Not all otome games are heavy on the romance. A number of more balanced games have been released over the years. Hakuoki offers an alternate history with supernatural elements placed alongside its romance. Collar x Malice has to do with investigating and stopping a terrorist group while falling in love with a coworker. With Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly, we have a game that is even more focused on the mystery, with romantic elements being present in side-stories along the way or acting as a complement to the more thrilling main event.
In Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly, players follow a young woman who awakens in a locked mansion filled with monsters. She can not remember her name. The only thing she has is a call phone with a message saying to collect the kaleidoscope pieces. In the same room as her is a young woman with a mask covering her face. Once this other woman awakens, she screams and turns into a monster determined to kill the heroine. She gets away, with the help of multiple men. Once she and the other human men gather together in a safe space, they come to a realization. None of them remember anything. Each of them has a text message on their phone offering a hint.
Everyone has lost their memories and been trapped in this mansion by its master. Some people, like Kagiha, have been there longer than others. They have the ability to focus and summon a gun, which can be used during shooting minigames to dispatch monsters, collect butterflies and gather kaleidoscope pieces. They develop nicknames for themselves in the meantime, making themselves identifiable while they work things out. They quibble about bringing a masked figure who has helped the heroine Beniyuri, into their fold. They wonder if the master of the house can be trusted. But what we do not always see are incredibly romantic, tender moments. There are times when situations are touching, but the focus here is more on bonding together for survival while working out what has happened to them.
The shooting minigame helps exemplify this. From time to time in Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly, Beniyuri will head out with one of the young men and have to deal with monsters. This brief segment has people use touch screen or analog controls, or even a mix of the two, to target butterflies and shoot them with the supernatural gun for points. (These points can be used to access extra stories on the timeline and get to know characters better.) You can skip this by force quitting, but going through it keeps up the illusion of danger and pressure Beniyuri and the characters are experiencing.
There is a sense of pressure and consequence in Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly. In the first moments of the game, we see Hikage take a hit from a monster meant for Beniyuri, causing him major damage. People’s lives are in danger. At one point, an incident occurs causing one member to flee the group and have their existence and sanity be threatened. It feels like it is trying to keep you preoccupied with the horrors around the characters. I thought it was successful in that endeavor.
Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly keeps focusing on getting through this storyline and seeing different sides to better understand why everyone is there, the nature of the mansions’ monsters, how people can possibly escape and even why it seems like Beniyuri is hesitant to get involved with and connect to her compatriots, even though this is an otome title. Being able to head to the flowchart to see where and when events are occurring and jump to different segments lets you get a better idea of the bigger picture, even if you find yourself preferring a specific bachelor. It is the sort of game where going through the common route gives you initial answers, and digging deeper into good and bad endings with the different boys can sometimes offer as much insight into situations as they do connections with characters.
Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly does have moments where you can see relationships growing between characters. Bonds exist. But the game recognizes this is a horrific situation for the characters, and the focus is on figuring out what is happening and surviving. It tackles things rather well, and might be a good otome for people who like having a hint of romance while focusing on solving bigger mysteries.
Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly is available for the PlayStation Vita.