Honey Rose is one of those games that isn’t easy to label in to just one genre. Most of the game is a visual novel but it has an equally as important ‘Beat’em up’ side of things. I also really enjoyed the art work of this game too; it’s rather reminiscent of a more modern comic book style but with a hint of something else in there that makes it instantly recognisable and rather distinctive. The music is quite good too, the best way I know how to describe it is electronic jazz. I never got sick of hearing any track too much and I actually rather enjoyed all of it. At times, it brought up memories of some tracks from ‘Maple Story’, a very different game from this one but one very close to my heart back in the day.
Well that’s enough rambling about the game’s exterior! Let’s talk about how it actually plays.
The game starts off strong, putting you immediately in to the action. Our game’s protagonist (Honey Rose) is entering an arena for her first fight in a local tournament. Presuming you’re not the literal worst player of games in the world, you will win this fight easily. It acts as your first tutorial of the game’s fighting system. Your opponent taunts and makes fun of you saying things like “I bet you can’t even dodge this attack!” or “I bet she can’t even attack with ‘D’!” Normally I don’t like this kind of immersion breaking in a tutorial but it comes off as rather charming in this setting for some reason.
As I touched on in my opening line, most of the game is a visual novel. Unlike most visual novels you don’t really choose too much of what your character says in conversation, you’re mostly just along for the ride in those parts. You do however get to choose what your character does for the day and this is probably the most important part of the game.
Each day you get to choose one of a few tasks to spend your time on. Every morning when you wake up you can choose to write in your diary (which acts as the game’s saving feature), check your emails, change your clothes and pack your fighting costume in your bag if you have it already at home. You can do all of these things in the morning so it’s not really a choice so much as it is a routine.
The next thing you decide is to either go to university or go down town, each has their own benefit. Typically, if you want to get your studies levelled up so you don’t fail a test you’d go to university then study in the library or go to class, each day there is a different class that will help level up one of the respective subjects; Biology, Mathematics and Linguistics. I don’t know what the benefit of doing so is but you can go to university and use the campus gym instead of studying, I did this once but as far as I can tell it’s just better to go down town and train there instead. If you go down town and visit your coach he actually acts as the next few parts of the game’s fighting tutorial as well as levelling up your characters fighting stats.
Throughout the game there will be various events coming up such as a tournament match or a test in school. You must learn to balance your studies with your training and make sure you don’t push yourself too hard or you’ll run out of energy which can have various consequences, like falling asleep in class for example. You’ll also have to make sure to keep your reputation in good standing if you want to be a well-known and respected fighter but you also don’t want your parents finding out what you do so you have to make sure to keep your suspicion level low. Each night before bed you can choose to sneak out to train, send out sponsorship applications to help with your fighting career or study to get ahead on your classes but all of these come with the price of being tired the next day.
I wasn’t really a fan of the default controls. Thankfully you can change of the controls as you wish. If you have a PC compatible controller handy I would highly recommend using it over a keyboard.
When you first start playing, you may be under the impression (like I was) that you’re going to get away with winning every fight just by pressing the same basic attack over and over again, you won’t. It may work a couple times early on but as the fights get a little harder you will really have to start thinking about what moves you’re going to use and when, both defensive and offensive ones.
All in all, I think this is a really enjoyable game. The characters are all rather diverse, some are a little generic but for the most part they are likeable. The game’s story really feels like it is being driven by the player and I’d like to play over this game a couple more times to see what I could do differently. Don’t go in to this game expecting to run around and kick butt all of the time, as I mentioned it’s really more of a time management game with ‘Beat’em up’ elements but I think the game did what it was trying to do very well.
If you enjoy visual novels and ‘Beat’em ups’ then this game will be a dream come true for you. If you want to keep up to date with the developer, you can check out their twitter (@lavantdapres). If you want to buy this game or get some more information you can find it on Steam.