Ne no Kami: The Two Princess Knights of Kyoto is the second of Kuro Irodoru Yomiji's visual novels that have been translated to English by Sekai Project and Denpasoft. This is a fantasy kinetic visual novel in the thriller genre that has optional adult yuri content. The game features a young girl Ese Len, who is brought into a hidden village near Kyoto by her childhood friend Sarume Shinonome.
At the village, Len is introduced to Shinonome's sister Sarume Uzume, Shinonome's good friend Himemishi Ruka, and several other supporting characters. Len discovers that she has supernatural abilities and Shinonome brought her to the village to learn to fight under a secret organization. She now has to defend the world against an ayakashi (monster) invasion who has plans to bring their master into the human world. Len will find out that Sarume Uzume is madly in love with her, and the monster invasion will change everything in their lives.
Having played Kuro Irodoru Yomiji's earlier visual novel Sacrament of the Zodiac: The Confused Sheepand the Tamed Wolf, Ne no Kami: The Two Princess Knights of Kyoto is a huge improvement over their earlier titles with more background scenes and CGs, a longer and better plot and storyline, and a stirring OP. The characters from Sacrament of the Zodiac make a cameo appearance at the beginning of the game in Ne no Kami, yet despite the different settings and genres in both visual novels, they tie them into this story in such a way that it doesn't feel overly tacky.
For a visual novel that covers ancient Japanese folklore, mythology, and landmarks around Kyoto, this visual novel is well translated with a helpful glossary and highlighted keywords to help readers follow the storyline. The thriller elements are also brought out well with many behind the scene developments gradually being revealed in small amounts and events which serve to cast doubt and uncertainty during the battle sections between humankind and the ayakashi. The stirring OP Waltz of the Princess Knight brings out the main themes of this series very well and are the main highlights of the visual novel. The artbook DLC contains NSFW concept art and spoilers, so players are advised to finish part 2 of Ne no Kami before reading the developer notes and light novel in this DLC.
Opening theme on YouTube by Visual Novel Streaming
There are a few cons. First, the fan service and adult content feels tacked on in a similar way again as in Sacrament of the Zodiac without developing relationships properly. Although the humour is brought out more, and the adult CGs are an improvement compared to its earlier title, most parts of this visual novel focus on the thriller and supernatural rather than the adult content. For those looking for a game with meaningful yuri content, it will be a disappointment.
Second, I bought the adult DLC at Denpasoft and tried it on the GOG and the Steam versions. If the Denpasoft adult DLC is manually copied over to the Steam version, the OP will not play properly in-game and show a black screen instead. Although the OP can also be viewed anytime in the game folder, it is still annoying and the Steam version feels like a defective game. This will be more obvious in part 2.
Third, this game ends on a cliffhanger which might be unsatisfying for those who don't have part 2. Part 2 will have a more satisfying ending.
Overall, Ne no Kami: The Two Princess Knights of Kyoto is a large improvement over Sacrament of the Zodiac in terms of having a longer and more engaging plot and storyline, better artwork, and engaging background music. This game breaks away from the typical school setting and reduces the amount of adult yuri content to bring a more interesting storyline featuring ayakashi and the supernatural in a modern Japanese setting with some amounts of humour and cute dialogue in-between. At the same time, this game suffers from censorship problems when certain DLCs are bought at different platforms, a somewhat rushed pacing in the relationship among the main heroines in the game, and a cliffhanger ending. After finishing parts 1 and 2, and the light novel in the artbook DLC, I can forgive the faults in this game, and recommend this game with the soundtrack DLC when it is in an attractive bundle offer with part 2 of Ne no Kami.
Initial gameplay video with author narration and commentary on YouTube by KevGuueyAnime