Visual novels are super fun. Branching narratives, attractive (usually) characters, and great stories are always abound. So even though Pyrite Heart is an otome or princess game (one lady, many male romantic partners), I was still fairly excited to play it.
One hour later, I was done. Not because this is a bad game, but because it’s short. Really short. Pyrite Heart is a story about a princess with only one week in the real world. It’s a gorgeous game, but that week passes by in a mediocre flash.
The premise of a princess in the real world is about as trope-y as it gets, but Pyrite Heart isn’t here to break ground, just hearts. Imperial Princess Ahri makes a bet with her brother that she can last a week in a “commoner” school, him saying she’ll just come home crying.
This bet is the sole impetus for the game. Apart from a little background on Ahri – she’s self-absorbed, brilliant, all-around supergirl, and incredibly competitive, the girl sets off to school without so much as a goodbye. Which sets the tone for the rest of the game. There is no major conflict, no incredible narrative, just a girl at public school for a week.
And that’s perfectly fine. Again, Pyrite Heart isn’t duplicitous in its intentions. It’s here to tell a story about a beautiful young adolescent lady and a swift, flaming romance with one of two gorgeous gentlemen. A romance that begins very, very, very quickly.
The two potential targets for attraction, Ryuu and Kenta, are about as perfect as one could imagine. Ryuu is the school’s student council president and handsome brainiac of the institution where Kenta is the dashing athlete. Kenta also happens to be the lifelong servant of Ahri, and Ryuu is just aloof enough to spark Ahri’s competitive nature. Stage: set.
Without further ado, this high school drama commences. Ahri as a character is a right brat, but unlike other unlikeable personality types watching her maraud through “commoner” school life is fairly amusing. Since the game is depicted entirely from her perspective, what she picks up on in terms of others’ opinions is limited until the truth can’t be ignored any longer, and it makes for some pretty good drama.
Her targets of love, Ryuu and Kenta, are also pretty enjoyable. Apart from being irresistibly handsome, they’re just different enough in their perfection to be interesting. The dynamic of Kenta who has known Ahri for years versus Ryuu’s whose developing relationship with Ahri can be compared to Romeo and Juliet in its swiftness makes a worthwhile replay incentive.
As far as choices go Pyrite Heart has an amount proportional to its length. Read: not many. Fortunately, since the options are fairly limited given the dearth of eligible bachelors, knowing which choice to pick isn’t much of a difficulty. Obtaining the different endings won’t take long, and there are a few.
Each gloriously wonderful young man has multiple renditions of their route. Ryuu and Kenta both can end up madly, wonderfully, perfectly in love with Ahri and she with them. Conversely, they can end up bitter and completely unenamored with Ahri. And, somewhere in the middle, they can settle with a less-than-perfect steamy prospect for the future.
To translate: one good end, one “meh” end, and one bad end for both Ryuu and Kenta. There is no middle ground. It is impossible (or so it seems) for Ahri to not end up depending on one of the two young men for emotional support. And this is Pyrite Heart’s weakness as a visual novel.
With enough time and content, Pyrite Heart could have truly been a fantastic princess game. Ryuu and Kenta are actually very entertaining despite the sheer amount of chiches the two of them are designed upon. Ahri herself, despite being a walking, talking, stereotypical arrogant princess develops nicely within the short amount of time Pyrite Heart allows the player, but it only begs the question: what could happen next?
Pyrite Heart is a game filled with missed opportunities. Though tricky to execute well, there is no jealousy between Ryuu and Kenta. The game is set for a week’s worth of time, but why? The plot could easily develop and grow from there, but ends on hollow “happily ever after” notes that feel unearned.
This is a crying shame, because Pyrite Heart is a beautiful game. Not just the characters, but the artwork in general is top notch. Superb in its polish, Pyrite Heart looks like a AAA visual novel but lasts as long as a third-rate indie game. Even the soundtrack sets the atmosphere perfectly, but lacks any real substance and relies on repetitive, simple melodies.
For its price, Pyrite Heart is a great little distraction. A beautiful one, at that. But its wonderfully pretty characters aren’t given enough stage time to really strut their stuff. Pyrite Heart is a game that ends too quickly, wasting the potential of a time-old setting that could have been taken in fantastic directions but instead ends on sappy, unearned notes.