It took me a long time to get around to playing Collar x Malice, but I’m glad I finally did.
Collar x Malice is an otome visual novel set in Shinjuku, which has been quarantined due to a series of violent crimes counting down to what the anonymous criminals refer to as “X-Day.”
The protagonist is a policewoman who is attacked one night and finds that the X-Day criminals have placed a collar around her neck that contains a deadly poison. They task her with investigating the truth of the X-Day incidents and bring her into contact with a group of ex-cops investigating the incidents on their own.
So from the start, it has an exciting and tense premise.
Despite that, it actually took me longer to get into it than I expected. I think it’s because, due to the situation, there’s some mistrust and hostility between the protagonist and love interests at first. However, the common route is pretty short, and things pick up right away on the individual character routes.
Each route focuses on a different aspect of the X-Day investigation, with the character’s own story being explored at the same time. There’s some overlap between the events covered on each route, but not as much as you might expect.
The routes ended up being a mixed bag for me. Of the five love interests, there are two I absolutely loved, one I found cute but found the route less interesting, one where I loved the route but didn’t feel the chemistry between the characters, and one I where I kind of hated the love interest despite some cute moments. It seems there’s a style of tsundere I can’t stand. Sorry, Sasazuka.
Meanwhile, the overall story is very interesting. There were some pretty intense moments, especially in the final route. The mystery elements don’t play a big role aside from a few questions here and there, but at a certain critical point, it does make you correctly identify where the clues are leading, and I thought that moment was really well done.
It might sound like I had more mixed feelings on the game than positive ones, but the parts I liked, I liked enough to overshadow the negatives. My favorite character (Shiraishi) could have carried this game almost on his own.
I do want to briefly mention the mistakes. I’m not too fussy about errors and can overlook little grammar issues pretty easily, but it was noticeable in Collar x Malice. Some routes seemed fine, but a couple had issues where the dialogue box mixed up who was speaking (or even had a line of dialogue instead of the character’s name) and other mistakes, with the most egregious one being a mistranslated choice that pushed me into a bad ending because (as I learned when I looked it up in confusion), the choice in question was actually pretty much the opposite of what was written.
I wouldn’t say the mistakes are a huge knock against it, but they were noticeable enough that I wanted to mention them.
Anyway, I’m glad I played Collar x Malice. I may not have liked every part, but I enjoyed it enough that I’ll eventually pick up the fandisc. If the premise sounds interesting to you, I’d recommend Collar x Malice if you’re interested in otome games or mystery/thriller stories.---
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