Being overly ambitious isn’t always a good thing, and Olympia Soiree proves it. Doing too much at once can result in some elements not being handled well. Focus can end up being split. Things might get confusing. It can get even more convoluted when serious topics like abuse and a caste system are brought into play. Olympia Soiree suffers from all these things, as while the story is sound and the heroine comes across as a well-rounded, well-intentioned young woman, this Switch otome game falls a bit flat.
Tenguu Island is an otherworldly and supernatural sort of place where the gods, like Amaterasu, still seem active and all people are born with varying degrees of colors determined by their parentage. For example, the Primary colors are Blue, Red, and Yellow. A Blue person would likely have blue hair and eyes. If a Red person and a Yellow person would get permission to marry and have children, their kids could end up being Red, Yellow, Orange, or some mixture of colors like Brown. There is also a discolor disease, which “pure” color people are more prone to. And people whose colors aren’t strong enough, are criminals, or go against societal norms and develop a relationship with someone not approved for their color, they get sent to live underground forever in Yomi. Also, sometimes the sun completely goes out and Amaterasu has to be appeased to restore it.
That is a lot. And it isn’t even all of it. (I am leaving out a lot of information that would qualify as spoilers.) But it’s necessary to establish even this brief summary for the rest of this to make sense. I promise.
Olympia is a White and the last member of her clan. All of which could only be women. Only a White woman can have other White children, and only a White dancer can connect with Amaterasu and cause the sun to return when things go dark. After a disaster wiped out everyone except her when she was a child, she was taken from her home on Tenyou Island to Tenguu. The game begins as she turns 18. After the sky suddenly goes dark for no reason, resulting in her having to suddenly restore it, the government makes the decision: Olympia must marry within a year and start breeding so there will be more people capable of restoring the sun.
I told you it was a lot.
Which is a part of what immediately starts holding Olympia Soiree back. There is so much justification and lore packed into the common route you have to go through before you can start getting into the romantic elements of this Switch otome game. I felt the pacing is off. Since much of this is as new to Olympia as it is the player, the first few hours is getting her used to the color system, its rules, and the island’s different districts. For example, Olympia’s lived with the leader of the Yellow, Douma, since everyone else in her clan was wiped out. She was sheltered, didn’t have any friends, and suddenly is told she has to get married in a year. (Also, if she doesn’t find someone, she’ll end up being forced to marry a Red who is a member of the Kotowari governmental organization.)
While some of the justifications and world building can be interesting, it also gets problematic in various ways. Taking the time to build all this up can make for some segments that I felt were rather dry. It takes a very long time before you even start meeting some of the love interests. (It will be hours before you meet Riku, for example.) While Olympia is against the class system, as are many of the people she meets, and wants to change things for the better, it’s awkward to come in and start reading about how people who are classified as an undesirable color, most notably Black, are banished to Yomi. It struck me as tone-deaf.
There’s also the abuse Olympia suffers. There are no trigger warnings. However, she is routinely told by a person close to her that she is unlovable and belittled. She is treated like a doll. Not to mention the whole point of the story is for her to find a husband so she can start cranking out babies. Which everyone feels entitled to comment on. And given her tragic background, it almost seems like she’s taken to heart one of her mother’s last wishes for her—to find her soulmate—as a hope that finding that one man will save her and make everything right. Even when you do get to the romantic routes, some of which have love interests who do seem like great people and are appealing, the time limit and concept constantly hanging overhead made me feel uncomfortable. Also, there is a route where rape is a plot point.
I also couldn’t help but feel like Olympia Soiree is another Idea Factory Otomate Switch otome game trying to be “edgy” and “mature” for the sake of it. Spoilers aside, there are some bad endings that I felt were completely out of character when it came to Olympia and her love interests, all for the sake of showing how far she might fall or what terrible fates could befall her and her soulmate. Compared to Piofiore, another of the company’s recent “adult” releases, it especially stands out. There, the characters and setting all seemed to ring true when unpleasantness occurred. I can’t say the same for Olympia Soiree.
That said, Olympia herself is a well-written heroine. She’s someone who went through so much. Now that she’s 18, she sees an opportunity to stop being obedient and passive. She’s taking action to learn as much as she can about her world. The second she has a chance to start befriending people, she does. She decides to push for a service that could connect people and maybe gradually start to change the class system. There’s a determination in her that is inspiring.
It also can be quite a pretty game. I found some of Aksys’ other recent Switch otome games, like Cafe Enchante and Piofiore, much prettier. But some environments here are especially striking and characters like Riku and Yosuga have some rather lovely CGs. The voice acting and soundtrack are great. Tomokazu Sugita, who people might recognize as Gintama’s Gintoki and Persona 5’s Yusuke, does a fantastic job. So does Yuma Uchida (Kyo from Fruits Basket and Rindo in NEO TWEWY).
Olympia Soiree ends up feeling awkward for many reasons. The class system, the focus on getting the heroine married and pregnant, and the information dumps get to be so much. Once you do finally get to a route, the pacing improves, but before that it is just so much to take in and process. I do think some people might end up enjoying Aksys’ newest Switch otome game, as there’s a solid localization and some characters are lovable. But I feel in the long run it will end up being one of the company’s more forgettable localizations, like Period: Cube or Bad Apple Wars, rather than a captivating and memorable one like Code: Realize or Collar x Malice.
Olympia Soiree will come to the Nintendo Switch on September 9, 2021.