Developer: D3 Publisher
Publisher: D3 Publisher
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Adventure, Puzzle, Role-Playing & Other
Release Date: 16th of March, 2018 (EU & NA)
Does The Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya for Nintendo Switch improve upon the shortcomings of its predecessor’s lovers, or does it limp around the bases to home plate? Stay tuned, dear reader, and your intrigue shall be satisfied, and hopefully so will you.
We return, once again, to the cursed isle that houses Yoshiwara. An ill-fated island where men are seldom born, and those unfortunate few are squirreled away to a life of servitude in the he-brothel to satisfy the emotional and physical desires of the island’s female residents. The Men of Yoshiwara series takes an alternate view of the fabled Geisha of this now long dead portion of Japanese history and culture. This island that houses Yoshiwara is cut off from the mainland because of its debaucherous culture and “unseemly” traditions. Here, is where we will begin our journey once again.
Not every woman that ventures into the halls of Yoshiwara come seeking a delightful distraction from the rigors of daily life. No, some women come to be wooed, and some even come to seek a love that they know is forbidden. Will you seek out carnal pleasures, or will you find your soulmate among the courtesans of Yoshiwara?
We play as a resident of the village who has entered womanhood, and she is to be escorted to the Yoshiwara district by her male bodyguard, Musashi. He is the only man that she has known her entire life, and this creates within her a feeling of anxiety. This unfamiliarity with the male half of the species is only part of her trouble, the rest being that which is expected of her. You see, because of the cursed existence of men upon the island, the only way to marry and produce an heir to your family’s business is to buy a courtesan out from his sexual slavery, and make him your husband.
This satisfaction of duty is what drives the story this time around, and as such we see a much bigger emphasis on a strong female lead that knows what she wants to find. While she is a bit unsure as to the morality of her obligation, she also understands that it is the way things need to be. Instead of playing the coy and awkward protagonist from The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya, we find ourselves playing the huntress. While there is still a bit of shyness to be found, our starlet is not as easily smitten by the advances of even the most aggressive of male geisha.
So, like before, I will go over the available suitors and their personalities:
- Takigawa is the most popular courtesan this time around, and the protagonist reluctantly chooses him based on her mother and Musashi’s recommendation. His story is perhaps the most well written and fleshed out, but it doesn’t prevent our heroine from being a bit apprehensive about his advances, since he is the most popular and skilled. Despite his reputation, he is extremely passionate in his pursuits, and seems very into you. His arc provides the best opportunity for character growth since you must assist him in overcoming his past, so this might be the best path for those that like to see more development.
- Gakuto is the second most populated, and considered by many to be the most handsome. His demeanour is a bit more abrupt than the rest, and he is a strong pursuer. His biggest point of interest is his traumatic past and driving force- he has vowed to himself that he must seek vengeance on the woman that killed his best friend. This conflict becomes the focus of your relationship, where he must choose between seeking out that vengeance, or marrying you. He also takes the other courtesans under his wing in a fee endearing scenes that make him seem like a great choice as a partner.
- Asagiri is the most sexually aggressive member of the group, and the most unwilling to leave Yoshiwara. He loves his life as a courtesan, and the attempts at buying him out of the life are met with protests. While he is a well-written character, his abrupt decision to go along with you into marriage is a bit off-putting, as it just flips like a switch.
- Utsusemi is charming, but humble. He is shocked by your decision to choose him, and he presents a patient form of relationship progression. Much of his story plays up his friendships with Gakuto and Ageha, so his unexpected turn later on, leaves the story feeling forced, and awkward. This is the worst written path.
- Ageha fills the role of a courtesan in training found in the first game with Kagerou. While he isn’t as rude as Kagerou, he also presents a lot of the same story beats wherein he and you grow as people on almost equal footing. Unfortunately, this also means that it often feels like you’re reliving an awkward high school romance instead of pursuing an experienced adult relationship. This will probably be the preferred path for those that like a more innocent type of drama, although there is a lot of somewhat annoying emotional moments.
I actually found myself curious about there being another suitor. In the first game, one of your choices is a childhood friend of the protagonist. I expected Musashi to have his own arc, especially because the protagonist was so reluctant to be going to Yoshiwara in the first place. I know that in Kikuya, the childhood friend had been a courtesan, but finding true love in your lifelong protector seems to make for a more natural relationship than one where you feel obligated to due to societal pressure.
While there aren’t as many available paths as there were in the previous game, The Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya offers better writing and translation. The experience, no matter which path you take, is just better in general. Except with Gakuto, that guy is a jerk. Some of the story beats are unexpected and unsettling, and often the happy ending feels forced. Regardless, this is a vast improvement over the first game, so I’d recommend it for a fan of the genre. However, it still doesn’t provide much in the way of motivation for any newcomers.
THE VERDICT: 7/10
*Review Key Provided by D3 Publisher