As you can guess by the title, I’m not impressed by Solomon’s Ring. When it first showed up in the magazines, I was surprised because the release date was only about 3 months away. I thought for sure that it would get delayed. Now, delays are annoying when you’re looking forward to games (ahem, Ozmafia!) but I don’t mind them so much, because if they don’t push things off, they might end up with products like this. To be frank, Solmomon’s Ring has a really shallow story and characters, poor art design, and only functional gameplay.
The heroine, Lily, works in a library that she inherited from her grandfather (her parents died when she was young). I thought this was interesting (although I also thought it was historical but apparently it’s not), but it has no bearing on the plot so it doesn’t matter much. We open on the scene of her grandfather dying. On his deathbed, literally with his last words, he gives a ring to her and tells her she’s the descendant of the magician king Solomon, and that she has to protect the world from demons using the ring. Then he dies (I guess he knew exactly how much energy he needed to tell her and then waited until the last possible second because of some unknown reason).
Lily puts away the ring for a year, then one day feels like wearing it for some reason (she doesn’t mention the Solomon stuff, I guess she thought her grandfather was senile or something). She goes to work at the library, and three new visitors are hanging around – all young handsome men. They all approach her and start talking to her, calling her ‘Solomon’s daughter’. She mostly ignores them.
That night she has a dream (this is where you choose what route to go into) of being attacked by monsters, and saved by one of the men. The next day this actually happens, and she finds out that all three men are actually demons, and they want her power/the ring’s power, for various reasons. The one she picks stays with her and they encounter some monsters, and as they beat them down (the ring can seal them and absorb their power once they’re beaten), they grow closer. Then near the end they eventually have to face the king of demons, Lucifer, who wants to take the powered-up ring as well as the heroine’s powered-up soul.
Many otome games can be summarized in roughly similar terms. The issue is that it feels like the whole script for the game isn’t much longer than this blog post. Almost all the plot and relationship development happens offscreen (like, they talk about battles after showing you a couple blows, and they mention that the hero and heroine had long in-depth conversations without actually showing them). There are almost no scenes where you learn more about the characters, they’re incredibly cardboard. Sometimes I complain about scenes that are too wordy or long (*cough*QuinroseorHakuouki*cough*), but this is ridiculous. It’s like someone had an outline for an otome game, and instead of getting someone to then write a script from that outline, they added a couple lines of dialogue for each planned scene, and then put a few summarizing paragraphs in between.
Also, the art is barely acceptable. I’m pretty forgiving on art, I like to see different styles and try not to let pretty art distract me from gameplay. But in this game, though the tachi-e(the regular dialogue scene pictures) are ok, the CGs are actually worse than the tachi-e. And though some of the tachi-e are good, some are weird. Like. there’s one pose that Asmodeus (a waste of Konishi Katsuyuki’s voice IMO) does, where he spreads his arms out really wide, almost at shoulder-height. They use this pose for way too much and it doesn’t work, the only time it works is when he’s actually blocking something. It’s distracting. Plus, there are very few CGs, I’d estimate around 5 per route. To be fair, if it was fanart I’d think it was pretty good. But for professional work it doesn’t pass muster.
This CG is not good. And it’s used multiple times.
The music is decent I suppose, I didn’t notice it much to be honest.
Most things I can forgive, but the multiple writing problems – the extreme bare bones scenes, the lack of character development, the very paint-by-numbers feel of the plot – made me notice the other problems like the art more, and really, even though the game is cheap, it’s still not really worth it. By the end of it I cared about none of the characters, I actually was more interested in Lily’s friend Alisha’s romance than I was in the main plot – and this is a romance that is mentioned in about three lines total.
It really really feels like a mobile game that was meant to be released in chapters. And even though I also dissed Koisentai(which actually was originally a mobile game), and this game is full voice whereas one of Koisentai’s major issues was that it wasn’t, I would still rather play Koisentai anytime, and I think it’s more worth your money than this.
As I said, it’s too bad because the voice actors are good, and the premise is interesting at least.
I am going to play the other two routes (may as well, it’s one of the shortest games I’ve played), but unless Asmodeus’ route was a total anomaly, I feel safe in emphatically NOT recommending Solomon’s Ring. I’m not buying the other games, even though there are three more coming out, Wind, Water, and Earth. It actually makes me doubt how good Double Score is going to be, because they’re both from the production company Asgard. But at least that game seems to have better art…