[Switch] Review – Iris School of Wizardry -Vinculum Hearts-

Iris School of Wizardry -Vinculum Hearts- is another game by by OperaHouse and DIGIMERCE that released in English on October 11th, 2018. It was originally a mobile game back in 2014 and got a Nintendo Switch release in Japan back in August 2nd, 2018. So it took about 2 months for an English release which makes for an interesting timeline.

If you haven’t read my post on their previous game with English ‘translation’ (Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku), the translation is pretty bad. Bad to the point where it is hard to read. Iris School of Wizardry suffers the same bad quality of translation where the translation hasn’t improved nor become worse than Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku.

I was contacted by DIGIMERCE to review this game, I was intending to review it anyway, but keep in mind I won’t pull any punches when reviewing this game. I’ll try not to focus too much on the translation for the story/route review parts but I will focus on it very heavily at the end of the post where I sum up all my thoughts.


Synopsis of Story


Aria Austin is an orphan who is aiming to become a great wizard like her father by attending the most prestigious school of wizardry–Hogwarts Iris School of Wizardry. Only those of rich and noble families attend this school, where admission rate to enter is 300% (either it means the rate of people being admitted to the school is 300% or the price of admission is 300% more than most schools?).

Because she is a commoner, poor, half wizard-half human she feels like she won’t be able to attend despite doing well in the entrance exam. While wasting her days in her parent’s second-hand bookstore, waiting for the acceptance letter to come, a man named Keith Knight comes to her store asking for a book with a certain symbol on it. With that symbol alone, Aria is able to identify and bring the book to him which turns out to be a very rare book. She tells him to keep it as she’s already memorised the whole book, which seems to impress him despite seeming to look down on her for being an Ultio (or Ultimo as the translation keeps changing for no reason), which is basically this game’s equivalent to ‘Mudblood’ aka being half-wizard, half-human.

Turns out Keith has connections to the school and gives a special recommendation for her to the President of the school, thus allowing her to attend the school as a Second Year (she just skips the first year, second year is basically senior year) on a Scholarship.

Thanks to the powers of Mary Sue plot points she also becomes a member of ‘Society’, a student council made up of rich, handsome men and women. And so starts a year of Wizardry Schooling for Aria…

characterbreak

The routes are very short. About 5 chapters to be exact, though Chapter 1 is dedicated to the common route so each character route has 4 short Chapters and 2 endings. There are about 5 routes plus one secret route. My play order was Matias →A-Jay →Clyde →Cyril →Keith →Secret Route.

From here on out there will be spoilers for each character route, but considering I can hardly remember the routes because they were so short and not so memorable, my summaries may be short and missing some information. I apologise if you wanted a full and accurate run down of each route, so please bear with me as I attempt to remember this game :lol:.

If you want to skip spoilers click here to skip to my overall thoughts of the game.


Character Routes


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Matias Archibald | CV: Tomohisa Hashizume

Matias is Clyde’s boyfriend childhood friend and partner. He is seemingly aloof and tries to act cool but is actually quite a softie as he protected a stray kitten from the cold by giving it his coat. This same kitten was adopted by Aria after she saw his good deed, which he keeps on denying many times despite all the evidence pointing to him.

I found it surprising to see that he was a bit of a flirt, considering his demeanour was so serious. He would often tease Aria with a lot of innuendos and smooth moves, like the time for the school festival where Society was doing a masquerade party suggested by Matias where he uses this opportunity to recite Romeo and Juliet to Aria and give her a kiss before leaving abruptly. Pretty smooth there, Romeo. Turns out Matias is afraid of falling in love with Aria as he used to be quite the womaniser in the past, something that he seems to regret. Aria finds this out through her roommate Ashley (a Society member who is popular with the girls and wishes to be the first female knight accepted in the Royal Cavalry) and is a bit hurt upon hearing this, they have a little fight but they come back together for whatever reason I can’t remember.

Also, to add more angst to this route it turns out that Matias is becoming blind in one eye as a result from trauma as a child where he was beat up by both his father and some jerks down in Knockturn Alley (for the life of me I can’t remember the place but it’s just as shady as Harry Potter’s Knockturn Alley), where he was saved by a smol child Clyde. Since then he swore to become a knight and get revenge to that shady area in Aura (or whatever that city is called, seeing that they change the translations of place names). But because of his eyesight getting worse he worries about whether or not he could go to Knight Academy. Also it turns out later in the story that he reveals that his old man was the cause of his eye injury by poking him with a stick and maybe not the goons in You’re-Gonna-Get-Knifed Alley?? The translation was very vague so I couldn’t understand.

Anyway, my memory is getting a bit hazy but Matias paired up with Aria to take the exams (despite his aibou always being Clyde), he sees the potential in Aria’s special ability of memorising things and helps her become a better Witch/Wizard. Hell, his route was the only one that helped Aria make a pact with a summoning animal, which is the kitten she adopted. With their brains and talent, they managed to become King and Queen of the school upon graduation.

Happy Ending: Matias and Aria celebrate by boning each other on the couch in the House of White Rose (the place where Society hangs out). Matias fakes a medical document saying he’s fit to go to the Academy, gets accepted into the academy and Ashley leads a ‘revolution’ to let girls be allowed to attend the Academy. You go girl. Aria is also in the Academy/graduated to be part of the Royal Cavalry with Matias and Ashley. I think she’s more in the medical field than as a knight? Either way she is studying to use her magic to help Matias see as now he’s completely lost sight in one eye and is now rocking a badass eyepatch (he prolly can’t see in his other eye, but again, translation was vague). Aria helps him see by using her special ability to memorise things and delivers those memories to Matias by holding hands. Also the Academy found out about his eye problems but still let him go and now he’s up there with the big boys of the Royal Cavalry.

The happy ending seems pretty cheap considering how things just turn out ‘good’ in the end, especially when you compare it to the Endless Ending, it seems like it was wrapped up too good. Also no mention of absolving that place he was beat up as a kid.

Endless Ending: Because of reasons, Matias tries to distance himself from Aria (despite being in love with her) and everyone else and ends up mopping around in a bar after he was declined to attend the Academy because of his messed up eyes. After some pep talk with Ashley and Clyde he decides to right some wrongs by going to that place he was beat up as a kid and tries to reform it by helping the folks down there become better people by starting a Theatre there. Aria receives a letter for his endeavours and decides to do something for herself too, hoping that one day she’ll meet Matias again. Thanks to Matias reform of a dangerous area he was given a special place in the Royal Cavalry, in turn Aria finished studying medicine and has been accepted as well to be part of the Royal Cavalry. As she got to the place where Matias was at (because angst) she was shot by some rando just as Matias saw her. They have a tender moment while she dies and the end.

This ending seemed like it was going in the right places. We see Matias get some character growth, he absolves his hate/revenge for that dangerous place that I’ve forgotten its name, he gets into the Royal Cavalry on his own merits and hard work to prove something without forging paper works to get in and Aria decides to study medicine and make her way into the Royal Cavalry (instead of just going tagging along to go to the Academy just bc she wants to stay with a dude). But because we need this to be a bad end they just had to kill her off and create angst lmao. What great writing. There was also some important information was revealed in this ending that was even mentioned in the happy ending or his route, which was a weird story choice.

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A-Jay Blackford | CV: Ryosuke Kanemoto

A-Jay is your by the numbers genki-wanko boy with a hidden past.  He’s pretty cute but because of the short routes and mediocre writing it just wasn’t enough for me. However his route was pretty informative… but mostly for the secret route/overarching story of ISW/Iris School of Wizards.

Basically, Aria and A-Jay partner up for exams and it turns out he’s not quite smart/talented with magic as the other elite guys in Society but for some reason he still wants to attend ISW. He has a knack for playing the piano which amazes everyone bc they can’t believe he can play so well without using magic? lol. As he’s playing the piano, Aria seems to notice a ghost figure of a beautiful boy nearby (which happens often in a couple of routes and isn’t touched on why he appears, but makes sense in the secret route…maybe). A-Jay seems to be well-versed in the mysteries of ISW such as a pillar with words etched into them that nobody knows what it means, a door that opens when a couple that feels the same about each other stands in front of it holding hands and a door that appears under the light of a full moon. Keep these in mind because they’ll appear in other routes.

I don’t know when but Aria explains to A-Jay her parents are dead when he visits her bookshop (this is done in almost every single route so get used to this shit) and that they died on their way back from their honeymoon that they put on hold for 10 years. Anyway, A-Jay decides to take Aria to his Villa at a resort town for the summer considering her parents are DEAAAAAAD. He tells Aria that his family won’t be there so it’ll be just the two of them but when they arrive to the villa and see his pet dog, suddenly his family appears as a surprise which shocks A-Jay. They have a fun family get together and Aria feels happy but a bit sad bc she misses her dead parents.

The next day when Aria wakes up, A-Jay’s family is gone and he explains that they left in a hurry because his uncle is ill. Aria shrugs it off and they go to the beach where Aria looks upon in awe as she has never seen the ocean in real life. She asks for A-Jay to swim with her (despite having no idea how to swim) but he suspiciously declines.

Couple weeks later, because of circumstances I can’t remember, Aria goes to A-Jay’s room where she sees through a crack a scar on his back as he was changing. Aria you perv. But it turns out this scar ain’t no ordinary scar but a DARRRKKK MAGIC SCAR. DUN DUN DUN. She decides to keep her distance away from him, thinking he’s into dark magic but his good friend Cyril tries to hint at Aria that things might not be as it may seem. So she asks him and turns out that he’s totally not into dark magic, for reals.

I can’t remember how the reveal happens but it turns out his family was murdered years ago by a Wizard that used dark magic and left A-Jay with a scar (gee, I wonder what this reminds me of) from failure to kill A-Jay. I think he wished to take revenge but he can’t as that wizard is long dead now. How convenient that we don’t have to follow through with that story thread. Apparently this wizard is part of a DAAAAARRKKKK MAGIC family, with the surname of Griffiths. Get your behelit ready.

A-Jay’s family that Aria met was only phantoms brought out from a stone that his father created with his last powers to save A-Jay and to put part of the family’s souls in there to watch over A-Jay. Something like that never happened until A-Jay brought Aria over, so in a way it was kinda like his family’s blessing on him.

Also somewhere in this route A-Jay and Aria go into the door that appears under moonlight and they get transported to the ‘basement’ which is actually a magic world with weird shit going on and this boy that looks like the ghost boy is there smashing red fruit and goes berserk and tries to kill Aria and they find their way out and gets lectured by the President to never go in there again. But that’s just a small minor thing.

Anyway, there’s no real conflict going on in this route other than the suspicion you’re supposed to feel that A-Jay is actually into the DAAAAAARRKKKK magic. For their final exam A-Jay and Aria are tasked to bring hope using their magic. So they decide to recreate the world that they saw in the restricted ‘basement’ because Aria thinks there’s ‘hope’ in there. Whut? Anyway, the President sees this and tears up because reasons that will make sense in the secret route. A-Jay and Aria aren’t even in the top 10 of the practical exam, nor are they the King and Queen of the School, which is interesting. They get special commendation for something that I can’t remember. Either it was for braving the restricted basement that no one is allowed to go into or for their practical exam but I think its the former for some reason lol.

Happy Ending: Aria and A-Jay stand in front of the door where it’ll open if the two people share the same feelings as the other. It opens and shows them a future where Aria and A-Jay have two little kids, which embarrasses them a bit. They then decide to become teachers at ISW, they go back to his villa and A-Jay just throws away the stone that activated phantoms of his family into the ocean as I cheered on. Hell yeah, fuck your family. Forget about them now that you got some coochie.

Endless Ending: A-Jay and Aria stand in front of the door and instead of opening to show the future, the kid from the wacky world drags A-Jay and Aria in while chanting something about being fellow dark magic ppl. Cut to how long it’s been since they’ve been in the wacky world in the basement, Aria and A-Jay are under the impression that they are this kid’s parents and he is their child while A-Jay is busy at work drawing a magic circle that apparently ‘brings the two worlds together’ which is never touched on ever again in the secret route and actually doesn’t make sense when you find out this kid is supposedly so powerful so why would he get A-Jay the guy that didn’t make it in the top 10 to do something that requires a higher skill lmao.

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Clyde King | CV: Tetsuya Kakihara

Clyde is the princely wizard-kun that is all around perfect in every way. His route gets a bit weird where Aria keeps thinking of him as her dad, sometimes calling him Papa Clyde. Not creepy at all.

I really can’t be bothered with this route, so I’ll just say the major plot points outright.

It turns out that Clyde and Aria once met each other as kids (which she never mentions any of this in any routes except Clydes). They met when it was snowing and Aria was crying about her dead parents and Clyde show her ‘magic that will stop her from crying’ and flowers appear, one of them Aria kept. Next time they met as kids, Aria teaches him the magic words her father told her that makes stuff fun (but doesn’t really add anything to a magic spell), which was “Vinculum Hearts”, which Matias actually mentions in his route as a word that Clyde taught him. Since then Aria kept that flower preserved, until she gave him it for a Christmas present, as a way to tell him that ‘ye I remember you’.

Somewhere in the route, Clyde disguises himself as Matias with a transformation magic and tries to hit on Aria as Matias which made me question whether Clyde is into being cucked by disguising himself as another dude and hitting on his girl. But egads! Clyde disguised as Matias is kidnapped by some goons in capes and the only way for Aria to chase after him is by using a magic spell she found etched on a pillar while exploring the campus, which teleport her to where Clyde was and then the bad guys get beat up. Turns out they were aiming to kidnap Matias as a way to get Clyde to show his face. But that sliver of information won’t have meaning until the Happy Ending.

As like every route, they pair up for the exams and find out that their exam topic is to bring happiness to as much people as they can on the campus. Aria brings Clyde to a pillar that has the writing on it, thinking that this might be the key to making everyone happy. Somehow Clyde makes the connection that the spell Aria used wasn’t a teleportation spell but somehow a wish spell? So they use that wish spell to grant a small bit of happiness to everyone where things like people helping other people and guys confessing to girls happen. Of course because of this they ranked 1st and became King and Queen of the school. Also turns out that Keith was the one who etched that spell on the pillar when he was a student at the school.

Happy Ending: During the graduation party, Clyde and Aria have some champagne and then Clyde whisks Aria to the city of Aura with teleportation magic. He reveals that he is the crowned prince that will have his debut to society (E.g. Showing his face and his name) once he turns 18 years old. This is done because of the fear of the ongoing riots might mean that someone will come for Clyde’s life.

whatatwist

Who would’ve seen this coming? A princely guy like Clyde with manners of a rich boy is the crown prince? I honestly didn’t think that would happen.

Anyway, he wanted to have a ‘normal’ life before his coronation so he attended ISW despite having knowledge of high level magic and shit. He tells Aria he wants her to be his Queen, but for now she can be his princess. She agrees because she knows that she has no future plans so she’s like what the heck, let’s become a rich ass princess. Fast forward a couple of months, Ashley and Matias are both part of the Royal Cavalry (I don’t remember Matias’ eyes situation advanced to where he wore an eyepatch in this ending, so I’m guessing it was Aria’s fault somehow that his eye sight got worse lmao). Clyde is about to do his coronation but goes to see Aria before that who is living the high life as a princess (but also taking manner lessons). He gives her a ring as a substitute for the real thing when they’re ready. And so they lived happily ever after with no absolving of the riot problem or the fact that people will probably still try to attempt to kidnap or harm Clyde. Just a happy ending.

Endless Ending: During the graduation party Clyde and Aria have some champagne and Clyde decides to take her to see his summoning animal Pegasus (that I forgot to mention but felt like a story thread that didn’t need to be mentioned or remembered). But then he gets riddled with poison that was in the champagne (that had a spell to only affect Clyde). Now this is when I snapped. In what way did the happy ending differ when they were drinking the same exact champagne glasses it just doesn’t make sense to pull this ‘he was poisoned’ shit. Anyway, the poison makes him sleep forever and Aria laments that maybe a princess’s kiss would wake him up but after trying it goes ‘but i’m not a princess’. Also because he didn’t reveal to her that he is a prince in this ending, everyone like Keith and Matias try to downplay that he’s a prince around Aria lol. All in all, this was a bullshit ending.

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Cyril Grundy | CV: Yuta Kasuya

Cyril is the tsundere of the group as well as a ‘genius’ when it comes to magic that also looks down on Aria, despite (BIG SPOILER) being an Ultio just like her, though the difference between her and him is that he’s rich and has parents that are alive.

Cyril’s route felt like a waste of space and effort so I’ll address the pink elephant in the room: he’s dying because he has heart complications 😂👌 No matter what ending you get he fucking dies. Who cares what happens in the route when he just dies.

He says his wish is to go to ISW, make friends, fall in love etc. Which makes me laugh to think that in every other route he straight up dies without falling in love bc he’s obviously crushing on Aria. I honestly can’t be bothered talking about his route because it feels like a waste of time and I was just speed reading through his route as it bored me to death so I’ll just skip to where he dies in each ending.

Happy Ending: After the exams and Aria and Cyril are crowned king and queen of the school. Cyril thanks Aria for everything and goes back to his home where he dies off screen in his sleep. Aria gets a letter from his mother telling her of his passing and she comes to visit his mother and his grave and vows to his grave that she’ll study medicine as he suggested. Then at night she sees the stars and realises that his biggest dream that he didn’t want to share to her was to be up there with the stars, collecting stardust and smiles solemnly thinking about him being there in the stars.

Endless Ending: Cyril takes Aria to the floating garden that they discovered during the final exam and lays down there reflecting on everything that happened and is thankful to Aria. Aria is sadden that he’s pretty much dying right in front of her and gives him a little kiss before he goes. Fast forward into the future and Aria is back at ISW as a guest teacher and she goes to visit the House of the White Rose as it was going to be demolished soon and has visions of everyone (including Cyril) greeting her back à la the ending of Titanic. She gets out and bumps into a young boy that looks and sounds like Cyril that tells her he wants to be part of the Society but because it’s going to be demolished he is sadden and Aria just straight up gives him the key that is tradition for a society member to hand one to an underclassmen when they graduate. The end.

The endless ending seemed to be more fitting for a happy ending because Aria is there with him in his dying moments. Like yeah, I guess dying in your sleep is better than straight up dying and struggling due to heart complications. But the endless ending seemed to have some sort or resolve/closure than the happy ending. Still shit though.

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Keith Knight | CV: Kazuyuki Okitsu

Keith is the uptight commander of the Royal Cavalry as well as a guest teacher for ISW. He was the one who recommended for Aria to attend ISW as well as the one who paid for her tuition (unbeknown to Aria) as he sees some potential in her and looks forward to what her future holds.

At first he seems pretty cold but he eventually unravels to be this dork that’s afraid of cats for some reason and has been too focused on revenge that he forgot how to function properly. He hardly cleans up his room and is often butting heads with Aria (or at least Aria is butting heads with him lol). It’s a very interesting dynamic between Aria and Keith that it made the route more entertaining than the others 😆 Because he of his social awkwardness he doesn’t know how to woo women, so on Christmas he gave Aria a bunch of roses lol.

In both this route and Matias’ route, Aria’s potential really shines where she accidentally takes Keith’s higher level aviation or whatever classes where they’re trained for fighting with swords in the air in preparation for attending the Academy. She gets stronger and has a better character arc here, as well as being partners with Ashley for their exams. Its later revealed that Keith has been trying to keep the riots under control and tries not to get Aria caught up in it as she worries for his safety.

Aria and Ashley do the final exam together, which was to fight Keith in the end and they managed to become Queen and Queen of the school (also Ashley gets a little kiss CG somewhere in this route, telling Aria how she feels for her but is thankful that the person Aria likes is Keith).

Happy Ending: I can’t really remember much if all of this was revealed only in Keith’s happy ending but Keith tells Aria that even though he told her he was an orphan he was abandoned by his parents to his grandfather who was one of the well known knight dudes at the Royal Cavalry. He also tells Aria that he’s also an Ultio (his grandfather married a common girl and his father married a common girl which makes his wizard blood about 1/4). Despite this he has managed to become the most powerful commander there ever was.

He also reveals how his grandfather lost his status and became poor because a man who had been crushing on Keith’s grandma saw that his grandpa married her which made him jealous, the dude was Alan Griffiths (another guy of the Griffiths family of DAAAARKKK MAGIC). So Keith swore vengeance on behalf his grandpa and worked hard only to find out the man had already died. How convenient.

Anyway, Aria and Keith kiss and after graduation Aria gets into the Academy/Royal Cavalry thanks to Keith’s recommendation (damn must be nice to have a sugar daddy like Keith). The end.

Endless Ending: I honestly for the life of me can’t remember how or why the endless ending came to be but there’s a riot going on in the city of Aura during or after the graduation ceremony and Keith goes there to keep things under control. Clyde pops up and gives Aria a teleportation ride to Aura but they get separated and Aria ends up at the Royal Cavalry where Keith is and he tells her to GTFO as its not safe and tells ONE (1) knight/guard to escort her to the castle where she’ll be safe. Bitch, you think that’s enough security to escort someone? Anyway, Aria’s escort gets killed and is taken to the boss, another Griffiths dude (the son of Alan Griffiths) who is like “yeah i could use you bc you’re keith’s weakness” and Aria is like “oh shit, maybe if I tell him I’m using Keith and want to be part of his DAAAAARKKK magic order then maybe I can be of some use to Keith” and I’m here banging my head against a wall at how stupid that is.

Griffiths is like oh hell yeah and takes her in. Before she can go fully crazy with the dark magic Aria sends Keith a letter explaining what she’s done and the location of Griffiths but it turns out they couldn’t find him despite Aria’s effort lol. Months later, Keith is emo and everyone is trying to cheer him up but he’s still emo about Aria who still hasn’t been found and is assumed dead. Keith then uses a bit of dark magic to either go back in time or to create small realities that don’t change the outcome of his current reality where he goes back to that night and tries to change the outcome of that night as a way to grieve and keep ‘Aria’ close.

This ending is kinda stupid too considering all riots, uprisings and shit are ignored in happy endings but always makes an appearance in the endless endings. It’s a load of bullshit to make conflict for a bad end.

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Leonore / Iris | CV: Nobuhiko Okamoto

Leonore / Iris is the secret route that branches off from A-Jay’s route where you are prompted to open the mysterious door or not by yourself. This route really goes places and was one hell of a rollercoaster ride of “what the fuck?” and “WHAT THE FUCK?!”

Basically, Leonore/Iris is trapped inside this world on the other side of the door and he acts like a child despite looking like grown ass man and is a bit psychotic, especially when Aria tries to run away. If you’ve played Diabolik Lovers or any other games with yandere/possessive oniichan characters then you’ll know how this route goes.

Having no way to escape the place and feeling a bit sorry for him (the stockholm syndrome is strong in this gal) she decides to stay with him and spend time with him eating some weird ass fruits and mushrooms that taste like meat, sleeping in the same bed as well as Leonore/Iris’ favourite pastime “Stab Aria with your nails to draw blood and start licking it off her skin”, which in turn gives Aria ‘pleasure’. This will get a whole lot weirder when there is a revelation later on.

He also put some shackles on Aria’s hands/wrists to “stop her from escaping” but wouldn’t putting shackles on her legs do the trick? Either way he releases her from them much later when he trusts her

(Not chronologically) One morning Aria notices that Leonore/Iris has a wing necklace around his neck. He explains that it was something he had since he was born and then Aria spontaneously goes “wow I have a matching necklace to yours!” and pulls out a similar necklace that makes a heart when put together with his necklace. Aria mentions that she got hers one day (possibly after her parents died) in the mail but it didn’t say who sent it. This makes me lose my mind a bit because this was never mentioned in any route but this one so it felt like an ass pull.

Later on Leonore/Iris shows Aria his special place, which is a cave with an underground waterfall and stream. This place was where he originally found himself after being trapped in this world and the other places were later created by him because he’s a powerful wizard. Aria and Leonore/Iris have a peaceful time there. I dunno if it was in this scene or another but at the same place Leonore/Iris spaces out and tells Aria to save him.

Through exposition it turns out that Leonore is not his real name but Iris. Leonore was the name of the boy who is also part of the Griffiths’ family and could also use dark magic. This Leonore kid wanted to kill Iris because Iris took his spot in Society and wanted him to pay for it. Iris is told to meet up with Leonore, which he complied to do because he thought he could make friends with him but turns out Leonore called him out to kill him and in self-defence Iris used dark magic back and Leonore was killed (but turns out the spell Leonore used was the thing that killed him), in turn Iris lost his mind because of that. The president, who turns out to be Iris’ father (shocking), then decides to lock his son away in that world because he had no other choice. 🤔wut.

In order to protect his identity from being consumed by madness, Iris reverted his mind to that of a child. It gets a bit messy and vague on whether or not this Leonore personality is that of child Iris or a mixture of Leonore Griffith’s personality and child Iris. Either way, Iris does confirm he is both Leonore and not Leonore, so glad that helps clear things up (just kidding).

Iris wants Aria to stab him with a magic rapier made out of a butterfly in order to set himself free and to set Aria free before Leonore comes out to kill Aria.

Happy Ending: Aria decides to go through with it in hopes to free Iris from torment and so stabs him and just because she wished so hard, instead of dying, Iris is back to his normal self (even his bloody school uniform becomes new for some reason). Then both Iris and Aria are set free from the world and come back to ISW. Because of reasons, the time is rolled back to the day after Aria is accepted to Society. They go to the President to show that Iris is back and they have a big hug and the President is forever grateful to Aria for bringing back his son that he abandoned and did nothing to help him while Iris was alone going mad lol. For some reason, despite probably being older than all the second year students, Iris still attends ISW with Aria as second year students and Clyde begging Iris to join the society. Iris asks Aria if she liked/hated Leonore/Iris when he was back in that world and she’s like *blushes* I like both and he kisses her on her forehead. I guess they like each other or something.

Endless Ending: Because Aria hesitated and refuses to stab Leonore/Iris, shit hits the fan and Leonore comes back to try to kill Aria. Iris then summons his summoning animal, a dragon, in order to keep Leonore pinned down so Aria can do the deed and in doing so, she killed both Iris and Leonore (also Iris was probably pretending to be Iris to get Aria to kill him, maybe, I can’t remember). Aria goes back to the real world, meets up with the president to drop the news that his son is dead and then the president drops the most hugest plot twist exposition ever.

He proceeds to talk about how Aria’s father was in love with another girl at ISW, this was before he met Aria’s mother. Because of the girl’s family wanting her to marry another man they decided to break it off but turns out that she was pregnant and gave birth to the child and asked the President of ISW to raise the child, begging him to take the child. The President and his wife couldn’t have children so they took in the child and raised him with love. They named the child Iris and he kept to himself but wanted friends. The President then tells Aria that Iris is pretty much her half-brother and was hoping that Aria, a blood relative, would somehow free Iris from his prison. After hearing all of this, this was Aria’s first hot take after processing all the information in her head:

I officially lost my mind and kept wheezing in-between going “What? Wha????t”. I forgot how this ending ended but what. This makes those scenes where Iris is licking Aria’s blood so fucking weird, as well as other romantic scenes…

fuckthis


Overall Thoughts


How should I start this. First of all, I’m sorry it took me so long, especially for a visual novel as short as this. A lot of times I kept putting it down because I was either bored or not interested in going forward with it. I would take days thinking about picking it back up again only to just do something else and go to sleep. A couple of routes made me speed read the routes because I couldn’t care about what happens. I didn’t have fun despite having hopes that this will be great to read.

—Story

Almost every route has a clear framework that each route has to follow, like hitting every story beat event such as Partnering upMidterm Exam, Summer Vacation, Telling the guy her parents are dead, Christmas holidays, Final Exam, Graduation Ceremony. Rinse and repeat for every route. The only exception where they did something different was the secret route which was one of few routes that kept my attention because it was something new and not predictable.

The writing is pretty bad in terms of its in the middle of good and bad, sometimes bad. Story threads will appear and disappear when relevant to what the writer wants to happen next, some things seemed to be pulled out of thin air (aka some ass pulls happened). The happy endings always felt so weird where things like conflict in the background of the story is forgotten just so there could be a happy ending. Meanwhile bad endings just pulls the stupidest shit sometimes just so it can be a bad ending.

I gave Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku some shit for some of the bad writing but compared to this, Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku doesn’t seem so bad, especially when the routes felt like proper stories instead of events just strung along like Iris School of Wizardry.

ISW has a good premise of a school for wizards, a fantasy genre. You can pretty much create so much with a fantasy genre, you don’t have to be grounded to reality but this game just pretty much played it too safe. I get that it was originally a mobile game but come on, what’s the point of a fantasy genre if you’re not going to do anything fantastical or at least some proper world building? Because sometimes this game mentions stuff like riots and uprisings happening but then it doesn’t go through with it, but thank god they didn’t because knowing the writing style of ISW’s writer it would’ve been bad and boring.

—Art

Character design and illustration is by Marika (茉莉花), whose other work includes the R18 Otome PC game Furue, Yurayura to. Marika’s artwork is gorgeous (for me), I’m a sucker for the colour blue so the key visual really stuck out to me. The CGs were nice but it felt like there were a lot of shots with characters drawn from the bust up and sometimes on an angle. The CGs felt like they needed more variety but overall lovely artwork.

—Music

You’re gonna have to get used to a couple of tracks of this game’s music because it does repeat often. A problem both ISW and Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku share is that when you first start up the game both the background music and the voice volume is at 100%, where the background music will pretty much drown out the voices. Which is why I always go straight into the settings before starting the game lol.

—English Translation

It’s sad to see that DIGIMERCE might not improve their English translation or at least hire a professional Japanese to English translator. There are a lot of problems with their translations, most of these problems are:

  • Spelling mistakes
  • Incorrect grammar
  • Strange choice of words

  • Awkward sentences that don’t make sense
  • Typing errors where you can see that they accidentally pressed “C” or “B” instead of the spacebar, or other typing errors where letters or numbers are accidentally typed within a word
  • Lack of proof-reading (possibly even zero proof-reading was had after translating sentences)
  • Changing of pronouns like he becomes she, she becomes he
  • Changing of proper nouns like Ultio is sometimes spelt Ultimo
  • One time I tapped the next button of a dialogue and another dialogue with the same sentence but different wording popped up:

misteak

While it was funny at first when I played Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku, it’s starting to get real sad real quick at how they’re translating games with reckless abandon. Silver lining of these translations is that I noticed a great improvement in the translations of the secret route (despite have a couple of hiccups sometimes). There is some competence in the translations, you can probably get by with reading it but it does help if there were some proof-reading and consistencies in translation. Sometimes it almost feels like there’s two or more different people translating it at the same time but aren’t communicating between each other on what they’ve translated, and thus feels inconsistent.

I know translating is hard and takes time and money but stuff like this just puts a bad name to your company and the games that you release.

Situations like this can be a bit complex. If people don’t buy these games because the translation is bad it may make the company think “Maybe there’s no market overseas”. On the other hand if you just keep consuming things like this where the quality doesn’t improve it makes the company think it’s okay to keep doing this, especially if the company is doing in-house translating and getting one of their workers that knows English to a certain extent do it, you could save some money and time.

I appreciate that there’s more otome games available in English but this isn’t the way to do it. Translated games can sell better if the quality of translation is up to standard, if Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku had better English translation I would’ve recommended it (despite it’s flaws, though ISW is a no-recommendation from me).

One last sad thing is, is that OperaHouse/DIGIMERCE’s Kitty Love -Way to Look for Love- is going to release in English November 1st. Knowing the quality of previous translations I don’t think it’ll improve for Kitty Love, which is a shame as I have heard that it’s pretty good and I would have loved to play it in English.

characterbreak

All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this game. Not only because of the translation but mainly because I didn’t have fun reading it. It’s short, especially for it’s price tag of USD$24.99 (most of that money is probably going to voice actors for fully voicing this game). The writing is mediocre at best, bad at worst and made me a bit frustrated and bored at times. I will recant what I said about Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku as that felt like as close to a visual novel could get compared to this game. Maybe recommend it if it didn’t have bad English translation.

I wanted this to be a good game but it left a bad taste. I even paid AUD$37.99 in hopes it would be good despite it’s English translation. There’s no way I’ll get that money back but I have a sliver of hope that maybe that money could go towards hiring a professional Japanese to English translator. But maybe I’m a fool into thinking that.

I might not buy Kitty Love -Way to Look for Love- (English Ver.) but maybe I’ll look into buying the Japanese version, take a break from torturing myself with trying to understand the vague translations of Iris School of Wizardry.

If you do by chance buy this game my suggested play order: Matias →Clyde → A-Jay → Cyril →Keith →Secret Route. You could interchange Matias and Clyde but Matias’ route feels like a good beginning spot. If you want to do another play order I’d suggest A-Jay in the middle and Keith last/second last.

My favourite routes were Matias and Keith, with the secret route being in there because despite the creepy twist at the end it was more interesting and engaging than some of the other routes. I disliked Cyril’s route the most because it felt like a waste of time, A-Jay’s was kind of in the middle and Clyde’s just meh. But that’s just my opinion.

I’m sorry if this post was a bit messy as my brain is actively trying to delete everything about Iris School of Wizardry.

Thanks for reading and please make sure to read a review of a game before you purchase!

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Playing otome games by moonlight, suffering by daylight.

5 thoughts on “[Switch] Review – Iris School of Wizardry -Vinculum Hearts-

  1. Ok but like what the fuck

    What did I just read

    😂

    My friend… You and your wallet have suffered. I have no words other than damn you’re a trooper lmao thanks for all your hard work because this seriously looked physically painful to play LOL. A shame the artwork is so nice but the story is weird and the translation is shit. I can’t believe this kind of shit even flies, like wtf ಠ_ಠ blows my fucking mind

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That price tag makes me wince, especially seeing what the general quality looks like just from the translation. It looks funny at first but that probably wears off the more you get into it, with trying to make sense of what the sentences are even trying to say…thank you for the review! My prayers for your wallet, and I hope you have fun with the next game you pick up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You get used to the translations after a while but there are times when some sentences just don’t make sense or doesn’t help explaining the situation. I only hope they improved translation for their next game.
      Anyway, the story of this game only just made me want to play other otome games I put on hold lol. I’m hoping Otomate’s first original nintendo switch title Cendrillon palikA is at least decent so I can cleanse my palate a bit.

      Like

      1. I can’t stop wondering about the 300% acceptance rate. I remember seeing people poking fun at it by saying it’s when you get accepted when you don’t even apply. Third time’s the charm…!

        The game looks like it’s being received relatively fine if reviews are anything to go by, so fingers crossed it works out for you! I’ve had my eye on it for a bit, but I’ll probably wait a while more to see how it does.

        Liked by 1 person

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