The fictional region of Burlone in 1920’s Italy,is the backdrop for a story of danger and often ill fated love. Known as the “back door to Europe”,Burlone has several districts predominantly controlled by organised crime organisations.So the beautiful tranquil scenery of the surrounding Adriatic setting,is marred by warring family factions and the dark underbelly of the criminal underworld.
Falce is the largest district and covers 60% of Burlone. Here,the Falzone crime family have dominance and control. The Falzones only recruit members from their own bloodline and their leaders only accept direct descendants from Italian blood only. Outsiders are not accepted and only those with Falzone blood are promoted to the upper ranks.
In the southeast region of Burlone,known as Creta,rule the Visconti crime family. Originally associates of the Falzone family,they disagreed with the bloodline rule and left to form their own organisation. Not interested with heritage,the general rule is that members are inducted by skill and that the Visconti family have connections globally,like in America.
The final district Veleno,is considered the most dangerous area,with an almost daily accelerating crime rate. Ruled by the third organisation Lao-Shu.This family originated from a criminal organization called the “Liu Huang Hui”, an underground society of the Republic of China. The Lao-Shu family has a reputation for resorting to violence.
Piofiore:Fated Memories offers a gangster fuelled tale of lies,deception and control mixed with the familiar otomate injection of desire,love and romance.
Our story starts with Liliana Adornato. An orphan raised in the local church in the region of Arca.A neutral area of Burlone,enjoying peace and freedom away from the surrounding regions of hostility.
Liliana has grown into a bright,intelligent and beautiful young woman and it becomes apparent that she’s also not short of male attention.
One day,her life changes as eyes meet a mysterious stranger looking back at her. What follows,are a sequence of events that draws Liliana into the heart of fueding families,violence,corruption and schemes to supremely rule the entire region of Burlone. As the region of Arca is suddenly rocked by disorder and murder,Liliana is faced with choices..choices between rejection or love,or even life or death!
Over a period of 8 story chapters,readers get to guide Liliana as she meets and engages with the stories handsome mafia characters from each family…
Dante Falzone…Head Boss of the Falzone family.Dante lost his parents at a young age,and that very experience forged him into a cold and calculating young man.Quiet and keeping cards close to his chest,Dante appears intimidating but cares deeply for his workers.Who in turn appreciate and respect him.
Gilbert Redford…Boss of the Visconti crime family.Gilbert is a shrewd businessman and very upfront in character and personality.An Italian American not short of charisma and friendly to everyone,which is why the townsfolk and his family are loyal to him.
Yang …The boss of the Lao-Shu. He came to Italy to forge the Yakuzas influence and build up a strong and powerful family base in Burlone. Yang is mysterious,sadistic and not afraid to kill anyone.He rules with violence and is cold and calculating.
Nicola Francesca….Underboss of the Falzone family,and although not blood related,considered a brother to Dante as they grew up together. Nicola is flirty,suave,clever and cunning.Yet instantly can turn cold and vicious in order to protect the Falzone family name.
So,while this may seem a lot to digest and take in at first. Each story playthrough is delivered at a comfortable pace and with much ease in following and understanding.Readers get to make multiple choice decisions at key story points,that then send the story down different routes,and ultimately to either a Good or Bad ending.In between certain story points there’s also the pretty cool inclusion of “meanwhile..”bonus story segments.These contain additional character and action events away from the main story,and these “fly on the wall” pieces add scope and perspective for the reader.
On initial game load up,what’s quickly apparent is just how gorgeous the visuals are. The main screen is a beautiful 1920’s sepia menu,that contains the standard load and save options,an Italian dictionary and apart from the main story selection tile,an additional good and bad ending tile that contain further story parts for each mob character after you finish their main story.
Start a story and you’re greeted by some excellent artwork by Japanese artist/illustrator RiRi. Some of the projects she’s worked on previously were also popular Otome visual novels, such as Yunohana SpRING!, Library Cross, Binary Star, and Desert Kingdom.
Each background is bright,colourful and highly detailed and the characters are superbly illustrated with facial movements and expressions.
It’s here,that I want to say though that I had an instant disassociation when I first saw these mob characters. Used to the paunch belly and receding hairlines of middle aged mobsters from fact and fiction. The Brando/De Niro/Goldophini/Capone imagery was hard to replace by these Anime/Manga influenced male model beauties with fashion catalogue style poses.(more show dog than reservoir dog!)
What I will say though,is that it isn’t until you get used to a character storyline,and are seduced by the charm.Their sudden and often darker personalities and illicit actions are received with much more surprise and more impact,because on sight.. you least expect it !
Also,Certain side characters get introduced as partially drawn with eyes missing and others get no visuals at all ! So,although not uncommon in a visual novel.Whilst I appreciate that there’s not much relevance to the main plot lines in most parts.Just hearing a voice with no character can confuse on screen and eyeless can feel decidedly creepy at times,and can seemingly appear to suggest that artwork is generally short of the mark.Possibly leaving you wishing everything was the standard of the main characters.
The game’s soundtrack is arranged and composed by Shunsuke Wada,and contains several songs that are excellent quality throughout. A good mention is also reserved for the excellent voice acting of Ryohei Kimura,Kaito Ishikawa and Nobuhiko Okamoto as the family bosses,that gives each character suave tones,and periods of genuine menace in dialogue and laughter.
Piofiore:Fated Memories translates over pretty decently,but there are the odd few errors in the dialogue.With certain sentences having the odd word repeated twice and some words in the wrong tense.
Yet the character conversation is not full of overly long dialogue,and what is a tendency in some titles at times,the urge for readers to spam the skip button. It’s pitched just right and the length of the story doesn’t allow any degree of stagnancy to set in.
Overall, the balance is just right on both counts. For the romantic novel fan,there’s a love story and a keen desire to find a suitor but without the slushiness of standard romanticism that can put off non fans. For the grittier reader,there’s the gangland main theme,that touches on plenty of mature subjects,but without the visual explicitness and leaving much of the content to the imagination.
I can’t wait to go back !
Thanks to Idea Factory / Aksys Games for the code.