LifeisXbox’s Blackberry Honey Review | Welcome to the visual novel Blackberry Honey which tells us the story of Lorina Waugh. Based in the 19th century Victorian Era, she is a young parlour maid who has been forced to commit much of her time working at the Hartwell Estate for the Lennard family after the rather abrupt termination of her previous employment. However, Lorina certainly doesn’t have it easy with the constant hardship, bullying, and torment she endures on a daily basis from other maids as well as from the daughter of the household, 12-year-old Lady Constance. After some time, Lorina comes into contact with another maid known as Taohua and it isn’t long before the two grow closer, falling for each other’s unique charm. As we witness the forbidden romance bloom, we are also taken on a ride of emotions that ultimately makes the story a real wave of lust and turmoil. Blackberry Honey has been developed by ebi-hime and published by Ratalaika Games which greatly relies on its story to grasp the players’ attention and inquisitive mindset.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox One S | Review code provided by PR/publisher. This review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Pure narrative | Blackberry Honey is the true definition of a pure visual novel experience, based on the stand-alone reading element that works in a similar way to people reading books with some pictures to help you visualise what you’re reading; to become more connected and absorbed with everything. Intrigued would have to be the first word that comes to mind thinking about how I felt reading through Blackberry Honey. There is past, present, and future included to give players a well-rounded description to base everything around, allowing personal opinions to be formed. It’s always nice to play a game at your own pace after all.
- Interesting story | As you have most likely already read in the introduction, Blackberry Honey’s focal point is that of the romance between Lorina and Taohua. Although gradual, in the beginning, the relationship these two developed was fascinating to me and gained depth from both characters’ perspectives. The way they clash but connect is somewhat turbulent, with everything coming together in the end. Even other characters give us more insight into their persona, therefore pushing us to change our viewpoint on them and perhaps reasoning with their traits. There is no doubt the narrative grows as you would expect with any story; into something rather unexpected.
- Fitting illustrations | The use of colour and detail for the illustrations in Blackberry Honey is incredibly beautiful and accompanies the narrative well around every corner, and let’s all be truthful here, you can’t have a good visual novel without pretty visuals. It would completely negate the idea. The colour is glum in places, but I believe this represents the Victorian era Blackberry Honey is set in, and also depicts the fluctuating mood that is also present for the majority of the game. I will be honest and say the art style was not my preferred choice, but nonetheless, that’s a personal opinion as it still represented itself nicely.
- Sexualisation | Although Blackberry Honey has been noticeably dialled down for its console release, seen as the PC version has additional sexual visuals, I could not quite settle or feel at ease with the sheer amount of alluring behaviour present. I mean, I guess maids and ‘sexy’ are two things that commonly go hand in hand. One thing I really could not get over was how Lorina was constantly in a specific pose. She constantly held her breasts up with what looked like great effort and strain, almost as if she let go even for a second they would bring her crashing to the ground. Let us just say you couldn’t miss them. Overall, Blackberry Honey wouldn’t be anywhere near the same without the steamy nature, and I think it gains from this with the romance we witness; it’s just not for me.
- Existent audio | Without the presence of any voice acting in Blackberry Honey, the only audio I’m able to comment on is the background music and accompanying soundtrack. Both have their place and compliment the game as expected for the scene and time we play within. I have to comment on the overall presentation and tempo of the music, as although I found it soothing to listen to while reading through, I’m not quite sure it suited the negative tone/mood that hovers over a large proportion of Blackberry Honey. It makes you expect everything to be rosy, but that is, without a doubt, not the case, even for a love story.
What we Disliked
- No dialogue options | One thing I’m a firm believer in is having choices that create the players’ unique story, giving us some control over what is happening. Unfortunately, there is not a single dialogue option in Blackberry Honey and the story told is set in stone. Maybe this is just a personal opinion but I prefer to be able to pick and choose what the main character says every so often but I stick with saying I think it provides us with a story based upon the options we have decided on. Don’t get me wrong, when we read a book we can’t pick what the characters will say but that is why in video game visual novels this addition can create a huge impact on our experience.
- One playthrough | Due to there being no dialogue options, the story told to us can only be the one so if you’re looking for a visual novel with multiple endings, Blackberry Honey might not be the one for you. Having only the single playthrough also means the achievements automatically unlock as you play and that might not be considered a bad thing. Unfortunately, as many achievement hunters will know, you can skip dialogue and increase the speed at which the novel is told – making the game take barely any time to complete. It took me just under four hours to read through everything and by the end, I was still left wanting more sadly.
- Too harsh | The title Blackberry Honey I thought would imply sweetness and warmth within the story but I quickly found it to be quite the opposite, especially the further I delved in. Lorina tends to be in the centre of everything that happens, as the main characters tend to be, making her the prime target for harassment, bullying, and any degree of plain disrespect. To be honest, it was pretty far from what I was expecting. Yes, there are areas of lightness and happiness but I felt these were quite far and few; making the story not the nicest of reads I suppose.
How long to beat the story | Approximately 3-4 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Approximately 3-4 Hours
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Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember; back on DreamCast. I’ve pretty much fallen for Xbox since I was around eight years old and remember BioShock being my first game on the Xbox360. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds that sometimes differ greatly from what we know. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievement hunting and gamerscore. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on the screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my backlog when possible. Horror is my favourite genre so if you have any recommendations, don’t be afraid to send them my way!