Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani Review – A Date With The Spirits

    Title: Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani
    Developer: Otomate
    Release Date: December 02, 2021
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Aksys Games
    Genre: Otome, Adventure

Otome games just explore so many ways to make love, don’t they? You got the gods and mythology mixed together in Cupid Parasite, weapons turning into men in Touken Ranbu, and even contact with the Italian mafia in Piofiore. Well, today, we will be going into yet another alternate world…the world of Ayakashi. So sit down as we go through the tales of Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani.

Dairoku has you play as Shino Akitsu, a young woman who possesses the rare ability to see spirits. During her job hunts, she encounters a government official position and applies. But fate had other plans.

After learning she can see spirits known as Ayakashi, she is offered the position in a secret government organization titled The Sixth Division. Their job is to guard and maintain the peace in the mysterious land of the dead where those spirits dwell, known as Sakuratani.

In Sakuratani, you have various races, but the game mainly focuses on four of them: The kitsune, the tengu, the oni, and the mysterious secluded serpent race. Each race lives in its own specific region, and each has its own likes and dislikes. All four races have one specific individual who commands over them, known as the “Shire.” While some races get along well, it is up to the Ayakashimori to stop them from destroying and wreaking havoc because if chaos ensues inside Sakuratani, the real world could face dire consequences as the two worlds are intricately connected.

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An unexpected addition to this otome game is the element of action. As you go through the story, you’ll sometimes enter combat to apprehend ayakashi that are getting out of control. To do this, you need to draw a star-shaped spell by either tapping the screen in the correct places or pressing the buttons in order. If you manage to do this without any misses, your Skill Level will rise, which is an essential element that you must increase to get the true ending in the game…or at least, according to the instructions provided.

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Since we’re talking about instructions, I feel it’s a good time to say that the localization left me with many mixed feelings. The horizontal writing can be a bit complicated to read, especially in Docked Mode, but given the game’s origins, it didn’t bother me on a personal level. But one of the things about this game that sort of bothered me is its heavy reliance on the Japanese vocabulary. While this is partially due to the story scenario that needs to be set, I can’t blame this entirely on the localization.

Still, time and again, the game will throw out a really complex Japanese word that doesn’t get added to the in-game dictionary. It would’ve been nice if more terms were added to the dictionary in this version because having to constantly consult a real dictionary is not very engaging, even if that means you learn a new Japanese word or two.

I also had mixed feelings towards the UI and interface, specifically…the font. It’s generic and clashes with a lot of elements, which is a shame. I should also mention that the text speed is relatively slow by default. It is so painfully slow, so raising the speed to the near-instant level is almost necessary, possibly due to the overall shortness of the original Japanese script.

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Interacting with the members of the cast will give you a series of choices, and a colored flame will alert you whenever you’ve managed to successfully raise their bond.

Though, of course, as is expected of an otome game, you can turn the flame guide off, and you also have elements such as the quick save and load and the flowchart, all at your disposal, to ensure that even if you do mess up and want to rewind your progress, you can do that easily. Some of the conversations might feel a bit awkward (again, probably due to the literal localization), but they’re intriguing enough.

Dairoku Agents of Sakuratani

Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani is a decent otome, but not one that I would recommend to everyone. While I appreciate the English release, the story fails to find its footing in the early moments, which is a shame because the conclusion is exciting. Further, the romance comes off more platonic than genuine on some routes, but I enjoyed the ghostly premise and charming cast.

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

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