My lovelies on the interwebz, allow me to introduce you to the insanity that is Urban Fantasy.
Have you ever looked at fantasy and wondered why it was always medieval-like? It’s always swords, axes, bows, and men in dresses casting spells. I bet there’s a select few of you who had an itch to see what magic would do in a more realistic setting, or what would happen if an era you knew (Victorian, American West, etc) had a little Harry Potter/Lord Of the Rings pureed into the drink. That is Urban Fantasy in a nutshell: fantasy elements like magic and monsters in a modern setting, or at least an era that isn’t the traditional medieval one.
Otome dips into this one pretty hard, but it usually keeps to a modern setting. The Blind Griffin goes off the path and decides to put players smack in the middle of Prohibition. Yes, it’s the Roaring Twenties with magic; it’s just as cool as it sounds.
You are an unnamed guttersnipe that decided laundry is for the birds and you’re out to get yourself some real sugar — translation, you’re the unnamed daughter of a Chinese family in 1925 San Francisco, California, and you’ve officially left your family laundromat to find a better life. Luckily, you stumble across some odd help-wanted signs – smokey ones that kinda float – that lead you to a candy looking to hire. But this shop is just the face of the operation; the real action is the speakeasy down below, The Blind Griffin, which is looking to hire a new bartender.
Look at that art, man
But the upstairs ain’t the only front at this establishment. The den of illegal spirits and Jazz is yet another cover for a coven of magicians, people that can use magic. Even better, they think you’re a magician too since you saw those smoky signs out front. But they can’t just let any bird run around doing magic all willy-nilly, oh no. You’re gonna have to face the Magician’s Council and prove you’re not a danger to yourself and the rest of the world. Study up with one of your three mentors (all of which are pretty good-looking guys) and you’ll pass. Fail, and you’ll have your memories wiped clean.
Blind Griffin is another freebie visual novel that doesn’t have the extra content of our last entry. But what it lacks in bells and whistles it makes up for in immersion. You get to smother yourself in smooth jazz for the majority of the game and the dialogue is saturated in 20’s slang. But don’t worry, my fellow cats, you will not be deprived of the story if you’ve never seen a gangster movie in your life. Each term is clickable so you can get a free (and usually funny) definition of the word. Combined with the stunning artwork to be discussed later, you’ll find yourself sunk into the setting hook, line, and sinker.
On the dry side of things, the mechanics of the game are just like the last one: you’ll reach a decision point where you have to make the “correct” choice to get the true ending of the game. While we had multiple points to make the right call last time we’re reduced to three now, which does cut back a bit on the game part of gameplay. Any mix of bad and good answers will get you the neutral ending while completely messing up will get either a bad ending or get your memories wiped clean. The future rests in your hands, so juggle wisely.
Gio, WHAT DO I DO?!
As for the plot itself, it may very well be the weaker part of the game. It’s not bad by any stretch, but the short length and the tendency to skip around years makes it all feel very rushed. Character reveals and big moments of development have to be spelled out in the latter half of the game. It’s really a shame that it couldn’t be stretched out a bit more, as the characters in question are a very colorful bunch. I’m so in love with the atmosphere of the game that it saddens me a bit to see the story stripped to its bare necessities.
But I’d love to see it fleshed out more. Cause this game’s sense of humor is beautiful.
Otome has a habit of dipping into the Bishi-Juice. Everybody is pretty and could easily pass for a girl; lots of bright anime colors and pastels are everywhere; each frame is lovingly crafted to look as pretty as possible. This isn’t a bad habit necessarily but it is par for the course. Thus, when the Blind Griffin greeted me with a warm, cartoony palette for the art, it caught my attention.
The reds and golds and greens thrown around in this came are exquisite. The game went out of its way to make each character unique in both appearance and personality, something I greatly appreciate. The western cartoony look will take some getting used to but it’s well worth the effort.
Alexei came to America fresh from the death of the Tsar in Russia. He’s a pretty staunch believer in hard work and academic pursuit and he’ll be the stricter of your mentors. But, underneath the pomp and stiffness, He’s a soft-hearted fellow who just wants you to succeed and to do something valuable with the rare gift he’s given. You’d think this prudish and stiffness is a product of his lack of trust but…no. This really is just who he is.
That being said, Alexei is actually my favorite. His story felt the most natural out of the bunch and his personality just makes all the events that happen all the funnier. His story is the most easily resolved, which is bothersome, but I was laughing too hard to care.
Talk about a big teddy bear. The “old man” of the group was the original mentor for Emilio and Alexei. Known as a genius and super powerful magician, it’s hard to shake the feeling that something about him is off. He seems like he’s holding back all the time and his collegues are frustrated that he just spends his days playing the violin rather than study magic. What makes this happy itallian so sad? The only way to find out is to strap in and follow this one to the end. Get ready: it’s gonna be bumpy.
Gio’s story is pretty harsh when all’s said and done. I think, of the three, his is the one no one saw coming and will hit you hardest in the gut. That makes it exciting in the long run and gives quite the impetus to replay it.
Emilio and our character do not get on well – because is still young and extremely hot-headed. Pride and deep resentment run strong with the group’s resident whippernsapper and you’ll have to sift through some serious bull to get at the meat of his story. But if you keep your head cool (since he can’t) than you may find a pretty friendly guy who’s secretly a big sweetheart.
To be honest, I was never a fan of Emilio. He’s grating and too angry for my taste, but I’ll never deny someone their hot-headed hottie. If the tough, angry fellow is your favorite, then go for it.
While The Blind Griffin lacks a little substance, the world around it is so rich and colorful, I was able to dive right in. Lore hounds like myself will get a huge kick out of the sugar drizzled onto this game, along with the wide variety of characters, but those who like the kind of long and deep narrative from last time won’t be so thrilled. In short, this makes a great quick play if you’re feeling bored and wanna shake things up.
Next time: Star Days
Did the Griffin hit the spot for you? Feel free to comment below. And don’t forget to like and follow for more content like this!