Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is a historical fantasy visual novel set in the Bakumatsu period in Japan and puts you in the shows of Chizuru-san, a young woman determined to find her father in Kyoto. As part one in a two-part series that is the retelling of the original Hakuoki released in 2008, you will romance a number of handsome samurai (some are new to help justify the cost of Kyoto Winds) in search of details surrounding your father’s whereabouts. Though it pushes over 80 hours of content with 30 unique endings, Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds feels more like a prolonged cash grab in a genre that is often taken advantage of.
I fully admit that Kyoto Winds was difficult for me to write about; in most cases I do well with visual novels, especial those that I am familiar with due to other mediums. In cases like Muv-Luv I am familiar with the Total Eclipse anime; the same goes for Steins;Gate and Amnesia, both having excellent anime adaptations of the source materials. Hakuoki is no different; a number of years ago I binge-watched Hakuoki, then the two follow-up seasons and really enjoyed them. With Kyoto Winds though I just could not connect with Chizuru-san. Sure I am a straight guy and putting myself in the shoes of a female protagonist as she tries to romance her way to discovering the whereabouts of her father, but I have played similar games (like Amnesia, which places you in the shoes of a female protagonist as she romances her way through to recovering her memory) with little trouble.
Something about Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds feels off, and it is not the excellent visuals or wonderful audio, but rather I think that as you play through the various play throughs you begin to get a sense that the entire game feels like filler. I passionately hate filler…
When that Filler adds a bunch of nonsensical junk labeled as a “remastered telling of the beloved 2008 series” to justify a price tag that is the same price as its original … which also happened to have two times the content. With Kyoto Winds you get only a portion of the story, a bunch of new romance-able options that feel halfhearted and incomplete in the grand scheme of things. Claiming some 80 hours of gameplay, I was able to choke through about 14 before I finally got sick of the same tropes said with slightly new characters, which extra sucks because I really like the world of Hakuoki. I felt deceived.
The first five or six chapters are fairly linear and tropey, then it opens up where you can start romancing other options so the pacing is off on multiple playthroughs because you may go back to the start and have to play the first few hours. Again. And again. Please, if you pick it up, use save games excessively.