Akai Ito HD Remaster Review – You Had Me at Horror Yuri

    Title: Akai Ito HD Remaster
    Developer: Success Corp.
    Release Date: May 24, 2023
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Success Corp.
    Genre: Adventure

As someone who only really got into visual novels within the past ten years, I know I’ve missed out on some fan-favorite classic entries. So, I was excited to learn the developer Success would officially release their 2004 game, Akai Ito HD Remaster, in English. Being a game that is brought up within various niche circles, I could finally join the conversation and see what all the rage was about. However, the localization quality genuinely hurts the experience of an otherwise must-play adventure.

Akai Ito HD Remaster falls into the category of horror yuri. In fact, after playing, I can see how this game influenced other releases in this genre. Its dark narrative can be graphic and emotional, but the conclusion is worth overcoming the multiple bad endings. The story follows Kei Hato, who discovers she has a special blood type known as Nieno Chi. Following the death of her mother, she stumbles upon documents mentioning a mysterious mansion given to her through an inheritance.

The story then takes a supernatural turn of events as powerful Oni appear, who threaten Kei’s life. Luckily she meets the Oni Slayer Uzuki Senba, who fills her in on some useful information, and slowly Kei understands her importance. Kei’s character growth over the course of this adventure is quite remarkable. Each of the five routes highlights individual aspects of her accomplishments, even when they don’t lead to romance.

The game’s narrative themes can get overly gory and dark. Kei’s fate is ultimately in the hands of the player, as choices need to be made during dialog to keep her from falling into a bad ending. These tense circumstances kept me invested for the entire 30-hour runtime. I’m just blown away by some of the themes tackled throughout this story, but Success should have shared a warning letting players know of the dark themes covered.

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Regardless of the emotionally crushing bad endings, the yuri themes are also a significant highlight here. This game has a blood-sucking system that doesn’t require too much input from the player but does feature some rather sensual CGs. However, what’s great about these moments is just how well these characters are written. Their relationships serve as the crux of the experience, as they must be emotionally invested in each of their individual goals to get the most out of the narrative.

Still, this comes at the cost of a bad localization effort. The scenes often come across as robotic and unnatural. Further, the text displayed has various bugs that hurt the overall player experience. Punctuation and various terms also take a hit, so just be prepared to take a few liberties when trying to piece together the direct translation of Japanese mythology. Regardless, the story can be enjoyed for the most part, and I was heavily invested in completing each of the routes.

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The remastered effort doesn’t do much outside of bringing the game’s menus and options to modern standards. The illustrations have received some updating, but the game retains its classic presentation. The 16:9 ratio is also present, but I didn’t mind this approach as it came off as nostalgic. The music is also of significant importance in this game, with each track matching the scenes brilliantly.

The game features a large number of various settings and character CGs. It gives off a high-quality experience while playing as the character illustrations have several poses, and their facial animations add to the emotional moments. Although getting through every route can be difficult, I would suggest playing the game once on your own before using a guide. This is just one of those narratives you’ll want to go into blind. I will say that I wish an Auto-Save feature was included to save the states before choices.

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Akai Ito HD Remaster is a stand-out horror yuri adventure finally released in the West after nearly two decades. The game’s story holds up surprisingly well to deliver a mythological and dark narrative fueled by its well-rounded cast and setting. While the localization ends up hurting a few crucial scenes, I believe this to be an adventure every fan of the genre should experience.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.