(Queen of Darkness 2:) The Second Reproduction is another Japanese visual novel I played with an English translation patch. It has a feisty young princess protagonist who has three possible love interest in the game. But it’s not really (just) a dating sim. The story is actually quite interesting even though a bit cliched, but what isn’t these days? In the world both humans and demons exist and the former obviously consider the latter to be completely evil creatures. A war lingers and our protagonist learns that demons=evil isn’t necessarily the truth she thought it was.
Although the game’s theme is the very common “everything isn’t black and white” the story is still engaging and the underlying mysteries are really intriguing. Unfortunately not all was revealed (at least not in the three good endings and extra chapters I played). The story focuses a lot on the romance, I’d say it’s 50/50 or so. The game isn’t erotic (pretty much the worst you can see is on the last screenshot) but there’s some sex and violence on the descriptions.
What I really liked about the game was that the three routes and romantic interests were actually surprisingly different. So it was a treat playing them all. And like in most visual novels, you only get pieces of the story with each route, so the bigger picture is usually revealed only after going through them all. I am considering going back to the bad endings now that some time has passed and I’m over basking on the good fluffy endings. I also quite liked the protagonist, who surely was a young girl that had a lot to learn about the world and who cried here and there, but she seemed like a real person and not just a whiny, spineless creature that’s basically just an object. She very much got shit done. She also had her own voice actor, which is very nice and adds more personality. I’m quite used to otome games that have a very bland and silent protagonist.
I didn’t like the gameplay much. And now some people might think ‘whaaat?’. (It’s not like there is a huge variety in gameplay when it comes to VNs and I’ve personally stated plenty of times that the gameplay is probably the least important thing in this genre.) This visual novel didn’t just have the basic dialogue options that steer the story. There were a few but most of the time the outcome of the story was affected by your “free day” after each chapter. There you got a chance to visit different parts of the town. In theory this type of solution seems fine, perhaps even better than the regular choices, but in my opinion it just didn’t work very well. First of all you can’t really deduce what is going to happen or even who you run into by visiting the places, so the results seem very random. Added to that the fact that the times you can visit the different spots are very limited, it seemed to be a hassle.
I got frustrated with it even before finishing my first playthrough and ended up checking the directions from a walkthrough. Because of this I don’t really know how lenient the game eventually is with your choices, it’s possible there is some room for error. I just disliked the randomness of it. Even the choice between the three main routes is very unintuitive as it happens with one single dialogue option (one of them you can kinda deduce though).
A quite some time after my playthrough I stumbled onto some critique about the way the romances were handled. Apparently it is possible to find two of the three routes offensive. I didn’t even bat an eye since I’m so used to all the kinkiness of BL stories, but yeah, this game is surely darker and has more objectionable content than the average otome game (which I mostly find a bit boring). I was kind of thinking about adding this to the ‘dark’ category, but I rather keep it for the actual black stuff, not a nice shade of gray like this one. Perhaps dating demons wasn’t as fluffy as some people thought, I personally was not surprised.