[Nintendo Switch] Variable Barricade Review
Visual novel Variable Barricade from Aksys Games is the story of Hibari, the sole heir to her family’s fortune, who ends up running into a very particular predicament. Check our Variable Barricade review!
Visual novel Variable Barricade from Aksys Games is the story of Hibari, the sole heir to her family’s fortune, who ends up running into a very particular predicament. Picture this. You are the heiress to an influential and wealthy family. You’ll soon finish high school. You’re minding your business and doing everything that’s expected of you as the future head of the family when one day right after summer vacation – BOOM! – four guys barge in and ask you to marry one of them. Surely, it’s a prank of bad taste. You have rejected every single marriage proposition you’ve ever received, so these people must just be a just series of odd coincidences hitting all at once… right?
What’s that? Your GRANDFATHER handpicked them and is now MAKING YOU choose one of them? But this is so sudden. You’re only 17. You still have time to think about… what do you mean you have to live in a house with all four of them until you make a decision? Surely, this couldn’t get worse, so you might as well give their profiles a good read. If they were picked by your grandfather, they MUST be great candidates. Nope! A marriage fraud, a gambler, a trophy husband, and a walking debt generator. How could this be happening to you!
You’d think that sounds crazy, but that’s exactly the story for Variable Barricade! If you thought all Otome visual novels were about perfect men in perfect fantasies, you haven’t seen what this one has in store for you! Variable Barricade sets the tone about not being to the usual Otome VN, with seemingly awful choices for suitors, but that is where it really shines. With a hefty common route that gives you plenty of opportunities to see each of the four guys, it leaves you with a taste of really wanting to know what’s under their apparent flaws!
That isn’t all that’s unique about Variable Barricade, as it has a somewhat curious gameplay system. It uses a kind of board for you to pick where to proceed in the story, with side chapters that, while not having an influence on the main chapters, can give you lots of information, shenanigans, and interactions that you would’ve otherwise missed! This board is available after every chapter, and you can freely roam all that you have unlocked up to that point.
Another singularity of this game is a true rarity in the Otome scene: a fully voiced main character! You can choose to have her be the classic faceless main character or look at her beautiful face along with the dialog. While some people may find this too distracting, I think it was a great choice, as it really ties everything together for a great experience! The voice casting and acting in the game is top-notch and paired with the amazing art style, it’s a delight to see, hear and read!
The game is not, however, without its flaws. Now, the elephant in the room is, well… the romance itself. The main character is 17, and being made to choose a groom may raise some eyebrows, but you could look past it. But the really awkward part is the age of the suitors, that range from 20… to 26 years – yikes! So, a fair warning should be given for grooming, depending on the route, as well as some other uncomfortable themes, such as manipulation, physiological abuse, and other situations.
As always, critical thinking when engaging with such content is always advised, but overall Variable Barricade offers some of the best writing as of late, and as the years go by, the Nintendo Switch keeps climbing up towards the title of the ultimate Otome VN machine, so you definitely wouldn’t want to miss this one in your library! Variable Barricade is out on Nintendo Switch with a $49.99 asking price.
This Variable Barricade review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Aksys Games.