Title: VenusBlood Frontier International
Release Date: December 20, 2019
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: JAST USA
Genre: RPG Visual Novel
I don’t know if I was entirely ready for VenusBlood Frontier International. The game presents a long narrative paired with strategic RPG systems that were easy enough to wrap my head around, but I think it was the mass amounts of player choice and tentacle h-scenes that genuinely took me by surprise. Still, I found myself immersed in conquering this world for hours as I aimed to create the strongest army imaginable, all while corrupting some goddesses.
VenusBlood Frontier International introduces a world divided by goddesses and demons. In an attempt to choose a successor, the Dark Lord informed his immediate family that whoever can conquer Yggdrasil can take his place. However, the content of Yggdrasil is ruled by five powerful Goddesses who won’t give up their lands so easily.
Players assume the role of Loki, a demon cast aside after his father was banished and his mother was captured. Fueled by the idea of revenge, Loki accepts the Dark Lords’ request against all the odds of survival. That said, he does have a few ideas on how he can take over the continent with the help of some tentacles and his smart way with words.
As the main protagonist, Loki is a pretty complex character. He battles with memories of his mom as his mind is set on freeing her. Alternatively, he also struggles with an additional presence that resides inside of him. The two personalities create a balanced character overall that makes Loki more interesting. He carries the entire story well and is good at keeping you guessing as to what his plans are.
The gameplay is not all story, though. Players will have access to a world map with various towns and landmarks spread across them. It’s up to the player to decide their approach to taking over the areas and how they wish to develop the lands.
The amount of customization is impressive but extremely confusing at first. This is a game that initially released in 2012. At that time, it has received a few updates and new routes, but the battle system still takes some getting used to.
Players can take over critical areas by clearing out the occupants in battle. This requires players to choose which group of characters will fight, and if successful, they will earn some rewards as well as take over the spot on the map. Conquered areas can be developed to produce materials and resources for your units. This feature doesn’t really need to be messed with on Normal or Easy difficulties, but it does add a depth to the game’s options.
Diving into the gameplay options offered in VenusBlood Frontier International, you’ll find many ways to customize your units. Players can choose which groups to recruit, train, and equip, as they work towards dominating the continent.
In the later parts of the game, organizing my units was how I spent most of my time. Sadly, the game’s accessibility and menus are a complete mess, and navigating them is tedious. Given how many units can acquire throughout the game, an “Optimize All Units” option would have been a godsend instead of trying to remember which units were equipped or not. It doesn’t help that the menu UI is mostly made up of ugly boxes filled with small text.
Battles are fairly straight forward, but the player will more or less take a back seat on these encounters. Units act on their own and can be motivated to make individual choices. It’s best to go into battle prepared and hope not to get your butt kicked in case one of the goddesses decides to show up and wipe out your party. Most attacks have simple animations, but some units have more powerful abilities that cause massive damage and come with a cool illustration.
The player shapes the story of VenusBlood Frontier International. After taking over a region, you’ll inlist one of the Goddesses. However, players will also be able to corrupt them or keep them pure through training. These choices do affect the game’s ending and should reflect you as the ruler. I didn’t know which type of ending that I wanted, so I more or less just did whatever I wanted. Going into my second playthrough, I’ll be more assertive with my rulings and bring chaos to the world.
Interestingly, these choices also affect the CGs in the game. Remember the tentacles? Well, depending on your corruption level, you could be greeted with some fairly graphic h-scenes. This also becomes a strategy in battles that can change their actions. Furthermore, your demon cousins can also be inlisted overtime if you can defeat them, which also comes with a fair share of h-scenes.
In terms of actual story development and gameplay, VenusBlood Frontier International does so much right. There’s a lot of content to invest your time into here and organizing units, and concurring the continent becomes rather fun. I will say that the downside of the game will have to be the growing pains at which it takes to figure out the game’s various systems. The game does offer a tutorial, but it is mainly text-based and not intuitive. Also, controllers don’t seem to be supported at this time.
That said, the character illustrations and sheer amount of CGs found in the game are all amazing. There are some excellent moments of the storytelling here that make this a visual novel that most will find enjoyable as you discover more about Loki and quest for revenge. I will add that the h-scenes do become rather graphic, but they can be skipped using the all-ages mode. There’s also an Easy Mode option to by-pass battles and focus on the story, which is a huge plus for anyone looking for a more casual visual novel experience.
VenusBlood Frontier International offers a ton of memorable characters through a story that is shaped by the player. It’s interesting to watch play out and discover at what lengths Loki will take this war to get what he wants. The unit customization and battle system break up the story bits, but they each worked well together to make this a rich experience.
VenusBlood Frontier International does have some faults when it comes to accessibility and menu organization, but after a few hours, it’s a bit easier to understand. There’s a lot here, and thankfully Loki’s determination and cunning schemes make the story all the more gripping as his army grows, and he is closer to his goal.
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