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I put Memories of the Shinsengumi's pull down to how evocative of the samurai era it is and how well the inner squabbles of the Shinsengumi are portrayed.The daily strife of a samurai police force in the midst of the dissolution of Tokugawa power is painted in detailed, involving strokes that are romantic in the quixotic way.There's a large 'Encyclopedia' where you can look up terms liberally used in the text, such as 'daimyo' (ruler of a fiefdom).
I've played through Dragon Age and Mass Effect and begun a sex and relationship game column over at Rock Paper Shotgun (they let me call it S.
It turns out I was role-playing myself, which was why I wasn't successful at attaining any of the fantasy men in Hakuoki.
What I was doing was a spread bet: I'd go with dating everyone to test them out, see if I wanted to invest and then choose the best one.
It's exciting to be among the hustle of six samurai debating whether to assassinate someone or not - even if your role is only to read and press 'next' until you can initiate your next kiss plan.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about Hakuoki is its commitment to the time, place and historical significance of the samurai it winds its narrative around.
Hakuoki's replayability in particular is facilitated by a number of excellent systems: the Y button is assigned purely to skipping text you have read before to go straight to decisions, the 'History' section shows already scrolled text, and you can select to rewind to a particular section - say, before a decision.