[Otome Game Review] Collar×Malice

December 7, 2016 at 1:30 pm | Posted in Otome Games | Leave a comment
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A terror group who calls themselves “Adonis” has been causing several criminal incidents within Shinjuku starting from April of the year. Every month, they claim that they are behind certain crimes by uploading a video in the internet and leaving a coin and a number in Roman numeral at crime scene. The roman numerals indicate the countdown to “X-Day”, the designated time when Adonis will “cleanse Japan of all evil and rebuild the country.” On December, A month before X-day, the heroine Hoshino Ichika, a rookie police officer, suddenly gets direct involvement with the Adonis group after she was attacked and knocked unconscious. When she wakes up, she finds a collar was put around her neck. Through this collar, an Adonis person communicates with her and tells her to show them her idea of justice without disclosing her involvement with them to the police–or else, they will poison her through the collar. In the midst of all that, Ichika gets help from a group of former police officers who are investigating the Adonis incidents by themselves, under the guise of running a detective agency. Ichika then teams up with the guys, so she can remove the collar and find the truth behind the X-day incidents.

This is a non-spoiler of the game — which will soon be released in English by Aksys Games!

Main Characters

The heroine, Hoshino Ichika is a police officer working for the Special Defense Department (特坊/”Tokubou”), a new department of the Shinjuku Police Force that was formed to help ease the terror caused by X-day incidents to the common people. Although she is a newbie with only six months of experience in the police force, Ichika is a determined girl with a strong sense of justice. She helps people in need to the best of her abilities–but let’s be honest, that’s not the best thing about her, because 90% of otome game heroines are already like that. If we are to name her best trait, it has to be her straightforwardness when it comes to romance, like, in ALL five routes, she is always the first one to confess!! (ノ≥∇≤)ノThat’s my girl!  Because I really like it when it’s the girl who makes the initiative?? But yeah, being proactive in the romance category aside, Ichika is a likable heroine and has what it takes to belong to any best otoge heroine list.

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Yanagi Aiji (CV: Morita Masakazu) is the founder of the detective agency a.k.a. the group of ex-cops who investigate the X-day incident. He is intelligent, rational, and has good investigation skills which makes him a significant inspector in the first division of the police force, but he quit due to personal reasons. Aiji is also thoughtful, kind, and…surprisingly really good at cooking and household chores, that Ichika actually felt insecure because Aiji is a better waifu than her  (ノ*゚▽゚*)ww. The only thing that prevents Aiji from being the perfect waifu is the fact that he is a smoker, but nonetheless, he is still acts as the dad in the detective agency. Also, he is 28 years old and it gets to him when people call him an old man (๑´ლ`๑)ww Aiji is obviously the canon guy, so his route, which as all the explanations and proper conclusion to the case, is locked until you finish all good ends of the four guys

Okazaki Kei (CV: Kaji Yuuki) is an SP (security police) who claims that he’s guarding the detective agency to protect the people in it, although he is nothing but a nuisance to the four other guys. Kei is unflappable, an air-headed SP who can sleep one second after he closes his eyes, but don’t let that fool you because he turns into a different character when faced with a dangerous situation. He’s good at karate, judo, and probably all other martial arts–basically, he has the body skills that enable him to do his job as a security police and protect other people. I found Kei’s my-pace personality paired with awesome fighting skills really cute, but I hated his “I’ll protect you even if I die” bs so he’s my least favorite in my ranking of the five main guys. (I still like him though!)

Enomoto Mineo (CV: Saitou Souma), a former riot police, is the youngest in the bunch. He’s cheerful, optimistic, and has… a weird fashion sense (that eyepatch lmao). He highly respects Yanagi-senpai but he always gets into fights with seaweed-head Takeru, who sees him as an idiot. Well, Mineo is a bit of an airhead sometimes, but he has some nice qualities (like, his innocence when it comes to romance? (*≧▽≦)ノシ) and his route is really cute! Due to a case which involved the police senpai which he looked up to, he quit his job as a riot police and joined Aiji’s “detective agency” to investigate about the X-day incidents.

Sasazuka Takeru (CV: Namikawa Daisuke) is a 24-year old baby-faced genius hacker who hates idiots (e.g. Mineo) above anything else. He was a former member of the cyber crime unit of the police force but he resigns after the law controlling firearms was lifted due to the X-day incidents. At first, Takeru’s sharp tongue is a real turn-off (my initial impression of him is that he’s a jerk!) but once he opens up his fondness of sweets, especially donuts, you’ll see his cute side and definitely fall in love with him. Takeru isn’t my best boy, but I think his route has the cutest moments that got me squealing as I play (////w///). Also, I agree with him about “bitter taste isn’t needed in sweets”–like macha and dark chocolate ww.

Last but definitely not the least, Shiraishi Kageyuki (CV: Kimura Ryouhei) is my Collar×Malice best boy (○´3`)ノ. Shiraishi is the head of the forensics department of the police force and he works as a profiler. He’s an eccentric who cannot the read mood and just says whatever he wants to say so a lot of people in the office hates him, that his subordinate even formed a Shiraishi-eradication group (*≧▽≦)ノシ. Like Takeru, Shiraishi is a jerk during the first few chapters, but really, he is just a misunderstood cutie who needs to be loved (´・ω・`) . Initially, I thought that Shiraishi will be my least favorite but he ended up being my best boy! Lesson learned: a person who likes cats (Shiraishi ww) is always a good person www. //Shiraishi deserves more love. FD please!! ;;w;;

I love all five guys, but if I am to rank them, it has to be Shiraishi > Yanagi > Takeru > Mineo > Okazaki. Cat-lover Shiraishi is forever my CxM best boy ;;w;;

The main characters aside, Collar×Malice has lots of side characters, from the police officers to the Adonis members. I won’t go into detail for each, but I say 1) I want to date Saeki and Yoshinari so bad 2) Mukai and Sakuragawa are the best girl friends and 3) Souda Manabu is the most relatable character ww

Thoughts

I love this game!! ;;w;; I was right to keep an eye on it right when they first announced it during OtoPa 2015.

First off, the story is very well thought of considering that there are several X-day incidents with a story of their own. The best thing is that each incident connects to one major case — the mystery of the Adonis group — and it was fun to piece everything together and guess on stuff while reading.

That said, the game was able to prevent sacrificing the romance part for the story. While non-otoge people (i.e. the people who will buy the English localization!) can still enjoy the game because the mystery and Japan police stuff in it, otome gamers have enough romance to squeal over. There’s a good balance between story and romance, and there’s a smooth transition between the focus of the two in the game.

Aside from the mystery and cases, I also liked how Adonis–the “bad guys”–was handled. One of the main themes of the game is “Justice”, and reading the conversation between the characters as they explain their own view regarding “Justice” got me thinking. Understanding their logic about justice was, for me, one of the best things in the game, and I would love to write a whole post about it… but I have a ton of games in backlog and time where so no. You see, Adonis isn’t bad, per se; you just have to understand them and their situation, and they’ll probably even be your favorite characters in the game.

System-wise, Collar×Malice has a lot of extras that add to the police investigation feel of the game. There is the very easy Trigger Mode, the parts when Ichika shows off her gun-fighting skills, where you just have to time your triggering of the gunfire to the signal on screen. There are also parts when you investigate the crime scene ala-Danganronpa (I haven’t played Danganronpa, a friend just pointed it out). Just click on certain parts of the screen to investigate the different stuff in it. The best thing about these extras? They are very easy and aren’t exactly mini games, so rest assured that 99.9% of Collar×Malice is visual novel.

And if Mystic Messenger is your thing (I’m sorry but I really just have to point this out ww) Collar×Malice has some parts where you send text messages to the guys, call them, and have group chats with them. 2016 is the year of group chats in otome games, no?

The game also has a Materials folder (which you can access through the menu or by pressing the arrow up button in game for convenience) that updates whenever you discover new stuff related to the case. The materials folder is very helpful especially when you want to review certain parts of the case so you can solve the mystery by yourself.

Which brings us to my ultimate recommendation: if you are playing for the mystery, do not use a guide!! If you know me, I always use a guide for otome games, and I did use one when I played Mineo route of Collar×Malice. When I got to Takeru route though, I realized that I wanted to solve the mystery by myself, so I ditched the guide and struggled through getting all the bad ends after I finished Yanagi route ლ(́◉◞౪◟◉‵ლ) Because the game doesn’t have a bad end list and yet you have to see all the bad end to get the platinum trophy. But yeah, that hunt-for-all-the-bad-end nightmare I experienced aside, not using a guide + solving the case by myself was really satisfying. In any case, the color of the choices gives you an idea whether that branch is for bad end or just for raising trust/love affection. Red choices mean that you have to choose very carefully because one of them leads to the bad end, blue is for trust-raising branches, pink is for love-raising, and orange/maroon is when you’re joining a Q&A regarding the case.

If there’s one thing that I can complain about the game though, it has to be the really slow opening of the menu when you press the triangle button. Hello, we’re in the vita already? Why so slow? Other than that, the game is perfect.

Conclusion

Collar×Malice is a good otome game with a balance between interesting story and romance. Thumbs up because I really enjoyed playing this. Recommended to people who want a good mystery/police stuff visual novel, even if they aren’t into otome games. Must get, especially since Aksys Games will be licencing it to English in 2017!

PS: I want an FD with a Yoshinari and Saeki route and a better ending for Shiraishi ;;w;;

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