It has been quite some time since I last played an otome game and given that I’m a big fan of mystery visual novels, 7’scarlet seemed like a good place to jump back into the genre. It was fine for a little while, but then I was slowly reminded why I generally stay away from such VNs.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but I’m going to start with what the game does well. Right off the bat, that would be its visual style. This includes its high-res character and background assets (which was surprising given that this is a Vita port), its detailed, yet simple character designs, and its use of actual animation throughout. The game also makes use of what appears to be real images with a filter slapped over them for most of the backgrounds, which, while it does sound lazy, does provide for an interesting contrast given the character designs. While the game may have its issues, 7’scarlet at least looks good in the process.

So let’s actually get into those very issues. Immediately, one such issue I noticed was the game’s stereotypical female lead. Typically, in otome games, the female lead (the character you play as) is fragile, lacks much of a personality, and relies heavily on male characters (oftentimes indirectly). Ichiko, the protagonist of 7’scarlet, pretty much falls right into that classification. She is extremely naive and oftentimes acts in ways that really don’t make much sense.

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Regardless, she is the center of attention amongst the game’s male cast and it doesn’t take long before you start running into the usual otome tropes. In fact, right at the start of the game you’re treated to the classic “falling into another guy’s arms while reaching for a book on a high shelf” trope. The game also borrows several annoying romance tropes not limited to just otome, including everyone’s favorite “fireworks going off at just the right moment when a character is saying something important, causing the other character not to hear”.

The problems with the story don’t stop there though, there’s also a bit of a pacing issue with the game’s mystery narrative. The start is extremely slow, but then ramps up far too quickly by the end of the first route, leading to this odd disconnect in what originally felt like a slow-burn mystery. Granted, the game did need to introduce all of its characters and set the overall tone before jumping into its mystery, but there are ways to do that without feeling jarring.

Really, the overall problem with 7’scarlet is that it doesn’t really do anything to define itself. You got your generic protagonist, characters that fall into the usual otome tropes, and a mystery that can’t seem to get the right pacing. Sure, the game looks good, but it’s definitely not worth the recommendation. There are better VNs out there, even amongst otome, that do it better, so if you’re not really into the genre, then definitely give this one a skip. Even if you are into the genre though, it’s still a tough sell.

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You can buy 7’scarlet on Steam here.

I was provided a review copy of this game. Read more about how I do my game reviews/impressions here.

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