Highway Blossoms Review

Note: Review Copy provided by Alienworks.

In 2015 there had been a resurgence of sorts when it came to yuri anime and games. During that time there were several titles from the Western and Eastern markets that brought great excitement and anticipation for their eventual 2016 release, such as Starlight Vega and Kindred Spirits on the Roof. The following was another one of those hype worthy announcements. After finally becoming available for purchase the question is whether this was another title worthy of its hype or dead on arrival? Let us find out as we take a look at the #YuriRoadTrip #YuriGoldRush #YuriTruckers Kinetic Novel, Highway Blossoms, developed by Alienworks and published by Sekai Project.

Highway Blossoms

Genres: Comedy, Romance, Yuri, Kinetic Novel

Themes: Road Trip, Gold Rush, Family, Americana, Music

Length: 6-8 hours (Give or take)

G-Rating: Great

Plot Summary: Highway Blossoms is a short yuri story set in the American Midwest. After an old gold rush miner’s journal is discovered, a nationwide craze begins as would-be prospectors try to solve the cryptic clues it contains and discover the miner’s hidden treasure. Amber, couldn’t care less. Wandering the Southwest in an inherited motorhome, she mourns the loss of her grandfather, totally unaware of the hunt taking place around her. It’s not until she meets Marina, a young hitchhiker wandering through the deserts of New Mexico, that things start to look up.

Before we get to the review there is one little thing worth mentioning. The save files. I do not know if this happened with others who bought the game or only the copy I got but it is worth mentioning to not save twice or more on one file because doing so will more than likely corrupt said file and it will no longer work. This means every time “plreaders” (play-read) save make sure to either use the Quick Save option or save on separate files each time. Good thing there many files to not make this a big deal but still worth keeping an eye out just in case. Now on with the review.

Highway Blossoms background.png

Example of Highway Blossoms’ amazing art style.

First of all I must commend HB’s presentation because the art style and the soundtrack are both excellent. Personally I have yet to take a trip through American deserts but after “plreading” this title I put it on my bucket list to do just that one day and visit the locations Amber and Marina had throughout their journey. The backgrounds are THAT well drawn. The same goes for the character sprites and CGs, that all look pretty good. An appreciated nod is how the characters convey movement. Not just in expressions but moving front to back in the backgrounds they are in. What I am saying is that I love how HB uses its camera. The soundtrack fits perfectly and is highly recommended to anyone who wants or has taken a trip through American deserts. In fact, music also plays an important role in the story besides references. Music conveys different emotions in people and HB’s often converse about the importance of music in their lives, especially Amber. Great stuff all around.

Now this being a Kinetic Novel there are no branching paths, just a straightforward read from beginning to end with saving and loading when necessary. So this means we will be covering the story and cast from here on out.

The story has three main plots: The gold rush/treasure hunt, the road trip and Amber X Marina’s love story.

First up is the gold rush/treasure hunt. It is like a “solve the clues and hopefully find pieces of the treasure” kind of adventure with a some thrills and chills here and there. The clues are located in copied fragments of a miner’s journal that also happens to be an amusing short read should the “plreader” choose to check it out. Maybe make a spin-off story about the miner’s misadventures/ego trip.

Second is the road trip. It is pretty cool experience getting a taste of the different locations our heroines visit throughout their journey in the states of Utah, California, Arizona and Nevada to name a few. Besides whatever our heroines on the road and when they reach their destinations another cool part is the history and bits of info about the places visited. As mentioned above the presentation made me want to check these places out one day, especially the Valley of Fire and Grand Canyon, as cliche as the latter sounds. Also there are sweet references. First time I “plread” a game that featured both a Nickelodeon and The Sixth Sense references among others.

Highway Blossoms Odd Trio

The Trio. From left to right: Joseph (Joe), Mariah and Tess.

Before getting to the main event let us look at the most recurring side-characters, those being the treasure hunting Trio led by hotheaded loudmouth with a sweet bod Mariah. The other members being the levelheaded Joe who TRIES to keep Mariah from causing too much trouble and the adorably ice ghost like little sister of Mariah’s, Tess who does not say but has many emotions behind that ice cold stare and ghost-like mannerisms. They are Amber and Marina’s treasure hunting rivals, mainly Amber vs Mariah, and the super comedy relief group but they are much more than that as “plreaders” will find out should they choose to pick up HB. There are other side-characters Amber and Marina meet along the way, including the dark skinned cutie code named “Waifu” with differing impressions.

Marina hugging Amber.png

Example CG.

And now the moment readers have been waiting for, Highway Blossoms’ main attraction, Amber X Marina’s love story. First off the pairing is a classic “Serious, clever realist” in Amber and “Happy go lucky cutie” in Marina combination. Opposites attract like duo where they seem mismatched but compliment each other perfectly. Now this is not a “I am tsundere for my crush” scenario but one where the two were made for one another as one girl’s positive traits make up for the other girl’s negatives. Second, familial bonds play strong roles in the characters’ motivations, especially Amber as the plot summary mentioned. The same goes for Marina and even the Trio to some extent. Third, Amber and Marina’s relationship grows at a believable pace with the two slowly but surely getting along despite starting off as complete strangers. Besides the aforementioned familial ties the two have other fun and casual conversations when not searching for the gold. As their friendship grows stronger they have more fun together and even playfully tease one another, Amber for being uptight and Marina’s childlike curiosity and innocence. Eventually the seeds of “craving something more” are planted and this is where the real game begins.

The point is that Amber X Marina’s relationship is a very heartwarming tale through good times and a heart-wrenching one through bad times, especially because of how believable it is during both. The joy both girls feel separately and together along with the painful struggles they must overcome (especially Amber) both feel genuine and make sense for both based on their backgrounds. In the above paragraph I mentioned how despite their differences the two complete one another, that is the essence of their friendship to romantic love progression. In short, it is a touching story. Also yay for “This girl’s gay. Okie dokie.” interactions when some of the side-characters notice.

Having played HB with the adult patch I can say that it is worth it. To me, yuri sex scenes are steamy but yuri love scenes that add to the story and are not just there for the sake of fanservice are the best kind. HB’s scenes fall in the latter category. Basically “plreaders” who do not mind adding the optional adult patch will not regret it.

Lastly, after finishing the first playthrough a bonus mode is unlocked that will alter the story in amusing ways so a it is a neat incentive to “plread” the game a third time. I say third because I would gladly “plread” the original story a second time. I enjoyed it that much.

Overall Highway Blossoms was a blast to “plread” through. The characters are all likable (the ones meant to be anyway), the presentation is top notch, the gold rush and road trip aspects are very enjoyable and Amber X Marina’s love story is heartwarming. Highly recommended to yuri fans who want to experience something special. While there are flaws in the writing besides the expected typos and the aforementioned saving issue, this is one of those games where the good outweigh the bad. So yes, I would say Highway Blossoms lived up to the hype and then some. Well done J. Kaplan, Syon and the rest of the Alienworks team that worked on this game.

  • Get the game on Steam HERE.
  • Get the game on itch.io HERE.
  • Get the game on Denpasoft HERE.
  • Get the game on Nutaku HERE.
  • Get the Uncensored patch for the Steam version HERE. Make sure to check the README file to find out how to install it.

Other links:

 

About OG-Man

Yuri and Slice of Life are my anime passion.
This entry was posted in Yuri Video Game Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Highway Blossoms Review

  1. makotachi says:

    Looks like a rather cute game. A little upset over the over-saving(?) will cause a corruption of the file, but oh well. I might just save up to purchase this at some point.

    Like

    • OG-Man says:

      What I mean is if you save more than once on one file.
      Like you saved on File 1. If you save again on that same file and then load later, it will not work. That is what I meant. Who knows? Maybe you will not have this problem if you buy it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. kracen says:

    Finishing this story will always be a regret for me… For I will now never be able to enjoy this great story for the first time again…
    When will the technology to remove memories be available so I can relive this game multiple times?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Adding more things to my Steam wishlist, dammit bro. But yeah, looks good and its going for under 10 bucks and its short, so why not?

    Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on haveyouexperiencedshitsurakuen and commented:

    Adding more things to my Steam wishlist, dammit bro. But yeah, looks good and its going for under 10 bucks and its short, so why not?

    Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. vanquish123 says:

    I’m looking forward to trying this VN out, but I’m also waiting for the Nurse yuri VN in July. I’m also curious about Sakura Dungeon. Too much yuri!

    Like

  6. Lena K. says:

    Bought it last week and started playing it a few days ago. I gotta say, so far, I’m not that hooked. Okay, to be fair, I only played for a short while, and my expectations were so huge, it’s almost impossible to live up to it 😛

    Let’s play some more and see where things are going~
    Since you seem to be a big fan, it can only get better.

    Like

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  8. Madi says:

    I’d definitely say I loved this one a ton. I’ve got a decent amount of experience with yuri VNs but I can say this one threw my emotions around more than others simply by the pacing its really compact I accidentally pulled an all nighter just because I knew I was close to finishing and finished it in a single night. But its been one of the few to make me cry and almost immediately make my heart race as I was reading. Amber and Marin’s relationship seems a lot more developed than many I have read and perhaps I’d called it even a bit more real feeling (though as usual perhaps not quite at their age).
    Definitely one I’d recommend to anyone that like yuri.

    Liked by 2 people

    • OG-Man says:

      Ah yes. When able I too have pulled one or two late-nighters to finish a game I was enjoying so much that I could not stop.

      It is a really good love story.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. yurimylove says:

    what a fun ride! Not only is it a sweet yuri story but the banters between Amber and Mariah are simply golden. Alrighty it’s time for my usual parody (and remember I only bother to make fun of stuff I really like).

    Things I learned on the road:

    • stay away from gas station burrito
    • always bring metal detectors with you when you visit a national park
    • “finders, keepers” also apply to stalled cars on the side of the road
    • if you remain single for 10 years, a girl will marry you out of pity
    • Confucius say, man who hit on girls at truck stop, get flat tired
    • watch out for crazy women drivers in large RVs — especially the bandana-wearing ones
    • a ten-year-old girl can be a casino dealer too
    • whatever you do, do NOT start a conversation with a redneck woman with a baby strapped to her chest

    Liked by 1 person

  10. duderino says:

    The game is on denpasoft now!

    Like

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  17. Michael Baker says:

    I loved this review. I just finished my first playthrough recently and the feelings are still raw. Heck, just listening to the song Unsayable Thoughts (from the Fire Wave scene) makes me tear up. My only regret is not buying it sooner so I gould re buy the remastered edition, just to give the devs more money.
    It might be having just finished it, but I desperately want and Highway Blossoms 2, just to spend more time with these characters. As it is, I really, really want to find some other VN’s like this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OG-Man says:

      Glad you enjoyed it.

      It would be cool to see a continuation of this story but I have a feeling there isn’t much left to be told. Possibly focus on other characters but Amber and Marina’s story is most likely done.

      Liked by 1 person

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