Who didn’t love the action scenes in Piofiore, swoon over the charming characters or discuss the controversial sides of them for hours. I certainly did, and that is why I was extremely excited to finally play the sequel, spend more time with the characters while feeling the danger of living in a mafia family. But, does the sequel live up to its predecessor?
Slight spoiler warning
First, it’s a sequel taking place after the events of the first game, that means as a sequel unlike a FD it not only focuses on romance, but also tells a new story, and while I try to stay as spoiler free of the first game, as possible, I still recommend you to play the original game first and then come back afterwards.
The story of the game is divided into three sections, you can either play the after stories of each character route, play an alternative scenario after the final route, and after that the after story for Henri unlocks.
The recommended route order for playing the character routes is basically to play Dante last, but I played after preference, from least to most liked and thus started with Dante
Dante’s route immediately starts off in the familiar Piofiore action fashion, with gunshots being fired as they are out for a romantic dinner. The conflict in his route centres around the fashist movement and multiple threats that weaken the status of the Mafia, so much that even Gil says the times of the Mafia are soon to be over.
You see, his route tells a typical mafia story and feels like a true route, revealing what actually causes the threat to the mafia families. And I actually liked this plot a lot. It was interesting and tragic – just as I like my plot to be.
The romance on the other hand was not very present, of course there are sweet romantic CGs and even Dante gets to show his emotions, but overall the romance was very tame and almost innocent.
Concerning the character development, I don’t feel like there was too much of it. While they grew closer, neither Lili or Dante developed in a meaningful way. Though Lili decided to learn English to support the family with their American deals, there is still so much she can do as a normal girl.
Still I think this route will be perfect for Dante lovers, as you have a lot of scenes of him blushing or them having a heart to heart conversation.
After Dante I played Gil’s route
And oh my god, he turned the charm on! Gil is extremely sweet, corny and horny in his route and there are a bunch of romantic to very steamy scenes. And while Gilbert would actually prefer to stay in bed with Lili, his past haunts him in Burlone…
Learning more about Gil’s past and the necessity for him to confront the spirits of the past, makes you feel closer to Gil and see him grow in another way, than as a mafia boss. As hinted at in the first game, he has a hard time showing Lili his soft spots, but actually needs to rely on her when it comes to emotional support.
And this is a development I really liked to see and that stayed immensely consistent with their characters and relationship dynamic in the first part. But though you see Gil develop and grow, Lili and her relationship with him pretty much stays the same. She supports him in every way she can and is still too shy when it comes to Gil’s flirty side. Most of the romantic scenes felt like the side story in the original game, with Gil being proactive and Lili not even being able to kiss him back.
That being said, this does not change how sweet their scenes together are (minus Lili’s reluctance) and Gil has the most charming smile in the world you can never get angry at and just want him to smile forever.
Then it was sweet Orlok time – and it really was the sweetest of times.
Orlok also has a very personal conflict to overcome. Similar to Gil he’s haunted by his past, just that his past was accompanied by violence and cruelty. And after he changed his point of view in the first game, he still struggles to come to terms with his past deeds and how to execute his role as a disciple in the future…
Spending time with Orlok again really made me realise what a fascinating character he is. Starting with his immensely soft voice that almost sounds as if he’s on the verge of crying, he is extremely strong physically, but so fragile emotionally. And you really feel in his every action how much he loves Lili and how broken he would be if they were to be seperated.
Next to his conflict about his past, in this route there is also relationship development. Having barely kissed in the first game, Orlok is still insecure about how Lili sees him and wants to become manly and dependent for her. And also she realises that Orlok isn’t a boy anymore. So their route is full with extremely cute romantic scenes and Orlok is even cuter than ever!
that old secretive liar
There are still things about her fate and him that he hasn’t told Lili yet, because his secrets might threaten their relationship.
So also in this route we learn more about Nicola’s past in the mafia and I really like how they kept him consistent, still wrapping himself in a fog of lies and being a tiny bit too possessive.
So not only does Nicola grow, but also does their relationship develop into a more trustworthy and stable one. And I really liked the conflict Nicola had and how they dealt with it together. And though Nicola tries to hide the truth from Lilli, I still feel that their relationship was equal and they approached their conflicts in a mature fashion. This also led to one of the most wholesome endings, I consider the true ending of the game, and even meaningful in between and bad endings.
The man I didn’t know I needed for my whole life and now waited almost another year to meet again – the ruthless, brutal, unpredictable and dangerous boss of the chinese mafia in Burlone. A man who cannot be trusted, who acts on a whim, doesn’t feel pain and does not understand human emotions.
– That’s at least how I would depict him in the first game –
The sequel may paint another picture…
In his route Yang has to fight another head of the Laoshu who is described as even more ruthless and inhuman than Yang – well that sounds promising! But he is also even stronger than Yang, which poses a considerable threat to Yang’s carefree lifestyle especially as soon as Yuan becomes interested in Lili.
I personally didn’t find this conflict too interesting, as though we were learning about Yang’s connection with Yuan in the past, I didn’t quite see the relevance of this development for Yang as a character. What for me seemed more the focus of his route was the relationship development with Lili. Because intelligent Lili knows Yang is not to be trusted, so it’s actually him this time fighting for their relationship and having more trust in them than Lili does. On the other hand Lili gets unusually proactive, not only learning self-defence, but also opening up to Yang while still being wary of him. And this was a really interesting conflict to me, figuring out how much Yang can be trusted. And I also really loved all the allusions to the first part, be it scenes or recurring motives, which made me highly invested in their story again.
And I didn’t realise how much I missed the twins!
But yet I think for crazy Yang fans like me it might be a bit hard to stomach, how almost tame he became? I personally would have preferred him staying more dangerous and there is only one end, where he actually gives her up.
But still this route might make people like Yang who didn’t like him in the original game.
After the character routes I played to story alternativa taking place after the finale route of the original game. In this route a new character, who calls himself Phantom enters the scene, seemingly randomly killing people, threatening to destroy the mafia, while he poses puzzle like questions to Lili and the mafia guys to give them hints on how to find him.
The route takes place in one whole year and the first months, which can be played in an hour, contain short stories in which every side character gets their well earned own CG – that’s what I call good fanservice.
But after these initial cute short stories the story about the hunt for the phantom starts.
And I’m not the best person to evaluate this, as I am in theory only here for the romance, but I thought that Phantom story and how it was approached was a bit boring with lengthy discussions about the Phantom, what to do next, how to interpret the hints and so on…
I found it so boring, that I actually decided to put it down and play some Klap after the Switch port was announced, because it features a lot of the same voice actors, but in a more fun setting, to put it like that.
The only nice thing that happens in the story alternativa is that you can choose to stay with one of the guys and get two character CGs in total for them, the last one hinting at you possibly ending up together, but overall the romance was way to scarce or almost non existent in this route, which I find a bit disappointing, as I usually don’t care much about plot anyways. But at least for two more CGs of your favourite characters it can be worth a look.
After the story alternativa, Henri’s after story gets unlocked, as his events are connected to the events in the story alternativa.
After some truly gruesome events that made me think I’m playing Shuuen no Virche, the two are forced to move back to Burlone and face the Phantom, who still seems to have some unfinished business with Henri.
At first I was surprised they aren’t officially together? Am I the only naive person thinking eloping together kind of means you’re together? Well no. After their return our beloved bunch of charming mafia criminals is as surprised as I was, Henri and Lili haven’t even kissed yet.
And that pretty much is the conflict of the route. On top of finding out what the Phantom wants and how to stop him, Henri needs to overcome his insecurities and allow himself to be happy with Lili. Overall I think the route has a very nice balance of plot and romance, though I’m personally not a fan of the “oh no I’m not good enough for you” conflict. But that leads to this time Lili being the proactive and even assertive part, which was quite nice to see for a change. And though I didn’t like him in the first game, the sequel finally gives us a chance to get to know him better and I actually ended up liking Henri quite a lot.
The tone of the game is practically like the first game, dark violent mafia setting, combined with sweet romance. But to me the sequel seemed a lot more plot driven than the original game and I actually hoped for more romantic scenes. There are even fewer action scenes as the plot either revolves around talking or isn’t about fighting at all.
The endings are bad as usual and they even came up with an Orlok bad ending 2.0 – just this time it’s not Orlok, but another character who has the honour of suffering through the most tragic and saddest bad ending you have ever seen in your life. The sudden endings on the other hand are rather uninspired and not more than “oh, you’re dead endings”.
What also confused me a bit, was that I didn’t have too clear memories of who died and who lived in each character route and what we knew and who we knew, which caused some confusion in my brain and sadly a lot of scenes where lore we already knew from the first game was repeated.
What they did on the other hand to refresh your memories, were little “Aria” sections, with romantic moments from the first game, this time from the LI’s point of view, which is a really neat fan-servicy detail I appreciate.
The other system specialty are the meanwhile stories we already know from the predecessor, but this time, I felt they were even more of them, especially in Dante’s and also Gilbert’s route and the annoying ringtone of them always occurred in the most inappropriate situations, like when you are finally pushed onto the bed by the Li… And in Dante’s route I even felt like that ripped apart the story telling, as the story was only built by these little meanwhile stories and not cohesively told Lili’s point of view.
But that also only demonstrates how plot driven the sequel actually is, and it was less of an issue in the other routes – so probably more the true route curse.
My favourite routes must have been Orlok’s and Nicola’s as they focused on their personal development and their growth in the relationship.
And Henri’s because I played in within two days, and really was glued to the screen, he had a nice mixture of plot romance, funny and earnest scenes. With Yang I’m still not sure – of course he has his typical Yang moments, but I think I still prefer him in the first game.
The game is considerably long. Though natives are expected to clear a route in 5-6 hours, it took me 10 hours for each route.
The art is as pretty and stunning as in the first game – what shall I say?
And what I also appreciate, is that most of the CGs were romantic scenes and every character got a childhood CG, and all of them are incredibly cute!
And I really learned to appreciate all of the voice actors even more. There wasn’t a single voiced line I felt the urge to skip because of mediocre voice acting. All the voice actors are superb and a sheer pleasure to listen to.
For Learning Japanese also the same applies, as to the original game. I would say this game is on an upper intermediate level, with some complicated mafia talk mixed with everyday conversations.
So is the sequel as good as the original game? In my opinion, no, but Piofiore Fated Memories is my all time favourite game and will probably stay that way for a while.
Nevertheless Episodio 1926 is a very worthy successor to this gorgeous game. It stays true to its route, with high sugar content balanced with a gory mafia story. The characters stayed consistent, while most of them had to deal with their past or overcome an inner or outer conflict. The game offers more than enough content, be it in story, or fan-service with your favourite characters and even side characters.
Like the original game it is certainly a game that can make you laugh and cry, be it in adorable moments with the whole cast or in the tragic bad endings with the characters you came to love in hundreds of hours.