Last year, I reviewed Igrasil Studio’s murder mystery visual novel Bloody Chronicles – New Cycle of Death, as well as its side story DLC, Secret Operation. With the release of the game’s first IF MODE, it’s time once again to dive back into the series and check out what the latest piece of DLC has to offer.
Bloody Chronicles Act 1 – IF MODE “Kaoru”
Developer: Igrasil Studio
Platforms: Windows PC, Mac, Linux
Release Date: March 10th, 2020
Price: $3.99 (R18 version), $2.99 (All ages version)
The DLC starts with what I assume will be a shared beginning between all three IF MODEs, where the Phantom case ends in a much different way. Several months have past since the Phantom’s capture, and Kazuki and Kaoru have begun dating. The two still work for Igrasil, and are on a stakeout monitoring an abandoned warehouse where the police suspect a big drug deal will take place.
It turns out that the deal involves Fridge, a brutal criminal kingpin that keeps eluding police. He is planning something big for his next score, and Kazuki and Kaoru witness a mysterious exchange with some crooked police officers.
IF MODE is a series of three non-canonical DLC packs that explore alternate endings to the Phantom case from the main game. Each IF MODE will toy with the idea of what could have happened if Kazuki got his happy ending with one of his three female colleagues at Igrasil. The first of these DLCs is IF MODE “Kaoru,” and as the name implies, the story centers around a developing romantic relationship between Kazuki and Kaoru.
It’s around this time that the whole operation goes south, and after several close calls, Kaoru ends up hospitalized, and Fridge escapes arrest yet again. This event makes Kazuki realize how much he cares about Kaoru, and unfortunately creates drama with Kaoru’s father, Mr. Moriyama.
This DLC marks the first time players get to actually meet Mr. Moriyama, the enigmatic benefactor that funds Ingrasil. After losing his wife when Kaoru was still a child, Moriyama has become increasingly concerned about Kaoru’s safety, and now he has delivered an ultimatum: Either Kaoru leaves Igrasil, or he will cut funding for the group.
While this is going on, the rest of Igrasil are working closely with the police to figure out what Fridge is plotting after the events at the warehouse. Kazuki in particular becomes obsessed with the case, creating some strain on his relationship with Kaoru.
The DLC swaps between these two main storylines, all while Kazuki and Kaoru become more serious about their relationship. While the story has plenty of clichés, and the drama with Mr. Moriyama is wrapped up a bit too neatly and early on, the Fridge subplot features plenty of interesting twists and turns.
We also get to see quite a lot of Michiko and Coya in this DLC, which is always a plus. Both characters play pretty big roles in the Fridge subplot, to the point that they probably get more screen time than the main Igrasil cast- aside from Kazuki and Kaoru. There’s even a little fanservice and ship teasing involving Michiko, which is a nice consolation prize for anyone disappointed that she still isn’t a romance option.
One thing to note is that, unlike the last DLC, IF MODE “Kaoru” doesn’t have many choices that can drastically alter the course of the storyline. This makes it a lot more linear, with no real replayability to see what impact your other choices might have.
IF MODE “Kaoru” also marks the first appearance of ero scenes in Bloody Chronicles, and these are admittedly one of the big marketing points of the DLC. There’s three of them in total, and you don’t have much control over the direction they go in aside from the “climax,” if you know what I mean.
Each scene features several CG images with the occasional moans or sound effects, and are also the source of some new soft music tracks to help build the mood. Being a game from a Japanese studio though, they unfortunately have mosaic censorship.
While the DLC does feature these three lewd scenes between Kazuki and Kaoru, they are ultimately not the primary focus of the story, and only take up a small portion of the DLC’s roughly five hour runtime.
If you are looking for full-on hentai to get your rocks off to, then you won’t really get that here. The scenes work more as a way of further exploring Kazuki and Kaoru’s relationship as things get more serious between them.
One persistent issue I’ve had with Bloody Chronicles is the sheer number of strange bugs and rough English translation. On the bright side, IF MODE “Kaoru” is significantly better in this regard.
While the DLC does still have a decent number of typos, grammatical errors, and oddly structured sentences, they aren’t nearly as prevalent as the main game and previous DLC. Hopefully they will continue to get better about this in future games.
The non-canonical nature of IF MODE “Kaoru” means that you can safely skip it and not miss out on any new developments in the ongoing Bloody Chronicles story, but it was still a fun piece of content to read through. Fans that have already claimed Kaoru as their waifu from the main game will no doubt love the wholesome story and happy ending, not to mention all the lewds involving her.
It’s also a bit of a shame that its non-canon, because it offers both characters some nice closure to their stories. I imagine that the other two IF MODEs will do similar things with Aki and Suzumi.
Even though the DLC doesn’t expand upon the main story of Bloody Chronicles, its worth playing through to hold you over until the next act or canonical side story.
It also shows that Igrasil is getting better at their English translations, which bodes well for future installments in the series. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too much longer for the next story in the Bloody Chronicles universe.
Bloody Chronicles Act 1 – IF MODE “Kaoru” was reviewed on Windows PC using a review copy provided by Igrasil Studio. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.