Otome Review: Blood Code

The internet makes it easy to forget things, like how these games used to require being fluent in Japanese.

In short, Otome’s made in the states are a relatively recent thing. Long before indie groups dipped their fingers in the colorful ink of Visual Novel, most dating sims and Otome titles came from places like Japan, Korea, and China. The great barrier destroyer known as The Web made it possible for fan translations to skip overseas, which inspired fans in the states to make their own. Thus the community we know and love today came to be and flourished.

 Games are still coming out of these countries but they now suffer a little bit from a trope the web has dubbed Seinfeld Is Unfunny. To summarize, these games were the ones to establish these tropes and thus now appear uncreative somehow; they only appear stock because they created the stock. As such, titles like Blood Code are a bit of a tough ride. It is newer, but it is littered with the tropes and plot points that made Visual Novels what they are today. However, this was made in 2015, not 1994; a new game rehashing old tropes is gonna be very concerning.

  • Plot

Thanks to one God-Granted wish of the Vampire child, Iroul, vampires can now live out in the sunshine of The Mirror World. Here, everything is just like the real world, except now the warm rays do not injure the children of the night. They can even attend school, which they do at the Star-Mirror Academy of Magic.  Here they can study light, water, fire or wind magic, all under the guidance of the resident church: The Kirk. Leia Ephelis, daughter of a priest in the Kirk, also gets to attend the school. With any luck, she’ll become a magical girl complete with cool outfits.

Practice

Things get twisted, however, when Leia’s father is mysteriously murdered by a group of rogue vampires. The Kirk has put her in charge of finding her father’s killers, but Leia has problems of her own. Since she missed a significant chunk of the year to handle this personal tragedy, she has to make up for the lost time by studying hard. If she fails, she’ll leave the school and never be able to finish her investigation. Can she balance schoolwork with this important mission? Is the Kirk even being honest with Leia in the first place?

  • Gameplay

One of the biggest roadblocks anyone will have playing this game is not the game itself but the language. This game was made in China but does come with an English translation.  But anyone who’s relied a little too closely on Google Translate will tell you that language translated word for word will produce some of the most awkward sentences you have ever seen.  It also features full voice actors for the characters, I think, but I played with those off since they don’t extend to the English Patch.

Word Salad

The word salad is real

 

But brace yourselves, my lovelies. We have a lot to unpack here.

At every Monday, you’ll be greeted with the screen to change clothes, call your friends, and plan your schedule. You get a choice between fire, water, wind, and Light magic classes or to do other activities: nap, shop, or just walk around the school. You can work at various jobs you unlock by visiting areas around town as well, earning money for presents and cool clothes.

Schedule

Ah, but you aren’t just here to find your father’s killer. You’re here to get yourself some romance too. One thing you’ll wanna do while you’re here is to keep an eye out (on your schedule and the Free Events section) for little hearts with pictures of your crush. Attending his color of magic, or the area he’s in, will net you a cutscene with him. At some point during the scene, you’ll be prompted to make a choice on what you say. Choose wisely – your affection levels are on the line.

Heart events

Little hearts make such a difference

Play your cards right, and you’ll get those digits  – er, he’ll trust you enough to hand over his number. From there, you can call him to schedule a date. Pick a day and where to meet and hope he agrees. And don’t forget to do free activities the day of the date. Because if you miss that scheduled date, he gonna be mad. On that date, you have the option of giving them an important gift. There are two specifically they each need in order to get the good ending. 

Dating

Are you sure? Are ya really sure?

As for the “find the vampires” storyline, I honestly think it feels very disjointed. The plot doesn’t kick in til much, MUCH later. It’s separate and jarring from the whole “school setting” and feels like the writers suddenly remembered that this wasn’t supposed to only be a slice of life game. And when the final plot finally kicks in, the mood shift is insane. It’s like someone flipped the crazy switch.

Hint

Here’s a hint
  • Art

For all the trouble this game makes for, and for all the weird situations the language translation spawns, this game does at least look very pretty; as a professionally produced title, it certainly ought to. The bishonen style is very clear from all the CG’s and each background looks colorful and calming.

Everyone gets a CG!

But it’s also very static for a professional game. I’ve seen indie titles that are far more dynamic, and only one of the in-character sprites actually shifts body positions in a really noticeable fashion. The lack of movement gets very hard on the eyes after awhile, so I suggest breaks while playing.

  • Romance Options:

Professor Leo Digator

Leo

Ah, it wouldn’t be an old fashioned Otome without a “date your professor” option. Leo is the doctor at Star-Mirror, a professor in the Light Department of magic, and the epitome of Bishounen. As a former member of the Kirk, he’s a very kind and considerate soul who left for “personal reasons” which just screams “hidden evil” and woobie status. Teasing, inquisitive, and a damn good teacher, Leo’s a great place for peeps new to the game to get a taste of what the game is like. However, some of his sweet and gentle nature is buffeted by the language barrier, so, be prepared for some unfiltered cheese.

Also, no one seems to care that a student and a teacher are hooking up – as in, the staff seems to encourage it. I find this amusing.

Locke Tremere

Locke

It also wouldn’t be an Otome proper without the wish fulfillment of dating the most popular boy in school. But Locke’s popularity is a little better deserved as opposed to Chase Masali’s unfortunate genetics. The Tremeres are one of the four powerful vampire families in the Mirror World – one of the richest as well – and we’re told that Locke was especially gifted when it came to his vampiric powers. His prestige and reach have earned him the seat as student council president. His handsome looks also make him a romantic target for most of the women in the school (teachers included). 

He’s pretty ambivalent to his popularity with women, but Leia, of course, changes that. She may very well be able to break this wall of sadness he’s surrounded himself with, through the power of chocolate, music, and a little clumsiness at endgame. Locke was a fun playthrough, but his ending is so non-instinctual that you will likely get the bad/sad end on accident.

Christ Brutch

C.Brutch

I laughed when I read that name for the first time. I have to wonder if this is how someone from another country feels when we name our characters the equivalent in their language, like a really cool name that ultimately just means “Water Sandwich.”

But anyway, Christ is a fire magic student and one of your good buddies. He’s a champion fencer, which already sounds pretty appealing, and friends with your Loli roommate, Allison. Plucky and ready to make you laugh with a joke/platitude, he’s pretty easy to like. However, he’s not very easy to love as he’s also quite secretive and angsty about a “dark and mysterious past.” I would have found that a lot more fascinating and fun had the rest of him not been a bit bland. 

Jesse

Jesse

Last but not least is our secret unlockable path, only available after finishing a few other paths. Silver-haired, grumpy, and mysterious as hell, Jesse fills our Jerk Guy quota for the game and provides a rather interesting detour. A vampire, and a water magical user, Jesse is in hiding after conducting some “business” with the Kirk, business that spells trouble for everyone else. Leia’s friends want her to keep Jesse company and give him food, but he’s not too quick to make friends. If Leia’s gonna make a buddy, perhaps the love of her life, she’s gonna need to be sweet, patient, and possibly pushy.

Interestingly, Jesse was the only character in the game that had a sprite change that shifted his whole body. It’s also one of the more interesting stories in the game, so I highly recommend it.

  • Final Verdict

Blood Code normally sells on Steam for about $8 and I’m still not sure it’s worth it. You do get a game with a fair amount of bells and whistles but you also get clunkily translated dialogue, an awkward narrative, and a pretty standard Otome experience. I think if you can find it on discount it’s worth the experience just to laugh and try something new. Otherwise, this is one you won’t miss much if skipped.

Next Time: Never Give Up!

 

What did you think of Blood Code? Does this make you nostalgic or bored? Feel free to leave a comment below. And don’t forget to like and follow for more content.

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