What I love most about Otome games is how varied they are. You’d think that once you’d played one dating sim with a cast of hunks to choose from you’d have seen all the appeal this genre has to offer, but there are so many creative settings where you can find love. From Feudal Japan to drama school, I’ve been on dates in all sorts of wacky and wonderful scenarios. Radiant Tale caught my attention immediately with a setting that is near and dear to my heart, the circus.
In the fantasy world of Escholtia, a tragedy has happened. The crown prince has fallen into a mysterious slumber, and no healing spells or medicine has been able to cure him. Magic flowers called Chloris that bloom when people are happy will apparently do the trick though, and under the orders of the king a group of traveling performers called CIRCUS have been assigned to travel the land and spread joy to help heal the prince.
Our protagonist Tifalia doesn’t have any special skills to help with this mission, she’s just a humble barmaid at her aunt’s tavern in the capital city. She’s always dreamt of life outside the walls of this urban locale, but knows her family would struggle without her. Well when one of the performers falls on her from the sky it sets into motion a chain of events that’ll change her humdrum existence forever.
As you can probably imagine, the circus is a place with a rather diverse cast of characters. There’s the fabulous ringmaster, the fearsome warrior and the man who can transform into a dragon at will. Yes the world of Radiant Tales contains creatures who can switch between various animals and humans at will, which as you can imagine goes down a treat in the big top. Between this and the characters who can cast magic, a bit of juggling just isn’t going to cut it around these parts.
One aspect of Radiant Tale that really impressed me was the journey that you and the other characters go on. As this merry band of misfits travels on their royal quest, they’ll visit all the major cities of the continent from the dangerous city of gladiators where only the strong survive to the beautiful city on the water famed for its artistic spirit. In each location you’ll have to figure out what makes the people tick, and tailor your show accordingly. This loop of learning about the city (and often one or two of your characters who have history in the location of the day) is really engaging, and when the show starts and the gang succeed in blooming more flowers it’s hard not to feel happy for them.
At its core Radiant Tale is a pretty straightforward dating sim, with a handful of characters to romance. To get close to one of the talented lads you’ll need to spend time with them, which generally involves selecting them at one of the moments in the story where you’re free to explore a city with a partner. Then you’ll have a bit of time together promoting the circus or learning about the locals, during which you’ll be presented with a couple of conversation options. Picking the one that resonates most with your current love interest will help you grow closer to them, and if you do this enough you’ll end up happily ever after together. It’s a simple way to make the game a little more interactive, but don’t expect anything more in depth than that.
The love interests are all delightful though, and have surprisingly deep backstories that I really connected with. On my first playthrough I fell for the beautiful blue haired boy with a heart of gold, who it didn’t take long to discover was hiding a few shocking secrets. I wasn’t disappointed romancing any of the cast, and each playthrough just made me love the ragtag performing troupe even more as I got to know them better.
Once you’ve completed your first playthrough you’ll unlock the ability to fast forward scenes you’ve seen before (which is really handy) and can blitz through to see what happens when you fall in love with someone else. The first playthrough took me around ten hours to complete already, so if you start aiming to see all the endings you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck.
Radiant Tale is one of the most charming Otome games I’ve ever played, with a wonderful cast of characters and a colourful setting that couldn’t appeal to me more. If you’re not into text heavy visual novels that don’t expect much from the player then it likely won’t change your opinion of the genre, but the rest of us will be too busy smooching the clown to care.
A charming Otome about a circus troupe
A great cast of characters
The world the game is set in is fantastic
Replaying to see multiple endings is a breeze
Not a whole lot to break up the reading