Warning: This game is rated R-15 by the creator of this game. Please note that this review takes the rating in mind, and that the creator of this game also notes that this is a Japanese-centric rating, so it may be more intense (say, a R-18 for Western audiences). Please proceed if you have acknowledged this warning and understand the use of this rating.
That being said, let’s review.
Game: Wadanohara and the Great Blue Sea
Platform: RPG Maker (PC/Mac OSX)
Rating: R-15 (VGPerson(the tranlsator) recommends R-18 for Western audiences)
Download Links: English: http://vgperson.com/games/wadanohara.htm
When considering this game for review, I wasn’t really sure where to start. Initially I wanted to review this alongside The Gray Garden and Mogeko Castle (in which will be future reviews), but I decided that I would rather make each of the games a seperate review so that I can fill in as much detail as I deem necessary.
Wadanohara and the Great Blue Sea is a story-based RPG which goes about a young(?) witch who returns to protect her sea after going on a sea-faring trip with her familiars. While Wadanohara left the sea, the sea in which she lives in is attacked by an external force, and a sinister plot begins to brew in the ocean. Wadanohara returns to the sea and immediately gets the feeling of being unwelcome from Simekichi, a blunt shark who tells her that she doesn’t belong in the sea.
The game for the most part revolves around small story-based quests which explain the events of what happened during the time Wadanohara left the sea. Very little grindwork is required for the game to be played without getting unexpected game overs or bad endings, and the game can be finished anywhere from level 15 (even though I recommend you get to about level 20 so that you can avoid grinding all together and get the most out of the story) and the encounter system requires interactions unless otherwise placed into battle by bosses. At level 30, everyone gains an ultimate attack which attacks all enemies in battle. The game has a relatively small difficulty curve to keep in line with the story.
The characters are well-etched out and developed during small parts of the game, explaining some of the events through small filler material. Of all the characters, Wadanohara has the most complex character development because of spoiler-filled story parts which will not be revealed. Fukami, her octopus familiar, has some points of character development which are really overlooked, he says very little so it’s important to take note of what he says, even if he’s subtle in his context. Dolphi. her dolphin familiar, is really sensitive, and is easily used as humor material in the crew. Lastly there’s Memoca, who is her seagull familiar. Memoca has a bit of a carefree spirit and knows that there’s a time and a place for jokes and often gets annoyed (and makes a movie reference) at some point later in the game. Throughout the game, many characters get introduced and each of them may have interesting things to say.
The game is mostly cute, but it has an unexpected dark side to it. The game does make use of its dark side to explain a story which in turn binds the whole story together. Some parts are left to the player to figure out on their own, but the pieces of the story that are necessary to make it whole is there.
There are multiple endings: 2 bad endings, 2 standard endings and 1 true ending. There is also a sidequest to find 7 keys to unlock 99 holy healing items (proscuitto) in the game. Other than that, most of the game is really linear and doesn’t allow you to explore places when it’s unnecessary, which is all fair and well. It doesn’t feel artificially like you’re being forced out of the way, it’s just a simple “Not this way” so that you don’t lose track of the story at all. This helps for this kind of RPG, where sequence breaking would make you lose out on important bits of information of the story.
This game lasts about 6-7 hours depending on reading pace.
After going through the True ending, be sure to go to the bonus room for some extra bonus content. The password for the Bonus zip file will be provided there, and you will have full access to the Omake (Japanese webpage with some nice content bits) and Bonus (English webpage translated by VGPerson) webpages which explain certain parts of the story better once the ending has been reached.
The music is mostly royalty-free and can be found at the source section on the Japanese website. The music is appropriately placed in the game Music folder, and the source names are used. Most of the music is really fitting and surprisingly well-done for MIDI files.
Overall, I recommend Wadanohara and the Great Blue Sea for people who aren’t really great at RPGs, but want a story-driven experience with a lot of interaction and detail. The game is really cute, fun and has a tinge of disturbing darkness to it, which balances everything in order and makes the game worthwhile playing. The fillers allow for the player to experience the story from multiple times and points of view, and explain the circumstances of the story.
Some of Funamusea’s other characters in his other series do make references or appearences in Wadanohara and the Great Blue Sea, It makes for a nice material to link everyone in the same universe together. It’s worth reading and playing their other works if you’re interested in Wadanohara and the Great Blue Sea.
Don’t forget that there’s an active Manga being updated once every 2 weeks (the Japanese Manga is two chapters ahead of the official English Manga), which can be read alongside playing the game. You can find the Japanese version here while you can find the English version here. The official Twitter account (@o_wadanohara) updates on an irregular basis with works and extra bits every now and then. It’s worth a follow if you’re going to be reading the Manga which has started recently.
Please enjoy the game, and please remain who you are, let nothing stain you, let nothing take you away.