Today we have a special treat. Long-time commenter C. Banana has joined the Borg taken up the pen and become an Okazu Guest Reviewer! How excited am I? Very, I assure you. As you know, I do not game, so I am thrilled to be able to let C. tell us all about a Yuri game. Take it away C!
I’m here to talk about an indie dating sim/visual novel in the form of Heileen 3: Sea Maidens from Winter Wolves. For those who don’t know, Sea Maidens is the standalone expansion to the otome game Heileen 3: New Horizons offering four potential Yuri romances. It does help to play the first two Heileen games but it’s not necessary as the third game explains enough that newcomers won’t be lost. If you’re considering buying the first two games, keep in mind that some Yuri fans may not like them, as they’re more Yuri-lite than the third game expansion gets. That said, if you own an Android tablet, Heileen 1 & 2 can be found cheaper on Google Play.
The setting for the Heileen series is during colonial times on an expedition to the New World. The game series puts the player in the shoes of the titular Heileen, a very young noblewoman, who starts out the series very spoiled and immature -although she does get better over time. The events of the first two games involve the initial expedition crashing, resulting in Heileen and friends being stranded on a tropical island. At the end of the second game, Heileen is rescued by relatively friendly pirates which starts off the events of the current game.
Before delving into the romance part, the simulation part of the game should be get a comment. Basically, you train Heileen’s stats and skills to possibly get a possible non-romantic profession ending for Heileen. Usually in simulation games, the first part of the fun comes from the discovery of all the mechanics. The next part of the fun comes from using knowledge of the mechanics to figure out the puzzle of how to use them to achieve your goals. Unfortunately, the simulation side of Heileen 3 is way too simple to find any of this kind of enjoyment from the game and it doesn’t affect the romance scenes at all, anyway. It’s lucky for the game that the simulation and profession bits are not the main draw – but it does seem like a missed opportunity as it could have added to the game’s enjoyment.
As for the romances, they’re set up in the usual visual novel way, where the choices you make direct who Heileen ends up with (if anyone at all). For Sea Maidens, the romantic choices are a childhood commoner friend (Mary), a vivacious women in her early forties (Lora), an ex-slave African woman (Ebele), and an irascible pirate lady (Juliet). As this game was built off the original otome game, the early parts of the game do involve Heileen heavily crushing on guys. If you only own Sea Maidens, the guys become impossible to romance. All of the romances are reasonably long as each playthrough should last multiple hours unless a player is skipping text like crazy.
As for my comments on the romance paths…
Heileen/Mary - One thing that really surprised me about this route is how high the drama was during this romance, especially for a childhood friend option. Luckily though the drama didn’t overstay its welcome for me and I ended up enjoying this route quite a bit. As someone who’s played the first Heileen, it was nice touch that there was quite a bit of contrast to the Mary route in the first game as Heileen shows herself as much more mature and competent during the third game’s Mary route.
Heileen/Lora – A confession I’ll make is that I liked the Heileen/Lora route in the first Heileen game. That said, playing this route in Heileen 3 actually creeped me out a little as the mother/daughter vibe of their relationship is played up at the same time during this route. I’m pretty sure people who can get past that would enjoy the route a lot more than I did.
Heileen/Ebele – This romance certainly plays out significantly nicer than the others as, during this route, conflict between Heileen and Ebele is kept to a minimum. I liked this route in a mild way but unfortunately that doesn’t give me a lot to say about it.
Heileen/Juliet – I romanced Juliet the first time through and on subsequent playthroughs, I kept being tempted to play through her route again. One really positive thing about this route is that both Heileen and Juliet go through a fair amount of character development during this route. The ending CG is without a doubt my favourite of the bunch. Also, in what universe is a kickass pirate lady not considered a plus?
All in all, the potential romances offered are different enough that most people should find one route that they particularly like.
Art – 7
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Yuri – 5 to 9
Service – 5
Overall – 8
Erica here. Thank you so much for this review and the lovely picture which we all can enjoy. ^_^ Sincerely, I can’t thank you enough.
As always, if any of you, my dear readers, would like to offer a Guest Review, please take a look at these guidelines. I’m always on the lookout for points of view that are not my own and reviews of things I can’t or won’t review. Thanks again C. and here’s to more great Guest Reviews!