Sakura Fantasy is probably the laziest Sakura game name I’ve seen so far. It tells me nothing. Oh, so it’s a game about a fantasy? I guess that sets it apart really nicely from all those other Sakura games. Like the one about spirits, and the one about angels, and the one about two large-breasted bisexual teenagers vying for the attention of Stockholm Syndrome Incarnated. Sakura Grounded In Reality, I like to call that set of games.
Yeah, yeah, I get that it’s probably intended as capital-F swords-and-sorcery Fantasy. Leave me with my spite. It’s all I have left.
Sakura Fantasy does immediately counteract its blandness with a bold implication of continuity. It’s not just ‘Sakura Fantasy‘: it’s ‘Sakura Fantasy… Chapter 1’. Meaning that, at the very least, the Sakura Fantasy experience was considered grand-scale enough to at least have to span two games. And maybe… maybe more?
Whether or not this is in any way a good thing, of course, remains to be seen.
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, somewhat high. Mechanical, rope-a-dope. NSFW level: really high, almost excessively so. And starting from the first page! So, er… tread with care?)
(Game source: Patreon. Have I not danced for your entertainment enough, you cruel art masters?)
Swords-and-sorcery fantasy it is!
This title screen really is ‘X-th verse, same as the first’. These games have this down to an art, now. And Sakura Fantasy‘s title is no exception… except that, for some reason, the default options are aligned a little different from usual. The text speed starts out maxed out, for one. I mean, I appreciate that: I promise you that no matter how fast your fancy sliding text is moving on-screen, I can read faster than that. I’m just wondering what prompted this change.
Equally strange is that the normally-empty gallery starts out half-filled-in.
Well, that’s all really strange. If I didn’t know any better — and if I hadn’t bought this game for my Steam account not a month ago — I’d say it looks like I played Sakura Fantasy before. Options set to my preferences, ecchi scenes partially unlocked… Maybe I’ve played this game in my sleep? That’d definitely be interesting. Is my subconscious trying to protect me from more Sakura Month? Rushing through all the games in my mental off-time, in the hopes that it’ll get me to stop?
Because if so: sorry, subconscious. I have to do this.
Another Sakura game, another ‘waking up from the darkness’ opening. What is is with Sakura dudes and naps?
“Raelin? Raelin, are you there?” Someone is trying to wake up Raelin. I’m Raelin, then. And I’m oversleeping, Which is bad, because “Keira is coming!”.
Someone named Gwynne shakes me awake. Wow, it’s just a veritable name overload here. Raelin, Keira, Gwynne… what happened to the good old days of playing through the first ten minutes without even knowing your own name?
And then the darkness clears. And I see…
I wake up to see two underdressed warrior women. Boob glisten-spots and all; I won’t say I missed this ridiculous art style while playing Sakura Beach, but all the same, it feels oddly comfortable.
From the gruff look of the woman on the right, I assume that she’s the aforementioned Gwynn. Plus, the colour of her hair matches the colour of the name, and Sakura games have always been subtle like that. Which means the woman on the left is…
…wait, hold on. Is that Raelin? Is that me?
A stubborn part of me keeps trying to view this scene as me being another POV male protagonist. That’s how it’s always been, so why would Sakura Fantasy suddenly switch it up? But the longer the scene goes on, the more it gets clear that this is happening. I’m Raelin, now. Sexy woman novice warrior extraordinaire.
The idea fills me with some confusion. If I’m playing a woman now… and this is a Sakura game… does that mean I’ll get to perv on myself at some point? And how would that even work? I can’t quite walk in on myself changing, after all.
Well. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing ham-handedly, am I right? Underwear is for wimps, anyway. And I admit I’m kinda curious what Sakura Fantasy plans to do with this information.
Raelin manages to get dressed just in time. And because there’s no wind in the barracks, her deception stands — really, the skirt she’s wearing is essentially a thin belt, so it really wouldn’t require much. But I guess that that would be too much, too quick, even for Sakura Fantasy. I mean, full-frontal nudity only two minutes in? You gotta have some restraint.
Then fierce, gruff battle instructor Keira walks in.
That sound you just heard is the echo of my limited suspension of disbelief shattering into pieces. I have no idea what kind of explanation Sakura Fantasy wants to give for this drill sergeant wearing full-body see-through lace, but I have to wonder if it can ever be good enough.
I do like that Keira has something of a coloured skin tone, though. That’s definitely a Sakura-game first! So, alright: I can deal with this lacey nonsense. Let’s continue.
Keira plays an excellent drill sergeant act. She inspects the novices, knowing full well that someone was rushing to put their armor on. She specifically suspects me, Raelin, because…
So apparently Raelin isn’t just an underdressed warrior in training — learning from what I have to assume is the underdressed best — but also a ‘farseer’. She’s gifted with sight beyond sight. And Keira dislikes her for it. Because she’s a drill sergeant, I have to assume: every basic training survivor knows that your sergeant’ll latch on to any specific reason to pick on you.
Not that our protagonist is helping her cause much. ‘Why is everyone always picking on me for my gift? And also, since I have this gift, why shouldn’t I just use it however the hell I want?’ I wait for Raelin to connect the dots herself, but that’s probably never actually happening.
You’d think that a magical farseer would be better suited as some kind of spy, or an intelligence worker or some description, not as a rank-and-file grunt. But then again, what do I know?
After getting scolded by Keira — for having my shin guards on wrong — and Gwynne — for oversleeping, and ‘farseeing in my sleep’ — I finally proceed to the day’s basic training.
It’s… very basic? It turns out I’m just hitting training dummies with a sword, and not at all using my unique powers of farseeing for some kind of combat advantage. I never see any of the other novices use their powers, either. What kind of Mickey Mouse operation is this army?
Raelin’s mind wanders up and down. She’s thinking about the palace in the distance, and the eternal Empress… her homelands weren’t anything that impressive! She’s thinking about the heat and the sun, and feels like she’s getting boiled alive in this weather. She’s thinking about how dull training combat is, and how she’d much rather be fighting actual monsters. She’s thinking about her mother, ‘wherever she may be right now’. She’s thinking about another novice, who gets scolded for her poor technique…
Raelin offers the novice some friendly affirmation, and gets a face full of accusation in response. ‘Just don’t spy on me, okay!’
In fact, Raelin is so upset at everyone accurately predicting the stuff she totally does, she’s going to talk to Keira about it! Keira is probably in her office! Raelin knocks on her door, but no reply. And before the ‘just open the door’ option appears, I already know what’s about to happen…
Hey, you know what you should totally do to your drill sergeant, who hates you for your ability to spy on her naked? Barge into her office and catch her naked in the open! That’ll show her.
Oh, and Raelin totally has the hots for her instructor. Because of course the first female Sakura protagonist has to be a lesbian. In fact, how many of the women in this game do you think are into other women? Anyone up for a little wager? I wager literally all of them. Even the ones that haven’t been revealed yet. Especially those.
Surprisingly, Raelin’s intended airing of the grievances doesn’t actually take place. Dejected, she resigns herself to spending her free time the literal only way she knows how… by magically spying on people! No joke, she honestly can’t think of anything else to do.
First, Raelin and I spy on Keira. Surprisingly, this does not lead to another nude scene; instead, we see Keira on the practice field, talking to herself about her own harshness and her treatment of the novices. Wait, it this… an actual reserved moment of character building?
Damnit, this isn’t what I signed up for! Let’s see what Gwynne is doing instead.
The night closes out with Raelin talking to herself. Is it right or wrong to farsee? Is this power natural, or the influence of some god she doesn’t believe in? Where do the monsters come from, and what do they want? And is this story actually going anywhere?
Oh, whoops. That last one was me, not Raelin. For everything that’s ‘happened’ the last hour or so, I have no idea what Sakura Fantasy is actually about. Something about magic and monsters, I guess? And an immortal empress, and genetic superpowers? Let’s hope the narrative picks up a little tomorrow; as it stands, I find it very hard to believe this story could carry a whole game. Let alone multiple.