If you have been following our articles about the Spooktober Game Jam 2023 over the last few weeks, you could have already discovered a lot of games of different style and genre – I hope you have, because there are some more amazing games among those this year as well.
As I mentioned in my Spooktober article, some of the entries of the Spooktober VN Development Jam captivated me so much that I would like to give them an extra stage.
Speaking of stages, today I want to talk about The Phantom of the Black Rose Revue Act1 by Princely Girl Production.
So take your seat in the theater and immerse yourself in this beautiful, yet dramatic presentation of love, romance, and tragedy under the glory of red roses and shining stars.
Threats/harassment, psychological distress, supernatural elements, mentions of dieting.
Or grab yourself a big Toblerone, slip into your favorite pyjama dress, and spend a good time reading..
1974. Hyogo Prefecture, Japan.
The Black Rose Revue, an all-female musical theater troupe steeped in tradition and high esteem, has a new star on the rise: Twenty-two year old Sato Chihiro has quickly become the newest sensation for fans of the Revue. Sweet yet determined, Chihiro is ready to chase her dream: to become the most famous musumeyaku in Japan.
But the theater, a sanctuary of glamour and brilliance, cradles shadows within its embrace. The corridors buzz with whispers of ghostly apparitions and ominous shadows, intensifying backstage tensions. As Chihiro steps deeper into the limelight, mysterious, increasingly obsessive letters begin to adorn her vanity, which grow steadily more obsessive with every message sent.
Will you sculpt a destiny steeped in unparalleled fame? Embark on a romance that will be sung through the ages? Or unearth secrets draped in shadows, whispering of forbidden truths? The threads of fate are in your hands, waiting to be woven into the tapestry of the unknown…Itch.io
The stage is set, but sinister shadows abound.
The characters are very well written in this first playable arc. They have a nice dynamic with each other and it is unclear how each person is involved in the later adventure – which is great for a mystery.
I can’t say too much about the story because I only played the first act, which is the only one released yet, but it offered a nice combination of shoujo romance and criminal mystery.
I think most players are not the biggest fans of over-the-top 90’s shoujo romance, it can be way over the top a lot of times in terms of situations and look. But on the other side a lot of people grew up with them – making them feel nostalgia for the style.
Pick me for example: I grew up with shows like Lady Oscar (Rose of Versailles) Cutie Honey or Sailor Moon and a lot of other titles in that genre and thus became a fan of it.
The game mechanics are standard from a player’s point of view.
It’s a classic game, but the team behind it put more focus on effects and situations like the theater play which captured my attention since a lot of the scenes are really amazingly done and beautiful.
Both Yamino and Feniks created a nice stage for the game
The player is already getting a few decisions to choose from in the first Act.
This is what makes this title so amazing.
When you first start playing Phantom of the Black Rose Revue, you feel transported back to the mid 90’s reading a shoujo romance manga.
Every sprite, background and scene is really beautiful in its look and feel, and I had a few moments where I felt this nice nostalgy while playing and a big smile formed on my face.
Yamino did a fantastic job on the game and the overall aesthetics. She also created the animations, programming, and directed the game.
While the monochrome look might feel limiting, it gives a nice touch and fits really well into how this game is constructed. I felt kind of reminded of the great World of Horror while playing.More titles with this style – like a collection or series with different settings – would be really great and I bet the community would love those as well.
The first Act of The Phantom of the Black Rose Revue contain a nice amount of Easter Eggs to discover, for example this nice reference below.
Which Prominence is sitting here in among Audience? I’ll just give you a hint: “Moon Prism Power, Make Up!”
The soundtrack was a great combination of theatrical over-the-top melodies and 8-bit retro tunes, the creator Leaf Let grabbed the player and emboldened the already existing nostalgic feeling even more. Leaf Let also wrote the story together with Mizerable.
There was nothing odd that caught my attention while playing.
The team behind the game did a really nice job avoiding bugs or leaving issues that would pull the player out of the game’s immersion…
But, wait i have one critique…why did the first Act end so fast >_<?!
Phantom of the Black Rose Revue is a beautiful classic visual novel that throws you back to the early 90’s to take the role of Chihiro, discover the mysteries of the theater and maybe find your true love?
I’m really looking forward to playing the full game as it’s done, but what I discovered here was a beautiful and amazing first glimpse into the world of the game.
So stay tuned for another dance on the stage of tragedy, mystery, and love in the form of a review of the full game in the future.
In 2008, Yamino and Ash started a very nice and charming comic series together. It’s called Sister Claire and it continues till today!!
By reading it, you can trace how it evolved and this is always a nice touch to a medium.