Aksys announced a lineup of releases that has created a lot of excitement for otome game fans as we eagerly await for these titles to be localized. You can already expect a generous lineup for 2023, and today we’ll be taking a closer look at Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo, Jack Jeanne, Radiant Tale, and Tengoku Struggle: Strayside.
Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo
Release Date: Spring 2023 (Switch)
Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo is a historical fiction story based in Japan, but this world is plagued with monstrous beings that must be kept at bay. A clan of people harness the ability to see human emotions in visual form. Threads of various colors signify feelings, and black threads foreshadow catastrophe. A girl with the power to see oncoming disaster is recruited and brought to Edo where she and a group of men with supernatural abilities will come together to defeat the monsters.
There are six routes in Winter’s Wish, and all of the love interests work for the government in secret as they fight off these monsters. Each of them has a regular job as their guise, which adds an interesting “fighter by night, regular job by day” sort of dynamic to the characters. The game has three different ending categories ranging from the tragic love ending, the happily ever after, and bad endings which can result in the MC dying.
Winter’s Wish has similarities to Hakuoki, both in the Japanese aesthetic and the supernatural elements in the story. Aksys has even listed on the game’s page that Winter’s Wish was made in the spirit of Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom. I’d recommend this game for lovers of the Japanese historical setting, rich with kimonos, samurai, and fantasy folklore. The game is very wholesome and pure, with mild romantic moments and shoujo manga–like scenes. It’s perfect for otome players looking for a soft, historical romance experience.
Release Date: Summer 2023 (Switch)
Jack Jeanne follows the story of Kisa Tachibana, an aspiring actress attending an all-boys theater arts school.
This one is perfect for fans of the “girl disguised as a boy” trope, and I think this game will be particularly intriguing, considering the setting takes place in a school full of actors. Kisa will be in disguise as a boy acting like a girl, an ironic tongue twister that’s bound to be entertaining to see unfold.
This game has seven routes and a relatively well-rounded cast of characters, offering player a diverse array of love interests to choose from. The school divides students into different houses based on their exam results, revealing what faction their talent places them into. The Onyx house has my interest the most, as they are the house full of dancers. There’s also the Rhodonite house that’s home to singers, and the Amber house full of the school’s top stars.
What’s wonderful about this game is that it stays true to its theme and gives players a show, delivering fully choreographed dance scenes and singing. Jack Jeanne combines the story with rhythm gameplay where players can interact with the performances. This includes hitting combos and notes along with the song in a style comparable to Guitar Hero, but with Japanese vocals alongside visuals and lyrics that create the ultimate rhythm game experience inside a visual novel.
Lastly, this game has zero content warnings, which is almost unheard of. This means just about anyone can play this game without worry, because it’s just a pure, wholesome story.
Release Date: Spring 2023 (Switch)
Radiant Tale tells the story of a group of circus performers, but all of them lack the ability to perform. It is up to Tafalia to be the producer and build up this lackluster show into something that brings joy to people all over the kingdom.
The story digs deeper, as the characters reside in a kingdom where flowers bloom, providing a magical syrup that brings joy to both residents and, more importantly, to the crown prince, who suffers from the effects of a frozen heart. This ignites the motive for the circus performance to be a success in the hopes of bringing more joy, and in turn, more blooming flowers.
There are five love interests, all of them are involved in the circus. Vilio, at the center in the image below, is the dragon boy love interest; it’s refreshing to see a poster boy with a goofy personality and colorful appearance. These boys have routes rich with adventure and high fantasy, from dragons and monsters in Vilio’s route to water fairies in Paschalia’s (second from left). Then there’s Zafora, the clown that isn’t funny, and finally, Jinnia, the ringmaster with a confident smirk. Ion is perhaps the most enigmatic in appearance with his eyepatch and black face mask, a hint that he has a past full of secrets.
Radiant Tale lives up to its name, as the characters are glistening and vibrant with colors and personality that beckon me to give this game a shot. The synopsis alone is touching and wholesome, featuring charming characters to coincide with it. All of this combined is what has me eager to play this when it hits the Switch next spring.
Tengoku Struggle: Strayside
Release Date: 2024 (Switch)
Travel between Hell and Earth is commonplace in Tengoku Struggle, and the protagonist, Enma Rin, is tasked with capturing jailbreakers, criminals who have escaped the Underworld and are running loose in the human world. Ironically, the men that are assigned to help Emma are criminals themselves. What kind of otome game would it be without a little chaos and irony?
Tengoku Struggle is a slice-of-life otome game at its core, but with a flame of darker themes as the story revolves around Hell and its inhabitants. There’s an air of mystery to the MC’s backstory, considering that she is basically the adopted princess of the Underworld with no recollection of her past. She takes on the role of seeking law and order by ensuring that criminals are returned to their prison, but Enma herself is no peach either. Her sins in the human world are exactly what brought her to Hell in the first place, and it’s just a matter of time before we find out what it is she did.
Each love interest has something alluring about them, and it might be the first game where I’m enthusiastic about all of the love interests at first glance. There are five love interests in total in Tengoku Struggle, and the one I’m most excited for is Yona, the redhead with tsundere tendencies. Goemon looks like the game’s poster boy, and his appearance is reminiscent of Zhongli in Genshin Impact, so if you’re a Zhongli fan, you’re probably going to be drawn to Goemon. You’ll find that Goemon’s route will reveal more about Enma Rin’s mysterious past, but his route is locked.
At the end of the day, if there’s one game I’m most excited about, it’s Tengoku Struggle: Strayside. Otome games that blur the lines between whether or not love interests are allies or enemies draw me in like a moth to a flame.