Title: Piofiore: Fated Memories
Developer: Idea Factory
Release Date: October 9, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Aksys Games
Genre: Visual Novel
The extensive list of otome titles continues to grow. From action thrillers, public domain casts, time travel, to non-sequential amnesia, and more. So what could possibly be next? Well, here we are with a mafia themed thriller, Piofiore: Fated Memories, which has made its way to the Nintendo Switch in the west. With it, we get some great-looking anime boys and a decent opening, but somewhere along the way, romance can’t seem to hold this ganger story together.
The year is 1925; the place is a city in Italy on the eastern coastline named Burlone. Burlone is a tourist destination, a large trading outpost, and as such, is known as “the backdoor to Europe.” However, under the surface, the place is in perpetual conflict, shrouded in violence and run by all sorts of Mafia dens. There are three big groups: the first being the Falzone family, who have control of most of the town and have been there the longest. They are led by Dante Falzone, who has only recently taken over after his father’s sudden death, the former boss. Only Italians may join their ranks, and only those with Falzone blood will have any sway in their operations.
The next mob group is the Visconti family. They’re an offshoot of the Falzone family that rebelled against the bloodline rules and are led by Gilbert Redford, who seems to have bottomless pockets and an incredible knack for business. The last is the Lao-Shu family; a Chinese mafia brand made up of immigrants, who they take advantage of. They receive significant funding from mainland China, and their leader is shrouded in mystery.
Players take the viewpoint of Liliana ‘Lili’ Adornato, an orphan girl who has lived in the church her whole life, with her childhood friend Elena. One day when the two are going out for church supplies, they are attacked by thugs from the Lao-Shu before a mysterious hooded man intervenes to rescue them, but not before Elena ends up needing to be hospitalized. With a turf war on the horizon and fears that the thugs will be back to finish the job, the Falzone family offers them protection and refuge, but they seem to have some ulterior motives.
Piofiore has a lot of background information that is thrown at you right out of the gate. Still, you don’t need to really worry about this narrative being too convoluted. The title repeatedly reinforces all the basic facts making it easy to pick up what’s going on. Especially since, whenever the game’s story wants to get complicated, it provides you with a “meanwhile” feature. If you choose to follow the prompt, this nifty little thing pulls the perspective away from Lilliana to show you what else is happening. It’s got a very stylistic transition, and I love it.
The UI in Piofiore is really nice and clean, especially at the beginning of the game and extra menus. The text boxes tell you that this is clearly the same engine as other Otomate titles, but it adds enough flourish to make it stand out. Really, the presentation of Piofiore doesn’t fall much short of immaculate. The CGs are very well drawn, the cast is filled with incredibly stylish looking characters, and the film reel transitions are fantastic. The audio is great, too, with several standout songs as well as some kickass background tracks.
Unfortunately, the rest of the game is rather lacking. The stylish characters really don’t have stylish writing to back it up, and things start to fall apart from there. If you’re a fan of playing a damsel role in distress, then Lilliana is the heroine for you. But if you like your protagonists to have a sense of agency, a proper impact on the plot, or development, then this is not what you’re looking for. Lilliana is incredibly bland, boring, and has nothing going for her. That magical birthmark she has that might hint at something greater has a lengthy resolution and is almost even forgotten about in the plot.
Her love interests aren’t much better, as they’re the ones responsible for either kidnapping or holding her hostage for such long periods of the game, which prevents her from doing anything. It really feels like the writers had no idea where they were going with the overall story because the actions of the cast vary wildly in character depending on the route, used as merely nothing more than malleable pieces to have some sort of feasible story.
A character who seems perfectly fine in their route may be out to kill or do much worse to Lilliana in another character’s route with no reason for the action. This occurs to everyone bar Gilbert, who is easily the GOAT during this story because he’s a great guy 24/7, no matter which route you’re on.
It becomes clear, though, that a lot of this story’s darker plot points are dark for the sake of being dark when you take a look at the epilogue. These are short stories that occur after both the good and bad ends of each route, and they play up the angst and creepy factors for all it’s worth in the bad endings.
Piofiore: Fated Memories is a game that drips in style and premise, but unfortunately doesn’t really know what to do with it, so it ends up making base appeals to those who like dark, edgy, and more morally questionable entertainment. If you liked the developer’s most recent western releases, you’d be disappointed with the lack of plot in this mafia narrative, but if you were more into Amnesia, this might be right up your alley.
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