minamoto clan was also represented in the Otome Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei. This tiny piece of information just made me so excited, because it adds a level of detail for me. And I am also a history lover, and the fact that they made an effort to include this link in games is what makes them excellent game developers.

When starting the game, I was so excited about where the story could go. I hoped it would be a sort of mix between Birushana and Olympia Soirée. But somehow, it just didn’t quite get there. The artwork is amazing, the sound is really good, and the characters where interesting, but I think the story just isn’t quite there in every route. Especially Kuga and Tojo’s routes. In saying this, though, the overall plot was good, and I didn’t see it coming. And I loved Tomonari and Kinji’s route the most.

The Side Characters

I would like to dedicate a paragraph to the side characters in Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo. They each had an interesting personality. I laughed numerous times when they interacted with each other or with the rest of the Oniwaban. Miharu was also a favourite of mine. Most of the time, she just has overly dramatic reactions to the stuff Suzuno does, but she also has a strange relationship with the Samurai town captain Kyoshiro. I secretly think they are in love with each other, but who knows? Anyways she brought a lot of lighter moments into the game, and I really enjoyed her role.

The Samurai Town crew is having fun (most of them, anyway)


Would I recommend Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo? Yes, I would. If you are a lover of amazing sound, visuals and historical fiction like me, then this is a game for you. In saying this, I do want to say that not all the routes had an amazing storyline, and the romance was a little more toned down than expected. But I still think the main storyline of the game and some of the routes are worth playing it. And I do think it will fulfil your romance need.

Final verdict: I like it
I like it


One comment

  1. Great well written review, im not usually a fan of visual novels unless it’s something i can skip over everything as fast as possible for the platinum trophy on PSN.

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