"Checking Out" Another Romance Novel From The Library
It's official, we have covered enough Otome-genre games that it has earned its own tag on the website. There's a group of players who use their Switch like a glorified e-reader and Aksys Games have capitalized on it. Unfortunately, while we do have a couch in the office, it's far for us to curl up and read a romance novel. However, it's always intriguing to read whatever woes of romance await the protagonists in these stories. It's similar to picking a novel from a library, reading a few chapters, then taking out another book. When you look at it this way, a game like Olympia Soiree is "just another novel" from the same publisher, Aksys.
Save The World, Through Procreation?
Over the past two years, the Nintendo Switch had become the epicenter of visual novels. There are more titles on the portable console alone than any other and the reason for this is quite simple. It's the Nintendo Switch's selling point: Portability. There are many reasons why playing a visual novel, especially that of romance, is preferred on handheld devices. The privacy and comfort that comes from reading novels in a relaxed manner are similar to reading actual books. E-readers have existed for decades now and it's a similar principle.
Considering that the otome "gravy train" won't end anytime soon (At least there's a spinoff for one of my favorite Switch VN's, Cupid Parasite), it's time to delve into Olympia Soiree. I wasn't sure what I was expecting as far as the story goes, but it sure wasn't this. The protagonist, Olympia, whose real name is Byakuya, is the last of her kind. She's blessed with the power to call upon Amaterasu's will and pray for the sun. Since she's the last of her kind, she must marry and procreate in order to raise offspring to carry her lineage.
Olympia Soiree Doesn't Even Hide The Fact Anymore
From the first 30 minutes that the premise of this game is introduced, I felt something unique for the first time playing an otome game. I felt uncomfortable, much like how I felt in Variable Barricade but somehow worse. Olympia struggles with being out of place among her surroundings. Throughout her life, she's lived a sheltered one, only going outside to perform her dancing ritual. She spends the rest of her days in a manor and the one time she goes outside leisurely, almost everyone is terrified of her. They only look at her as someone to be humanity's savior and not as an actual person. As she says, they consider her as a "doll," as an "object."
So why on Earth would it be a good idea to spring on this poor woman that the only way to save the world is by giving birth to offspring??? Olympia Soiree doesn't address the problem but rubs it in like alcohol on a fresh wound. Naturally, when she is told this news, she reacts angrily. In Variable Barricade, I mentioned how the protagonist felt nothing more than a vessel to uphold the family dynasty. In this game? Destined to be a mother at such a ripe age I suppose.
There Has To Be A Method To The Madness
I never fully explained why I cared for a game like Cupid Parasite as quickly as I'm prone to show disdain for games like Olympia Soiree. At the time, I didn't know the reason myself. After playing several games like this over the span of a few months, there's one thing the former has that the others don't. The protagonist has a spine.
Cupid's ordeal is that she's tired of playing the role of a goddess and she wants to live a life of her own accord. She does this by running a marriage agency, living her career, and finding love along the way. The "finding love" wasn't the end goal for Cupid, ironically, but it was something that just happened. In Olympia Soiree, finding love is the goal because without it, no offspring = the island is doomed. It almost comes off as Olympia being treated like a doormat rather than a sense of independence.
The Connection To Japanese Mythology Is Neat At Least
The game does have some positives despite my frustration with stories such as these. As it is commonplace for Otomate's visual novels, the art is superb and everyone looks attractive. While the scenery is simple, each district is unique enough to bear distinction. The Blue district is based on Japanese architecture while the Red is based on European. The Yellow district is similar to Italian as a river runs through it.
Olympia Soiree's sound direction is also on point, with the music matching the environment that which it's based. There's a lot of reference to Japanese Mythology and Shintoism, which serves as the foundation for the story. Unfortunately, the protagonist isn't the voice, but as most of these games are meant to be "self-insert," this is to be expected.
Ultimately, my criticism of Olympia Soiree's first impression is admittingly subjective. I'm sure that as the game progresses, there will be character development from Olympia and her suitors. While I've only met one suitor, despite his best intentions, he's inconsiderate of her emotions. Obviously, that will change for the better (or for the worse if you obtain a bad ending). Regardless, as mentioned earlier, this is yet another romance novel in the vast library of Switch otome games. I'm putting this back on the shelf.
Olympia Soiree is available on the Nintendo Switch