It’s that time again–not just Otakutober content, but time for some spooky Otome Otakutober content. If you’ve been around this blog for the past couple of years, you know that every Otakutober, I like to do a review of some “horror” otome games. Now, when I say horror, it’s mostly just spooky or paranormal romances. In the past, I’ve highlighted multiple games, but this year–and with so much travel this spooky season–I’ve only managed to play one. But let me tell you: it was probably the best one I could’ve ever played. Like, I’m not even kidding you. Sometimes these otome games make me cringe when I’m done with them and make me want to seppuku myself by their storylines but this one? This one was actually really well written, and better yet it was on the shorter side. It only took one night of about 5-6 hours of gameplay to finish all the routes. And the best part? It was free. So before I even get into the game review, I’m going to tell you right now that if you’re looking for a spooky otome game to play on Halloweeb night, check out Once Upon an All Hallow’s Eve.
Once Upon an All Hallow’s Eve is a free-to-play game that is available on Steam. It’s developed by Ran and the publisher is Visual Wordplay. It is, by all means of the word, an indie game. But you know, I’ve found that all the best otome games have been indie made and not some huge game company, but that’s just my personal preference. I’ll also say for an indie game it runs surprisingly smooth. In the past, I’ve encountered tons of bugs in visual novels including problems saving, inability to fast-forward, and broken images or sounds. This game though ran absolutely perfectly. There wasn’t any problem with anything in this game. Easy ways to save, great fast-forward option–even an option to go back in dialogue if you accidentally clicked forward. I loved the engine on this. The art, while not as elaborate as other games, was still great. I love the way that the characters are drawn, and the designs of the three brothers. I especially liked that even though the brothers in this game looked nothing alike, this was noted by the game itself to poke fun at itself. Part of me wished for a customized character option, but I know most otome games don’t allow that–plus the MC girl was cute.
Anyway, onto the actual storyline. The story was pretty sweet and straightforward. A girl finds herself in the forest after going to meet up with her friends on a girl’s trip. She’s surrounded by no one else and finds herself happening upon a house where three boys live. The boys don’t want to let her in at first for some odd reason, and they all seem to tiptoe around their words giving way that there’s a mystery to what the game is. Throughout the story, it’s pretty heavily hinted that there are ghosts and paranormal happenings in the house and forest. The boys mention death several times, and it’s about 20 minutes into the game that Star and I began thinking we were in some sort of halfway house for spirits and that all the characters were dead. But we couldn’t figure out what the orbs in the forest were if they were all spirits–we started thinking maybe they were like demons or something. Anyway, I’m getting off track. Just know that yes. This is a ghost story. You do best be believing in them because you’re in one. But it’s not necessarily a scary story. There are moments of unease, and there are certainly strange and creepy moments–but none that made us truly terrified. I definitely feel like it could’ve been scarier, but maybe it would’ve been if we had gone down a bad ending route. Unfortunately, we ended up with all the good endings. And I will say I appreciated that–because other games made it ridiculously hard to get normal or good endings, but this one was so natural that the first time we played each route we ended up on the good endings. I do wonder what bad endings would have been.
Another thing I really liked about this game was that the story was simple no matter what route you were on. There was a mystery where the same conclusion was reached in different ways depending on which brother you spent more time with. And their behaviors towards each other were consistent in each plot. On Viktor’s route, the oldest brother–he was weirdly protective of not just your character but also his brothers. He looked out for everyone and seemed to want to keep secrets for the better of the household. He was kind and easy to talk to. Meanwhile, Vonn, the middle child, was standoffish towards you from the get-go. He was untrustworthy but surprisingly kind despite his brashness. You spent more time with him warming up to you–going in between being irritated you overstepped and realizing he was overreacting. Vonn also clearly knew secrets as well, and it was only by playing his storyline that you would get the full picture of the story behind the brothers–something that was only hinted at in other routes. Vern, the youngest brother, was by far the most surprising route and the one Star and I loved the most. This was because Vern was shy at first, but was a lot smarter and more mature than his brothers gave him credit for. Whereas they knew the secrets of the house, Vern had put together the secrets himself just as much as the MC does. He was also surprisingly smooth in all of his lines, delivering pick-ups that actually made us swoon a little. Like, this boy got game. But it was pretty clear that out of the three brothers, Vonn’s storyline felt like the ‘true’ route.
The main character, as always, was a little annoying in her thoughts but I think she was a less annoying protagonist than most other otome games I’ve played. She could actually think, which was surprising since most other MCs seem to play dumb. If anything, this girl was just slightly too prideful at times. But hey, maybe that’s just the genre. I sincerely liked the options we received for her to interact with the boys too. However…some of her other dialogue was a little…iffy. But I forgave her in the end, because like I said before, her character design was cute.
Overall, I really don’t have anything bad to say about this game. I actually kind of wish that it was longer not because it felt insufficient (at 6 hours for a free game, that’s amazing in itself) but because I liked it so much I wanted to play it longer and get more into the story of the house and the boys. I would even watch an anime based after this story. So, 10/10 would recommend downloading and giving Once Upon an All Hallow’s Eve a play if you’re in the mood for a haunting otome game on Halloweeb’s night.