Thursday, May 12, 2016

Magical Diary Review


Via Google

 My next game review is for Magical Diary, developed by Hanako Games.  You become a freshman at a magical boarding school.  You can pick your classes, activities, and which guy you're gonna date.  It's overall a cute game, but it does have a few quirks.  Fortunately, the pros far outweigh the cons of this game.

Firstly, the graphics are adorable.  They're done in typical manga style.  My one nitpick is that there isn't a lot of variety in most of the characters.  It wouldn't be uncommon for you to run into a character that looks exactly like yours, since it appears that almost every character is made with the same generator.  While it's nice you can design your character a little, the limited options make it fall a bit flat.  The backgrounds are also boring and the same ones get reused with very little difference between them.


Let's move on to your interpersonal relationships.  While the people can you CAN romance are interesting enough, there's not many options.  There's only 3 men and 2 women you can romance in this game, and I would like more variety.  But I do like that they included queer relationships in this game to represent more of the relationship spectrum.  The developers seem to be very aware of less mainstream relationship choices.  The game also touches upon gender identity.  Apparently there's a much wider gender spectrum in the supernatural realm, and they have a complete list of pronouns for a supernatural being whose gender may not be apparent or fit with conventional human gender.  I loved this touch.

This brings me to my next plus.  Professor Potsdam is the bomb.  Though she tries to guide her students to make good choices, she realizes that the students are capable of making decisions and thinking for themselves.  She is helpful but not overbearing.  She even gives you a sex talk eventually.  She's totally okay with consensual sex as long as you aren't bothering anyone or getting knocked up.  I wish I had a teacher like her who was helpful but not bossy.


This game is a bit deeper than the average otome, but I would have liked it to go deeper.  It goes into subjects such as friendship, love, life, death, family.  I feel like they could have done so much more with it though.  It's very disappointing that the game covers only 1 year of school.  It would be nice if there had been sequels or DLC in which other years were covered, or you could play someone in a different Hall.  I also wish there had been more personal choices.  While there were obviously a lot of choices because of the nature of the game, there were some that are made for you.  Like when you go on a date with a particular guy, you say to him that you won't have sex with him.  But what if I want to have sex with him?  I don't get that options.  There are a lot of instances like this where your character's reaction is out of your control and that's annoying.

That said, the game does have some interesting stories.  You can't possibly get to all the subplots in one playthrough.  It depends on your characters stories.  I played through 3 times and didn't realize one of the subplots until I Googled a walkthrough, even though the game dropped hints the whole way through.  This game is definitely not lacking replayability.  But even though the stories are interesting, there aren't a lot of day-to-day things to choose to do.  Study or class?  That's pretty much it for the most part and it gets boring.


I do love the puzzles in the game.  Periodically, you have exams in which you enter a dungeon and have to find your way out.  They're actually really fun and add nice variety to the gameplay.  Each dungeon has multiple solutions that correspond to each style of magic.  No matter what branch of magic you've been concentrating on, you will be able to find a way through the challenge if you try hard enough and think creatively.

I have a couple last niggles.  The audio of the game is cute but very boring and repetitive.  There are certain little sounds that correspond to events, like a gong when something bad happens.  These do little to break the monotony and I would have like a more interesting score.  There is also a LOT of RP text.  You will often find yourself clicking through minutes of RP text before you actually have to make a decision about something. It's a little annoying and repetitive and causes you to have less control over your actions.

Overall I liked this gem of a game.  It was cute and reminiscent of a certain other magic school story, but different enough to be distinctive and gives off a whole different vibe.  I would love to play a sequel and this might be my gateway otome game because now all Steam is giving me is otome games and I kind of love it.