REVIEW: Red Embrace from Argent Games

The graveyard shift at a dingy diner in San Francisco — that’s where MC’s story begins. It’s just another normal night, or at least it seems to be. …That is, until a certain mysterious customer stops by, bringing the dangerous attention of a few people with him. When it rains, it pours, and suddenly MC finds himself in the middle of a war he didn’t even know existed… between vampires.

Warnings: violence, dubcon, hypnosis

Category: M/M

Red Embrace is a vampire BL Visual Novel. While it is a tad generic, it is a visually appealing and classic feeling story that will definitely scratch the vampire itch if you’re looking for something in the vein (hah) of Vampire: The Masquerade and want a little romance action.

WRITING
The story takes off when you, the main character, encounter vampires after work one night at the diner you work at, and from there must decide how you are going to interact with and deal with the world of vampires and the supernatural. Like many other branching path VNs, your choices come down to who you want to pursue: there are two vampire characters and two human characters to pick from, and depending on who you romance, you will see the story unfold in a number of different ways, with eight possible endings (one good ending and one bad ending for each romance-able character). There isn’t a an overarching plot that might turn out one way or another or be seen from multiple angles, rather the choice of who to pursue will kick off four completely different possible stories. You will be able to unlock each characters backstories on their routes of course, and the story is pretty well told and well paced, with an intro section, a timeskip, and a conclusion. It also has absolutely beautiful artwork, and all of the illustrations are detailed and slick.

EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT
As you unlock the characters backstories, you will of course become familiar with each of their respective angst and trauma. They all have a good amount of skeletons in their closets, and while it is engaging enough to make the characters fun to interact with for the duration of the game, they arent especially unique or memorable. The most appealing character in the whole game might actually be the head vampire Bishop, who shows up in a few of their routes and is chillingly menacing. Of course, perhaps he is appealing to me precisely because we know absolutely nothing about him, and while all of the cast fall into pretty well known archetypes, he at least maintains an air of mystery about him. The game does allow for a good amount of player input in terms of the main character however, letting your choices dictate the character’s personality and interests, which is always a great direction to go for a VN, and depending on your input you will receive different reactions from the other characters.


WORLDBUILDING

The world of the vampires, their clans and their social hierarchy, feels right out of classic vampire dramas. It was really fun to see different vampire clans and have a bit of an inkling as to their political arenas; the two major clans of the city are at odds with each other, but they are both headed by the same overlord vampire. The feeding and turning methods of vampires are well established here as well, and there are rules and structures in place for how vampires are expected to interact with their prey, which creates some major plot points. I was especially interested in the player character apparently being a “strix”, a person who has especially sweet blood, and who has the potential to become an incredibly powerful vampire if turned. As far as vampire lore goes, it’s nothing out of the ordinary but it is classic in that way that will feel right to a fan of the genre.

STEAMINESS
While this game isn’t a full on smut game and there isn’t any graphic or explicit sex, there are implied sexual encounters that fade to black before they get too far, or are glossed over with brief prose. There is also a fair bit of sexual tension permeating the game, but that is par for the course with vampire stories; it’s hard not to have at least a semi-sexual flavour when people are holding people up against walls, biting their necks and drinking their blood. That said, for a vampire story it’s pretty vanilla overall. All four of the romance-able cast are sweethearts who you can have very tender, lovely romances with and the sexual content is just as fluffy. That said, as is often the case with VNs, it’s the bad endings where things get a little bit more interesting. Each bad ending is pretty kinky, and some position the player in the victim role and others in the aggressor role. There is one bad ending that lets you end up with Bishop, which is my favourite ending in the entire game and was the hardest to unlock. It’s also one of the darkest and kinkiest, of course.

Overall this was a really fun, if slightly generic, vampire VN that allows the player to engage with a variety of supernatural characters and events. I really had a good time with it, and would recommend it if you’re looking to kill an afternoon or two with some hot vampire dudes and some really cheesy romance and angst.

Have you played Red Embrace? Let me know what YOU thought by leaving me a comment!

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