I realised that I didn’t share my final thoughts on Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly. So I will try to make this a spoiler-free review for the benefit of those who haven’t played the game. I will blank out any spoilers in white colour, so that those who have played the game will know what I’m talking about. (:
Firstly, it’s best to go into this game without much prior knowledge of what happens in the game. All you should know is that, our main heroine, Beniyuri, wakes up in a mansion without any memories. She meets the other characters, without their memories too: Hikage, Yamato, Karasuba, Kagiha. And they have to figure a way out to return home. There is also the curious figures of Usagi, and Monshiro, whom hide their identities under a mask. Yes, that’s all. Because that way, the unravelling of the mysteries of the mansion and the past of the characters will be more intriguing and engaging!
Honestly, the game starts out really well. It does a good job of showcasing the eerie setting, the hidden mastermind, each characters’ unique personality, dynamics among them – without giving away too much. It really tempts you to keep playing till the end, and I believe that many will be surprised at the eventual twist. However, I have faults to pick at. It may or may not bother you though! I’ll just list them.
I love the contrast of the bright psychedelic colours against the dull background. The original character designs and promotion art are really lovely too. But, the CGs weren’t always consistent. Also, the way they sorted the CG gallery was rather deceiving. For example, as long as Yamato appears in any CG (even a common route CG) – it will be in his gallery. So there will be overlaps. I don’t think they needed to do that – for a short game it has plenty of CGs imo!
The game is literally mapped out in a flowchart. This makes it easy to track your progress, and to know where are the branch points. But you should be aware that due to this, it is not so much “capturing the guy’s heart” but more of a “choose your adventure” story. The ending with the guy is like a bonus romance. So speaking of romance, there is very little. This game is really focused on the story so as I said, romance is like a bonus. And that doesn’t bother me much. But, this game also has short episodes which you can unlock at the side. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell which guy is featured in which episode (if you’re playing blindly). So even if you’re playing for Kagiha, you might accidentally end up reading a short episode featuring Karasuba flirting heavily with Beniyuri and her getting flustered – and it could feel awkward.
Maybe you can avoid this by using a walkthrough so you will know which short episodes to choose. But the thing is, most walkthroughs will have spoilers. This is because the way they label endings and short episodes gives away the real identities of the characters…if you want to follow a walkthrough – I recommend momokan’s as it’s the most spoiler-free.
But really, those above points are minor to me. What really bothered me was that there were several loose ends of the plot which weren’t tied up. Certain developments also seemed too convenient to me. It was a shame to me because the game opened up really nicely! So I expected it to be closed up neatly too. I am okay if the game allows you to draw your own interpretations – but in this case it’s all just too vague. I can’t go into this without saying spoilers so highlight if you’re really curious:
The thing that bugged me the most was how convenient the ribbon was. Kagiha immediately saved Beniyuri with it. It immediately responded to Beniyuri to save Monshiro – and lead them to the real world from that abyss…which is a real miracle. You can argue that in that world, strong feelings and such can be materialised but…yeah the ribbon was a really convenient tool.
It was never quite explained why only Beniyuri felt so tired after defeating the monsters. Was it because her hairpin had the shard? Speaking of the hairpin, why was the shard there? Did her original hairpin have it? If so, did the seller actually have ulterior motives? Or did the shard she had from Natsuki kinda collide with her hairpin and merged into one in that world? In that case, how were the shards from the other guys retrieved? It wasn’t explicitly stated that Takuya and Akira also brought their shards with them, so I can only assume that they did. And putting their 5 fragments aside, does that mean other people also picked them up? And ended up dying at the lake and hence the shards also fell into that world? If not why would the monsters (aka originally humans) have them? I have so many questions lol. And to be honest I feel that these points are not minor enough to be overlooked.
Other than that, my only critical comment is that Hikage really got the smaller share of the pie despite being a poster boy! Due to certain reasons, the other guys get more screen time than him in the short episodes. It’s a pity because those short episodes allow us to see different sides of them, and made us guess and question what is their issue. I felt that for Hikage, the end of the best end was a dead giveaway to his past – especially the very last scene. While I still enjoyed his route and how it explained the significance of the title, it felt too short and fast since you kind of know most of it already. I also wish that Hikage had 2 endings, like the rest did (aside from Kagiha whom is a special case), so that we can experience more despair on his side too haha.
Putting my complaints aside, what I did appreciate was how easy it was to relate to the characters. The issues the characters went through through that one incident was very well fleshed out (but except Hikage due to reasons). They each had a consistent theme – though I would argue that Monshiro’s had two but one overshadowed the other. Though you may not sympathise with them 100%, you can understand where they are coming from. As such, their personalities remained pretty consistent – except for Beniyuri, whom unfortunately kinda became way too naive towards the end…but on the whole, it was very nice to see how they matured at the end. The dynamics between the characters were fun to watch too.
For the technical aspects, it’s all what you would expect from an Otomate game. The music and voice-acting were great too. I liked that they did different ending tunes depending on the end you got. The shooting mini-game isn’t that difficult to master either. And you can skip it once you accumulate enough points to unlock all the short episodes. The only confusing part, surprisingly, may be the backlog button! If you have played previous Otomate games, you would naturally move your left stick upwards for the backlog. But it doesn’t work here. You need to swipe your finger over the screen downwards. So just a special note for any future players.
From what I know, you can only get the Bad End or Best End on your first playthrough. Other than that, I advise playing Yamato – Karasuba – Kagiha – Monshiro – Hikage. And to play individual bad ends before good ends. For the Real World and Grand Finale Ends, I think it’s up to you when you want to play them as long as it’s after the Best End. I’m sure the ends have other requirements (like reading certain short stories) but I can’t offer much help with that. Because I’m the type who just read whatever short episode was available as and when.
So I think that’s all I have to comment on. Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly is a short game once you finish the common route. I found the execution to be lacking towards the end, but it’s not like it’s fell through completely. I just felt that it could’ve been even better if they addressed those (spoilers) issues. Still, it’s a good story with mystery and some fantasy elements. And the fact that a character like Monshiro exists, pleases me 1000% haha. Anyway, I hope that this review helps you decide if you’d want to play this or not!