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Review: Dairoku is a Great Switch Otome Game

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Review: Dairoku is a Great Switch Otome Game

When playing otome games on the Switch, its characters can make or break it. If the people you’re interacting with aren’t fun, then it doesn’t matter how good the art or story might be. Likewise, if the people you’re getting to know and romance are handled well, you can overlook things like backgrounds that don’t wow you. Fortunately for fans of the genre who might look to review potential new games for their libraries, Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani is a game with exceptional characters. It’s handled well, with great interactions and lore. The result is a visual novel that’s is a blast to play.

Dairoku casts players as a young woman going for a government job. However, she’s a little unique. She can see things others can’t. They’re beings called Ayakashi, who normally live in another realm called Sakuratani. She happens to see one while taking a test for a job, which doesn’t go unnoticed by a Division Six of the Government Occult Bureau member. She’s soon offered a job as an Ayakashimori, an agent who lives and works in that realm to ensure its peace and stability. This means working alongside the heads (Shires) of different districts. (As well as possibly falling in love with them.)

Review: Dairoku is a Great Switch Otome Game

As you might expect from an Otomate otome visual novel on the Switch, things start with a common route. This establishes different characters, the story, and the world. Once you get through the story, you’ll get an opportunity to happen on specific romanceable characters’ routes. The thing about Dairoku is that it leans into the idea that you’re an agent “on the beat” in Sakuratani. While certain parts of the story in the common route are unavoidable, they trigger after picking certain “optional” events. After mandatory sections, you’ll get chances to visit certain districts. It will show if there’s a love interest present there to see a new scene. (The flowchart lets you hop to moments before these, if you want to pick a different one.) You might also happen upon an opportunity to “battle” to build up your skill level as an Ayakashimori. Making the right choices in those character-specific segments can boost your relationship. Getting on a route with the right choices or actions can net you a good (romantic), good (friendship), or bad ending.

Each of these segments start out by building up insights into characters. For example, if you spend a lot of time with the Oni Akuro, you’ll learn more about him, his sector’s inhabitants, his personal backstory and current conflict, and the overall area’s major issue. So hanging around there involves seeing how “into” anime, manga, board games, video games, virtual pets, models, and technology all Makatsuhi residents enjoy. Meanwhile, Kikutsune is filled with people who are fashionable and playful. Lots of beast Ayakashi end up there, like kitsune and nekomata. This means each outing to an area is a learning experience. But it’s often handled in an entertaining, joyful way, even when more serious events are ongoing.

Shino Tamamo Kinka

There’s also a great balance of levity with serious moments. Darkness lurks in the past of every love interest. But while there’s this serious, it isn’t all dark and dire. Our heroine is there working day-to-day. Alongside incidents, there are slice-of-life moments too. When you head to work in Amatsuna, you’ll see the silliness that comes from Takao trying to force the reluctant recluse Hira to work. Takao might often resort to physical violence. Hira will refuse to move or outright roll away from the momentum of kicks. However the more time you spend there, you’ll get past the silliness to discover its roots.

That balance also means Dairoku is one of those Switch otome games in which the endings that aren’t the best might be as interesting as the “best” one. The bad ones might be heartbreaking. Or, they could offer a glimmer of hope. The friendship ones could be as touching as a lovey-dovey one or hold the promise of eventual romance. As for the true love endings, they’re all quite lovely.

Review: Dairoku is a Great Switch Otome Game

This doesn’t mean Dairoku is completely perfect. There are some issues that come up. For example, when I played both Tamamo and Kinka talk to the main character, they’ll refer to her as Shino. This happens even if you choose a custom name. Your avatar will also refer to Akuro as such, even before you get the go-ahead to call him that instead of Akuro-ou. It could have had a better font choice too. When the text is on a black screen, it’s almost painful to read the black font with white outlines. Fortunately, you can adjust the textbox transparency level to make it easy to ready during the game. While the art is normally quite great, the menu UI is easy to read, the voice acting is fantastic, and the background music appropriate, its backgrounds are all rather boring. They’re all minor annoyances, rather than “wrongs” that take you out of the moment.

The only thing that really left me disappointed is the battle element. Eventually, you might have to apprehend a hostile Ayakashi. You head to an area. Once there, a black shadow appears onscreen. You need to tap icons or press buttons corresponding to them to “bind” the opponent. The faster you do it without errors, the better your “score.” This in turn increases your skill level. Given the genre, it’s not like I expected an engrossing minigame from Otomate for this section. But it’s more bland than I expected. But given you’ll probably be skipping these if you’re going for romantic endings with certain characters, it often doesn’t end up being an issue.

Review: Dairoku is a Great Switch Otome Game

I didn’t expect to enjoy Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani as much as I did. With so many Switch otome games out now and it being another date supernatural boys game like Cafe Enchante or Hiiro no Kakera, I wondered how it’d set itself apart. But it’s such a genuine visual novel, and one where the relationships gradually grow between the heroine and bachelors. It’s really quite lovely.

Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani is available for the Nintendo Switch.

Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani

8

Food for Thought
  • Many of the NPCs, like Kinka, Kokko, Ibaragi, Shuten, and Takao, are as lovable as the actual love interests.
  • I inadvertently finished one route in a single evening, as it really draws a person into it.
  • If you want one of the best endings, focus on seeing as many story segments of the character you’re interested in.
    If you want to know more, check out Siliconera's review guide.
    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.