Labyrinths of Astoria [ Hydra Main Routes ]
So a young adult with an obsession with Greek mythology alongside romance would probably be the ideal candidate for a game where you can date figures from Greek mythology, right? As it happens this game was exactly the kind of thing people like myself would love. They couldn’t have aimed this one better, as soon as I heard it was coming out I essentially freaked out. There was nothing I could do but just eagerly await the entire experience. I can happily say- this game met a lot of my expectations.
First off, I’m in love with the mythology the game created. The gods just are, the mythology just is, and their powers are manifested in ‘auras’ that they can wield. Then you have H.E.R.A., the organization essentially meant to monitor that and keep an eye on them. You work for H.E.R.A. and it’s pretty interesting to see it, but I really love how they adapt ancient Greek mythology into truth. For one, I don’t know if they actually researched, but despite his frequency in love affairs Zeus went out of the way to protect his children, making his preference and protection of Hercules completely believable and in character.
If you’re a fan of Greek mythology then the interesting way this story combines myth and modernization pretty well. To explain the auras I mentioned before, every ‘monster’ has an aura that is their powers, in the form of the monster they ‘are’. These auras basically also stand for their importance and what they can do because how powerful you are is really important. You have this co-existence with gods and humans and to a degree gods are still waving their more important sticks, they have sort of rules that demi gods and beasts follow but ultimately getting to interfere with say ‘Zeus’ favorite child’ would be difficult.
This made for some interesting plays. Add on that Heracles, known in this as he is in Westernization – Hercules, has his entire lore in tact but reinterpreted is super cool. Megara exists, the Trials to godhood exist, even going so far as ‘losing his children’ before performing his Trials exists. That was super cool and really thorough, especially given how long the route is. In fact if you buy all three it is the exact length of Sakura Amidst the Chaos with some similar themes! That really shows how much dedication goes into adapting history and popular myth for Voltage.
If I had to list a fault I would say the localization can still feel a little strange. Voltage is slowly progressing in making their stories feel correct, but this story has a major issue. The protagonist gave me a lot of negative emotions and I didn’t really relate to her. She feels like a gimmick to me by talking a way I’d never talk and behaving in a way I’d never behave. I feel like they need to survey American girls around the appropriate age. For instance there is a time where you find out information about Hercules that doesn’t match what you know: The protagonist says “That doesn’t jive-” and the rest of the sentence literally doesn’t matter. No one in America in their 20s that is relevant and relate-able says the phrase “doesn’t jive”. It immediately took me out of the story.
I am about the age of the protagonist, I’m 23 years old, and I could tell you in every situation how a girl would normally talk. I don’t feel like the main character is really me, or a girl, but an ‘idea’ of what a girl in NYC should be. I lived in the Tristate area for years, no one really behaved that way. I’m also really miffed that the cost has skyrocketed from the normal 3.99 per one route. I think it would be a better business move to split it into two, so 9 each, for a 2.99 cost. That would save money while still allocating a slightly bigger cost. Right now it feels like a 5 dollar increase is incredibly high, add on that you need to spend another dollar for the epilogue? To a fan who loves Voltage games, it feels very steep to go from an average 4-6 dollars for a characters content to a whopping nearly 13 dollars? I would highly recommend the product but I think that is steep.
Do these problems override the content? I don’t feel it does. There are a lot of really amazing things about the content they did to localize a new experience. We got an incredibly interesting lore and a main character who seemed to more visibly fall for you over an extended period. I feel like this was the absolute best job at a localized game so far. While I had a lot more trouble recommending some of the first games, I can say I enjoyed this. You get an engaging story and a much better art choice than you would before- I love that about it!
It all comes down to story and love interest. The story is engaging- especially if you’re a fan of Greek mythology. Those kind of interpretations are popular lately and seeing a take on the monsters into a love interest was kind of refreshing. I’m really excited for the Lord of the Underworld route eventually because I am very big into Hades x Persephone myth, so I am eager to learn that. I will be buying other routes, and that’s probably my best recommendation.
Hydra was actually interesting. It was nice to see a love interest who was willing to say ‘I’d do this because it was right’ even at the cost of his own life. I so love Greek mythology and they were able to capture him into this modernization so well that this new interpretation felt really unique. Even a picky fan can find something to enjoy in this tantalizing new romance.
Overall, the story has problems, but even the heroine grows on you over time. Everybody has their own story and there is a complicated mythology to follow, or alternatively a mythology you might be familiar with to dissect and rearrange in your mind to the way Voltage has re imagined it. I actually enjoyed the plot of this story more than any other Voltage game in general, it was a fantasy adventure with a lot of themes and a really engaging adventure. The characters really become intense once you get into the plot. How can you hate all your friends on a huge adventure?
At the end of the story I was so swept up in the amazing adventure with excellent writing that I actually felt more engaged than any Voltage game had done before. Well, mostly. I felt more in love in the other Voltage stories but in this one I felt the drama didn’t just come from my romance but instead the adventure I was on. In that regard I felt the localization team did a pretty good job. I definitely felt more independent and competent.
Overall, I give this a solid recommendation. While I would urge Voltage to lower the prices to something more affordable, otherwise it is mostly good. My major concern with the price is that to buy 5 routes at 13 dollars for major content is 65 dollars, the price of a brand new retail game. This would alienate some customers who want to buy all of the routes and given how crucial their position is to the advancement of the otome genre in America, I would say it’s important for them to remain lower in price to encourage buying sequels. There will be sequels right? …Right? Please buy at least the first route, it really is such a good and engaging story. I can’t recommend it enough if you’re a fan of the Greek mythos like myself!
I won’t be linking all the major CGs this time around, I urge you to try the route out and discover them yourself! In a few months by request I’d be happy to do Hades and give some of his CGs, so let me know if you’re interested and we’ll catch that one as soon as it drops! Mmmm….God of the Underworld. . .