Our last trip had us covering a three-part epic, separated into three free games. This time, someone took that and cut it in half, and again, and then again.
It’ll make sense later, but we can safely say that the issue of how to handle large games of copious chapters has always been a tricky one. One way is to put the whole behemoth out there with a brief warning and a pat on the back. But maybe you’d rather customize the experience? Or maybe, just maybe, you’d like to break up that large purchase with some smaller ones?
That is Mystic Destinies: Serendipity of Aeons, a mouthful of a game that has you buying the stories you want to customize the experience to you. It didn’t quite do it for me, but the presentation makes it very clear that this Kickstarter was a labor of love.
Miss Tsubasa Fujimoto is back in Japan to start her very first year at Hagiwara University. She’s ready to get started on her business degree to help run her father’s prestigious company, Shinomora Industries. But tragedy strikes when a meeting with her mother turns into a dark, magical ritual. Miss Shizuka is the last sorceress, but the carrier of an evil curse. Her only way out is to push her curse onto a perfect copy of herself, the homunculus she raised as her daughter.
When it’s all over, Tsubasa wakes to see her college schedule has been altered. Since her powers have awoken, she’s been enrolled in Hagiwara’s secret magical program to learn how to use and control her new-found magic. But after seeing that her power is far too strong to be left unattended, her handsome professor says that she needs a mentor. He suggests one of the three boys she met in the school’s business club, especially since they seem to take a shine to her.
And from there, well, that’s all up to you. Will it all end in serendipity or pure tragedy?
After the intro, which I just described to you, the story depends on which of the five boys you decide to have tutor you (which does include your professor). The rest of the game is typical: you follow the plot and occasionally make choices that shift the plot in one direction or the other. You also have choices that change your ending from Mystic, Passionate, Dark or one of the bad endings. You’ll also get some gorgeous CG’s as you play the game, CG’s that shift through the dialogue. It’s quite simple and the story hits all the usual tropes.
As you go through, however, you’ll notice a few hiccups. Some of the sentences are in need of tiny edits as they read a little unnaturally when reading aloud. You also quickly notice that the protagonist is quite passive, even by regular Otome standards. Her quiet, standoffish personality doesn’t seem like it would inspire that much chemistry. It makes for a very traditional, slow-burn romance style that I was never really all that into. I did like how her outfit changed depending on which story you picked; that was cute.
But where I think the game suffers is the “DLC.” What you get from Steam is the demo, and you to either purchase the stories and epilogs individually or buy a huge bundle of all of them. They market it as DLC, but the choice seems strange to me. But, it is clearly labeled as a demo on the Steam page, so I don’t have much to gripe about. Then again, I have seen other titles pack 30+ hours into one game and hand it over for free, so it ultimately comes down to the player feeling like the material is worth the money.
And these four are interesting enough to make me consider it
I may not have been too thrilled with the game’s purchase policy, or really some of the Romance Novel tropes, but I will give credit where it is due for the artwork. This airbrushed, ethereal artwork is downright beautiful, with some realistic styles that are quite immersive. Everything is very Shoujo and dreamy, which I believe is what the studio was going for.
The only area I feel a tad disappointed with is the art on the protagonist. In this sea multi color anime hair, pierced lips and leather jackets, Tsubasa looks average and forgettable. This might make it easy for the average reader to slip inside, but it doesn’t do much for the eyes.
As mentioned above, which guy you decide to chase after will change the content of your story – hence why you have to shell out money for them individually. I did not have the time (or the cash) to delve into the fine details of each story but I’ll be presenting the main plot and a link for where to buy it. Free advertising for my non-want to finish, there you go.
I gravitated towards this quiet genius right away; the chill dude with the cool hair and the cute smile is a good draw. My first impressions were quite adorable – he was the musical hipster just floating through life – and they only got better as the main plot presented itself front and center. It turns out Shinji is a lost prince from the kingdom of Avalon, kidnapped when he was a baby by his father, Lord Lachlan. His birth mother claims Lachlan was an evil man who did it for selfish reasons, all with a saccharine smile on her face. But Shinji isn’t sure he trusts his spring-haired mother and will need Tsubasa’s help to sort this whole mess out. This will mean doing the one thing he has the most trouble doing: opening up to others.
Hyper and bright as the sun, the Emotional Drama King somehow manages to have a darker story than his counterparts. A drama student, and mythical Phoenix, Shou has had some trouble getting his magic to work properly. He either can’t get it to work at all, or it goes out of control and sets everything on fire. Still, he’s optimistic and eager to help – and the less likely to get hurt should Tsubasa explode in an emotional fit. But for all his overflowing optimism, it’s clear there’s a big heart that’s been damaged a lot. And things take a turn for the worst when a mysterious figure starts following Tsubasa and even goes through her bag. Is someone after her father’s company secrets? Or is a blast from the past about to burn everyone?
The Hot and Cold Intellectual is a skilled CryoKinetic, able to create and shape ice in deadly, artistic fashions. He’s a sweet, take-action kind of fellow with a terrible tendency to speak bluntly. Thanks to the intense control he has over his emotions, he comes off as that cold jerk that you know I am all over. Is there a way to break his icy exterior? Could it be through this mysterious family drama he has?
Furthermore, on Tsubasa’s end, there’s an important business deal going on between her father and the equally enigmatic Mr. Kaisema. But this bold, blue-haired man has the clear hots for Tsubasa, and the successful deal may depend on her sucking it up and going out on that date.
Here we have our first oddball of the group, Takumi Arai. And when I call the boy odd, I don’t mean his strange choice in hair. No, I mean his choice in occupation as a private detective in the supernatural district. Complete with Ninja Parkour skills, a magic bag of holding loaded with cool gadgets, Takumi proves himself a veritable badass. It’s all cool and dandy, a nifty little “screw this, I do what I want!” path that deviates and provides a completely new take. Especially since Takumi himself is non-magical, and a close friend from a very long time ago. Still, just how much has the sweet boy from your past really changed? And why is he so insistent that he hasn’t?
Either way, he’s gonna do what he can to help Tsubasa track down Shizuka and make her pay. Maybe then she’ll be able to find out what happened to Takumi along the way.
Last – and I stress this, play this one last – is the Date Your Professor Option, Hikaru. Professor “K”, as he’s called, is a man of cold eyes and stern mind. But he’s known to be a genuinely good guy, and hey, who better to teach you than your homeroom professor? But things get just a little strange, as Hikaru admits that you look and act similar to someone he knew a very long time ago. He seems very emotionally attached to that person as well, making things all the more curious when you take in Tsubasa’s history…
In short, Hikaru-sensei’s whole, two-book story reeks of a finale. It has a romantic mystery, a big dramatic build up, and the pictures look like a final fight just waiting to happen.
In the end, I’m kinda sad. Mystic Destinies has a pretty sweet cast of dateable characters, with detailed stories that will pull you in pretty hard. But the nature of our protagonist pulls me right out pretty hard, and I just don’t find her as interesting as her counterparts. Furthermore, I just don’t care for the idea that I should pay for not only their stories but also their epilogs. Cinderella Phenomenon was also a Kickstarter project, but it gave you the whole 30+ hour experience for free. People are willing to get a game this big, they really are.
But they do offer a large bundle on Steam for about $40, so if this story does it for you then, by all means, reward them for what was clearly a labor of love. Despite my misgivings and my disinterest, it’s far from a bad game.
Next Time: Purra Academy