Of the Red, the Light, and the Ayakashi Is a Flawed Beauty
Screenshot by HuneX

Of the Red, the Light, and the Ayakashi Is a Flawed Beauty

Sometimes, I’ll go into a game incredibly excited about the experience and will find myself adoring elements of it, even if it’s incredibly broken. Like there can be so much potential there. It makes me want to let people know about it, as well as warn about the issues, but in a way that doesn’t put someone entirely off exploring it. HaccaWorks, HuneX and Dramatic Create’s visual novel Of the Red, the Light, and the Ayakashi is the ideal example. It’s captivating, but boy is the official English release a mess. 

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While Of the Red, the Light, and the Ayakashi, also known as AkaAka, is relatively well-known in Japan, it isn’t as prominent in other regions. Yen Press picked up the manga adaptation years ago, but the original PC and PSP games remained trapped in Japan. It’s only because of HuneX and Dramatic Create that it is out now on the Switch and PC worldwide. It’s a fact I want to note I appreciate going in, since this over 10 year old game is something special, even though people who hop into it right after launch will experience issues. 

Of the Red, the Light, and the Ayakashi begins with the sense that something isn’t quite right. A young man, who we will come to know is named Yue, is met by someone in a fox mask. It’s a fleeting moment, before we see he’s heading down to a town for the first time accompanied by a talking black fox yokai named Kurogitsune. There’s a festival, and they’re sneaking away together to attend even though Yue’s exclusively lived at a shrine to a goddess named Mikoto his whole life and never given forbidden to leave. They’re on the precipice of leaving what might be considered “normal” and “safe” for Yue and engaging in acts that will change his life forever.

It’s an ominous moment, exemplified by art creating an incredible atmosphere. And, while the translation and localization ranges from adequate to bad, there are some lines that still really hit hard. It pushes the otherworldly and mysterious nature of everything. For example, in the opening moments when Yue and Kurogitsune are heading down from the shrine to the festival to enjoy the festivities and get something to eat, Yue says, “…It’s almost time for our meal.”

This is foreshadowing, as much of the early hours finds the shrine residents who know much more than Yue, goddess Mikoto and Master Sato, referencing an upcoming “meal” for Yue and if it is the right time for him to take part. Clearly, it is some sort of ritual. However, the fact that he’s clearly an outsider compared to the yokai at the shrine, and he’s being tasked with befriending human young men named Togo Tsubaki and Akiyoshi Tochika immediately sets the reader on edge. Why? What is the meal? Why these two young men? Who is Yue? What is going on?

It’s also helped by the fact that the town itself seems awry and wrong. The shrine seems far more normal, welcoming, and homey, compared to the way things seem off. All humans are depicted as fox-like shadows, to set them apart as others. The color schemes, such as the purple skies, suggest something could be off here. Couple that with the strange encounters and rumors, and clearly there are many mysteries that a patient reader could uncover. 

Plus, the bonds between Yue, Kurogitsune, Tsubaki, and Tochika genuinely are fun to watch develop. Yue and Kurogitsune are immediately such a great pair, with their natures being so different. However, even so, there is clear affection between them, with one of the first choices a player can make being to make Yue stand up and protect Kurogitsune after the fox yokai was willing to sacrifice himself and take a punishment entirely to protect him. But Tsubaki and Tochika are also interesting in their own rights, and I loved watching these bonds develop among all of them. (Note that for those curious, there is no romance here.)

But now that I have raved about some elements of Of the Red, the Light, and the Ayakashi, I do have to issue that warning. As I mentioned earlier, the localization isn’t great! Even at parts where the idea is conveyed properly, it can be awkwardly phrased. The formatting means phrases are arranged oddly in the text boxes. But the greatest failing of all is that there are some parts of the English version of the game that just… aren’t translated. You can be reading along and suddenly only see Japanese text instead. 

Here’s an example. 

Considering the game is being sold for $59.99 on Steam and $50.13 on the eShop, it’s clearly an issue.

So Of the Red, the Light, and the Ayakashi is a game that leaves me feeling split. It’s a well-told, fascinating story with interesting characters and incredible art. I love that HuneX and Dramatic Create took the chance on the HaccaWorks title so we can play it worldwide. I just wish the execution was better so people could appreciate it. Perhaps in a few patches, we’ll see the situation surrounding it improve. Even if the localization doesn’t, perhaps it will have English throughout and not sudden spots where it is suddenly in Japanese again. If so, it could be a value piece of visual novel history for folks who enjoy the genre.

Of the Red, the Light, and the Ayakashi is available on the Nintendo Switch and PC worldwide. It is on the PC and PSP in Japan. All volumes of the manga appeared outside Japan via Yen Press.

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Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.