Here is my review of Sweet Clown ~Gozen Sanji no Okashi na Doukeshi~. The first page will be a non-spoiler review, recommended for people who are curious about the title and whether or not to play it. The second page will be filled with my spoilers thoughts. You have been warned.
Our heroine, Kashino Zakuro, receives a mysterious invitation to Sweet Clown’s castle, for a 3am tea party. The written date is 9th October – that date and the castle location are unforgettable to Zakuro for hidden reasons. Due to this, she feels inclined to accept the invitation.
The other invited guests are Kobashi Ouichirou (CV: Takahashi Hiroki), Hinose Takeru (CV: Kakihara Tetsuya), Mitsuhara Seisuke (CV: Toyonaga Toshiyuki), Kuze Souma (CV: Uchida Yuuma), and Manai Tomoki (CV: Kobayashi Yuusuke).
However, after a strange turn of events in which Zakuro wishes not to leave and for tomorrow to never come – everyone ends up being trapped in the castle. Sweet Clown (CV: Matsumoto Shinobu) claims to be “a devil who grants wishes”, and wants her to inherit his powers. It seems to be the only way to free everyone. So out of guilt, Zakuro agrees to this.
The other residents of the castle include Keifa (CV: Mizushima Takahiro), Ghat (CV: Kuroda Takaya), Neige (CV: Oki Kanae) who always wears a donkey head, twin rabbit dolls Cranberry (CV: Shirakawa Manami) and Raspberry (CV: Toudou Mai).
Apparently, the recommended order from Takuyo (in terms of increasing amount of spoilers) is: Seisuke, Souma, Takeru, Ouichirou, Truth
I played in that order, and would recommend the same order too. Well, the Truth route is only unlocked after you complete the other four routes though. Once you’re past the Common Route, it splits into two paths depending on the character route: Seisuke/Souma and Takeru/Ouichirou. After which, it further splits into each individual character route. There are two bad EDs – but actually they’re the same; it’s just whether you get them on Seisuke/Souma or Takeru/Ouichirou. Each character route has four EDs: a good and bad ED each for ‘Deep Love’ or ‘Twisted Love’. (Hmm don’t the EDs sound familiar to Getsuei no Kusari?)
I’m going to make comparisons with Getsuei no Kusari and Shinigami to Shoujo (also by Takuyo) – though mostly with GnK. Because its main scenario writer was in-charge of Seisuke/Souma. For reference, Sorayume’s main scenario writer was in-charge of Ouichirou/Truth, and Kamikoro’s main scenario writer was in-charge of Takeru’s. However, the two writers behind Seisuke/Souma/Ouichirou/Truth are also involved in many of Takuyo’s titles.
On the whole, this game isn’t as long as GnK and StS. To be honest, there isn’t a complicated storyline, or like multiple plots going on at the same time. In fact, it’s more about uncovering the different pasts. And that’s okay, because it’s essentially about how Zakuro and the guy change – and eventually how they “escape” the predicament.
The characters themselves are the strong points of the game, because all of them were developed nicely. Even the side characters got their share of development. Similar to Megumi (GnK) and Sayo (StS), Zakuro is not your conventional heroine. She’s chained down by her past, and puts up a front in order to interact with other people as minimal as possible. I’m definitely one of those who loves seeing the heroine as her own character, and observing how she grows through the course of the game. So it was great. The change in her personality isn’t abrupt either, due to the story. If I were to nit-pick, it would be that her negative side didn’t feel as convincing as Megumi’s. Or I felt that more could have been done to fully deliver why she’s this broken. I’m not quite sure how else to phrase that, and I guess that’s a weird thing for me to request – but that’s how prepared I was.
I give the most “surprising” award to Seisuke. He seems like a flirtatious yet amicable character, who of course has a hidden side. But the question is, will his hidden side go beyond your expectations? I can’t say that he falls into my favourite type of character (even his own CV describes him as 嫌). But boy was his route an interesting roller-coaster ride. For spoiler reasons, the relationship between him and Zakuro was also very interesting to watch. Since you play his route first, it’s amusing to see him in later routes with that newfound understanding of him.
Since the start, I had a feeling that Souma would be my bias. I wasn’t wrong. He’s an amazing dork who will protect Zakuro unconditionally, and will abide by her best interests. I also admire how straight-laced he is, and how his simple attitude go against our common sense yet he also makes sense. It felt so refreshing. On top of that, he declares that he will be Zakuro’s younger brother. I totally understood why she grew to rely on him. I dare say that even his ‘Twisted Love’ ED felt happy to me, even though as the name suggests, it’s supposed to be twisted.
Takeru gives off sadistic and crazy vibes at first, and I’m not saying that he isn’t once you learn about his past. However, he’s also sensible and realistic. Sounds weird, but yes. In his route, he deliberately takes certain actions in order to help Zakuro become Sweet Clown, and he always speaks his mind. It was refreshing. His appearances in Ouichirou’s and Truth Route also highlight how he is the most rational and quick-witted among the guys. At least that’s what I observed; and I liked that contrast. Speaking of contrast, I find that he’s the most horny as well lol.
Lastly, Ouichirou is the poster boy and for good reasons. His route reveals the most spoilers about Sweet Clown. Despite his initial brusque attitude, he’s actually a really kind guy whom I ended up liking a lot (after Souma). So it was a pity that with his route putting so much focus on the spoiler reveals, his romance with Zakuro didn’t feel as natural compared to previous routes. Also, his route brings up certain points which weren’t touched on before, or went against previous logic. So I wonder if it’s inconsistency; or should I give the benefit of doubt.
As for the Truth Route, I have to say that the revelation was obvious. However, it depends on how much you’re willing to accept, and how much you wish was true/false. I think that’s what makes it more…despairing and regret-filled. Compared to the other routes, this is shorter. It was perfect in terms of the characters (development and interaction), as well as the build-up. But because there were still a few questions which weren’t answered in Ouichirou’s route, I was expecting them to be answered here.
Similar to Takuyo’s previous games, what I liked is how there is no clear black and white. Characters like Sweet Clown and Takeru sometimes provide interesting points of discussion. That being said, I think that the themes presented here aren’t as complicated. Or rather, there isn’t much discussion about those themes. I’m not sure if it’s partly because of how Zakuro’s character is; since she isn’t the type to argue or debate. I did enjoy the fairytale motifs, and the darker tone of this game.
The art isn’t the strong point, and that’s okay for me. What I’m surprised at is that the artist is supposed to be the same as GnK’s – given that the style may have changed, but the proportions etc. didn’t look as polished? However, I appreciate the background art and the music. The music especially, helped in setting the whimsical yet eerie tone of the game. The opening and ending songs also grew on me, and I liked the ending movie for the Truth Route a lot.
As always, Takuyo doesn’t pick a whole cast of super popular and familiar CVs – but as always they do a solid job. I say this because back in 2015 Toyonaga Toshiyuki, Uchida Yuuma or Kobayashi Yuusuke wouldn’t have been as popular as they were now. I also appreciated that I got to hear a different side to Takahashi Hiroki and Kakihara Tetsuya (keigo!!). Also a standard to Takuyo’s games, all the characters say the heroine’s name.
So it was a pity that the audio wasn’t coming out as well! I tried to adjust the volume of the background music as well so that I could hear the voices better. But when I set it to the lowest, the music just disappeared on me. So I had to increase it a notch, causing the louder tracks to sometimes overpower the voices. That’s the main gripe I had. Other than that, the system was really good. For example, Takuyo’s system auto-saves at every choice, and you can also replay every scene from the extras. I also liked that they now show an “onsei” which basically signals to you that the character is still speaking.
As you complete each route, you get to unlock the CGs, background art, scenes, music, opening and ending movies, character profiles, dialogues recorded for the countdown release, and character illustrations. I didn’t like how they separated CG variations in the gallery section to make it seem as though there were a lot of CGs. By the way, you also get to hear CG comments and I realised that you just need to hear it from the last CG variation.
In order to get the platinum trophy, you’d need to replay certain scenes. But it wasn’t difficult, since you could just refer to a walkthrough and replay the scenes from the extras. You don’t need to finish it either, and can just exit immediately.
All in all, I’d definitely recommend Sweet Clown ~Gozen Sanji no Okashi na Doukeshi~ to anyone who’s looking for an otome game with darker undertones, and appreciates flawed characters and seeing how they’d develop under such unusual circumstances.
(Okay with spoilers? Then feel free to check the second page.)