Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Review: Witch of Steel Annerose
Black Lilith has done it again!
With the Taimanin Asagi series Kagami returns in a gloriously magnificent way with their newest creation, Witch of Steel Annerose.
During a visit with friends to the forsaken city of Amidahara the young high school student Rikuro Tachiban gets involved in an incident which ends up in him being taken away by slave traders. The slavers are however assaulted by a rival gang and when all things seem to be hopeless our beautiful female hero arrives at the scene. Annerose, the legendary steel witch of Amidahara defeats the rival gang easily and as a token of appreciation from the slavers she gets Rikuro as her own personal servant.
The game then flash forward six months. Rikuro is working as Annerose’s servant doing mostly rudimentary tasks as cooking food and cleaning the house and occasionally gives the mistress a back rub. He has to compete with the man-hating demon maid Mitico who has served Annerose for a much longer time and to top it off, she is not too fond of him being anywhere close to her mistress Annerose. To make things worse, he cannot leave the place as he is now bounded to Annerose through a contract for life or rather an eternity as she had made him into an immortal zombie who can only die if she herself dies.
Annerose is not an evil bitch, but she is rather strict and intimidating, although friendly. She owns a detective agency where she is the only employee. Business has gone down recently and as a means of getting some small work done she sends Rikuro on a mission to retrieve the oracle Neu’s missing cat. At Neu’s shop he meets the captivating Aishawaray (Aishawa), another future-telling magician, who decides to follow him on his mission. However, things escalate and through a series of events Rikuro suddenly find himself being given the most wonderful blowjob of his life by Aishawa. And as this weren’t enough she says that this future is also possible with Annerose…
Witch of Steel Annerose is a long game compared to Lilith’s regular stuff. The characters are very nicely introduced throughout the game and one get’s attached to them quickly. The story takes a couple of twists and turns and has a couple of sub storylines baked into it. Actually, the main story doesn’t start until a couple of hours into the game when the red headed high school girl Miki, who is looking for her missing brother is introduced.
There are many things happening and a lot of character interaction and build up. I love the way Mayfeng’s (an evil female villain) and Annerose’s hatred toward each other playing out for instance. Depending on one’s choice you could end up at a bad ending very early in the game. And while I am on the matter of the choices in the game, these are also laid out nicely. There are actually a pretty decent amount of choices that practically always make you end up at either a dead end but, with CGs or make the story take a twist or two.
A little criticism goes out to the way the story is constantly playing of Taimanin Asagi elements though. In some ways there are complete rip offs of some Asagi themes like the Arena (in this game it is a coliseum) and the public degeneration thing. But at the same time this story is taking part in the same universe, although not the same city as Taimanin Asagi so one could easily draw the conclusion that most bad guys have a taste for public violation in arena like environments. But even so, this is not really something to complain about since the setting makes things more interesting.
As one would expect of Kagami the characters are more or less perfectly cut for this kind of game. Annerose is majestic and fierce with an exquisite design. You can hardly wait to get her down and dirty. She is very Asagi like, but perhaps even a little more proud then Asagi were. Mayfeng is an assassin from an organization called the Nine Dragons Society and is practically a copy of Taimanin Asagi’s number one evil bitch Oboro. Like Oboro, Mayfeng has also a Chinese designed look and with clothes to match and her sadistic sense and an intense hatred for her nemesis make one think that she could easily be Oboro’s sister. However, she has a very nice design and her evil look and manners makes her even more satisfying to break.
The role and design of the demon maid Mitico is fine, but not really to my taste. Although she is a classic tsunedere type character I find her mostly annoying. I never really cached on to the whole maid fetish thing so that is probably one reason why I am not too fond of her, but she has some funny scenes and she is essential to the setting and flow of the story with her constant arguing with Rikuro. The red headed high school girl Miki is unlike most school girls very curvy and thick which I like. Her demeanor is pretty stereotypical but her design is nice and she feels right at home with the other busty females of the game.
As for the protagonist Rikuro there is really not much to say. He is the young confused hero that we have come to know from other games like these. His sexual libido is wavering between if he is going to lust after the women of the game or try to control himself. The villains are pretty interesting though. Barde Barde (yes that is his name) is a techno-sorcerer who mixes technology with magic. He is like a sadistic power mad version of Mandrake. Other characters mix a little goodness with badness and ends up in a grey zone which makes them a whole lot more interesting. All in all we are given a splendid gallery from Lilith.
While the artworks of the sex scenes are as perfect as would be expected of this crew I sure could wish that there could have been a couple of more. I don’t want to sound greedy, but with Kagami you simply can’t get enough. I do believe however that a follow-up is indeed in the works as there are a number of endings you could easily spawn stories from. I would not be surprised if we will see an Izm short story within the year.
Back to the CGs however. The sexual character expressions are by now well known with Lilith games. In Japan these expressions are called aha-faces, or simply cum-faces, an expression on the face of pure degenerating sexual ecstasy. With the character gallery in the game these faces are a pure bliss to see when the strong females break. Kagami are the pure masters on delivering these scenes to fit the story.
Background and other elements such as picture effects of shooting and fighting and comic relief deformity are also very well done. The dark alleys of Amidahara and the inside environments of bars, brothels and houses are very detailed and you feel the time the artists have put into making this game as good as they could possibly make it.
Lilith brings out the heavy guns with this one. The soundtrack is nice as well as the effects. The voice actresses do not let you down. We are pretty much given the whole cast of the Asagi-series in this one and then some. While many games are inclined to back off from the most grotesque sounds these women makes a formidable acting job on giving us the illusion of the sex scenes, action scenes and overall drama scenes in the game. If you have played any Lilith games before, you are probably pretty much informed of what I am talking about. Lilith knows just what voice suites what characters. I can’t praise these actresses enough; they make the game feel alive and the characters hot and heavy.
Total Score: 9/10
Lilith has made a new future franchise of outstanding quality and this game may very well be the top candidate for my personal best eroge of year 2010 award.