Okay, so I’m not going to make the case that this visual novel does anything really “new”. You literally play as a dude that finds himself at an academy for nobles and, of course, as the sole male resident in an all-female dorm. That said, sometimes a VN doesn’t really need to do anything new. Sometimes all it needs is to go all out on that base and just work with what it has.
So the setting isn’t really anything new here. A random sequence of events has our protagonist dropped into the mightiest of schools – one full of all the rich kids and one that the protagonist definitely does not fit into. It doesn’t take long for the discrimination to set it, with students purposely avoiding the protagonist and him generally being treated like some lesser being at the new dorm – granted, he is the only male to reside there.
However, just as quickly, he finds himself a small web of friends – those able to look beyond his commoner background and those that have such backgrounds themselves. Most of the common route is dedicated to getting all of these characters introduced, spending time jumping to and from each of them so that you don’t get bored by being with just one, but also dedicating enough time to each that there’s a good base to go off of for the character routes.
And the characters are where the game’s real strength lies. Usually, with such visual novels, you get a couple good ones and then a bunch of mediocre ones – with boring routes to match. Kinkoi, on the other hand, has almost none of that. As in, the characters here are almost all top-tier – with really good routes to match.
There’s the princess – who is so outgoing and cheerful that it almost hurts. Her personal guard – one so loyal that she often overlooks her own strengths. There’s a fellow commoner turned fashion-designer – who has no qualms about hanging out with the protagonist from early on and is just living her life to the fullest. There’s the athletic one – who practically radiates energy and is constantly inviting the protagonist to join in with the others. And then there’s perhaps the most unique of the bunch – a straight-up delinquent who skips class, smokes cigarettes on top of the school, and is also seen as an outcast by the others.
I didn’t get the sense that any of these were written in solely to fill their specific archetype and, although I liked some more than others, there was no outright boring or badly-written character. If anything, my least favorite was probably the athletic one, but even she had some worthwhile scenes.
Something I really liked about the character routes here were that they didn’t “abandon” the other characters. Like, I would enter a certain character’s route, but it wasn’t suddenly laser-focused on them. It felt like a more natural buildup, still including the rest of the cast and giving them some development, but slowly shifting to highlight the chosen character. For example, Reina’s route may be about her – but the protagonist also sees significant development regarding his past and even Ayaka – a completely separate side character with no route of her own – sees some development there too.
It’s nice to see a VN have character routes like this, it gives more of an incentive to play them all and learn all you can about these different characters. Granted, in this game’s case it is practically a given because there exists a true route – a route only unlocked AFTER completing every other route. Talking about that route would be spoiler territory, but I will say – do not be surprised when it goes in a bit of a different direction from the rest of the routes – maintaining the good writing, but doing so with a more serious tone.
That’s all just the writing though – I have not even mentioned the game’s production values and that is easily one of the aspects setting this one apart from the crowd, in spite of its own setting. This is not some indie VN with limited animation and simple character designs – this is a full-fledged production with plenty of movement, top-quality voice acting, detailed character designs, and some solid CGs and background work. Even the music, which still maintains that distinct “VN romcom” sound to it, has some bops to it (the piano tracks in particular are really good).
And to top it all off, the team over at NekoNyan has delivered all of this to us in glorious 1440p. Not 720p like most visual novels, but quadruple that. This really brings out the character designs, the backgrounds, and really just everything about the art. It’s colorful, sharp, and is one of the better looking I’ve played in the genre.
Really, my biggest complaint with the game would be with its overuse of immature humor. Yeah, I know it practically comes with genre, but it is a bit grating to see the same old VN tropes over and over – like the “protagonist hiding his porn mags” or the classic “accidental pervert” trope. There was also this one small subplot where a group of dudes in the main character’s class have an overly long discussion of lolis and bathhouses that was WAY more questionable than it needed to be.
And for those wondering about the 18+ content – yes, the game does have it, you’ll just need to apply a free patch if you’re running the Steam version. It doesn’t go overboard with such content, but I’d be lying if I said it really added much. If anything, the first one I encountered (in Reina’s route) went a bit overboard and had the characters acting completely, well, out of character – so you’re good to go if you want to skip that stuff entirely.
Overall though, yes, I would recommend Kinkoi: Golden Loveriche. The setting may not be anything special, but the characters and writing more than make up for it. It is an incredibly polished take on that classic foundation (with actual production values) and even has a true route that elevates above the rest. I advise not looking too much into it if you are interested, but fans of high school romcoms with a bit of drama should definitely give this one a look. It might even be a solid pick for newcomers – even if the writing might be a bit tropey at times.
Quote: Kinkoi: Golden Loveriche may have a rather generic setting, but the characters, writing, and high production values more than make up for it – it is an incredibly polished take on the genre.
Kinkoi: Golden Loveriche retails for $35 USD on Steam. It is also available through Denpasoft, JAST USA, and MangaGamer. A free 18+ patch is available for the Steam version.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.