I think I’ve grown to appreciate charage more, recently. I never got past the common route of Shukufuku no Campanella, but I do like Windmill Oasis’ light-hearted fantasy settings, so I decided to play Witch’s Garden. It ended up being better than I expected, and had an actual plot to boot. The e-mote system is great and the girls are cute.
Witch’s Garden takes place in Kazashiro, a city that is surrounded by a protective wall. Its main purpose is to attract tourists by appearing to be another world, where various people who act as RPG classes roam the city as legit jobs, and sometimes witches appear and use “magic,” which is supposedly some fancy special effects. These people are called Avatars. Every month there is an event called a Night Parade, where city officials let robot monsters roam the city, and witches use their SFX magic to defeat these monsters. It’s a pseudo fantasy world created as an attraction to tourists, but it has a fair share of secrets that it’s trying to hide.
Witch’s Garden follows the story of Arima Yousuke, an ordinary guy who moves in to Kazashiro to live with his aunt Yuuko and begin high school there. The common route is slice of life, and it remains that way until Suzuno’s and Ayari’s routes, which should be saved for last. Kazashiro has a number of underlying secrets, most of which are revealed in those two + the true route, but remain irrelevant in the other routes. It’s actually a pretty interesting story surrounding a unique setting, and a lot better than what I expected after my initial impressions with the first three routes. The main thing I liked about Witch’s Garden is the light fantasy setting and lively atmosphere. It dips into more fantasy genre later on with some battles here and there, but nothing grandiose or too hot-blooded. It’s a chara-ge at heart.
Even though the plot is above average for what I expect of chara-ge, it is not strong enough to carry the eroge on its own, so if you don’t find the girls appealing then Witch’s Garden is not for you. There is no need to force your way into the true end.
Arima Yousuke – An ordinary guy who moves into Kazashiro with his aunt, and begins to attend high school there. He’s the protagonist, and there isn’t much special about him. He’s not particularly deep or strong, but isn’t hetare or whiny either.
Hinomiya Ayari – A witch Avatar who lives with Yuuko under “special circumstances,” thus living in the same house as Yousuke. She’s a carefree and easily embarrassed girl who instantly takes a liking to Yousuke. She has a really cute design and is the main heroine of the story, but is not my type.
Yukimura Suzuno – The class president, and also a witch Avatar. She’s an ojousama who comes from a rich family, and is somewhat distant to her classmates. She takes her job as a witch seriously, but is also soft-spoken and polite. He dere side is high on destructive power. Her route is relevant to the main story, but it ends up being mostly about Ayari, since Suzuno doesn’t come with a lot of problems to begin with.
Hatano Ririko – Yousuke’s childhood friend/big sister figure who hasn’t grown an inch and looks the youngest despite being the oldest of the heroines. She’s a knight Avatar who is sociable and skilled in swordsmanship, and also very popular at school. She is the one who inspired Yousuke to take up swordsmanship, and still sees him as a younger brother. Her route is pretty much standalone, but reveals some things about Kazashiro and has logical conflicts and tolerable drama.
Saimon Misumi – A kind and motherly senpai who goes to Yousuke’s school. She fills the kind big sis role, and is the only one who Eclair is close to. Her route is rather uneventful and doesn’t reveal much about Kazashiro that you won’t be able to predict, so I recommend doing it first.
Saimon Eclair – Misumi’s sister (or what it seems like at first) who is very attached to her. To anyone else, she is hilariously blunt and likes insulting Yousuke and calling him a pervert for being friendly with Misumi. Of course, she warms up to him in her route, which is unlocked after clearing Misumi’s, but pretty much features the exact same plot. She is hilariously awesome, and probably my favorite heroine. It’s a shame her route is a tad boring, but she gets to be plenty awesome in other routes too.
There’s a bunch of supporting characters like Yousuke’s aunt Yuuko, the overly cheerful and energetic classmate Koharu, and the 15-year-old-with-a-beard-and-looks-about-25 Gorou who is a strider Avatar. They all add to the fun and lively atmosphere, but are not particularly complex. Neither are the heroines, to be honest. But this isn’t that kind of “srs bsns” eroge.
I recommend doing Misumi’s and Eclair’s routes first to get the least plot-important ones out of the way, and saving Suzuno’s and Ayari’s for last because they pertain to the central story. Eclair is my favorite heroine, followed by Suzuno (who also happens to have a decent route). My favorite character, however, is Suzuno’s twintail imouto Akeno, who unfortunately doesn’t have a route.
Ah, yes. Witch’s Garden is very pretty. It has attractive character designs, especially for Ayari and Suzuno, and the e-mote system which gives the girls some movement. The backgrounds are colorful and detailed, too. The e-mote system is hnnnnng, and I can spend all day looking at the nice tachi-e. I don’t have anything worth complaining about the visuals department, since the e-mote system makes things lively enough that I can go a long with without needing CGs. There’s some nice magical special effects here and there as well.
Music is pleasant and fitting, but not too memorable. I liked it better than the majority of OtoBoku’s soundtrack. The opening song is catchy. I usually have nothing much to say about music anyway.
Four ero-scenes for each girl, barring Ayari who gets seven because she takes up two routes. Plenty of vanilla ero to go around for its length. They’re pretty long and standard eroge fare, compared to my two previous recently-finished eroge (Muramasa, which had short scenes written in a very un-ero-scene-like fashion, and OtoBoku, where I outright skipped all sexual content because I had problems with the artist’s anatomy skills).
A decent moege in a slight fantasy setting, which actually has a central plot that makes it deserving of a true route. The heroines are very cute, and their routes don’t create any unnecessary cringe-inducing drama just to prolong things. It’s notable for the e-mote system and nice graphics. The quality of the heroines’ routes vary on a great degree, but thankfully the best routes are also the most plot-relevant and should be saved for the end.
Recommended route order: Misumi -> Eclair -> Ririko -> Suzuno -> Ayari -> True.