Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds Review

Chizuru Yukimura, a girl from Edo, has travelled to Kyoto in search of her father. A chance encounter with a group of ronin leads her to the Shinsengumi, and in the years that follow her life will go through a number of twists and turns in Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds.

Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is a remastered retelling of the original Hakuoki story released many years ago. The game features the same known stories – get to know the guys within the Shinsengumi and become close with each of them, however Kyoto Winds shifts the focus of the story to simply the Kyoto portion. With this, they’ve also expanded out, added new characters and routes, and fleshed out some smaller bits of the story!

As Chizuru, you’ll join the Shinsengumi on their compounds – at first you’re being held there, not allowed to leave, but as you come to know them more, they’ll let you join them on rounds around Kyoto, and will even let you join them on missions! As you do this, you’ll come to know each of the captains, and the majority of the routes will focus on your interactions with them. A couple of the new routes come from within the captains, with the other few coming from outsiders.

The writing in Kyoto Winds is both very good and very bad. You’ll get to really know these characters, and get to know what they’re thinking and doing. That is, of course, if you can look beyond all of the spelling and grammar mistakes contained within the game. Littered throughout the game – and growing only increasingly worse as you get further in the routes – are numerous errors. Stuff as simple as “outisde” that should have been caught by any sort of spell check. These errors really detracted from the story for me, especially in cases where words would just be missing.

Then there’s the case of the new routes. Having played the PS3 version of the game, I was fairly familiar with the story. That also ended up making the new characters feel extremely out of place. They felt like they were just shoved in, and they’ll often go MIA if the route doesn’t call for them (and there’s usually only one route that does). The new routes for the men who were already in the game are a bit better, although they do still feel a bit off compared to the original routes.

The music, as far as I can remember, is the same as it was in the PS3 version. The tracks work for what they’re there for. The voice acting is still completely in Japanese as well. As far as the graphics go, the new guys do feel a little more “beefed up” in their art compared to the others, but in this way they do at least still fit in with the feel. The same goes with the new full event screens – these don’t feel off from the rest and still fit the look of the game.

Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is a great way to experience the Kyoto arc of the Hakuoki story, so long as you can overlook all of the grammar and spelling issues. I would’ve appreciated if the new guys felt a little more natural and weren’t just thrown to the side if they didn’t fit the current narrative. With that said, I do feel a bit torn on how to score this. I did enjoy the story, especially the extended bits,  but there were so many things that just felt a bit off about how the narrative went. So, I do give it a recommendation, but only if you can overlook all of the things I mentioned in order to experience the Kyoto arc – the first half – of this story.

Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds Review Score

Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi (PS3) is one way to experience the fuller routes, but you won’t get the expanded early narrative nor the new routes available.

Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds will be available for PlayStation Vita on May 16, 2017.

I was provided with a Vita code for review purposes by the publisher.

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