In more than a few otome games, people end up watching a lifelong relationship develop after characters have known each other for a matter of days. It can be romantic, yes, but is far from realistic. But every once in a while, we get a game where such love affairs have a stronger foundation. Even though it has supernatural elements, Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk is more realistic than many other visual novels where one of the goals is to help the main character fall in love.
Part of this comes from Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk’s setup. It takes place in a small town in the middle of a forest. Everyone there knows everyone else. Jed, our heroine, has grown up with these people. Even in the case of the opposing Hawk family, there is a sense of familiarity. Jed might not be affiliated with the group, but knows those who are. Yes, there is some surprise, since none of the men know Jed is really Eiar, a young woman, but that is a relatively minor development.
In the case of Lavan and Levi, a romance makes even more sense. After an untimely accident, the matriarch of the Wolf clan took Jed into her home. Francisca raised her like one of her own children and even seems hesitant whenever Jed leaves to live in the tower in the woods with Ashen Hawk. For years, Lavan and Levi spent every day of their lives with her. The more time you spend with Lavan, especially on his route, you get to see what he knew and suspected about Jed all along. As for Levi, the more time I spent with him, the more it seemed like he liked Jed regardless of her gender.
With Lugus, it feels like there is constant tension that comes from having a rival. He is the heir to the Hawk clan, after all. The first two times he is encountered, there is a sort of fight. Initially, it is because of a disagreement between Lavan and him, as the two heirs. Later, it is because he is investigating the murders in town. They keep running into each other, and Lugus finds he needs Jed. Jed has insight into the Wolf clan, the town and even some information on rumors about the murders. Not to mention, being in the right place at the right time multiple times, as Lugus sees Jed when she is able to be dressed as a woman and tending to her after she is stabbed. We get to see a blockade surmounted.
Even the option that leads to an ending with Ashen Hawk makes sense. Jed has been living with him for quite some time in the tower, by the time we begin Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk. The things we learn about him and witches throughout the game shows the connection this amnesiac has with the area. We see the responsibility he feels he has to Jed. It is no wonder a bond is there that would lead him to have a connection with her.
In a way, the long lead up before getting to individual character routes and endings makes sense because of all this. Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk takes its time, making sure people are invested. It builds up a world and shows how everyone is connected. It gives characters time to understand who Jed is and grow to love her, and the story is stronger for it.
Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk is available for the PlayStation Vita.