Highway Blossoms PC Review by Lolinia
Edited by kytten of We Touch Games
Genre: Kinetic Visual Novel
Publisher: Sekai Project
Release Date: Jun 17, 2016
One small camp vehicle, one red-headed girl, one blonde-haired girl, and a Cassi that only gets a tiny bit of screen time, but stole my heart instantly. That is Highspeed Flower Blooms… Okay, okay. That’s not Highway Blossoms, but it was a very quick and goofy way of explaining the story. Onto the actual review.
Highway Blossoms is a kinetic, yuri visual novel that takes place in the desert lands of the United States of America. Some old dude from the Gold Rush era left his gold scattered across the area of the good, ole Southwest, and died before he could ever go back to get it. Fast-forward over one hundred years and his journal has been published for the entire world to go hunt for that gold. Amber doesn’t care about that, though. She just recently lost the last bit of her family that cared for her and is taking a road-trip to grieve. On the way, she meets bright-eyed Marina, the stranded treasure hunter. From there, their story begins and my synopsis ends.
From the minds of Alienworks and published by Sekai Project, Highway Blossoms is a beautiful tale about treasure, love, and grief. Told from the perspective of Amber, one of the protagonists, the game is a marvelous telling of a girl’s sadness at losing a loved one and her road to finding another person to love in this world. With a marvelous soundtrack, superb storytelling, and great programming, Highway Blossoms is a visual novel that deserves at least one full read-through. Many, many thanks to Sekai Project for the review key.
As a person who loves to listen to the soundscape in a game, the music and sounds in Highway Blossoms are a pretty good combination. Harmonicas and guitars are heavily present in the music, giving the feel of the country in each piece of composition. From light-hearted comedy music to intense driving music and even highly emotional music, the songs breathe life into the characters. However, there are some quirks with the sounds. For one, there’s a lack of sound effects. My feelings on this may stem from the fact that upon reading through Highway Blossoms, I had just finished Novectacle’s The House in Fata Morgana, which had a TON of sound effects; however, the background in Highway Blossoms just felt like empty space throughout the majority of the game. Conversely, it strangely fits the fact that nearly everything takes place in the desert. Second, while the music was good, the abrupt cuts to either silence (with no sfx) or straight to another song were jarring at best. Yet, the music was only one part of the things that impressed me about the game.
The storytelling is amazing. Details trickle out slowly as the story progresses and revelations are built upon previous knowledge instead of just suddenly popping out of nowhere. One factor in this is the fact that Amber is a lesbian. While technically “unknown” by the audience, the game is marketed as a ‘Yuri’ game, so there is going to be lesbians. When it comes to Amber and the in-game universe, though, subtle hints are dropped throughout the story all the way up to the formation of the relationship between her and Marina. This, as well as the slow reveals of other story factors, really made me love how the game played out. Combined with the emotion in the music, the story and character development within really drives the plot home.
With all that said, now, I don’t think Highway Blossoms would’ve been halfway as good as it felt if it were not for some of the technical aspects of the game. With assistance from ALICE in Dissonance (the developers of the fault series) and their 3D Camera system, the visuals were a delight to experience. Characters twirling, bouncing, and jiggling across the screen were highlights to funny moments. For the more serious times, a character sprite moving farther away or closer towards the screen added a sense of depth to the world. Not only the visuals, but even the text had flavor added to it. To put it simply, it was dynamically engaging. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
There are only a few things in Highway Blossoms that I really want. One, a Cassi route. YEAH, YEAH, I KNOW. She’s a one-stop character that doesn’t add to the main story whatsoever, but she’s my favorite. And if one of the developers of the game (Josh “Raithfyre” Kaplan) thinks that I have good taste in choosing her as my fave, then I don’t need to justify it to anyone. Second, I would really want Marina’s perspective. The events in Highway Blossoms are all told from Amber’s viewpoint, and while that was a really good story, I have a feeling things would feel a bit different along the journey if we saw things from Marina’s eyes. Finally, I also would want to see the story through Tess’ eyes. Other than Cassi, Tess was a very unique character. Not only that, but she was also on a whole ‘nother side of the plot. While Tess’ older sister could be a pain in the butt, she really did care for Tess, so I’d love to see how this entire story between Amber’s group and the group of Mariah, Joe, and Tess would look like through her eyes. Oh, and tons more sound effects. Make that background shine.
Overall, Highway Blossoms is a short, yet satisfying visual novel. It even includes some useful life lessons. Memorable characters, gratifying story, and an awesome artistic aesthetic make it well worth the read. If you don’t mind long car rides, hippy music festivals, and love between girls, then I highly recommend Highway Blossoms. It’s a hell of a ride. You can get it on Steam for $9.99 USD.
- Emotional music
- Invigorating storytelling
- Unusual camera angles
- Love story
- Outstanding programming
- Utterly horrible, yet funny puns
- Speed mode
- [[PLANNING INTENSIFIES]]
- Bad cuts in between music or sudden silence.
- Sometimes, Marina gains and loses a sibling (I believe this was fixed in the optional update that was released, but I didn’t take the update as it would’ve made me start a new game AGAIN and I was not doing that.)
- As mentioned above, sometimes the updates break your save files. :/
- Extremely short. I want more. Waited for this game since December and I gobbled it up way too fast.
- Backgrounds feel audibly empty.
Lolinia gives Highway Blossoms a Drastik Measure 8.0 out of 10.0 (80).
CASSI FOR LIFE