Title: Olympia Soiree
Developer: Idea Factory
Release Date: September 9, 2021
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Aksys Games
If there’s one thing an Otomate visual novel likes to do, it’s to make sure that romance can’t conceivably happen unless a giant swath of plot is in the way. In comparison, it’s a lot better than the sheer number of excuse plots we get from bishoujo games, but wouldn’t it be nice just to dial it down a bit? Enter Olympia Soiree, the newest Otomate-developed visual novel to come west starring a girl looking for a romantic partner because (checks notes) her entire mystical bloodline will go extinct if she doesn’t. Eck.
Olympia Soiree takes place on the ‘Tenguu Island,’ in a society structured by an incredibly rigid class system with a strict hierarchy. Each island district is divided up into color districts of red, blue, and yellow. However, our protagonist, Olympia, is the last of the ‘white,’ a rare trait that means she is higher up in the system than anyone else and is left incredibly sheltered. She is originally from another island where her people worshiped the sun god Amaterasu, and as the last of its people, she is the only one who can perform the ritual to bring the sun back when it vanishes.
The leaders of the factions wish to see the white line continue as they will be the only people who can bring back the sun, and Olympia, wanting to find her own romantic partner she can share her true name, insert name here (Byakuya), too, complies and expresses an interest in seeing the entire island. Olympia will find that there is also a fourth district, Yomi, which is for colorless people, criminals, or secondary colors (like green, purple, or orange). This is where she discovers a whole host of discrimination towards those in Yomi from the purebloods, and you’ve got yourself the plot.
The people of each district have distinct abilities, and, good lord, the opening falls apart quickly. The worldbuilding is reminiscent of a terrible dystopian teenage fiction in the vein of The Hunger Games and its abysmal knockoffs. But, once you can get past it, you get to meet The Boys TM for proper, and that’s when things start to get a bit better.
We’ve got the extremely calm and collected lead, a tsundere soldier, a doctor who likes to tease, an amnesiac and energetic boy with a katana, a dreamlike bathhouse owner known as ‘the steward of hell,” and finally, a mysterious person who can turn the souls of the dead into crystals known as “the undertaker.” With six love interests, you’re sure to find someone that takes your fancy. Personally, I like the doctor and the bathhouse owner.
If you’ve played other games from this developer, the crystalline UI may look familiar, but it does the job well. Whilst holding down on the analog stick as your default log option is strange it can be changed, and the entire visual novel can be run using the touch screen.
There is a system voice option you can turn on, but as opposed to other games that play the voice line as you enter various menus, this noticeably plays an unsubbed Japanese voice line that you have to wait to play out before the menu opens. The same problem occurs with the “reward voice,” as these reward voice lines that play on the title screen once you’ve beaten your best boy’s route and are also unsubtitled.
The art, however, is excellent, as you’d expect from one of these titles. Many supporting characters get their own illustrations and screentime, which really helps flesh out the world, but several NPCs are relegated to a name and voice despite their supposed importance. This led to several events in which I felt a plot beat or two would have had a lot more significance if I actually saw which person was involved in a visual novel.
Once the story kicks into gear, you’ll find that some classic Otomate patented signature darkness shows up. Whilst it can make for many tense moments, this kind of story leads to things like rape as drama being played far too often for my liking. The bad endings are especially nonsensical as they are edgy yandere-esque shenanigans that rely on the cast acting ludicrously out of character. Olympia is a great protagonist, but there’s only so much plot pushing she can do herself when her goal is to find a husband. Sometimes it even kind of rolls into casual misogyny.
With six routes, there is a lot to this title; it’s probably the longest Otome I’ve played. Still, three of the four initial character routes you can access are pretty good, and I enjoyed one of them (Yosuga, the bathhouse owner’s route) immensely. However, the remaining two that answer a lot of questions behind the scenes are awful.
They’re so full of ultimately pointless lore it feels like padding, and they forget about the whole island discrimination plotlines. This is a real shame because it seemed after some of the routes, the game was recovering from its shoddy opening.
Olympia Soiree has the makings of a decent romance that puts a lot of effort into its main protagonist and has many different moving parts in terms of narrative beats. Sadly, there’s just no substance or world-building, and the few enjoyable character routes aren’t enough to compel you to complete the game, let alone fall in love. However enjoyable it may be to some, you won’t find anything remotely new about this setup.
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