The Crimson Flower that Divides: Lunar Coupling Review – The Decay of the Desert

    Title: The Crimson Flower that Divides: Lunar Coupling
    Developer: Operetta Due
    Release Date: February 23, 2023
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: dramatic create
    Genre: Otome, Adventure

I’ve always been a massive fan of Japanese culture, but when it comes to the Middle Eastern aesthetic and art style, that’s a close second. And that’s what immediately drew me to The Crimson Flower that Divides: Lunar Coupling’s characters. It being an otome just made it that much more endearing.

In The Crimson Flower that Divides: Lunar Coupling, which I’ll refer to henceforth as just Crimson Flower because otherwise, we’ll be here all day, you play as Naala, a young princess who lives in a continent where the number of women has drastically decreased due to an incurable disease known as The Rot. As the name implies, the disease “rots” away one’s insides until their demise.

Still, Naala is special, being the only woman ever to survive the disease, and as such, she is about to be married to the future king of Rus. But, unluckily, Nasla troops invaded the country and took her and two of her best friends, Shalanna and Shalu, who were forced to now stay in Nasla. And unfortunately, they will not get out of the country unless they choose a man to marry.

crimson flower lunar coupling screenshot 5

This game has eight love interests, and the prologue will briefly show you all of them and their personalities. The story is more on the mature side of things, and some themes might be a bit provocative regarding some character views, particularly towards women. Without getting too deep into spoiler territory, I’d say this story is not for anyone but more into light-hearted otome stories, with some routes even going deeply into those problematic topics.

Furthermore, Crimson Flower probably has some of the most messed up endings I have ever seen in an otome game, period. While I try to avoid them at all costs, I generally know what to expect: something tragic, but it takes this factor to the next level, not necessarily in a good way. If you’re the type that loves hunting for all the possible endings, then I suggest preparing yourself mentally.

crimson flower lunar coupling screenshot 1

But let’s get into one of my favorite things about Crimson Flower, and that is thanks to the fact this is one of the few otome games where the protagonist is voiced, and I’m a massive fan of it. I genuinely can’t stress enough how great it is to have actual voiced lines coming from the protagonist. I know the purpose of not having any voice is to help you self-insert yourself, but I’ve always been much more engaged when the protagonist herself is voiced. Words cannot adequately describe how it makes the experience much more meaningful.

When it comes to the English translation, it’s not bad, but it’s far from great, either. It just reeks overall of a complete lack of quality assurance. There are a lot of line break issues and repetition, and weird words. Still, they’re generally passable and don’t make the game utterly unplayable.

crimson flower lunar coupling inconsistency
…Is your name “Nalan” or “Naran”?

Even so, there is one thing I cannot overlook: how both the opening movie and the credits have no translation. It doesn’t even contain English subtitles, and in one of the routes, a particular character has a blatant inconsistency in his name, and sometimes, there’s a bit of misgendering.

Perhaps my biggest issue with Crimson Flower is that there is no flowchart or way to check your relationship levels with a given love interest. Furthermore, chapters aren’t named in a way that will easily tell you when you’ve left the common route, and you’re left to guess solely via the story alone. Finally, while it claims to have eight love interests in total, in reality, you’re stuck with three of them, and that’s because the other five Love Interests can only be accessed as branches inside different routes.

Lunar Coupling screenshot feb 11 img

While this sounds great in practice, making that branch happen is…irksome. Because the point when the branches happen seems completely random and the requirements aren’t ever clear, once again due to the lack of the flowchart. I cannot stress how much I tried to trigger some of these branches, only to find the solution after multiple failed attempts, which frustrated me immensely.

Furthermore, because these are “branches,” most of those love interests are limited in which endings you can get, with only three having focus. This is made evident by the fact that love interests such as Nohl, Suren, and Touya have over 16 unlockable artworks; the rest only have 11, with the lowest being 8.

crimson flower lunar coupling screenshot 2

The Crimson Flower that Divides: Lunar Coupling is an interesting otome game that I would praise for its more mature plot, but it shows signs of having aged considerably from its original 2012 release. The issue with story branches happening inside other routes made the experience confusing due to the lack of a flowchart. Further, when it came to specific love interests, the chapter names made navigating the routes a chore. A bit more quality assurance would have also gone a long way to remedy some of the typos.

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

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