Thursday, October 9, 2008

Queen of Darkness - review

So... is the game worth it? Definitely :D me, anyways. I really enjoyed the game, and I found that playing the game without knowing what would happen in the story was rewarding. And thus, I won't post anything about the story itself, or what happens in each character's route. I'll leave it as a joy for you to discover on your own.

I like the story. It's dark enough without becoming gloomy or depressing, and it's mature enough without overdoing it. It's also managed to inject enough humour in it despite the serious storyline (I found myself laughing from time to time). I like how each character's route reveals something different. You don't play the same game over and over where the only difference is the character's reaction; depending on who you're going for the story will reveal different things about the character while still following the major storyline. The romance part of the story was done well following the theme of the game, but if you're looking for a sweet pure love story... this is not the game you should be playing. If raep bothers you, this is also not the game you should be playing. ...I think I've played too much darker games before that the things in this game hardly bothered me.

Gameplay, I think, is quite balanced. It's not too complicated, and at the same time it's not too easy that it becomes boring. Story is also well spread out; you're not likely to go through a long time of gameplay before the next part of the story comes up. And there are quite a lot of events for each character; thankfully they're all replayable in the Option. And speaking of events, even some of the events that's not related to the male characters... are very well done. I especially like the events where Risty talked to Zoland in the garden.

Seiyuu did an excellent job :D The voices match the character design and personality. ...the only one which took me some time to get used to was Risty's seiyuu. I kept on thinking that the voice didn't really match the character portrait, but maybe it's just me. My favourite was Hellvady :D his seiyuu brought out his character perfectly.

Music is well made (which is why I guess you can buy the OST CD separately), and it matches the mood of the story. I found the music to help set up the atmosphere of the game. Music transition between different moods in the game was also well done.

Graphic is very good for a doujin game. Background, for example, was pretty detailed. Character sprites were also coloured nicely, with a variety of facial expressions. Sometimes during the 18+ scenes the body looked rather unproportional, but not so much that it'd bother me. I've seen games where the body proportion was laughable, and QoD doesn't fall into that category.

Recommended playing order: Reiza -> Cristval -> Hellvady -> Garum.
Favourite character, from most to least: Hellvady -> Garum -> Cristval -> Reiza.
Favourite route, from most to least: Hellvady -> Cristval -> Garum -> Reiza.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Queen of Darkness - gameplay

After I got my copy, I pretty much sacrificed my weekend (and sleep) playing the game. Encountered "Game Over" the first time around, and did better the second time around. I think I understand enough to make a post about the gameplay. I couldn't find any guide or walkthrough on the net, so what's written here is pretty much what I managed to figure out on my own.

Note: There's an update patch available at the official website. Scroll down and you'll see a link for patch version 1.4. I patched my game before I started playing, so I'm not quite sure if there's any notable difference. The page actually has a list of things that were fixed in the patch, but I didn't read it...

Simulation (Country Management) Part
This is one part of the game that sets it apart from other otome games. Managing your country/towns! Thankfully it's a lot easier to understand than Palais du Reine... (I still remember that game with a certain despair from getting too many Game Over.)

  • At the beginning of this part, you might see the country map and some text. The text usually tells you if an event has happened, and whether the related area's prosperity/favourability went down/up as a result.
  • You can then assign tasks to the characters. Risty has a special task which no other characters have, which I'll just call 'Manage' --check the picture. The other 3 tasks are, from left to right: Gather Information, Search, Wait.
  • When in 'Manage' mode, when you click on a particular town Risty will have 2 options. The top option is to give the town money (raises town prosperity, 10 points for 100 Col). The second option is to visit the town (raises popularity by 10 points). At the bottom there's a list of towns that's under Risty's authority; the top stat is the prosperity and the bottom one is the popularity (see picture). Not sure what the middle one is. On the right-most box you can see the total stats of all your towns.
  • Sometimes, when in 'Manage' mode, you'll see a "!" next to a town. That means there's an event there; to view it visit the town.
  • Characters you send to Gather Information will do exactly that. At the beginning of the game this action will add towns under Risty's authority. Later in the game this will serve to increase a town's prosperity/popularity. Character sent to gather information will overhear that a particular town is in trouble, and will ask Risty what she'd want to do. If you decide to help the town (1st option, in most cases), your popularity will increase but you'll get less tax money (for each 'help' your tax earning will be reduced by 50 Col). If you decide not to help, popularity will decrease.
  • Characters you send to Search... at the beginning of the game they will return with information, but later in the game they will bring back random items (gift or usable items).
  • Wait, as it name implies, means the character just... does nothing. I never personally choose this one...
  • At the end of the Simulation part you might get a fight. This is probably random...
Just winnning is not that difficult... but still, I thought this would be useful if you want to win quickly. Winning quickly will earn you more popularity points, prosperity points and money.
  • You can upgrade your weapons (read Holiday Nights part). Personally I don't see much of a difference in attack power between before and after upgrade, but it's still a good idea to upgrade.
  • Special Attack is the second option from the top. Always pick this if you have the MP for it, and always pick the biggest level. You get the bigger level as the character level up.
  • Once the characters get a co-operation technique (read the Holiday Nights part), the option for it will show up at the bottom. To use it you have to sacrifice the characters' turn. For example, if you want to use Hellvady/Reiza co-op... when Hellvady's turn comes, select the bottom option, then select Reiza. When Reiza's turn comes, select the bottom option and the select Hellvady; they will execute the co-op technique then.
ADV (Holiday Nights) Part
During this part you get 4 turns to spend. Visiting one location will cost you one turn. Note: Not all of the location on the map is available from the start.
  • At the start of Holiday Nights (if there's no automatic event) you'll get 5 options to choose from. Go With Someone; Go Alone; Change Hairstyle; Change Underwear; Use Item.
  • Go With Someone: you can ask someone to accompany you for the day. Garum will not be selectable until you've finished the game with everyone else. If you get an event with a character, afterwards you'd only have 2 more turns to spend.
  • Go Alone: as it name implies. If you're going after Garum, this is the option you should pick before he finally becomes selectable in "Go With Someone".
  • Change Hairstyle: change Risty's hairstyle. You can buy the item to change hairstyle from the Item Shop. The item is not re-usable; you can change back to Risty's original hairstyle at no cost. Available hairstyle (in order of appearance in the Item Shop): ponytail, cat's ears, military hat.
  • Change Underwear: Risty can change her underwear. Item will increase her stat and is not re-usable. I don't think it affect anything else.
  • Use Item: use item to increase stats. I prefer to use items to upgrade weapons, so I never use this option.
  • If you see a "!", visit the location to see an event.
  • Adult Shop: As it name says. The only reason you need to visit this shop is to buy the toys/tools needed to tame prisoners. Only one of the items is reusable.
  • Blacksmith: This is where you go to upgrade your weapons. To upgrade, you need money... and items. The item that looks like feather, a cloud in a jar, a blue stone and a yellow stone... they're all used to upgrade your weapons.
  • Church: I think if you go here you can get some sort of a forecast of how good you're doing with your chosen guy. I've never really used it, dunno if it does other things. If you visit continuously you'll get events; use it if you want to complete Risty's events.
  • Theater: Personally I thought this one is a great idea. If you go to this location, Risty will be offered to help with the play. The story is about how the country of Armaenan came to be. You'll be shown a screen of dialogues, and during the play you have to pick the correct dialogues based on the one you saw earlier. If you picked all the correct options you'll get 100 Col and 1 of the feather item. Hint: when they show you the screen with dialogues... take a screenshot.
  • Item Shop: This is where you can buy gifts and usable items for Risty (the whole underwear range). Unfortunately, items to be used to upgrade weapons aren't available. Item selections will increase as time passes.
  • Town Square: The only use of this Location is that so you can talk to your companion (if you chose "Go With Someone") and increase their affection. You can give him a gift, pick a conversation topic and choose the correct answer to increase their affection. If you pick the correct answer you'll hear a sound.
  • Tavern: Same as above. The difference is, if you choose to come alone and just talk to the bartender, you'll get to hear bits and pieces of information. Mostly amusing ones though.
  • Prison: If you visit this location continuously, Risty will then 'subjugate' *cough*ero*cough* a prisoner. Once you've visited the prisoner enough times, the prisoner will be loyal to Risty and you can use her in the Country Management part. You need the perfect 'tools' (bought from the Adult Shop) to tame the prisoners though, otherwise no matter how many times you visit the prisoners still won't be converted. ...stay away from this one if you don't like yuri.
  • Garden: Visiting this place will give you either 30 Col, a random item (for weapon upgrade) or nothing. Quick Save/Load works, if you're aiming for a certain item.
  • At the end of the Holiday Night, Hellvady might come at night with a report, and asks Risty if she wants to view them (2nd option) or let someone else view them (1st option). Always pick the 1st option; you'll see events that will enable co-operation techniques between the other characters for the Fighting part.
Gifts for Characters
You can buy gifts for characters from the Item Shop. More selections will become available in the shop as time goes by. When you talk to a character, you'll be asked whether you'd want to give him a gift. The first option is to give a gift.
  • Hellvady: rubber duck, red collar, skull collar, cocktail (blue cocktail, can't be bought from the shop)
  • Reiza: plain ribbon, green ribbon, yellow ribbon, red wine (can't be bought from the shop)
  • Cristval: bird pendants... and perfume(?) (blue bottle with a small cross on top, can't be bought from the shop)
  • Garum: white bottle with red label, small dumbbell, bigger dumbbell, sake(?, green bottle, can't be bought from the shop)
Just some things I did, or some things which I thought would be useful to know.
  • You have 2 years of in-game time.
  • Year 2 Month 11 is the last Holiday Night you'll have.
  • Save (or QuickSave) before you start a fight. If you lose you'll be offered to try the fight again, but you'll also likely to lose money.
  • Try to get your overall town prosperity and favourability above 70-75 nearing the end of the second year.
  • I never set Risty to do anything other than 'Manage'. Even if I have no money to give to the towns, at least I can still visit them and increase Risty's popularity.
  • Try to get the character's Love above 90 nearing the end of the second year. One way to do it is to give a gift everytime you speak to the character. Also, when answering their question, if you answer correctly you'll hear a sound.
  • During the final event (Year 2 Month 12), the guy you've been chasing will ask you a question. The first answer will give you Good Ending, while second answer will give you Sad Ending. If the guy doesn't ask any question... you're headed towards Bad Ending. The only exception is Cris, who'll ask the question earlier (around Year 2 Month 9 or 10?)
  • The epilogue you'll get after the ending credit... depends on which town has the highest prosperity & popularity points. There are 7 different epilogues for each guy.
  • Once you've finished the game and view the epilogue, if you start a new game immediately, some of the items (like gifts) will be carried over to your next gameplay. The exception is the weapons upgrade items, in new game you'll always start with 1 of each.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Queen of Darkness - preview

I've collected my copy last weekend, and I've started playing... so I thought I'd post the story preview and characters profile. Software translation of the story preview from the official website is rather garbled, so I'll try to write my own and hope I don't spoil it for anyone.


As the youngest princess of the royal family in the demon world, Risty also had the right to ascend to the throne like her older brothers even though she's not related to the king or her brothers by blood. That is, until it was announced that her eldest brother, Garum, was the one chosen to be the next demon king. Garum had betrayed Risty before, and he's the only person she truly hated... and if he became king, there was no telling what sort of treatment Risty would have to bear. With that in mind, Risty left the demon world for good, and went to the human world to establish her own place... to be a demon king in her own right.

Characters (in the same order as in the official site):
  • Risty: The youngest princess of the demon kingdom. Headstrong, although sadly she doesn't really think far ahead regarding her actions. Often does questionable things because "it's interesting" (like letting her would-be assassin to live). Dislikes having others touching what is hers. When she became a ruler, that extends to her subjects; she dislikes other countries trying to destroy what's hers.
  • Reiza: The second prince of the demon kingdom, Risty's older brother. He adores Risty... probably a bit too much. When Risty decided to leave the demon world, Reiza didn't even think twice to follow her. He threw away the magic mark that signified his right as one of the heir to the throne; a crime to which the punishment is death. Always smiling, although no one can really tell what's on his mind. He's quite the tactician, and helps Risty to manage her country's affairs.
  • Hellvady: A half-demon, half-human whom Risty met upon her arrival in the human world when his village was under attack by Armaenan. As demons need to establish a contract with an inhabitant of the human world in order to live in it,Risty gave Hellvady an offer. If he would make a contract with her and swear his loyalty to her, she'd save his village. Hellvady agreed to the offer, and afterwards he became Risty's most loyal retainer and general. He's always serious and doesn't talk much, but he's also straightforward in telling others what he thinks. But it seems like he's hiding something from Risty...
  • Cristval: A famed hero (and prince) from Armaenan who was sent as part of an army to defeat Risty. However his army was defeated instead and he was captured. Deciding that he'd be "fun to play with", Risty didn't kill him and even let him live in the castle, telling him to try to assassinate her whenever he wanted. A very religious and righteous person with a high moral standing, he found it difficult to understand demons' way of thinking.
  • Garum: The first prince of the demon kingdom, Garum does what he wants as he pleases (similar like Risty in that regards). He's loud and his manners is unrefined, but he's honest in that way. His relationship with Risty is shaky at best, with Risty detesting him and Garum not seeming to care about Risty's feeling. However, he doesn't seem to mind the fact that Risty moved to the human world to escape him; on the contrary he seems to support it...
  • Meil: Hellvady's younger sister, who despite her look is at least 200 years old. Really loves her brother and tries to help him anyway she can. She also admires Risty (somewhat excessively), and always calls Risty "Onee-sama".