Halloween season usually has me searching for the perfect spooky virtual bae. This year, I settled on a lovely undead Vampire cutie from the game Blood in Roses+, an otome game in the prolific Shall We Date? Series. Shall We Date? Is the otome gaming department of the Japanese technology company NTT Solmare. They publish a plethora of both free and paid romance games on Android, iOS, and Facebook. Typically, they are designed for women; however, a few of their newer releases are also designed to appeal to men.
In season one of Blood in Roses+, you play a young witch named Mina (although you can change the name). She is captured by vampires and they forcibly drink her blood to make her their belonging. The witch is taken to a hotel filled with supernatural creatures, and she must find the secret Rose Garden in 10 days or else she will turn into a vampire herself. While looking for the garden, Mina also picks a companion to get to know and, of course, shenanigans ensue.
The best part of the game, I think, is the sheer amount of choices available to romance. While they aren’t the most diverse bunch skin tone wise, this is a Japanese made game, there is something for almost everyone. I, of course, chose a vampire; however, there are also wizards,, and even a cat or dragonewt if you’re interested.
Like a typical otome game, there are two different endings for each character. Which ending you unlock depends on how many moonbeam or sunlight points you earn through the dialogue choices. One thing I absolutely love about the decisions is that the game asks for confirmation with each option. For me at least, this means no more unwanted choices due to my sausage fingers!
Unfortunately, it all goes downhill from there.
Blood In Roses+ progresses on a ticketing system. You can have up to 5 tickets, and 1 ticket regenerates every 4 hours. If you don’t buy tickets, this means it could take a long time to finish a single story. For instance, I chose Cedric’s story, and in his story, there are 10 chapters and whichever ending you unlock. Each section has anywhere from 8 to 11 scenes. To finish the story in a reasonable amount of time, you would have to play quite regularly. If you want to finish the story quicker or want to play longer than 5 scenes at a time, you’re going to have to pay. And trust me, the ticket prices are not cheap.
Rather than paying for tickets directly, the app directs players to purchase coins and then use the coins to buy tickets. Coin packs are reasonably priced, however, to get tickets players must buy multiple coin packs. For instance, 1 ticket costs 150 coins. Unfortunately, coins only come in packs of 100s, which means you have to buy two 100 coin packs to get a single ticket. Following the math, this equals about $1.50 per ticket.
I wouldn’t mind as much if the scenes were long or featured plenty of choices to make. Neither of these are the case. The scenes vary wildly in length some of them being a minute or two and some of them being only a few lines of conversation. Furthermore, there are multiple scenes in a row where there are no choices at all. For the sake of this article, I did spend a few dollars on tickets and each time I felt disappointed.
On top of all this, periodically between chapters, there are “Love Challenges.” Each love challenge is a task that must be fulfilled before the player can progress with the story. Yes, that is correct. If these tasks are not completed, the story cannot be continued. Completing the tasks without paying money requires participating in the “Party” aspect of the game (more on that later) and grinding until the task is finished. Or, naturally, you can pay to continue the game.
Speaking of the Party aspect… Basically, you’re given an avatar to decorate, and you are tasked with a few mini-games to earn resources and items that will help you either succeed at the Love Challenges, help you dress your avatar, or offer bonuses for other mini-games. Participation is not optional if you want to play through the game for free. I was not a fan of these extras because instead of getting to know my vampire sweetie, I found myself mostly grinding for items so that I could get to know my vampire sweetie.
The app itself was also something of a detraction from the game. It didn’t matter if I was on my own Wi-Fi at home, on the Wi-Fi at my job or using 4G cellular data there was always a lag, and the loading screens seemed to take longer than expected. This was especially frustrating with the shorter scenes because, after those three lines of conversation, you then had to wait for the screen to load.
Every time the app is opened, there is a flood of ads. They’re often for items and collections to dress your avatar, but sometimes they are also for other Shall We Date? Games. Since it is a free app, I have no qualms with ads. It only becomes an issue when I find myself having trouble getting to the beginning of the game because there are pages and pages of ads.
All in all, I give this game 3 roses out of 5, as I can’t say I would really recommend it. I liked the story and the plethora of choices for love interests. However, when I want to play an otome game, I’d really like to be able to play the otome game. I’m not looking for all the extra mini-games, and I’m not looking for a grind fest. The only thing I wanted to do was the one thing this app made it really hard to do.
Sorry, Blood in Roses+ I’ll have to keep looking for my supernatural bae.