When you make a game in the visual novel genre you should almost always focus on the most important aspect of your game, which is story. Not often do you see a game having a quite mediocre plot but still be stellar because of the twists and turns the game takes or because it gives you a new way of playing inside the game. Kotodama: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa does try to give us an entire way of playing out the story and it seems to be either a hit or miss in that regard.
In Kotodama you arrive to your new high school as the new girl of boy from the neighberhood. Why you left your old school is for you to find out, but when you arrive you are automatically greeted by the blue demon cat Mon-chan who wants to make a pact with you. As the story goes on he goes with you invisibly everywhere you go and talks and makes remarks on the situation at hand. To make things even more interesting you are invited to join an occult school club by one of their members Nanami, who is determined to uncover the seven mysteries surrounding the high school.
Together with Nanami and the club president Wakaba you try to uncover mysteries like the Clock Tower Angel and a Wandering Gentleman ghost who roams the campus. You have it in you to uncover all the mysteries thanks to the power of Kotodama, the power to make people unveil the truth in what you ask them.
An occult club, a demon cat and seven mysteries to unsolve all sounds great so far. But the way you need to make people tell the truth is where the game really shows its power or weakness depending on what you expect. Trying to uncover all mysteries is actually quite straight forward and do not take as long as you might have expected. The mysteries are divided in chapters and the first few pass by fairly quickly. You always have the time to roam the school with static pictures as backgrounds and every person you not need will just flat out tell you something unimportant or point you to the direction of the case you need to solve. This is kind of a waste as you could very much have no other characters and just go straight to the points of the story. Yet although the story goes by fairly quickly, things do get pretty complicated and in-depth after a while.
What you hear so far must be quite underwhelming, but hold your horses at things get serious after chapter 5 (which you reach fairly quickly). The first cases end up as usualy school fair, but don’t forget you have a demon cat following you everywhere and all of a sudden the games story will change drastically and things will get interesting like someone snapped you in to a different story altogether. It is quite sad to see that the first few hours are so straight up, well, boring to say. People might end up putting the game down in that time and that is a shame as a visual novel should keep you hooked for long stretches at a time.
As you confront characters to reveal their secrets to you the game changes from being a visual novel to a match three game, this is your true Kotodama power and shifts the entire game in a new, ecchi perspective. In the match three game you tap a bubble and it moves to the top row, making the rest fall down one line. Like this you need to make rows of three or higher to make them disappear. You have a limited amount of moves you can spend and popping the bubbles gives your interrogating person an extreme amount of happiness.
After you chain a few bubbles you can also use love and greed bubbles on the side to make more of them pop at once. This leads to stripping the persons defenses and making them easier to interogate, oh and it also strips away their clothes which makes them reveal more and more skin until they only have a bikini or a short to wear. Other skills you can use when you are low on moves are a feather and an ice cube to try and get a higher score and get new moves in the process. You can already guess why it is a feather and an ice cube I assume. When you use special attacks you can even point out where on the persons body you want to use them. But do mind that guessing incorrectly will make you have less moves or even a game over.
This quite ecchi pop bubble experience is the part where we mentioned that makes or breaks the game. You can either like it that it is a fun mini game and you can even hear the people yell and moan as you play and strip away their clothes or you can hate it and straight up don’t want to play this game anymore. You play this game with both girls and boys which can sound even weirder or like heaven to you. You can straight up skip most of the plot text and just go to the moments where you have to “interogate” people and just play the game like that.
After every person you unlocked you can replay against them in a ‘Fantasize Mode’ that is an extra mode that unlocks after you’ve beaten the first character, next to that you can even unlock new outfits, bikini’s etc so you can see your favorite characte in a new sexy outfit. The fact that this game has a skill up system is really of no point to the game as everything of the stroy is a quite straight forward path you need to follow and although it is great that you can play everything either touch based (which is the best way to play) or buttons. If you are hoping to focus only on the plot, you straight up can’t.
If you do like the bubble game then we straight up tell you to keep on playing to atleast past the fifth chapter as then the story gets really interesting. The game is completely voiced (except your own character) and the visual style of the characters and environments are nicely detailed. We do advice you to save only after people are done talking, as the game may corrupt if you save mid sentence. But I do believe that PQube wil solve this issue in a later update.
Kotodoma: The 7 Mysteries of Fujisawa is a mixed bag that will not be for everyone. If you do like a bit more ecchi and like bubble pop games you will find an interesting and fun story with a good variety of characters. Just don’t expect to be hooked from the start.