Flowers -Le volume sur automne- Review – Soft Yuri Romance

    Title: Flowers -Le volume sur automne-
    Developer: Innocent Grey
    Release Date: July 30, 2020
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: JAST USA
    Genre: Visual Novel

The stakes of a romance visual novel can ride on the consequences of the romance itself and the effect that it has on the relationships of the cast. You don’t necessarily need a villain or overarching plot threads. While those may make a title more fun, it can be a bit superfluous. However, this does mean you will have to be writing a very introspective story, which can be an extremely tricky thing to do. Still, the Innocent Grey-developed yuri series, Flowers, does this across four titles, with  Flowers -Le volume sur automne- being the newest entry. Its execution ends up being well-paced and gripping as it sets the stage for the finale.

Being that this is the third game in the Flowers series, I’m going to refer to it for title-specific information as Autumn. It sounds better than calling it Flowers 3. The others will be referred to as Spring and Summer, with Flowers being used for the series as a whole.

Autumn stars Yuzuriha Yatsuhiro, the president of the student council, referred to as “the council of Nicaea.” Which is just a really cool name. Yuzuriha has a lot playing on her mind, as the president, she’s the go-to for every problem that plagues the school, from setting up events to individual troubles. As a high school student, she’s well-liked by everyone as well as incredibly infatuated with her childhood friend and council of Nicaea vice-president Nerine Komikado.

The story of Flowers takes place at the Saint Angraecum Academy, essentially a catholic boarding school, and y’all know how rigid stereotypical Catholics can be. Well, Nerine is a pretty devout Catholic, which makes it difficult for Yuzuriha to express her feelings for Nerine. There’s an added layer of mystery that is building up at the school as the relationship between the two unpacks. This ends up being just another obstacle for Yuzuriha to overcome, and the reader gets to witness how that all plays out.

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From the early moments of Flowers, it’s easy to take notice of how soft everything looks. These titles are jaw-droppingly beautiful, and Autumn is no exception. Each character gets at least one new outfit for this entry, and there is a collection of exclusive seasonal backgrounds that really sell that passage of time over the entries. That’s not taking into account the new CGs, which are all up to some very high standards.

Autumn also uses specialized cut-ins, not to function as dramatic character entrances, but instead to place emphasis on details that a scene will focus on. Additionally, there are also CGs that use watercolors to create a dreamlike image for flashbacks or scenes that want an extra touch of magic, only benefited by the game’s serene soundtrack. Flowers also has a clean series of menus and a lovely little visual gimmick for your choices.

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In the series of decisions that will be thrown at you throughout the title, there are two options. Selecting one will make a circle on the top right of the menu box glow yellow or green, with green indicating you selected a response that will bring you closer to the canon ending. As you answer with green responses, the bud within that circle will begin to grow into a flower, and once it pushes past the threshold, you know, you’ve done enough to make your way into the true end.

I mean, who needs extra menus when you can use an intuitive system like this that doesn’t even use words? You’ll be able to unlock additional bonuses like voice clips and extra gallery pieces if you attain the other endings, too, by picking the yellow options. You’ll also have to make careful deductions to solve some of these mysteries, so be sure to save because if you make a mistake, you’ll be grabbing yourself a bad ending almost immediately.

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The character writing of Autumn is absolutely superb, and the interactions between cast members drew me right in. The characters share a lot of common interests and tastes but speak, act, and interact with such personality; the characters feel incredibly real and relatable. No one comes off as if they act in such a way because it’s some tropey gimmick. The story is exceptionally well-paced, too, as it slowly drips in carefully placed exposition and relevant details within what feels like general interactions.

Interestingly, nothing comes across like it’s being explained to you, and this helps the story immersion tremendously. Autumn also becomes incredibly tense, with characters approaching love and it’s potentially painful consequences with utmost sincerity, which had me clutching at a pillow for comfort because I just wanted my girls to be happy. I was very nervous that the ending would leave me upset. I was invested, alright?

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Flowers -Le volume sur automne- is a fantastically crafted story with a widespread of interesting, adorable, and fun cast members. I was drawn right into its extremely compelling narrative through its excellent scenarios and pacing. The illustrations will grab your attention, but you’ll stay for the gripping romance that unfolds.

Authors note: As of now, we don’t have reviews for the other two Flowers titles, -Le Volume sur Printemps- and –Le Volume sur Été- (Spring and Summer) but even though Autumn is largely self-contained it is highly recommended that you play those titles first. There is a plotline here that directly continues from those into Autumn and from there into the finale. Each of these titles is roughly 18 hours long, and they’re very similar in regards to pacing and overall quality.

Score:
8.5/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Jacob Kavanagh

Staff Writer - Illusions to illusions. Will solve murder mysteries for money so he can buy more murder mysteries. @JacobPFZE on twitter