Note: Review Code provided by Kikaiism.
I do believe this is the first time I am reviewing a Chinese yuri Visual Novel. One that feels familiar yet has its own freshness. Question is whether it is a sweet or bitter scent? Let us find out as we take a look at Melancholy Love, developed by White Dew Games and published by Kikaiism.
Genres: Drama, Romance, School, Yuri
Length: 8-10+ Hours
Amidst the garden of scented dreams
Elite and misfit, two extremes
One stands in spotlight, one cast in shadows
How will sparks flare as feelings grow?
As flowers bloom in the labyrinth
A lone Miss Saigon stands among the hyacinths
Like an apologetic, regretful dove
tells the story of melancholic love.
Put simply, Melancholy Love is the tale of a complicated romance between an elite and a misfit, or in simpler terms, a love story between two dummies. One was born with a mean look and the other of a high ranking, both plagued by the burdens of public image and public perception. One chooses to not let negativity get the better of her despite how much it stings and the other upholds a respectable image despite great inner turmoil. When not burdened by social nuisances they play a game of fox and bunny. One teases and at times bullies the other but as the victim constantly fights back she slowly notices things, wondering why she is the target and the timing of the “attacks”. Meanwhile the bully goes from playful amusement to tortured lovesick soul as the story progresses. A trope familiar to consumers of yuri media is brought up but in this tale it fits both girls’ dilemmas. The main cover and title screen also gives a clue on what further complicates their relationship besides growing feelings, public interactions, often hostile interactions with each other and inner turmoil. Without spoiling anything the clue refers to a lie within a lie, a masquerade fueled by “greed” and yearning.
The reason I went all poetic in the last paragraph was to point out how the story took the familiar trope of “tease/bully the one I like/love” and made it more complex than “I do not know how to tell the person I care about how I feel”. It is not that simple for either side. The “dummies” alternate description of mine refers to readers knowing the truth and telling the characters to “just talk it out already” while knowing that were they in either girls’ shoes they may go through similar emotions or perhaps relate to the turmoil of one or the other. Not to mention how their environment affects their behavior and forces them to react towards each other or others, intentional or not. It is a well told and well paced story that would fit nicely into a 12-13+ episode anime.
Besides the main duo the supporting cast are cool too, from Mianxue’s sassy bestie Yuxi who have a “we criticize each other a lot but will always be there for each other” friendship to the mysterious headmaster who has her own story to tell should “plreaders” (play-read) uncover it. They fill their roles well and are fun to watch interact with our heroines.
The presentation is excellent with well drawn ladies and lovely backgrounds. The soundtrack is the old reliable “Yuri X Classical music” combo that almost never fails. The voice acting, while great, may require headphones to fully enjoy as, for me anyway, it was hard to hear at times on my laptop speakers. Perhaps have alternate speakers nearby or connect the PC/laptop to a TV.
As in many Visual novels “plreaders” are given two choice options at various points that affect which of the three endings they get: Good, Bad or Alt. The hint to unlock each ending is the following: All light, all dark and in-between.
Overall Melancholy Love would is a pretty good slow burn romantic drama so long as readers enjoy the “I tease/bully the person I like” trope with a large dose of complexity from both the teaser and the teased. It is a well narrated and paced story with a pretty cool cast, excellent presentation (except possibly needing special speakers or headphones for the voice acting at times) and lovely yuri. I just explained who to recommend this game to.