This 9th title of the Sakura series from Winged Cloud feature a female novice knight Ceri who inadvertently released an ancient fox spirit and former dungeon lord of the dungeon. Being no match for the fox spirit Yomi, Ceri was forced into servitude to Yomi to help Yomi regain her former position as the dungeon lord. As Ceri and Yomi explore each level of the dungeon, battle, capture, and recruit the monsters along the way, they are joined by an all-female cast of heroine characters and unique monster girls. They will help to shed light on the new dungeon lord that has imprisoned Yomi for centuries, mention an impending campaign of war and destruction by unknown mysterious forces as well as to provide comedy, humour and yuri fanservice. The game contains both a role-playing game (RPG) and visual novel as a dungeon crawler where Ceri will bring along up to 5 other followers to accompany her in a quest to defeat the monsters in each level. They will need to locate the keys and defeat the guardian (boss monster) of each level to proceed further into the next level. All monsters have unique sprites and most monsters will have a few lines of dialogue if they are accompanying Ceri during certain specific event sections relevant to the monster's domain area. The dungeon levels have sufficient variety which include a Western castle, an Eastern manor, an underground cavern, an Egyptian pyramid, an abyssal realm, and a futuristic spaceship. This is across 30 levels with false/breakable walls, pitfalls, spike traps, teleporters, and spinners. There are also a number of optional side quests which will reward the player with an achievement and often a unique monster which Ceri can bring along as a follower. Having played through the earlier titles of the Sakura series, this title has the largest number of female characters in the game with an all-female cast of 2 non-player characters (NPCs), 8 heroines, 10 unique monsters, 35 monsters, 3 non-recruitable monsters, 3 non-recruitable unique monsters, and boss heroines with plenty of CGs. The background music by Zack Parrish and artwork by Badriel, Fatelinealpha, Wanaca, kauru, and MMrailgun are great and make this the largest scale Sakura title compared to all previous titles of the series with a very large number of cards in a set required to craft a badge, emoticons and profile backgrounds. Among the cons, by being the first Sakura title as an RPG with Steam achievements, there are 2 potentially missable achievements from starting the game at an incorrect difficulty mode, an achievement (Breaker of Armies) that require grinding for at least 30 hours and some of the achievements may not unlock correctly unless the game is installed to a beta version.
Overall, this RPG and visual novel is for fans of Winged Cloud who might be interested in collecting the titles in the Sakura series. This game is also for those who are open to trying out a visual novel with fanservice, humour, romance, mystery, thriller, fantasy and science fiction themes, and don't mind spending hours to grind and level up characters to progress in the main storyline and optional side-quests.
The long length of this game (More than 30 hours) together with the large amounts of artwork, background music, humour, and fanservice would normally be enough for a buy now recommendation if the game was just released during the first week of launch. However, the game has a bit of trouble with a few Steam achievements, it lacks voice acting, and the combat mechanics may be too simplistic for those who prefer a more complex dungeon crawler. Furthermore, the game has since dropped in price by more than half when discounted, and was also in an attractive bundle offer at Humble Bundle last year. Hence, I would recommend this game when it is at an equally attractive discount or bundle offer.
Initial gameplay videos with author narration and commentary on YouTube by Zero Budget Geek
Nutaku game page (Contain NSFW content)
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