This is the third review in a series. Some material may be quoted from other reviews.
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.
Just know the premise is filled with plot holes and the only way you’re going to get a semblance of enjoyment from this is to ignore them.
Kazuha is the same as she is in the other routes in this one. Very easy to self-insert, not very compelling if you don’t like self-insert heroines. I give her points in this one for taking initiative and making several decisions on her own. A flaw, man, that’s all I’m asking for. A flaw, make a mistake, something to make her feel human!
Honestly, when it gets to the point that YOUR LOVE INTEREST is saying, “Uh, hey, why are you such a dull doormat?”, there’s a problem.
The Supporting Cast
The hotel you stay at is super nice! I’d live in that!
The supporting cast are demons in this round versus the angels I met during Astrum’s. And they are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more compelling and unique as characters. I feel like the demons are supposed to be the “canon” side because of how well-developed they are compared to the angels.
Each supporting character has their own clearly defined motivations for playing the game and wanting to get out of it. I appreciate that along with the camaraderie between them all. You spend a lot of time with them because you spend a chapter living at the hotel where they all gather.
The supporting cast is vibrant and entertaining this go around.
He is a man of secrets. He hides his feelings and closes himself off to the world. He refuses to make a party with others and does the exploring solo. But he also has a selfish side when it comes to affection and expressing his love.
I hated these glasses. You can barely see his eyes behind them, and a lot of the sprite’s emotions come from the eyes. It doesn’t help that this is how he looks for a majority of the time you see him because you spend more time talking to him outside of the game rather than in.
The possessive part of him bothered me. I’m not sure if I liked it or not. I feel like it toes the line between being obsessive and romantic. The “bad” ending confirms this, as that trait is amped up to 1000. On the other hand, he is 18 years old. Romance between teenagers is full of that “you are my world” and “I only need you in this world to be happy hell with everyone else” type stuff. Adults are too jaded to have that sort of encompassing passion. Aaack, am I too old to enjoy something like this?! Is that my problem?
Because he is rather closed off and cold at the beginning and the plot dictates you spend quite a bit of time away from him, you’re not going to feel much for him by the middle of the story. The narrative makes up for that by having all the stages of romance happen in a big sweep off your feet date. It left the romance feeling rushed. Just as I got to know him, Kazuha says she loves him. But… girl, you’ve only known him for three days and this is the first time you’ve spent significant time getting to know each other. What is this, Romeo and Juliet?
You learn his biggest regret (and the source of his cold demeanor) in a rather sad scene. This is a common complaint I have for a lot of otome games, but I really wish side npc characters would get a name beyond a descriptor. If we’re going into a flashback of Radius’ old party, and if this is the memory that changed his entire life/way of thinking, I would expect those involved to have at least a screen name.
However — he does have a bashful side, or rather, a side that has trouble telling his feelings. You can really get the sense that he wants to say how he feels about her but he’s afraid of rejection. I liked those scenes a lot.
But all in all, I liked him. He’s not as uniquely fun as Astrum’s quirks, but he has a lot of good scenes and I had a good time with him.
Radius/Rei’s story starts off interesting and his secretive nature adds to his mystery. The romance is too rushed. He is a little too possessive at times, but after you have an emotional climax together (key word=emotional, not physical ) it’s explained why. However, the plot holes are even more jarring in this story than the last two I read, so I’m having trouble recommending it.
Radius does have a lot of really good one-liner romance moments, but they were all too spoiler-y for me to cap. In any case, I think there’s a lot more to like from his story than Astrum or Demento’s, if you can turn your brain off for the actual plot moments. I think I’ll have to do a spoiler-filled review just to talk about how stupid the plot is.
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?
At least Kazuha had a mini-revelation about her lack of personal agency in this route. That gives it points.