Publisher: Idea Factory
Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Visual Novel, Otome
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Idea Factory’s latest visual novel game is Olympia Soiree, a fantasy romance where you play as Olympia – a young woman whose just turned eighteen and the last woman of her tribe. She’s led a fairly isolated existence before now, but on her birthday she’s tasked with the goal of continuing her tribe’s line by marrying within the next year. As such she spends the majority of the game trying to seek out a suitable candidate to be her husband, but along the way she ends up becoming more interested in the culture of the island they all live on and works to make changes to improve it for the better.
As expected from the premise, romance is a large part of Olympia Sioree, but surprisingly this is balanced out with some more topical issues and darker themes. The island is subject to a caste system, with every person separated into different colour classes, which often can be seen visually through the person’s hair and eye colours. At the top of the class system are the three primary colours of red, blue, and yellow with other secondary colours sitting below them. However, colour muddling over time has led to many people showing multiple colour traits or muddy colours like brown and these people are rather harshly exiled to an underground village called Yomi. Corporal punishment is put in place for anyone who breaks the laws of the caste system (for example by marrying someone from the yomi class), and Olympia is horrified to discover the true nature of the society. As the last remaining member of the White clan, she is given the choice to choose whoever she may want for her husband, but there are many political reasons for her to be pushed back and forth in her decision.
I certainly wasn’t expecting a game that focused on a woman’s search for a husband to explore such dark topics of racism and critique the class system, and overall the game was an engrossing read. The game is quite long, with five possible routes to follow – as with the typical habit of visual novels, only three are available from the beginning, with the remaining two unlocking once you have completed them all. The five romanceable bachelors are all very different in terms of personality and whilst I found some routes to be less involved than others (Riku’s route is very light compared to Yosuga’s for example), they were all enjoyable in their own way. Each route also reveals more of the plot and world building which really contributes to the experience. Olympia herself is a really likable protagonist – as well as having a striking design, she has a surprising amount of agency with many of the plot’s events being directed by herself rather than the other characters. She starts off rather naive but grows quickly and shows a great range of emotions from passion, rage, stubbornness to, eventually, love. She was a great person to follow the game along with, and I found myself really rooting for her.
Design-wise the game is very polished, with a gorgeous animated main menu and stunning japanese style music throughout (even playing chords of an instrument when you’re making choices in the menu screen). There’s also an unusual additional element added to the menu after you’ve completed someone’s route as they comment on things when in the main menu and saving files – a little off-putting perhaps though when you’re on a new route and trying to pursue a different bachelor. The game CG are stunning also, with a great use of colour but I did find at times that the anatomy of the the characters in both the CGs and sprites to be a little off. The sprites are also animated with moving eyes and mouths, but with the mouth’s I found this to be barely noticeable and a little off-putting at times, and didn’t really give the desired effect. I liked the general character designs well enough (drawn by Satoi, artist of Diabolik Lovers), but it wasn’t my favourite compared to previous games released this year such as Cafe Enchante and BUSTAFELLOWS. The art certainly wasn’t bad though and this is really more of a nitpicky detail, and my own personal taste. There are also a few unusual choices regarding the menu design – the save files section is actually titled ‘History’ which could be mistaken for the Log initially. Otherwise however the game plays pretty smoothly and is fairly simplistic controls-wise.
Overall, I found Olympia Soiree to be an enjoyable and surprisingly deep game. I’d love to see more of the world and characters in the future given how it feels like the society will change a lot after the end of the game.
I found Olympia Soiree to be an enjoyable and surprisingly deep game. I'd love to see more of the world and characters in the future given how it feels like the society will change a lot after the end of the game.