Review: Sakura Spirit has yandere women, fluffy tails, and little choice
So you’re in high school. You’re one of the top-rising judo champions in the scene. There is an upcoming contest that will more or less make or break your professional judo career. Just what level of spiritual elation do you seek to help you with said competition? Folk are often praying for success and boons, why should you be any different? This all seems fair.
What happens when a mysterious horned spirit meets you along your journey? What if said spirit promises you success, but at some sort of unknown cost? What if now you’re somehow in an unknown time period, in a strange land, which you can only assume is the past? Oh, let’s add mischievous Kitsune (fox) spirits and violent female town guards to the mix. As the cherry on top, why not add panties as well. Yeah, that sounds about right.
In a nut shell, this is the opening plot to Sakura Spirit, the visual novel game now on Steam (PC). You "play" as the never seen, Gushiken Takahiro. The reason I throw the word play in quotes is because this game takes on the novel aspect of the visual novel game more so than the game portion. Through my entire playthrough, there was only one decision I came across, and after reloading a save, I learned the decision wasn’t too instrumental on the ultimate outcome.
So yeah, Sakura Spirit is more of a game you experience and read than actually play or make choices in. While the length of this game is fundamentally short, how long it takes will really come down to just how fast of a reader you are. The plot throws Takahiro at four women in the new world and through his experience with the ladies aids the problem in the time period as well as helps the five of them grow as people / spirits. Granted this growth comes in the form of over-sexualized encounters and scenarios, but everyone comes out a better person by the end, right?
I’d say the art style is satisfying in Sakura Spirit; with gorgeous anime visuals. With other visual novel games, I’ve seen far less quality and effort put into the overall art. Character design is unique in both appearance and personality. The environments are detailed and are truly reminiscent of ancient Japan – down to cherry blossoms. The music can become repetitive at times but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.
The descent into visual novel games has little prepared me for what to expect each time. Do you base your experience off the story, the character, the plot, the choices, or just the overall story? Since each is unique, I find myself struggling with some sort of universal rubric and therefore was unable to score it numerically. Sakura Spirit on Steam falls into this category; specifically because it’s far more novel than game. Even for the niche community, I feel like the single choice takes away from potential gameplay and options. For $10, you must make the decision if you’re okay with just witnessing a story, or if you’d rather have more involvement.