I debated doing a review one route at a time like Ozmafia!! or several at a time like Norn9: Var Commons. In the end I decided to do one at time. Since I’m doing the freebie/monthly games the reviews have become rare and I want the posts. I went into this game completely blind. I knew it was an otoge, so I preordered it. That was it. I didn’t look at the art, didn’t look at the characters, didn’t research — hell, I even didn’t read the blurb description of the game. That’s how much of a pathetic otoge fangirl I am.
I can’t believe I have to say this, these reviews are my opinions. So if you disagree, that’s great. That’s your opinion. We have differing opinions!
Sword Art Online Period Cube ~ Shackles of Amadeus~ is about your search for your brother, Shiki. He’s been missing and not sending you his daily “hey what’s up” sort of texts. While searching for him, you run into your childhood friend, Hiroya. Hiroya says he played an online game with Shiki. There is a rumor about server V (which I read as five first, but it’s actually the letter V) being this secret server that you should stay away from. You go to investigate your brother’s apartment and guess what is on his computer screen? You guessed it, the game with a message stating he’s logged into server V.
Hiroya guides you to create a character so you can go into the game and ask for more information from other players. But you end up actually in the game along with Hiroya, logged into server V. If you die in the game, you die in real life. You are also some sort of special class and/or item called “Amadeus”, which is needed along with the sword of light and dark (okay, they had fancy-ass names but that’s what they are lol) in order to complete the dungeon called “Ark” and exit the game world. If you complete special quests you can go back to the real world for a few hours or more, depending on the difficulty of the quest.
Let’s not think about exactly why they go to search for her missing brother IN A VIDEOGAME rather than, IDK real life??? Why are you not reporting him missing to the police?? Especially since when you do find her brother — okay, that’s getting into spoiler territory and I’ll stop.
I thought I would do my first playthrough with Hiroya (those ears mah god), but somewhere in the beginning I made a decision that put me on Astrum’s route. Um, okay, then.
Anyway, you play avatar to Kazuha Hanamiya. She is your typical otome protagonist archetype A. She’s so bland she’s inoffensive to everyone and she is devoted to always doing the right thing. The kind of protagonist you can easily slip into and project whatever you want. I’m personally not a fan of protagonists like these because I have trouble “inserting myself” into stories like that. I prefer seeing the lead as their own character and from there I can sort of “root” for her romance.
She sucks at the game. She sucks at computers. She just plain sucks at everything she seems to try to do in this game. She’s so helpless at everything it’s frustrating.
But that makes her a “princess” and all the men just go gaga over a “princess”, I suppose.
I’m torn with Astrum, real name Toru. For one, he is the most flower-y mofo I’ve played in a long time. Look at this dialogue:
He talks like this the entire game.
The other characters make fun of him for going too deep into the “role-playing”. Especially when you go into the player’s town, it becomes a free-for-all in making fun of Astrum for his overly formal/elaborate language.
I’m halfway with him. On one hand, it is pretty high on the cringe scale. On the other, well, it makes him stand out from the rest of the guys and his cheesy dialogue does make for some humorous moments (even when they’re not supposed to be humorous ). And sometimes, well, it works. It’s really sweet, unique, and fun.
On the “real world” excursions, you see that he’s a pretty insecure guy. I liked him more once I saw him in the real world and saw more of his real personality. He’s bullied, but he’s also kind of a dick so… But his insecurity makes him vulnerable and that makes him more appealing. He’s a dick, but that’s just to cover up his own insecurities. So I can understand that. It’s a defense mechanism for him. He is also super shy, which is one of those things that gets me going!
His reaction when you confess and the entire confession scene is totes adorable!
But in the end, I feel like the romance aspect is lacking. That may be due to my inability to insert myself into Kazuha. She spends most of her time liking him because he was nice to her and she believes in him because he protects her. I feel like we saw some glimpses into his flaws but they’re glossed over in favor of him playing hero. It isn’t long enough to go super in depth into these characters.
Well, there’s a pretty large supporting cast (defined as non-romance characters) and to be frank I didn’t care about any of them, aside from Sirent, being that we interacted with him the most.
The supporting cast goes through the otome conventions — the supportive female who sometimes gives advice/”best friend” (though in this one she’s a super bland character who exists to talk about how good Astrum is), the jealous outsiders who exist to create conflict and “hero” moments, the sage who also creates conflict, but exists to push the characters together and work out their problems, the “supporters” who act as cheerleaders… you get the point. Once you’ve played several otome games you can identify who’s who and what their role will be just by looking at them, practically.
Hmm… Well, the plot bounces between doing MMO stuff and real world stuff. The MMO stuff is pretty boring/standard RPG type stuff. You level up, you get to “oo” and “ah” over Astrum. You deal with people not liking the fact that you’re a noob. (And to be honest, you really do suck at the game.)
The last arc is when things get interesting. I’m pleasantly surprised it didn’t go where I thought it would. Instead of battling it out against the big bad directly (whose identity is obvious, but hey) Toru/Astrum battles it out from the real world while you battle it out in the virtual one.
The bad ending, whoa boy. So let’s take the most twisted aspect of Astrum’s character and amp it up to 1000. It’s entertaining, but kind of frustrating because it’s the one time that Kazuha actually makes a decision and does something for herself. The end of it all is rather effed up too.
As for the rest of the plot, it’s an interesting premise not executed well.
The artwork is sooooooooooo gorg!
The vocal cast, as a whole, is rather good from what I heard. I’m not the sort of otome fan that gets super into voice actors and their roles (due to irl situations I often have to play games on mute), so I can’t comment much on that aspect. Sorry!
The music is fantastic!
It’s a lot shorter than I imagined it would be. I hope I can at least get 20 hours out of it.
The best way I can describe this route is “I like Astrum a lot but not his story”. I like Astrum’s flaws that peek through. I like how he’s insecure and covers it up with bravado. I like that you can feel a sense of loneliness from him. But the plot doesn’t handle or go into them enough for it to be a great romance. Which is sad, because he is a good multi-leveled character.
The rest, outside of Astrum character moments? Blech.
My heart scale is defined as follows – 5 hearts = a story everyone will fall in love with, regardless of preferences; 4 hearts = a well-done story that people who love the concept will adore, and people who don’t may end up liking it; 3 hearts = if you like this type of story or this type of hero, then you will enjoy this, but those who do not like either of those things will probably not; 2 hearts = it had potential, it squandered it; 1 heart = just a waste of time from the get-go; 0 hearts = why was this made?
Period Cube Reviews
This is the first review in a series.
I know a lot of visual novels have a “key word” or “dictionary” system and IDK the words for it seem so random at times. Like really, you needed to specially define ADDICT?!
I found this line rather funny because to me, Toya tries really hard to keep up an image (to separate himself from his real life persona and those insecurities) so he acts exactly like he thinks a prince should act when he talks to her. YMMV in how much you like this sort of thing. It doesn’t do much for me, but I can see what they’re going for.
He’s putting “elixir” on her “wounds”. We all know where this was leading. This happens within the first day of meeting him, so I thought I jumped into the playboy archetype.
Blushing sprite quota met!
I loved how gamer lingo kept creeping into his dialogue, which would make him embarrassed after Kazuha is like “???”.
That’s what made him interesting, though! Yes, I grabbed more screens of the IRL scenes we got (even though it’s probably 30% of the total scenes) because I love glasses on mah romantic leads.