Title: Sabbat of the Witch
Release Date: October 26, 2018
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: NekoNyan Ltd.
It takes a lot for visual novels to hold the attention of readers, especially the ones that can clock in at over 30 hours long. So I understand the need to throw a certain amount of fanservice into the story, but then even that can be distracting to the point where you don’t care about the story as much as you care about getting to that next saucy CG scene. All in all, it’s a balance that these visuals novels need to try and find and it must be tough because a lot of them never seem to get it right.
Luckily for me, today is not the day where I will be reviewing one of those types of visual novels, instead, I’ll be looking at Yuzusoft’s Sabbat of the Witch from MangaGamer. The game tries some new things that I don’t usually see from eroge visual novels and I ended up enjoying it even more for that. Although I began my time with the game groaning about the amount of time it will take to complete, I quickly regretted my jaded attitude and found that this is perhaps one of the best eroge visual novels available.
Sabbat of the Witch tells the story of Hoshina Shuuji, who is kind of a pushover, but not naive. He attends a school where the students understand that he’ll usually do favors for them and they’ll take advantage of that, like asking him to work their shift during a school activity.
As the main protagonist, Shuuji is very well written, which makes him a great lead in this story. He’s clever, caring, and has his own opinions that create some interesting situations. Something that I also liked about Shuuji is how he talks to his dad and gets advice from him or learns more about his mother, which will make sense in a bit. The story takes things slow in pace, but it doesn’t feel like it at all after I easily spent 4 hours playing without noticing and still wanted more.
One day, while working a shift for a student in the library, Shuuji catches his classmate Ayachi Nene masturbating when she thought she was alone. Nene is the founder and current only member of the Occult Club at school. Students have been going to her for advice because she always seems to know what to do to help them. On top of that, it seems she’s secretly extremely kinky. Just kidding, it just so happens that she’s a witch and when a witch makes a contract weird things happen.
Since I’m not trying to give too much away, I’ll sum up the remainder of the premise. Shuuji attempts to apologize to Nene but ends up absorbing tons of feathers that she had in a jar. After learning that Nene is actually a witch and those feathers were important heart fragments that she needs and have been collecting, they must look for a way to get them out of him. The duo discovers that Shuuji’s mom was a witch, which would explain why he can feel peoples emotions and why he feels the need to help others, even if he knows they are lying.
Throughout the story, Shuuji will meet other characters, Meguru, Tsumugi, and Touko, while he and Nene work towards getting her heart fragments back. There are also side characters who Shuuji is already friends with. Each character brings some pretty unique personalities to the group. The story also handles controversial topics that I didn’t think an eroge would touch, such as, a girl feeling attracted to another girl or Shuuji struggling with his power. These issues are explored throughout the narrative and, unless you get the bad ending, everything is explained.
Each character has their own route which I felt were all equally as good. However, Nene is definitely the star of the show and her route ends up clocking in longer than any of the others. There’s also the argument that Tsumugi is best girl so I’d much rather her’s be the most robust route, but you can’t win ’em all. Additionally, after completing the game, players will unlock the after story segments that expand on the characters and give you a little more time with them.
Sabbat of the Witch has some really good character illustrations and CG scenes. Character designs have that classic anime look about them that I enjoy and there is a decent amount of movement during conversations. The backgrounds in the game are vast and cover a ton of different places, which makes the game seem larger in scale, instead of all taking place in a school. The H-scenes in the game happen often while you are on the respective character’s route. However, I thought that the story handled them nicely and it didn’t feel forced or out of place. With that said, Shuuji’s feelings about himself never stopped him from being a badass with the ladies and I wish that hindered him more in other routes instead of putting all the focus on the girl’s issues.
In terms of systems and options available to the player, I was excited to see that the game offers a ton of customizable options to the text speed and display. With that said, I do have some issues with the explanation of what all of these options actually do and had to pretty much test them out to see what happened when I got back in the game. As for the localization, I did find some typos, but a recent patch fixed all of the ones that I made a save file of so I can’t really complain about that anymore now, can I?
Sabbat of the Witch has everything that I could ask for in a visual novel, great writing, a strong and interesting premise, and a protagonist who isn’t a blank slate. There was a bit of confusion about how to access the other routes in the game, but I ended up figuring it out after about one hour and a bad ending later. I could easily recommend this to any fan of the occult and supernature anime because of the interesting way that the story handles the idea of witches and contracts is gripping. I also liked how the story balanced this large group of characters that expand outside of the main characters and features various friends at school and adults.
Sabbat of the Witch was a great time for me and was pretty much what I need after primarily only playing comedic visual novels for some time. It will definitely be one for you to play if you enjoy romance with a light dose of humor and supernatural themes. The H scenes are overall vanilla in nature, but there are a lot of them with each of the main girls on their respective route. However, if you don’t like slow-paced visual novels that put time into their characters and their growth, then this might not be for you.
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