Title: LoveKami: Divinity Stage
Release Date: November 26, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Genre: Visual Novel
The LoveKami series contains some solid moments of comedic romance stories often overlooked in the visual novel community. This may largely have to do with MoeNovel’s approach to leaning into the sexuality of their western releases. However, I feel like LoveKami: Divinity Stage has always been the outlier of the series. It happens to be the strongest narrative focusing on what readers would expect from a title such as this. With its Nintendo Switch release, the exposure might make new fans of the series, but the four-year-old visual novel could use a few touch-ups for its 2020 debut.
LoveKami: Divinity Stage presents an interesting premise where Goddesses descend to Earth to learn more about humanity. Over the years, this becomes more commonplace, but in Akihabara specifically, the Goddesses have become idol celebrates who bring joy to their audience, who seem to be mostly male. The story centers around a popular idol group know as L☆SEVEN as they hold auditions for positions.
Players assume the role of Yamato, a shop owner who inherited a store with one of the employees being Sara, a member of the L☆SEVEN. Her reasonings for working at the shop revolve around doubts that she holds towards her idol abilities, but it also gives her some normalcy. On this particular day, Yamato just so happens to run into two aspiring L☆SEVEN members, Shuri and Kagura. Shuri is the younger sister of one of the members who hasn’t informed her sister that she’s trying out, and Kagura is just an over-sexualized siren with some idol talents.
Sticking closely to the themes of Goddess, the characters are loosely based on Japanese folklore. They play into their roles in a parody fashion, but some unique facts are thrown out from time to time. Given that their historical inspiration shapes the three girls’ personalities, they do come off as well rounded, in more ways than one, I suppose.
LoveKami: Divinity Stage isn’t going to win any storytelling awards as it plays-it-safe across all three routes. Each girl has something that she needs to overcome, and Yamato somehow plays a role in their recovery, and you’re off to the romance route. Still, some cute moments of interaction and the girls’ lively personalities make the comedic scenes more impactful.
In fact, I think LoveKami: Divinity Stage nails everything that it is trying to accomplish in its story. It creates a decent backstory for these characters to exist in and their friendship with each other is believable. I don’t really think Yamato plays a real role in any of these, but he is a master of being in the right place at the right time.
When it comes to the Switch version, nothing has changed from the Steam release. This only hurts this version, given that you can’t use the touch screen to interact with the menus, and the art assets have clearly not been updated for high-resolution displays. While the CGs look colorful and sharp, the illustrations become a blurry mess once they are zoomed in. There were also times where the controls would become completely unresponsive when trying to navigate the options.
Surprisingly, LoveKami: Divinity Stage really pushes it with the fan service, and if that’s what you’re reading the story for, then you’ll see these Goddesses almost bear all. I should mention that the Switch version, while it features the same CGs as the PC release, some of the more defined assets of the girls have been slightly smoothed over. Furthermore, the characters are animated, but they are obnoxiously bouncy, so it works well, but the lip-sync for the characters can seem a bit off during scenes. What I always like about the LoveKami titles are the tips that pop up during conversation that explain things about the world, which is a nice touch.
LoveKami: Divinity Stage gives us a fun story of idol Goddesses just trying to make it in this world. Its comedic elements and lewd imagery carry the narrative but don’t expect to feel too attached to the characters after the conclusion. Ultimately, the Switch version holds this release back with a lack of additional features and low-quality assets. At least the CGs are their to hold the reader’s attention.
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