This game likely marks the end of new RPGs I’ll end up playing in 2020, and it felt like the perfect swan song. It shows that SEGA still has the ability to produce good games. But it also shows that SEGA still doesn’t get “it” on the hardware side.
What I Liked
✅ Very well done aesthetics and audio. If visual novel games were all made similar to this I’d find them much more appealing than I currently do. It makes me wish that Banner of the Maid was designed like this between the battle segments at least.
✅ The story struck me as compelling and dark enough to keep attention without gimmicks.
✅ While it does resort to a bit of time travel, it never steps outside of the realm of plausibility (given what we know).
✅ The battle segments are…passable. Considering it’s not the focus of the game, the limited actions are fine.
What I Didn’t Like
❌ Much has been made of the English translators injecting “binary” to describe one of the characters. This didn’t bother me or make me think the character was “non-binary”, because ultimately they made a conscious choice, as a boy, to dress like a girl and flirt with boys (which has a dictionary definition and it isn’t “non-binary”).
❌ But what did bother me is that it felt like the developers spent quite a bit of time writing all of the girls (and “wannabe girls”) to fawn over the men. Games like Blue Reflection had hints of this: shyness, tsundere, etc., but not to this degree.
❌ Understanding that this is basically a visual novel, it’s hard to engage. The story is good and the characters are decently good, but there just isn’t enough here to justify a full $60 price tag. The battle engine isn’t overly detailed and it feels like it was built to allow people to enjoy the story without excessive challenge. That’s fine, but not at a $60 price tag.
❌ Outside of left and right walls there are no boundaries, meaning you can walk through all of the various “background” elements at will. This took me out of the experience a bit – it would have been better if you could literally talk to anyone and everyone, not be able to walk through desks, etc. If Persona 3 and 4 could do it, certainly it could have been done here (especially if the asking price is $60).
❌ More appropriately, just playing the game made me question why it was on PS4 at all. It didn’t graphically push any envelopes and there was nothing in the battle that screamed horsepower; this game would be a perfect Switch game at $39.99 and would add an otherwise solid game to that platform that so desperately needs unique originals. The PS4 is on its way out; it didn’t need the title, and it felt like the game was overlooked because it was on a platform already saturated with bigger names.
I am not saying this wasn’t a good game. I’m saying that (A) it should be on the Switch and (B) it should be no more than $39.99 based on how much “game” there is. That’s my opinion, but it’s based on tons of superior and lesser games and where they fell.