The Sakura blossom was a symbol of the Samurai representing how fleeting life is. They bloom breifly and wither away. The imagry of the fleeting blossom brings to mind tragic heroic figiures like Yamato Takeru, Minamoto no Kuro Yoshitsune, and of course the Shinsengumi; figures who shone brillantly and were cut down in the end. Hakuoki is a game that starts as the Shinsengumi reaches the peak of their glory and goes on to show their tragic fall.
So far i've only gottan game overs in Hakuoki, however, unlike in most games I've played where it only brings frustration, in Hakuoki i find them to be intresting and varied. Instead of saying oh game over and not giving you a conclusion of sorts you get an ending. Some beautifully tragic and satisfying, some tragic and leaving you feel empty and robbed, and some tragic and gruesome leaving you criging. The endings are varied and intresting depending on your choices.
Actually I have to say i find the endings more satisfying then some of the story itself which at times i found to be bland or cheesy in places. At times the game would skip months of time and give you a brief explanation which I'd have rather have had some interaction with. But for the most part I'm satisfied with the game. It's intresting to see how differently one choice you make can make the enitre game. It's intresting to see all sides of what happened to the Shinsengumi. And all the different options the heroine has for the future.
It's intresting how they take history and weave it with a supernatural theme. The next part will contain spoilers. The shinsengumi who as history knows were used and then eventually abanndoned by the Shogunate were pretty tragic. But in the game not only were they loyal samurai working to protext Kyoto for the Shogun but they were being experimented on using western medicine. So you have monsters amoung the shinsengumi, who are stornger, heal faster, and harder to kill. The only problem is that theirs bad side effects. First off they are sensitive to sunlight and secondly they slowly loose to the madness of bloodlust. The heroines father is the one who admistered the drugs to the men. RPG fan's review described them as Zombies in their review. But after playing I'd say I don't think they are quite zombies. They have a thirst for blood, silver injures them as well as holy weapons, and they have a weakness to the sun. Sounds more like vampires to me. In the game a man from the demon race, Kazama calls the Fury --as the men who were experimented on were called--fake demons.
Yes the Fury are not the only non-human players. The demon race are also a player. In fact the heroine is also not human but a pure blood demon. They don't like to get involved in human affairs but they were persicuted and some ended up helping on both sides. For revenge or to advance their own agendas. Depending on what path you take what happens with the Fury and Demons can vary in intresting ways.
The only problem with the game is the soundtrack as I mentioned before. The music is annoying and there isn't a lot of variation. The only reason not to just hit the mute button is the wonderful voice acting. Which is very very good. I just with the music was better.
Overall I think this is a good game. It has a lot of replay value since so many things are variable, though some key scenes remain intact you can have vastly different experiences each time you go through. Even though i haven't managed to get a good ending yet--I'm wondering exactly what a good ending is considering how most of the love intrests died historically as well as the fact that they furies have a vital weakness that doesn't seem to lend itsef to a happy ending. None-the-less if i had been looking for a happy ending I definetly wouldn't be playing a game about the Shinsengumi thats for certain. For the Shinsengumi were just like a Fleeting blossom. They bloomed and then faded away.