I finished Rejet’s Ken ga Kimi quite a while back. But honestly, as much as I enjoyed it I don’t know if I have the time and energy to go back and write a detailed review for the game. So I thought that at least, for now, I should write a non-spoiler review for it. I don’t know how much it’ll help others since everyone by now should have heard something about it. But hopefully my post can offer another (non-spoiler) opinion of Ken ga Kimi.
Set in Edo period, Ken ga Kimi does have some historical background (eg. current shogun is Tokugawa, the four classes system) but it also mixes in some different concepts (eg. three races: humans, oni, youkai; imperial sword tournament). The introduction to all this in the prologue can be overwhelming. But once you get past that, you’ll be set for the rest of the game since that’s all you’d need to know.
If you have played the trial, you would already know that due to certain circumstances, Kayo is made to play the role of a fake princess bride for a royal wedding procession. She would have 6 guards follow protect her, and those are also the characters we would be going after in the later part of the game. While the common route is long, it serves as a good introduction to each guy’s personality, and the possible issues his route would contain later on. The interactions between all the characters here were fun to watch, and I admit that it was something I missed later on but it couldn’t be helped since not everyone wants to become close buddies.
Depending on which character’s favourability is the highest, you would enter his route and make choices to affect the eventual end – Aramitama and Kushimitama for the Ken route, Sakimitama and Nigimitama for the Kimi route. I played all my ends in the same order: Ara, Kushi, Saki, Nigi. To be honest it doesn’t matter, but I generally recommend playing the Ken ends first before the Kimi ends for a sweeter aftertaste. Though it isn’t always the case, on the whole Kimi ends are generally happier. In the case that it isn’t obvious enough from the name, Ken route would be Kayo leading the guy onto the path of the sword – literally. Whereas the Kimi route, while the guy may or may not completely give up the path of the sword, it would be less focused on it and Kayo would be encouraging the guy to other options. Each character route has 6 chapters, and once you finish one end you can easily speed through the remaining ends.
Now that I’ve already gone through the bone structure/game flow let me talk about the meat of the game. (Wow I am so lame.) I played in a recommended order of: Kei, Sakyou, Saneaki, Enishi, Suzukake, Tsuzuramaru. Personally, I enjoyed the first few routes a lot so I ended up expecting a lot more from the last two. While they were enjoyable too, I admit that I was a bit disappointed by how they ended. Rejet took a lot of time to create the setting so it felt a bit wasteful that they weren’t used more towards the end. I probably sound really vague so let me go through each route. (By the way, Sakyou and Saneaki are my favourites. Just saying.)
Kei’s route was a good first route since his issue was a bit of a surprise, but looking back all of his actions would have fallen into place. I preferred his Ken route on the whole, though one end was a bit questionable. The Kimi route was sweet, but the pacing and focus was a bit uneven so it could throw you off a bit. But overall Kei’s route was solid and I liked how the couple came to understand and need each other.
I was expecting to like Sakyou from the start, plus we already get a good understanding of his issue in the common route so basically: I knew what to expect and it did not fall short of those expectations. Like how Sakyou loves to stain the screen with blood at every chance he gets. Jokes aside, how the relationship between Kayo and Sakyou evolved was just so cute to watch. I wished that more imagery and symbolism was used (such as the quote Sakyou would repeat) but that is my personal taste. Other than that Sakyou’s route was good, both Ken and Kimi routes.
What I liked about Saneaki’s route is that, the choices that will influence him to the Ken/Kimi routes are clear and self-explanatory. You can say that I’m being overly-obsessed with the details but in my opinion his and Enishi’s route did this the best and I appreciate it. And I want to add that I did not expect to like Saneaki this much. I mean, he kept avoiding Kayo after all. But the way Kayo held onto him was so amazing, and how he starts to let her into his life. I could slowly predict how Kayo’s friend came into the story but that’s okay. Still, his route probably contains the least amount of revelations despite how much I like his character.
For Enishi, I think most would agree that his Ken route is better. The pacing is much better there, and we get a better look at his complex and I loved how he could finally confront it. For his Kimi route, both ends felt rushed to me and it was like I didn’t get enough out of them. That being said, one can argue over which is the “happier” ending. Kayo was pretty awesome in both too.
Suzukake is so cute it’s so hard to dislike him. But I admit that his route was pretty bumpy towards the end whether it was Ken or Kimi routes – as much as I enjoyed his emotional scenes or that scene in the Kushi end. His fate, his awakening, the “villain”, the resolution etc. didn’t feel tightly woven together. And to be quite honest, his issue feels similar to Kei’s and Kei’s did a better job in my opinion.
As mentioned, I expected a lot with Tsuzuramaru being the last route. I liked that hints about his identity were dropped in previous routes. But it felt that the surface was barely being scratched in terms of his past, and his links to the other _______. Due to his identity, I also expected more connection to the other ongoing story but there wasn’t. Like Enishi’s, I preferred his Ken over his Kimi route as they felt more resolved. Especially the Ara end as we get to learn the meaning behind the game title. While his Saki end was really happy it felt too good to be true
especially for Rejet.
Other than that, the art and music was great despite a few sprite and typo discrepancies. I liked the small details, such as the mapping of the Tokaido journey. The system was straightforward and the bonuses you unlock were nice. I like that you can easily play back all the scenes too. Though I wonder why I still have missing entries in the game dictionary. The OP is lovely by the way, as is the ED and how it will differ for Ken vs. Kimi ends. The only minor complaint I have was how slow the text would play when special effects were on (eg. rain). I don’t know if it is just me though. I feel that writing-wise it will be hard to blow my mind away after the likes of Shinigami to Shoujo, and even Getsuei no Kusari. Still, the writing was good and there were memorable lines too. So take it as a compliment from someone as picky as me! As for the cast, I thought that everyone did well including the side characters. Speaking of sub-characters, I really love Hachimoku
even cuter than Suzukake.
So basically, Ken ga Kimi is a good game. Some routes do have its faults, but not enough to take away the enjoyment of the game. Despite some of my critical comments, I can’t deny that I enjoyed all 6 routes and Kayo is definitely one of the better heroines out there. I can recommend this game without hesitation, but just don’t expect a 100% perfect game. Then again, is there a 100% perfect game? I wish Rejet would consider producing more (historical) games like this and perhaps they would, seeing how Ken ga Kimi has been pretty well-received.
(I don’t know why it took me so long to write this. And I have 0 motivation to game at the moment sobs so just a warning in advance with regards to my inactivity.)