Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Jul 052023

Back when Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo was announced back in 2021 (alongside a ton of other exciting otome announcements), it was one of the newly-announced titles I was most excited for.

It’s a fantasy story with a historical setting that follows a young woman named Suzuno who has the ability to see people’s emotions. Although she lives an isolated life since the villagers are afraid of her, she’s recruited by the shogunate to join a secret group trained to fight demons/yokai known as blightfall.

That premise appeals to me, so I was looking forward to it, but I generally expected Winter’s Wish to just be “fine.” Something that would have some sweet moments, some nice routes, and nothing that would especially stand out… but I was surprised by just how much I ended up enjoying it!

Winter’s Wish has an interesting structure. Instead of a single common route that leads to the character routes, the common route itself splits into three branches.

There are six love interests who work in pairs, and after a short common route to set up the story and characters, you pick which pair to join. Then you have a common route focused on those two characters before your choices place you on one or the other’s route.

It also employs a clever means of locking routes without making it obvious from the start. Any character’s route can be started, but some will only let you play a certain amount before locking you out if you haven’t met the requirements yet. They’re effectively the same as locked routes, but a bit more subtle about it.

Anyway, each route focuses on a different central conflict related to the love interest of choice. It’s one of those games where drastically different events occur just based on who you’re working with, which always seems a bit unnatural to me from a narrative perspective, but since all the important details remain consistent across routes, it didn’t bother me too much.

In addition to the external conflict of each route, the romances have an additional element of drama due to the love interests being Vessels, artificial constructs created specifically to the fight the blightfall, who have their hearts sealed so they can’t feel emotion.

Click for Winter's Wish minor spoilers
They also make a big deal out of how if a Vessel regains his heart, he’ll need to be destroyed immediately, but since that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense (a Vessel with a heart is just like a regular human), it felt a bit forced. Fortunately, it took more of a back seat compared to the other conflicts.

The first few routes I played were indeed just “fine,” like I had expected. As a diehard fan of kuudere characters (the serious, seemingly-emotionless sort), Genjuro won my heart due to his personality and all the funny/cute moments in his route, and the others had some exciting moments. But the final two routes took me by surprise with how exciting they were! They ratcheted up the intensity and hit me with some twists and plot developments I never saw coming.

Overall, I quite enjoyed my time with Winter’s Wish: Spirits of Edo. While not every route was as memorable as others, some parts had me invested in the story much more than I expected.

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