A Visual Novel-esque, beat ‘em up with a life management sim sprinkled on top? Yes, please! Honey Rose advertises itself as something other than just another visual novel. It utilizes fighting mechanics along with a life management system that’ll put you to work.
There is a balance amongst the chaos, though. The elements where one moment, you’re taking in the story but then flung into a back alley street fight blend seamlessly. Nothing feels out of place, and the action compliments the story quite well. Choosing between whether to train or to study will place a weight on Red that you have to control. Otherwise, you run the possibility of effecting those around you either negatively or positively.
The art is especially noteworthy as the game does not have stationary characters per se. The characters you interact with move slightly while you’re interacting with them, giving the game a bit of life as the characters you talk to react and have individual animations. The subtle movements make for something far different from a lot of other VNs where the only movements may be eyes, slight breathing or hair.
The characters are all introduced as the story progresses. Faced with masked foes you’ve yet to unmask, your parents who are very particular about your studies and your friends who try to keep you in class. Each has their personalities noted by their movements. Their animations give way to their characters, whether it be bubbly, carefree or stringent.
The music is fantastic. The perfect blend of 80’s synth and glam with just a touch of nostalgia. I found myself dancing a bit with every new scene. The music that accompanied each scene/scenario fit perfectly without being too loud or off-putting. From action scenes to just hanging around campus, the music meshed well with what was going on in-game.
The combat is responsive and delightful. You use either the keyboard or controller to dole out moves from bouncing off the ropes to uppercutting opponents. Combat is satisfying in that you feel accomplished with each successful attack. There are blocks, jumps, crouches, ducks, punches, kicks and more.
Red’s room serves as the hub for all things in between the action. You can immerse yourself in different things from going to class, skipping, checking emails, writing in your diary (which is saving the game), and a host of other activities during the day. At night, however, you get a few more options from studying for a class to sneaking out. So, there’s quite a bit to do during the downtime between days, and each action impacts your Energy depletion as well as Reputation and Suspicion. So bear that in mind.
There is a meter at the top of the screen with Energy, Strength, Defense, and Agility on the left. Biology, Linguistics, Mathematics, Suit, Reputation and Suspicious on the right. Each need to be balanced for Red to have a good day. From my play-through, red is bad, yellow is okay and blue/green is excellent. Each attribute defines an avatar of Red herself with her expression telling you pretty much how she feels.
Energy – This represents your overall levels. It reflects if you need sleep after running around, training, fighting and going to class. Getting rest helps keep this stat green.
Strength, Defense, Agility – Governed by your sessions with your coach. You get stronger each time you train with him. But this in turn also makes you more tired.
Biology, Linguistics, Mathematics – These stats are governed by whether or not you go to class. Bear in mind that going to class also brings about exams. And to pass those exams, you have to study. Plus, your parents will question how studious you are.
Suit – This stat changes when you choose to bring your secret suit with you or decide to leave it at home hidden. Taking it with you means you can train, but this also runs the possibility of being caught with it. Whereas leaving it home means you can’t train but in hindsight, means the risk of being caught with it on you is low. Use your judgment when choosing to bring it with you.
Reputation/Suspicion – Kicking butt, saying the right things and making the right decisions maintains these stats as well as doing well in school. The more Reputation you have, the more recognizable you’ll be to the underground and fellow students on campus. Get caught with your suit, do badly in class or say the wrong thing, and you could raise the Suspicion meter quickly.
In conclusion, the Honey Rose: Underdog Fighter Extraordinaire demo by Pehesse is a great game so far with a lot of promise. It has action, it has drama, it has characters that either care or loathe your existence. The game plays nicely with the different elements it contains, coupled with a soundtrack that will keep you moving and a story that will cause you to steer her to glory or a path to unemployment.
All in all, the Honey Rose demo was a blast to play through. It’s currently Greenlit on Steam. So why not go check out the demo for yourself?
Stay in the Know Gamers,