Zettai Kaikyuu Gakuen ~Eden with roses and phantasm~ Otome Game Review

No spoiler review.

I went into this game really blind, only knowing that kaito and namidai was in it, has high reviews and has an interesting setting of obvious discrimination in a school setting. Despite me thinking ‘phantasm’ in the title meant it was going to go otomate way, making everything strange the result of some magical or demonic force, Daisy*Daisy bound the story up quite well, leaving realism with realism and peeling off the layers of mysteries slowly.

Essentially, Zettai Kaikyuu Gakuen is like Kuroshitsuji (public school Arc) meets Caste system, complete with horse riding and dogeza bowing, with some apartheid district thrown into it too. While I wouldn’t say it’s a human drama kind of story since I was mostly angry throughout the game rather than sad, the romance was well written and believable, with enough cutesy bits and interaction with the love interests to make it a proper otome game. It’s rare that I’m satisfied with the romance in an otome game, and that’s already a plus point.

Characters

The characters appear stereotypes at first glance, but except for that flirtatious boy and the rich-boy-who-changes-upon-meeting-poor-girl, the rest were interesting variations to their usual otome mans. If you didn’t already know, there are three classes:

Roses: influential, wealthy, beautiful: all the students have to do what they say. The roses have special seats and special shops, even special food. And among the roses are two special thorns guys who were handpicked by the Queen as aides, who are also the main guys of the game:

Takamine Riku (Red Rose):

an arrogant heir to the Takamine group who crumbles easily when he falls in love and does some pretty hilarious things. NamiDai tsundere? You bet you’ll have lots of fun. Riku’s stone/truth route was really heartwarming and I didn’t stop grinning throughout the time I was playing it. Some of his bad ends were pretty memorable though.

Saginomiya Rei (White Rose):

a gentle princely type but still under influence of the caste discrimination and I would say, leave all his routes to the last for a nice finale. Rei is more than just a pretty boy, and while his relationship with Neri is calming and soothing, you’ll find more peaks and bottoms than you ever expected.

Then comes the Honeybees, the middle class who aims to go up that ladder to become Roses, and is also where our heroine Fujieda Neri goes when she first arrives at the school. In this class, the only hero is

Kaji Ichiha, the playboy of the five,

like any other honeybee, changes his attitude the moment someone he knows changes classes. Honeybees have the power to order the Stones around as well, and Neri’s friend Moeka actually bullied Haru when he first bumped into her at the school. I don’t remember much of Ichiha’s route because it was plainly boring for me, but he was a nice contrast to the rest as a middle class man.

The last and lowest class are the Stones

In here we have Igarashi Haru,

that bullied shota whom you later find out is a snarky tsundere with a talent for painting. He doesn’t fight back because he just doesn’t give a damn. Contrary to my expectations, Haru wasn’t that cute or coddle-deserving, despite it being Kaito who voices Haru. I didn’t enjoy Haru’s route as much as I wanted to, but most of his route was haunting, especially his Rose bad end.

The last guy, unexpectedly, became my favourite!

Nanase Toya, the leader of the Resistance is a big and charismatic guy overflowing with sexiness, partly because of Maeno. The wild type who loves horses, ditches lessons and gets up on stage during morning assembly to pep talk people into understanding that the caste system is a piece of shit, Toya and his team are the only ones trying to make sense of this weird system in the school. TBH, I fell in love with Toya the moment he appeared in the game. ( *´艸`) The only thing I was disappointed with was that despite saying that they are Resistance, they don’t really draw up big plans to drop the system, but rather enjoy playing darts and bonding with other classes in secret, and also annoying Riku, which made for some funny episodes int he common route and also heartwarming scenes in the Truth routes.

The very presence of that caste system dividing the students into 3 classes and one queen gives the interactions between the students an additional flavour, and you soon see why the Queen even exists.

System / play guide / heroine

I really liked how this game, like NOISE and ayakashi gohan, gives the heroine two kinds of personalities. Depending on your choices in the common route where Neri gets accustomed to life in the school, she either drops to Stones or rises to Roses, with Neri mostly being a biatch in the Rose routes.

It was interesting to see Neri get ‘stained’ by the class distinctions of the school and graudally gravitate towards Stones or Roses, and all the kiss-ass from her classmates and also from her friend Moeka once she became a Rose was also so practical it reminded me of the real world right away. As I mentioned in the intro, I’m more often than not, angry when I play this game because of the many injustice to the characters or to Neri herself. Sometimes I’m angry at Neri too when she easily backs away, but she did fine for a 17-year-old. Watching Neri in the Rose routes is somewhat emotionally distressing because she becomes so affected that the player as Neri, looking through her eyes feel so disgusted with ‘yourself’.

There are multiple bad ends for each character, but I didn’t do them all, but some of the Rose bad ends were pretty good.

After finishing Stones and Roses for each character, you can then start on the Truth routes that reveal everything about the story. I would say that the Truth routes are a continuation of the Stones routes, and what is after that Happy Ever After. You may have guessed through clues in the game, you may not have guessed, but the Truth routes were satisfying on their own.

Despite saying so, I have some problems with the execution of the game. Some of the routes (not bad ends) ended pretty randomly, and the Truth routes were also all the same execution except for Rei, which made it a tad boring to go through the same thing 4 times. Truth routes could have been combined into one for all the guys rather than splitting parts of the truth up for each character. Maybe they wanted to include those wedding bits, but I would have preferred the good end Truth routes to still have an underlying madness to keep the game haunting.

Also, it was annoying to have to insert the disc permanently when you’re playing the game. This DVD works more like a PSV cartridge, and since I use an external drive with my laptop, I had to drag that along each time I switched positions from the sofa to the bed or to the floor.

I never intended to play this game so quickly, but after I installed the game at 2am and started it up just to check, the character voice on the start screen started scolding me for not sleeping at that time. I thought wow, and the first thing I did was to play it once I woke up the next day. The characters say different things depending on the time of the day and it was pretty novel to me.

Very efficient system, with jump options and volume for each character, bgm, window and text. I also like how you can switch the hint on or off, with the icons for each character showing on the side of the selections to let you know which character’s route you will catch.

Art / BGM

I have no complains about the BGM; as usual MANYO does a fantastic job with electric tones and strings, but it’s not as lovely as ayakashi gohan’s.

While the art is a nice fit for the atmosphere of the game, there were multiple Lolicon CGs, the type I hate with a rage.

loli cg2 super loli CG lolllll

This is a real problem for most otome games and I wish artists and helpers would stop doing it! The art also wasn’t so great that I wanted to save any CGs, but Wada Beko does have a nice style that she can work on.

There were some nice ero CGs like Kabe-don and bed-don. And if ZKG was an R18, it’d be a pretty yabai game, considering the truth and caste system of the game.

———————————————–

The best thing about this game is having the romance as the main and having the truth as a side dish. I found an unexpected favourite and I didn’t really like much the guy I had my eye on, and all these are nice extra surprises for me. But somehow something is found lacking, probably the way the story was executed as I mentioned earlier. It’s worth a play.

4 stars! I’ll be looking forward to their next project.

Empty gaming list for the rest of the year….. *cries*

19 thoughts on “Zettai Kaikyuu Gakuen ~Eden with roses and phantasm~ Otome Game Review

  1. Thanks for the review and summaries :>

    I agree it’s odd when there’s a lot of Lolicon CGS esp when everyone is supposedly the same age. Also, the story reminds of Utena a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi again Rae!

      As always, thanks for reading! Yeah so many games do the lolicon CG I don’t know where to begin telling them to stop. And it’s more obvious in PC games probably because of the CG size that utilizes full-body size.

      What’re you up to? Playing anything atm?

      Like

  2. Hmmmmm. I might have to add this to my play list; especially since you mentioned the mysteries, realism, and certain things about the bad ends. They sound like they might be the kind of bad ends I actually like…but unlike you I definitely do not have an empty gaming list for the rest of the year hahaha xD. It’s probably better to be picky about newer games anyway so less disappointment and it’s more worth the money when it’s actually deemed a good investment. I enjoy it when I end up liking characters I didn’t expect to like! When I read character profiles, I’m often really good at predicting who I think I’m going to like/be biased towards so I don’t get surprises too much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s worth a play! But somehow it didn’t give me as much as I wanted/expected which is why I put it 4 stars, but if you’ve been thirsting for some good romance, I would say Kaikyuu gives it to you.
      Haha I will have to turn to going out with friends and watching anime for entertainment now – not a bad substitute :p

      Absolutely! It was a nice surprise when Toya came up. I was like “Darn….. I really want to play his route now!!” Fell head over heels in his route :p Same here, I always end up liking the guys I initially liked, especially for Otomate games where you know what the character is roughly gonna be like throughout the whole game.

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      • I shall definitely consider it then! I haven’t gotten into many PC games and they seem harder (and as a result more expensive) to get a hold of, so I tend to contemplate them more before purchasing them.

        Doesn’t sound bad as far as other forms of entertainment go :D.

        That’s good! It’s kind of weird to guess who I’d like because I don’t really have consistent tastes. Every time I try to categorize it, it doesn’t come out quite right so I just go by “the character who I usually find the most physically attractive + either makes me feel very strong emotions or makes me think a lot/analyze his character”

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      • I think part of Kaikyuu’s charm is finding out why everyone accepts the outrageous discrimination and I find it a new concept that Daisy*Daisy did well in laying out, unlike the typical rich vs poor then fall in love kind of stories.

        I kind of regret not getting the Amazon tokuten one that comes with Toya’s drama CD and system voice… D: If you can get some second hand one without the tokuten though, it’s pretty value for money at 5500~ yen up.

        Looks are important in a game, I really feel that :p But once in a while I like to be surprised and I think you find lots of it in Kaikyuu!

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      • Yeah, I’m definitely curious about that, because the caste system thing just seemed really strange about why it would exist.

        I would probably buy it secondhand if I end up getting it anyway since that would be the most cost-effective. Sorry about you missing out on the Amazon tokuten though, especially since it was Toya and you usually buy through Amazon too.

        Looks are definitely important, but the personality definitely matters more because there have been a few times where the ones I found the most physically attractive were just not my type. Often times though, the one I like most by looks without any profile info ends up being the one with personality traits I tend to like. That’s not necessarily bad, sometimes it works out quite nicely, but like you said, it’s nice to get that surprise once and a while or it would feel too boring/predictable.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you enjoyed it! Of course it was an enjoyable game… the nitpicky Laramie Castiel recommended it. xP

    To begin with, even though I ADORE ZKG, I totally agree with you about most of the faults. Especially how “formulaic” the truth route became. I understand why this happened (I’d say this was done to keep key truth route plot events consistent). While ZKG did attempt a multiple route mystery to some extent, I would have preferred ZKG to have taken this further; like each guy were a puzzle piece of the big picture rather than a “hint”. It’s clear that certain guys were MUCH more important than others. Fair enough; total equality is pretty much impossible, but with ZKG the Important vs. Less Important was more overt.

    For example (hard to go into detail with spoiling), they could have done a lot more with the various individuals and the suspect groups they were involved in. I wish the intrigue aspect was explored more. Pretty much once you play one truth route, you mostly learn the essentials without needing to play the others- save for some intricacies only found in Rei’s truth route.

    Of course; this is much easier said than done. I’m sure it’s easy to screw up multiple route mysteries, especially one with as many endings as ZKG. They’re often a Pandora’s Box of plotholes waiting to burst open.

    And yes, there were certainly some CGs *definitely* not drawn by Wada-san herself… I don’t want to spoil, but I’m sure it isn’t hard to spot the obvious one in Riku’s route. Not to mention the portaits of most of the side characters that were obviously Suzuken’s (whether this was intentionally done or not, I’m not 100% certain. I think it was.)

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    • Didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to, and even though it’s definitely better than the past few I’ve played, for some reason I don’t think it’s gonna make my ‘recommended’ list :/ The romance was there but an overall something was lacking or done badly – probably the ultimate final truth. I feel like it’s similar to Code:Realize: I’m being dragged all over the place only to reveal something ridiculous. Still, their projects are worth keeping an eye on!

      Exactly! Once I did Riku’s route I really didn’t actually have to play the rest, except to know the backstory of the guys themselves.

      For now, the only mystery VN I’ll ever say is ‘good’ is Psychedelica. Nothing beats that game!

      Like

      • Ooh, pardon me. I thought you enjoyed it because you gave the game a “4”. Was this out of 10, and not 5? Or was this more of an “objective” rating?

        I haven’t played Code:Realize, so I’m not in any position to comment on that- even though I have been majorly spoilered about a certain character’s true origins. I’m considering to try the English localisation given how quickly I can chug through my native language even if it’s subpar.

        I (respectfully) disagree with ZKG’s plot twists being ridiculous… Though I guess it depends on what you mean by “ridiculous”. If you meant it like “asspull”, there was quite a bit of foreshadowing and decent hints were offered across all routes… So most of the plot twists were developed. If you meant “ridiculous” as in “cliche, trite, unnecessary, wangst, etc.”, that’s definitely true for a few of the twists.

        Now I really want to try Psychedelica, though as usual, I’m careful to not overhype it in my mind (still am, though, damn it).

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      • My ratings are always out of 5! Yeah I gave a 4 because I felt they handled the difficult parts of the game well. My ratings usually don’t reflect that much of how much I enjoyed the game but how it does as a whole.

        Its difficult to put a finger on what I found lacking, but mostly it was the third aim of the mastermind that got my eyes rolling. It’s a tad cliche. I wouldn’t really recommend Code:Realize but if you want a game with a great atmosphere, certainly!

        I’m gonna replay psychedelica after I get this term’s work out of the way!

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      • I see, I see. I apologise if my reply sounded disrespectful at any point. Gosh, I totally understand what you mean. I was fine with the first two aims, but the third? I guess they needed a way to connect the mastermind with the protagonist in a manner that makes the “work” the mastermind had to go through in order to achieve his/her goals believable, but still… As for his/her “condition”, they also portrayed that a tad oddly, speaking from my experiences in that field of study.

        I almost wanna try Code: Realize just to see what the massive hype is, but that’s not really a clever way to spend money… Even if localisations are MUCH cheaper than imports.

        Wow… so thrilled to hear you love Psychedelica so much! I knew you love it, but not this much! I now know I’ll at least be satisfied with the game. =)

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      • Not at all friend! You couldn’t have been more courteous! 😀
        Ooh I don’t know much about the “condition” but for amateurs like me it was still believable, since the *reason* they became like that was not explained in depth.
        I would think that localizations are a bad way to spend your money :p

        Yup I do! Though I’m curious to see how you’ll like it. Gonna replay bws too…. it’s memory lane season xD

        Liked by 1 person

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