Ebi-hime presents another lovely, well-written game, this time in the otome genre – although not everything is as it seems.
This review will contain slight spoilers about the structure of the game, but nothing about the content of the plot.
Empty Horizons is at short game (I got through it in about 3 hours), but it’s well done and certainly worth the low price point. Ebi-hime’s writing is as lovely as usual and perfectly complemented by Silly Selly’s gorgeous artwork. I’m a big fan of Silly Selly’s delicate, doll-like style, and it’s used beautifully here. The sprites don’t have a huge variety of poses but they have a range of expressions and Mireille gets a nice selection of outfits (my favourite is the darling white dress she starts out in).
The quality of the writing is good and the dialogue is snappy. Some of the banter was a bit tedious for me, but it’s definitely the kind of thing otome fans should enjoy, plus it’s how the characterization comes across. I loved the lush descriptions of the Italian countryside, accompanied by watercolour-esque backgrounds, which really drew me into the setting.
The story definitely went places I wasn’t expecting, and you’ll need more than one playthrough to get the full effect. I like it when new routes unlock after your first playthrough to give you a different perspective or alternative ending; this is exactly the kind of storytelling visual novels are suited to, and I love it when a developer takes advantage of these tools to further the narrative. And as usual, the game is professionally put together with some nice little extra features such as commentary from the developer and bonus artwork.
This is a short review for a short game, but that’s not to say I don’t think it’s worth your time. Quite the opposite, in fact; I would highly recommend this title to any fans of the otome genre, whether you’re already a fan of ebi-hime’s or not.