Okay… so be prepared, this is a LONG one, fucking deal yo. Iwaihime, which means celebration princess, is a horror kinetic VN, which means it has no choices. Well, that’s kind of a lie, there is a set of choices in the game, but that’s just which route you go first and second, you have to play all three routes you just get to choose which order it goes in, and that changes nothing.

The game focuses on a group of teens and the school nurse, two of the group are boys, the rest are all women. One of the men is the hero, Suzumu Susuhara, a super pure guy from the country side who’s practiced his family’s martial arts all his life, as his family has been doing for one thousand years, it’s a fist to dedicate to the Gods not for fighting. He’s come to learn to be independent, by moving to the city on his own. The other male character is a side kick comedy character named Natsuya Atsuta, he’s a blend of various stereotypes you find for side male characters. He’s a nice guy, a macho man who wants to fight all the time, he’s obsessed with card games, he’s a pervert, and he’s a comedy character to laugh at, he’s also kind of pointless, but everyone likes him cause he’s a nice guy. The girls start with Toé Kurokami, the rich girl with no emotions, who’s holding the world on her shoulders and is immediately both drawn to and tries to force herself away from Suzumu. Tsubakiko Harumiya, the girl who’s trying to become the perfect wife material after being part of a notorious women’s gang where she was the leader of the attack squad, when she gets mad she talks like a gangster and it’s adorable, she’s also Suzumu’s distant cousin who wants to bang him. Kanae Minobe the president of their school club LCSC which is a club that does local community service, she has a bad home life and is obsessed with making money to get away from her mom and her new boyfriend. Riria Nunokawa, an idol in a teen band who used to be an idol when she was in elementary school too who has serious body negativity issues due to growing up as she lost a lot of fans as she grew up because they preferred the child version of her because they’re all pedos. And lastly their school’s nurse who is a secondary character through most of the game, but has her own story as an extra chapter which you can buy as DLC, Mayu Hinagata. She… she’s weird, she’s smart but childish, she has a tendency to goof off and then talk in logic lines. An example of a logic line is this: Riria comes with us->Teacher gets on camera->people get infatuated with Teacher->Teacher gets her start->Teacher becomes rich and famous yaaaaaaooooo. She does things like that often, when she’s trying to be serious she talks like normal, she’s an amusing caring person who gives the kids a lot of freedom but is always there to look after them even if she’s playing it all off as a joke.

Enjoy the long thing telling you about the characters? Good. The story is horror as I stated, from the get go you start off in Tsubakiko and see her commit suicide within the first like 30 minutes of the game as she waits for Suzumu’s train to show up. Turns out that was a fucked up daydream, and you come to learn ALL the girls including the nurse has them. Now there’s twelve chapters to the game effectively, most of them are really long. The first chapter focuses on Toé and at the end someone dies and Suzumu gets injured, when he wakes up the world is on fire and dragons are destroying everything. Then time is effectively rewound and the story then focuses on Minobe. She tends to daydream that are both nightmare and just standard dreams, she’s Elice in Wonderland, but this is a dark fucked up wonderland where she’s forced to play sshess, something like chess, with a disgusting man and in order to get new pieces on the board when she loses them, she has to have parts of her body cut off or pulled out etc, IE she gets tortured. Well in this chapter everything goes ‘bad end’ too and two people die. And then, you guessed it, time rewinds again, this happens until chapter five’s end so I’m not going to say it anymore. The story then focuses on Riria as she starts to have dissociative issues where she sees her child-self moving around and she starts to succumb to depression which results in her idol status being destroyed as she tries to find any way to make her body go back to being her child body even if it kills her, which results in an incredibly bloody apocalypse that Suzumu gets to witness first hand. Next chapter focuses on Suzumu’s cousin Tsubakiko, well she agrees with the other girls to try and seduce him with food, but she ends up telling him she loves him and they start dating, which leads to a major rift put between the girls resulting in them committing serious violence against each other which results in everyone’s death, because as the idiom goes: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Now comes the last rewind, Suzumu breaks up with his cousin after a day saying he doesn’t think he’s ready for a girlfriend yet, good on you for not fucking up the gene pool. Well in this chapter the teacher tells Suzumu what’s going on, something only the teacher and Toé know, all of the girls are cursed. The reason Toé knows is because her curse is the worst as she’s part of the main family, the rest of the girls including the teacher, are all branch family members. The curse shows them terrible dreams to torture them. This curse has been going on for a thousand years and started with just one family line, it’s tied to soot which is the curse of the Gods as humans fucked them over. The curse was forced onto a priestess and absorbed, however, more Gods did it which in turn resulted in it being spread to most people albeit not to house the curse like the priestess. The soot gathers in people’s body’s, and it becomes thicker in their ancestors as they gathered soot from men via sexy fun times, or less than fun times, this results in them passing a stronger version of the curse to their child, as in one, the birth though always killed the mother. Eventually the curse became too strong and the woman couldn’t hold it in, so the main family after spending hundreds of years searching found a way to deal with it, they multiplied the baby that the woman was already with, into five babies, which obviously killed her fairly grotesquely as a body that’s about to give birth to one baby hasn’t had the time to expand to fit, you know, five babies in it… but regardless the curse was split between five children creating the main branch and the four side branches. Turns out though Susumu can save them from the curse. This talks about how it came to be, how he and Toé are connected, and then it sees Toé start to crack under the curse. This is the end of the hell chapters, now to to start making life fucking bearable for people.

The next chapters is where you get a choice, the teen girls and the curse’s inside them have gotten together, they could bring about four different calamities upon mankind, but instead they want to end the world effectively by combining all their strength, for that they come up with a plan, effectively they’re going to all take the soot from each other until one has all of it, and they determine who’s going to do that by who obtains the obscene amount of soot in Suzumu’s body. Oh and they can get men’s soot one of two ways, bonking, which is how it’s gathered in the body’s in the past up to their generation, or by eating Suzumu’s guts. Whoever can do that gets to destroy the world. This is when you get a choice, as to which of the three girls gets to do it as Toé will sit back and let them all go first. It doesn’t matter which you choose as this is about getting a good fucking end finally after fifteen or so hours of fuck you, bad end. As such the next three chapters play out in any order you want, each one focuses on either Riria, Minobe, or Tsubakiko. In each of them you see why their lives are fucked up, it explains the real life situations they’re in that you saw dark twisted metaphors in the first chapters for. Suzumu goes about trying to save each one of the girls which causes the curse to leave their body but be sucked up into Toé, then you deal with her which shows more of the ancient past, in the end saving the girls comes with a price though. The following chapter is just as bittersweet but it starts off as a pure happy funny chapter only to gut punch you at the end. This one is based on summer break, the club is getting together to bring fun and joy to a retirement home and with that in mind, they… they decide to do a wrestling match… for old people… yeah… then it’s off to the water park again with the retirees, so effectively they finally had their GODDAMN BEACH EPISOOOOOODE!!!! …Sorry I’ve been watching too many Offbeat Outlaw skits lately, Dungeon and Dragon skits are bad for your mental health, sorry again. This episode the girls are fighting against each other to steal Suzumu’s lips only for the worst case scenario to happen, summer was one last miracle but it comes at even more of a price. The following chapter the four main heroines have to learn to deal with loss and life. That’s all eleven of the main game chapters. It took me around twenty-eight hours.

Next thing to talk about is the DLC chapter called Iwaihime – Extra Chapter: Musubihime, because I was provided the bundle which includes the game and DLC to review. This chapter focuses on the nurse, Mayu Hinagata. In it the group is planning her birthday, while she’s still having pretty bad curse nightmares, after all, again, she was never cured, but the curse was dying thanks to Suzumu, her family’s curse is hearing people talk shit about them all the time, eventually causing a persecution complex in the family, IE after the curse passes to the kid the parents in this family keep hearing it because it’s become a mental illness. The chapter goes back to her teen years too and gives us her history as she fought against her curse instead of fleeing from it like the rest of her family or being taken over by it like all the other curse holders who didn’t have a choice in the matter. It gets… bad, like not sad or anything it started to make me almost physically ill and extremely uncomfortable. I’m… I’m just going to ruin this part so you know what you’re getting into with this DLC. She hears people and sees people doing and saying things they aren’t doing so she ignores it and pretends like she can cause in her mind they’re great people she knows they’re great people, but eventually her classmates start freaking out and are scared of her so they’ve been actually saying bad things to her, to her face but because she thinks it’s the curse she acts like they’re saying nice things, normal fine, it’s all good. Well they decide to throw her a birthday party to make her fuck off with the creepy smile and shit, cause no one but her knows she’s suffering from her curse, so anything she saw there she believed was just the curse fucking with her. Now let’s say what they gave her, water drained from a dirty rag with hair and stuff in it, she saw what it was but thinking it was the curse, she drank it anyways. Then her cake… dog feces and burnt up cockroaches. She… ate it… You as the reader knows this isn’t her curse, you know this stuff is real, and… it’s so disgusting, they show it and everything and just no, this is the single worst scene in the entire game by leagues. Eventually though it gets a good end, it’s also the only time when something is truly a good end through and through in this game. Everything else is either a worse and worse end or it’s super bitter, this one is just good the whole way through and now I know why it was last. Still can’t figure out when it exists in game time. It seems like it’s before any of them were cured, sometimes it seems like an alternate reality to the main game, I just have no idea.

Now you notice, I said what each chapter focuses on, I didn’t say who’s eyes it’s through, that’s because it switches between characters in each chapter, often seeing through the heroine and Suzumu’s eyes, but sometimes it’s just through his or a heroine’s eyes as well, sometimes it even goes through various girl’s eyes. When characters are speaking they tend to be on screen and every time you start to see an inner monologue their character is always displayed so that you know whose eyes you’re seeing through, unless it’s constantly through theirs, there’s clear dividers when it switches to someone else’s eyes. Each character is voiced as well, the narration isn’t though, I don’t remember the inner monologue being voiced either but I could be wrong. The music is really good in this one, after all I’ve noticed it and as per usual I rarely notice music, but VNs get noticed fairly often cause they have music and it is kind of forefront unlike most other games where it amps stuff up or is background sound so things don’t sound dead

Upon completing the game you unlock two items in the main menu, the first is an extras menu, part of it is a Records area which tells you how many lines you’ve read from the total in the game, there’s twenty thousand three hundred and five lines. That’s… sizable, but after 28hrs just for the main story, this doesn’t shock me. It also shows you how many endings you’ve read, to which there are twelve one for each chapter’s end, how many of the musical tracks you’ve unlocked which you get just by playing the game, to which there are forty, and lastly how many photos you’ve unlocked and there’s ninety-eight of them. The problem with this is those numbers seem to include not just the main game but also the DLC, so I assume you’ll see that you’re missing stuff the whole time, when you actually aren’t, after all one of the main game achievements is for beating the DLC chapter as well, so you are expected to buy the DLC too. Also in the extras menu is obviously the Album for photos and Music for, uh, music. The Album is ordered oddly in this, in most games the Album is ordered by when you get them in order as you play the game, instead it’s ordered by girl, each page in the album is pictures from both of the chapters that involve the girl, in that it’s split from what’s first to what’s last which is nice, the fifth album is pictures from the past and pictures from the last two chapters, the sixth album is just two pictures, a night background of the sky and a morning background of the sky, the seventh and last album are pictures from the DLC chapter.

I have to say I really enjoy the game, the bad ends were really cool, the curing parts were kind of distressing due to the real life situations the girls are all in, just very very distressing, but again, it’s a horror VN if it wasn’t distressing then there would be a fucking problem. Overall it’s pretty good, the only real issue I had with it was that I wasn’t able to finish it by the end of Halloween.

Iwaihime was developed by DMM Games, and written by Ryukishi07, a fairly well known horror VN that deals with twisted blood and gore galore.

Point of Sale: Steam.

$30 for the main game, $8 for the DLC

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A review copy of the game was provided by the dev.

darkmikasonfire awards Iwaihime the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.