Demo Review: Locked Heart

11/08/2015

locked heart otome visual novel demo review

Once upon a time, the d'Lockes, a prestigious family, became the receivers of a terrible curse. No one has heard of them since then. Seven years later, their mansion remains standing in the dark forest with no signs of life inside. Nobody even dares to go near it. Until one day, a girl named Aura stumbles across the house, and is greeted by a family of... talking plush toys?!

Join Aura as she struggles to find out the truth behind the curse and break it.

Hi guys, so, it's another demo review! This time, the game is Locked Heart, a sort of cutesy, fantasy otome that's set to be released... uh, sometime soon, I believe? It's been in development for more than a year and a half now, and as a matter of fact, I've been looking forward to playing the game since May 20, 2014 (the actual date I commented on the development thread of this project, haha.)

So, anyway. As a huge (and I mean huge) fan of fairytales, I am absolutely thrilled to be playing this! It has this really fairytale-y vibe to it, which is largely due to the fact that it was inspired by Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Not to mention, the pretty anime-style art adds a lot to the charm of the game, as well.

locked heart otome visual novel demo review

Story-wise, I already find this visual novel really adorable. It's basically this: Aura, the protagonist, gets lost in the forest due to her own stubborness and naivete. It starts raining, so when she finds a lone mansion in the middle of the dark forest, she decides to enter it, even though there are rumors regarding the said mansion. Inside the supposedly abandoned mansion, Aura is absolutely surprised when she sees people inside-- oh, actually, not really. Instead of people, she finds moving, talking, breathing plushed toys inside. What the heck is going on?!

I would just like to point out that while I was playing the demo, I couldn't help but notice how similar it was to one of my own projects (which will be released sometime this November, haha). Thankfully, though, the writing style is completely different, because mine has a more somber tone to it, while this one is completely cutesy-- which I really loved. <3

By the way, the bigger story here is that the d'Lockes have a younger sister, Gold, who was turned into a lifeless doll, unlike the rest of her household who became talking plushies. Now, it's implied that Aura has to somehow solve the mystery of the toymaker who cursed the d'Lockes. To me, that's pretty intriguing, and it suggests that this story could go a lot deeper than what the cutesy premise seems to be saying. :D

locked heart otome visual novel demo review

The characters are really interesting, too. I especially liked Deon, who's the "Baby Bear" in the story. He's really cute, even though he does have a pervy side. But hey, don't most boys do, anyway? Hahaha. I like the other guys, too, Sol and Royal, though. Sol has this princely charm to him, while Royal's grumpy nature is also pretty cute. Haha, seriously guys, I think I'm going for all the obtainables in this game once the full game is already released. <3 When it comes to long-ish games, I normally just pick one and go with that, but in here, picking one is hard! They're all just too adorable. <3

Even the non-obtainable characters were charming. Miss Lillie and Miss Maria are two other-- um, should I say servants?-- of the d'Lockes family, and they certainly add a lot of fun to the story!

locked heart otome visual novel demo review

You know who I didn't like very much? Aura. Don't get me wrong, she seems nice... yeah. But I'm personally averse to protagonists who are way too "stubborn" and "naive", and almost a borderline dummy. Now that I think about it, she reminds me a lot of Sakura Mikan from the anime Gakuen Alice! They're both really clumsy, they both can't do most things right, and they're both just plain childish. (Though Mikan is only 9 years, so let's give her a break.) I really loved that anime when I was in elementary school, even though most of the time, I disliked the protagonist. I had a crush on Natsume back then (hey, I was also just 8-9 years old back then!) and even as a kid, I found Mikan's antics to be quite grating. However, Mikan is a character who's going to grow on you no matter how much you disliked her from the start (I really adored her near the end of the anime), so I'm hoping that Aura will be the same.

Art-wise, well... I don't think I still have to say it, but I really, really like the art. As a fan of anime-style art, I find this game's visuals to be perfect for my personal preferences. There are chibi CGs for some scenes, too, which I find super cute. There are no full-screen CGs in the demo, but according to the development thread, there will be 20+ CGs. With that beautiful art, I'll certainly be looking out for all 20+!

locked heart otome visual novel demo review

For the GUI... hm, I'm not a big fan of the GUI for this game, but it'll do, I guess? It's a custom GUI, and it does fit the game, to be honest, even though I find the design to be a bit outdated. Keep in mind that this is more of a personal preference, of course. Same as with the font! The font is read-able, sure, but... man, I really don't like curly scripts in visual novels. I find them pretty hard to read. I don't know what's up with the font used here in Locked Heart, but there's something about it that's stressing my eyes out when I look at it for too long (which you'll be doing if you're reading something, right?)

Oh, and there's no music yet for this demo. At least, that's what I think? I couldn't find the Options button in the menu (oh I am such a noob) so I really don't know where the volume sliders are. Maybe there's no music yet? It also doesn't seem like there's going to be original music, based on the development thread. Music can sometimes make or break a visual novel, so... for Locked Heart's sake, I hope it's the former and not the latter.

Anyway, I'm glad to say that I wasn't disappointed at all! I might have been waiting for a year, but I'd gladly wait a bit more for an absolutely adorable game like this one. <3 I'll really looking forward to the complete release now.

You can check out the development thread here!

(Disclaimer: The main developer of this visual novel, riiku08, is actually an acquaintance of mine, but rest assured that this review contains my honest thoughts and feelings regarding this project.)

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