One day "you" find yourself waking up to an unfamiliar scenery . . . as well as somewhat familiar faces. Apparently you've somehow been brought into the world of "Unlimited Quests" -an old RPG you've once played - and those familiar faces are the members of the game's main party - Hero, Magician, Priest and Thief. Naturally, you want to find a way to return home but before you could do that, your RPG party apparently has a score to settle with you! Because thanks to your control of them in the past, they're blaming you for the fact that they've become w a r p e d.
Dot Kareshi -We're 8-bit Lovers!- I ~Densetsu no Otome~
ドットカレシ-We're 8bit Lovers!- Ⅰ～でんせつのおとめ～ (website)
Age Rating: All Ages ( but I'd recommend it for ages 15+)
Date of Release: 24 July 2013
Voice Cast: Namikawa Daisuke, Kondou Takashi, Matsukaze Masaya, Morikubo Shoutarou
Dot Kareshi is a drama CD and a game set series featuring an 8-bit theme with classic RPG archetype characters. It is segmented into three standalone sets, featuring four pursuable characters per game and Densetsu no Otome (Legendary Maiden) is the first of the series with Hero, Magician, Priest and Thief as the guys you can go for and the rest - Tenkuu no Kiss (Kiss of the Sky) and Yami no Hanayome (Bride of Darkness) will be released in September and November respectively. I was already interested in the theme of the game and more so because it's produced by Rejet so despite the fact that it was going to be a segmented game and the fact that it was cheaper than the average PC game (outside of Hana Awase, which was even cheaper), I had high expectations. However, while my expectations were met to a certain extent, there are also expectations that weren't - and I will be getting to them in the sections below.
I really enjoyed all the guys of DotKare! They're already very charming on their own, but as a group they're even more colorful and it's kind of a shame that we don't get to see more of it due to the short nature of the game. However, their character are pretty much what you see is what you get. There's no deeper meaning to their characters than what you see in the game, no hidden twist or hidden reasoning for why they're the way they are, so despite how much I love the guys and do believe they've fulfilled their role well for how brief the game is, I've decided to give this section the score above because I feel like their characters could have shine even more had this game been longer enough to flesh the characters and developed their relationships even more - both with the heroine and with each other.
The Heroine (assumed to be 18 in age; no voice) is a young woman who is apparently about to take her entrance exams and one day found herself waking up in the world of "Unlimited Quests" - a game that she used to play in the past. Unfortunately, she doesn't speak outside of her choices and doesn't even get a name or a portrait as she's supposed to be "you" (in fact, she's even referred to as such in her own name tag on the text screen) thus her reactions when they aren't choices are represented by either long pauses as she's reacting to the guys, random keysmashes, or ellipses and her portrait in the game is represented by emotes like "!" or "?" or "////". However in certain points, she does demonstrate certain traits of her own that you'll be able to glean from how the guys respond or react to her, sometimes even repeat what she have said in the game's pauses where she reacts . . . which is basically like how the heroine of a drama cd series is usually treated, so if you've listened to a drama cd before, that's what you can expect.
Hero (Age 17; CV: Namikawa Daisuke) is the technical hero of this band of merry RPG misfits, appointed by the king of the RPG's kingdom to defeat the Demon Lord and generally acts as the party's main tank. One would expect him to be a valiant figure with a strong moral compass but he's pretty conceited with his role as Unlimited Quests' Main Character, he enjoys teasing the heroine with suggestive comments and . . . due to how the heroine controlled him in the past, Hero developed a habit of breaking things and going into random villagers' homes to loot their belongings for items and equipment, citing that no one's going to mind because it's his privilege as the "Hero". However, the warping of his character isn't why Hero feels the heroine was cruel to him - it's because she nicknamed him "Takuan" (Picked Radish) even though she kept the other party characters' name in the game as the default and he feels that the ridiculous name
ruins his street cred is lame and unbecoming for a cool hero. Despite all that, though, Hero is still very much a dorky shounen hero with a perverted streak who loves talking about his sword and enjoys having the role of the main character.
Magician (Age 19; CV: Kondou Takashi) as his name suggests is the magic nuke of the party and also as expected of someone who's a classic mage in an RPG game, he's someone who's fond of research and proud of flaunting his magic . . . so proud, in fact, that he's very very bitter that as the player, the heroine has turned off the beautiful special effects of his flashy spells because the animation takes too long, and neglected to do the side quest that would've allowed him to shine in favor of simply grinding on the world map to the highest level and going straight to beat the Final Boss instead. Because of this, he feels especially jilted and makes sure to express his chagrin to the heroine on every occasion he gets. He also feels that his appearance makes him plain and forgettable. Personality-wise Magician is a serious guy who appears to be more practical/logical than his party members, however, he is just as much of a perverted idiot as the rest of them - he just tries to be more subtle about it and makes it a point to try and offer technical excuses as to why the heroine should be doing ichaicha things with him: such as saying that kissing him would help him heal his MP as the pleasurable effects of a kiss would be similar to that of the pleasant feeling of a healing spell or item.
Priest (Age 24; CV: Matsukaze Masaya) plays the role of the healer in the party, but if you're expecting a devout follower of God with pristine morals and a gentle demeanor, you're going to be very disappointed because Priest is the complete opposite of that description. You see, because he's the only one in the party who has the ability to use Light Magic to heal HP, resurrect fallen party members and heal status ailments, he's developed a do-S personality - if he finds something troublesome he'll refuse to do it, and that includes giving freebie heals. Which is to say that he'll only agree to do his job if one prays to him and he won't hesitate to slave drive and overwork the other party members to the fullest while he sits back and only heals when it's necessary to keep them from dying. Sure, it seems like he still wants to help villagers from being taken advantage of by opportunistic con artists, but that's only because he wants to gain more followers who will worship him, and oh, did I mention that he has no qualms at all about shamelessly perving on the heroine, even in the midst of fighting a monster horde? A chaste clergyman this Priest is definitely not.
Thief (Age 19; CV: Morikubo Shoutarou) is exactly what his name suggest! Thief's role in the party is to use his thieving skills to steal things from the enemy, as well as use his perception skills to check for hidden passages and traps, which includes telling what treasure boxes are real and what's not. Thief is pretty mellow and carefree, and like the rest of his party members he's a charming opportunistic pervert that doesn't waste any chance he gets to flirt with the heroine and tell her that he wants to steal her heart. That said, Thief isn't really a very materialistic person - he's lost interest in stealing things that are easy and wants to steal certain valuable things only because he's interested in the thrill from the act as well as the reaction he gets from accomplishing the challenge.
Personally, I found the presentation to be the best part of the game. The interface is gorgeously designed to cater to classic RPG nostalgia and the developers in Rejet clearly knew what they're doing when they wrote the script - choosing to blend in a meta humor that flows naturally and doesn't feel too overwhelming or out of place, regular humor from the characters' antics, as well as humor that call backs to familiar little habits that anyone who's a gamer might've done at some point when they're playing an RPG (eg. choosing to powergrind in order to breeze through the game, or deciding to be cheap and not spend in-game money on items in favor of relying on the in-party healer, etc.) So if I was grading this section solely on the presentation, I'd have given it a full score just for how nicely they managed to coordinate those things.
The story itself has no real narration prose (except at the individual guy endings) and his mostly told through only the dialogues and interaction between the characters. Unfortunately, because this game is no doubt meant to only be a sort of promotion along with the drama CD it came with (though the drama CD itself does work as a standalone from the game), it was very short, and is mostly humorous with no actual deep plot - just a very brief but straightforward one, therefore if you're expecting something like Rejet's usual fare filled with twists and turns, you will likely be disappointed. The story pretty much has around 5 scenes in total - 2 common scenes, a quest scene depending on whose quest you want to do, another common scene after the quest at the inn, and the ending scene, so if you've time during the weekends or want to marathon the game in a day, it shouldn't take you more than 1-2 hours to finish the first route, and even less time to complete the rest of the characters (I only took ~3 days because I have work and needed time to write this lol.) There are two Endings for each guys - a Normal end and a Best end depending on what your affection with the guy is at the end of the game, and there's another 'common' end for if none of the guys' affections go above 50 points. The affection of the guys could easily be tracked, both by the little heart that pops up when you choose an option that increases the guy's affection, and through the Status menu at the bottom of the text box. However, despite how short it is, the game is still a very enjoyable read and since there isn't really some underlying twist, there's no recommended play order, just play the characters that most interest you, though I do recommend to go through all of them as they all have their own charms.
Now for the Omake section! As you can see there's a CG Gallery, a Music Gallery, a His Room section, a dictionary for the terms, a Memories section and a advertisement area for Rejet's other series. The majority of that are pretty self-explanatory, so I'll only explain what the his room section is. It's basically where you go to listen to some mini-extra voice messages you unlock after finishing each guys' endings (be sure to click through the 'volumes' as they yield different messages) and . . . pretty much only that! You can switch around the backgrounds but there's unfortunately no 'grooming' section like Black Wolves Saga or anything like clicking on CGs for special reactions (though you do get a little message if you click anywhere on the CG in the gallery.)
I really like the artwork for this game! The CGs are gorgeous both in coloring and composition . . . but here's the bad news: you've probably already expected if you've read up to this point, but because this is a very short game, there's unfortunately only 24 CGs in total, 20 of which are unique (One's the completion CG) and 4 of which are variations. The only complaint I might have would be that Rejet has decided to do the faceless heroine thing for the CGs that features her, which, I guess, is because they want to add to the fact that she's supposed to be 'you' thing, but it still disappoints me and if they were going to do it, I wish they could've at least been more creative with the angle so the eyeless thing wasn't so jarring, especially since they already managed to do that in some of the ending CGs (while unfortunately failing in others.) It's a shame, but thankfully it still doesn't detract from how pretty those existing CGs are in general.
Now for the character portraits/sprites! They're animated! They're all nicely drawn and they don't look blurry or awkward when they're zoomed up! There's also some variations between the characters' costumes but if I have to nitpick, I wish there were one more costume variation for *spoilers* at the ending, but at least they provided an explanation for that. Sort of.
As for the backgrounds . . . they're nice and fits well with the RPG atmosphere. I was going to nitpick that there's little variations in between fields, towns and certain room designs at first but then it hit me - there is not that big a variation in those things in actual 8-bit RPGs! So aside from the possible fact that there's just few variations because it's a short game, that little call back (if it's really intention) is actually kind of brilliant on Rejet's part. It seems there were also some unused backgrounds that weren't in the actual story of the game, but I assume they only put it in as a resource for now and intend to use for real in the two future games.
Music/Voice Acting (10/10)
As expected of Rejet, the music and sound effects were nice, especially as a call back to the classic 8-bit RPG feeling (you'll probably grin a little when you hear Magician use his spells or hear the tune when a monster encounter happens) but while they're definitely good and pleasant to listen to in their own right, they're not as hauntingly memorable like Rejet's other games . . . okay, I might be lying a little there. At least one of them might be as memorable as a certain sax-y tune from Diabolik Lovers, but that's it.
So why did I give this section a full point if I don't think the music is as memorable as Rejet's other games? It's because like with Double Score, the seiyuu portraying each of the characters were wonderful in bringing their characters's quirks to life, and possibly making you squirm as much as the heroine did with their characters' teasing - and considering the "somewhat H" tag of the series, that's probably the point, isn't it? I enjoyed everything from Magician's bitter laugh of despair, the desperate drop in Hero's voice as he pleads with the heroine not to leave, Priest's sultry tone as he whispers suggestive comments and Thief's opportunistic flirting. I really wanted to hear more of the characters and how much the seiyuus could push their limits if the characters were given chances to react in more situations, so I'll definitely be hoping that Rejet either makes more games for this series or release more drama CDs for it.
Speaking of which, I already mentioned above that the drama CD that came with Densetsu no Otome could be listened to as a standalone since it doesn't really have strong tie-ins with the events in the game, but I'd recommend that you listen to it after you finish the game as it doesn't really do any introductions in regards to the characters or the premise, it just jumps you right into the situation presented in the CD.8 I really enjoyed this game but I came out with some disappointments as I was expecting this to be a much longer game with a deeper plot like Rejet's other games . . . which is mostly my own fault rather than Rejet's. So would I still recommend this game? Yes, I would, although I know people might be turned off by the 3000+ yen price tag in light of how short the game is, so I'd say that I'd only recommend this game if you're looking for:
- A lighthearted game - This game is very light and filled with humor and I've read before that there are people who are intrigued by Rejet's characters but are apprehensive towards their dark, twisted plots, so this could be the game for you!
- A short game you could play to fill in the time - Like I've mentioned before, you could literally full-comp the game within a few hours if you play without stopping. It's the perfect filler game, shorter than even Hana Awase or Double Score, to play while waiting for bigger releases.
- A colorful cast of characters - These characters might not play with your heart in the emotionally charged despairing sense, but they'll still try to win you with their
- You want to relive some classic RPG nostalgia - because the game's definitely filled with that and witty meta humor regarding RPG tropes.
However, I wouldn't recommend this game to you if:
- You don't like a faceless heroine - She doesn't have much of a presence since the game wants you to try to pretend she's "you", but if you're like me and don't really . . . think of heroines as your extension, she still has enough traits to be considered herself. You'll just have to read between the lines. If you're familiar with drama CDs, that's about the amount of 'characterization' you can expect.
- You want a long game with a strong plot and deeper characterization - As I've stated many times throughout the review, this game is really short. So unfortunately, the 'plot' is also very simple and there are no twist or turns to either that or the characters. Make no mistake though - the characters are still good characters, they just don't have some ~*deep*~ or ~*traumatic*~ past to them
or well they don't if you don't count how the heroine warped them with her gameplay style.
Anyway, if you do decide to get into this series, despite being a segmented game like the Double Score series, this one only has three sets for the entire series. And like I've said in my introduction, they're going to be released in September and November respectively, so you wouldn't have to wait as long to get to see the rest of the cast or have to jump through hoops to mail in proofs to get an extra game. You will, however, probably end up wishing that Rejet might consider expanding the game into a full, longer game one day like me.