Those of you who have been paying attention to the little "Now Playing" list that resides on the right-side on this blog should be aware that I recently acquired a review copy of Aksys Games' PSP-based otome title, Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom. (And those of you who tend to ignore said list? Well, I guess you're in the loop now.)
I believe I've played it for about four or five hours, give or take an hour, which according to the proprietress of the Chic Pixel blog (aka apricotsushi, who you've likely come across if you've ever posted a comment here) means I should encounter one of the game's many endings sooner rather than later.
I don't want to give away too much in this post, as I'd rather save the important details for the "somewhat gay" review that will be published shortly, but I will say this: Hakuoki, while not exactly everything I had hoped for, is interesting and engaging enough that I'd recommend it to those who don't mind controlling a female protagonist and those who enjoy a good page-turner.
The second point above is especially important, as reading is pretty much all you do while "playing" Hakuoki. Every once in a while you're allowed to steer the story in one direction or another, a la those Choose Your Own Adventure books you plowed through as a kid (if you were anything like me), but other than that the main thing you'll be doing during this "visual novel" is hitting the X button on your PSP to advance the story.
As for the content of said story: It's a bit too detailed to go into here, but the long and short of it is that you have to search for the missing father of the aforementioned protagonist, Chizuru Yukimura, alongside the Shinsengumi, a tight-knit group of samurai who protect the citizens of Kyoto.
Although the bulk of your time is spent digging up clues as to the whereabouts of Chizuru's dad, a small bit of it (too small, in my opinion) is spent getting to know the studly members of the Shinsengumi better, if you catch my drift.
Personally, I only consider three of the many men in this game to be anything close to studly--which would be all well and good if it were possible to hook up with all of them. Instead, only one of them--the least appealing of the bunch, of course--is at all open to Chizuru's rather stilted advances. (Just in case anyone is curious as to which characters I'm talking about: Isami Kondou and Shinpachi Nagakura are my top two picks, while Saito Hajime comes in a somewhat-distant third.)
If any of what I've said here has piqued your interest in Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom, I'd highly recommend heading over to the game's official site, hakuoki.com, as well as this NeoGAF thread. (If you're really curious about it, you may want to check out this recent interview with Ben Batemen, a senior editor at Aksys Games, too.)
Buy: Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom (Standard Edition) or Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom (Limited Edition)