When it was announced nearly three years ago as of this writing that FLOWERS -Le Volume sur Printemps- would be localized in the West there was much rejoicing. Fast forward to 2018 and it has been all but confirmed that the rest of the series would be localized as well. So here we are discussing the second entry in the series and about to find out whether the magic from the first game is still there as we take a look at Innocent Grey‘s FLOWERS (2) -Le Volume sur Été-.
WARNING! This review contains spoilers for the True End of FLOWERS (1) -Le Volume sur Printemps- so before playing this title be sure to go for the first game. Check out my review of Printemps HERE to find out whether it is a game you would like to pick up.
Genres: Drama, Romance, School Life, Yuri, Visual Novel, Mystery
Themes: Religion, Comfort Zone, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Theatrical
Length: 12-18 hours (Give or take)
G-Rating: Good-Great (Depends on the wants and needs of consumers)
Plot Summary: Since the sudden disappearance of one of her Amitié partners at the end of spring, Suoh Shirahane has been left nursing a profound sadness. Though she tries to hide it, Suoh’s pain does not go unnoticed by her close companion, Erika Yaegaki, who feels compelled to help her ‘bookworm buddy’ mend her broken heart.
In the midst of all this a new classmate, Chidori Takasaki, arrives, disrupting Erika’s solitary lifestyle. To say that the two of them get off on the wrong foot would be an understatement, but Erika soon learns there’s more to Chidori than meets the eye. Can friendship blossom between a sharp-tongued misanthrope and the haughty class diva?
Let us start by briefly going over the presentation and gameplay as there is not much new to add that I have not already done in the previous review. This sequel shows yet again that FLOWERS is one of the most visually stunning Visual Novels (not just in the yuri genre) out there and there being only one word best suited to describe it. That being Bobby Roode’s catchphrase:
One new addition is the newly added animation for the characters such as shiny eyes, blinking and “hopping”. It does not sound like much but seeing these additions being implemented throughout the story breathes new life into the characters, especially during the excellent theatrical performances. Basically an “it’s the little things” situation. The soundtrack again uses the tried and true yuri + classical music combo. It just works. Some of the new tracks are remixes from the first game to match Erika’s teasing and playful personality in contrast to Suoh’s meekness and timidity.
Moving on to the gameplay. It is the same as last time with the dialogue options affecting either a flower in green or yellow. The following is not a spoiler. The flower in green is the “True” route and the one in yellow leads to “alternate” routes. Next up is the return of a feature that got mixed results last time, Detective/Thinking Mode. Yes, once again there are mysteries to solve and once again failure leads to drastically altering the story or a “Bad End”. On the bright side I think the mysteries were easier to grasp this time around. “Plreaders” (play-read) will not need to look up any literature or movie trivia despite Erika enjoying literature and movies just as much as Suoh. No, this time all “plreaders” need to do is pay close attention during conversations when the “Mystery” theme first plays in the chapters containing one. To spice things up however, some of the mysteries are “two-parters” shall we say, encouraging more attention be paid during dialogues.
Now we move on to the main course, reviewing the story. As mentioned in the summary FLOWERS 2 stars, who I assume, was the most popular secondary character in FLOWERS 1, Erika Yaegaki. Here she is still the lovable cynic who enjoys playfully teasing people she is interested in or gets along with. Thanks to the interactions with her “bookworm buddy” Suoh she became…less uncomfortable socializing with others. Put simply the story is more about her learning to open up more with others despite it clearly irking her a bit, in a light tsundere way, than it is about her finding true love. Make no mistake, true love is important to the plot but it takes its time getting there. Erika does have a backstory and it of course is connected to her disability. However, unlike Suoh she is not haunted by her past, rather she accepts it and learns to cope. In a way it is like “It sucks but for now this is for the best”. She does bring up her family from time to time and how their relationship played important parts in her becoming who she is, especially the relationship with her sisters.
Before we get to the second star of the show let us briefly go over everyone else. Former leading lady Suoh is in pretty bad shape after what happened last time and Erika desperately wants to help bring back her smile (in her own way of course). Despite this she is still adorable and radiant. Rikka is doing her best as a stern yet very approachable class president. Oh and she still has feelings for Suoh but does not dwell on them as much. The Sasaki Twins are still amusing comedy relief. Yuzuriha and Nerine are still sexy senpai with Yuzuriha being the wise flirt and Nerine the captivating angelic beauty. They even threw in some hints on what to expect from them when they take center stage in FLOWERS 3. Next up we have the best character in the series Sister Dalia who again shows everyone why she is worthy of being the best character. Gorgeous, adorable but far from a pushover. She is a majestic beauty who can bless your soul as easily as she can have you regret fooling around in class or important activities, all without raising her voice. As for her interactions with Erika…hehehehehehehehe. Oh yes indeed…
And last but not least we have the co-star of FLOWERS 2, Chidori. Again as the summary hinted she starts off as an extremely blunt, single-minded hottie who has no interest in socializing with anyone, especially Erika. At first she only talks to her because they are roommates/amitie and helps her out because Sister Dalia said so. Of course as the story progresses (and the right choices are made) more is revealed about why Chidori is the way she is, even getting some segments from her perspective. Without giving anything away it is a multi-layered pain stemming from her upbringing and a traumatic experience. Point being “plreaders” are asked to be patient with Chidori. There is definitely good inside her (again provided the right choices are made).
As mentioned before the yuri lovin’ goes through a slow burn getting hotter as the feelings grow stronger.
Overall FLOWERS (2) -Le Volume sur Été- continues the streak of this being one of the best Yuri Visual Novel Series out there. Returning characters are still very likable, Erika is a worthy successor to Suoh as leading lady and Chidori is a character worth being patient with (provided the right choices are made). The drama is just right (meaning not overbearing or angst-ridden), the presentation is even better than it already with the additions being small but very effective and when the yuri is ready to bless “plreaders” it goes all-out. Highly recommended to fans of the first game and fans of balanced yuri dramas. Now we wait for FLOWERS 3’s localization.