Blackberry Honey is ebi-hime's 20th visual novel and 10th visual novel release in Steam. The game is a kinetic visual novel with romance, drama, and optional adult yuri content featuring two maids working in a noblewoman's estate in Victorian England.
Lorina Waugh comes from a poor family and recently takes up a job to become a maid at the Bly estate to support her mother and siblings. The noblewoman's daughter Constance Lennard, is a spoiled entitled girl who likes to throw tantrums making things difficult for all the maids working in the household. Constance sends Lorina on a difficult task to pick the best rose for her in a bush. Lorina incurs some cuts to her hand in doing that, drawing the parlour maid Taohua Li's attention in the process. Little by little, Lorina and Taohua begin to see each other as more than fellow maids working in the same household.
Blackberry Honey has an interesting premise featuring a girl of humble origins falling in love with a girl of Asian origins which are an uncommon sight in the United Kingdom at that time. At the same time, there is sufficient diversity in the personality of the side characters, the day to day interactions between Lorina and the other characters, as well as her daily routine. There are some additional things she may do on specific days which helps to increase the immersion keeping things interesting.
Almost all of the characters in the game have their own artwork sprite or portrait with a variety of facial expressions to convey a range of different emotions more accurately. There is not much to say about the background music outside the fact that it is pleasant without feeling too repetitive while reading through the visual novel. There is also a free uncensored patch that is available as a separate DLC for the Steam version which makes it more convenient to toggle the adult settings on and off in the game.
I only have a few minor gripes about Blackberry Honey. It would be nice if the game could have voice acting since it is a romance visual novel and to convey the large range of emotions in this game. I have also read the developer notes after finishing the game. The developer mentioned Ada (Lorina's fellow maid) was considered as a possible romance option at an earlier point, but is not included in the game itself. I think this is a wasted opportunity to put effort into bringing out the character of the other maids and side-characters in the story. The developer also mentioned substituting euphemisms used in the H scenes with modern terms because it might be seen as silly otherwise. I also think this is another wasted opportunity since there are not many visual novels featuring a setting in this particular time period, and the humour and immersion in the game is broken as a result.
Overall, I find Blackberry Honey to be an interesting kinetic visual novel. I enjoyed how the game explores the daily life of a lowly maid in a well-endowed household, her relationship with the people around her, and the occasional changes in her routine, as well as the mood and feelings Lorina and Taohua may have at different parts of the story.
At the same time, the price of the game might be a bit high even after discounted at 30% compared to the actual reading time of the game and all the developer notes and music descriptions included in the extras section (about 5 hours). Still, I can recommend Blackberry Honey and the soundtrack DLC as a cute romantic comedy with very good artwork, nice background music, some adult content, sad moments, ample variety and surprises in-between that will keep players interested in reading through the story, finding out more about the main characters. Hopefully players will be able to pick up this title when the game and DLC are at an attractive discount or bundle offer.
Opening theme on YouTube by yuzuki masu
Initial gameplay video with author narration and commentary on YouTube by Gamer Nom-Nom
Denpasoft game page (Contain NSFW content)
FAKKU game page (Contain NSFW content)