Sorcerer’s Choice: Angel or Demon? Review – Finding Your True Self Among Temptations

    Title: Sorcerer's Choice: Angel or Demon?
    Developer: Varenyett
    Release Date: April 21, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: JAST USA, JAST BLUE
    Genre: Visual Novel

Sorcerer’s Choice: Angel or Demon is the latest game released in English by the BL-focused brand JAST BLUE. While they have become known for their partnership with Nitro+Chiral, this is their first title coming from another developer since the brand’s foundation, despite JAST having also done Enzai and Absolute Obedience before.

Instead, the developer is a smaller and newer company called Varenyett. Their only title so far has been Sorcerer’s Choice, which they released in Japan in 2018. Despite that, the game caught the BL fandom’s attention as Tor Nishio, the illustrator for Kalmia8’s otome game Torikago no Marriage, planned, wrote, and illustrated it.

It all starts with our protagonist, a young sorcerer called Lucil, in a bad state. An angry mob burned down his house as part of a witch hunt. His grandfather stayed behind and sent him somewhere else with a powerful teleportation spell, but Lucil still suffered severe burns.

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Lucil was near his deathbed, and before he could even process what was happening, he saw himself among powerful supernatural beings. These creatures were extending him their hands, asking that he made a single choice: light or darkness. No matter who Lucil reached out to, they would help him out.

On the side of light, we have the angel Flow. He’s a dork who hardly resembles an angel despite his looks being very much like a very traditional religious painting. Though he’s handy, kind, and an easy guy to get along with, Lucil finds his cluelessness and selflessness annoying more often than not.

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This path will have Lucil living with Flow in an impromptu hospital at an old mansion. As the angel does his best to help cure a village of humans, Lucil has to deal with his anger toward the ones who torched his place and think about what he wants to do with his magic powers.

Meanwhile, darkness has the devil Lobelia. Mean-spirited, seductive, and egotistic, he looks like the very definition of what one would expect from a demon at first. Forcing Lucil down a contract when he was still feverish, their relationship is toxic and alluring at the same time.

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Picking Lobelia’s hand is the first step down a mind-numbing new life. Now living in a castle, Lucil can’t leave the place and will have to do whatever the demon wants until the next winter solstice. Not only did he have to give Lobelia his word, but the devil also added seals to Lucil’s body.

Their routes encapsulate their traits and feel like they’re antagonistic in a similar way to the love interests’ natures. Flow’s story is a slow burn, gradually crafting their trust in each other and making them realize their feelings little by little. Lobelia’s route hinges on sex at first, no questions asked, as their contract provides him magic sustenance. The emotional side is in the background, waiting for the right time to surface.

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Both stories have some things in common, however: the bad endings. If you’d like to avoid them, you must stick with your first choice, showing your loyalty at every turn. Each time the player has options to pick, it’s a way to tempt them and lead them astray.

These branches will lead Lucil down a negative spiral that can destroy his bonds with Flow or irritate Lobelia for the breach of contract. Though Lobelia’s “contract” is hardly enough to be called genuine consent, what happens in these alternative stories takes away Lucil’s agency. Even the usually mild Flow route quickly evolves into violent acts of defloration while Lobelia hides his emotions from his partner.

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Sorcerer’s Choice: Angel or Demon includes heavy topics such as abuse and mental manipulation. I’d even argue there’s Stockholm syndrome in the demon route despite Lucil’s belief in his mental fortitude. The ideal player for this game is someone who can truly enjoy seeing the characters corrupted and looks forward to playing all the endings, no matter how messed up they may be.

While these details can sometimes be shallow and used more to engage in fetishes, they offer a window into the characters’ natures and evolution. For instance, while Flow’s personality is mostly the same throughout the route, his bad endings reveal his feelings before he can catch up to them. He loses control and becomes a tragic pawn because lust overtakes him. Meanwhile, Lobelia only shows his hand if you stick by his side while still thinking for yourself and growing.

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Sorcerer’s Choice: Angel or Demon is at its best when it’s focused on handling these character interactions and showing what makes them tick. Lucil, Flow, and Lobelia are a fascinating cast. Lucil grows significantly in both routes, understanding himself better and becoming more open to his feelings than he was at first.

However, the fantasy setting is generic and simplified, with the concepts of angels and demons only offering a general overview of the Judeo-Christian definitions. The same goes for magic, which the game hardly develops, keeping it strictly to what the story regards as essential. It’s not enough to give us a captivating outlook on this world-building, which is a big shame.

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What first piques our interest is the character designs and general polishment of Sorcerer’s Choice’s aesthetics. Tor Nishio’s illustrations are breathtaking, with the characters giving off a unique presence and the coloring making it seem like each has a magic microcosm within themselves.

Not only are the characters handsome, but the pink flesh and angles explored in the sex scenes are enticing. JAST even managed to get the intimate parts to show their full glory for the English release instead of having mosaics like the original Japanese counterpart.

The soundtrack has classical music with sounds recorded and produced by Freeks Co., Ltd. While some players may consider it a shame the game doesn’t have original music, the choices were perfect for evoking a feeling of past epoque. The selection was inspired, and the game makes the most out of the sound library.

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Sorcerer’s Choice: Angel or Demon is a BL visual novel with gorgeous illustrations and a well-executed handling of its characters. Though its fantasy setting feels generic, and the character corruption themes may not be everyone’s cup of tea, this is an easy recommendation for anyone who wants a good entry point in the genre.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Ivanir Ignacchitti

Random Japanese games are my jam. Handhelds, RPGs, VNs and PC banzai.