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Brave Soul
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 02/19/2004

You are Rudy, a skilled young swordsman who is thrown out of the house by your own father -- in the hopes that you'll learn to thrive independently. Since your childhood days, a beautiful and mysterious girl appears before you every time there's a full moon. You have no idea who she is or what she wants, but finding her has become something of an obssession. As fate would have it, you meet a girl that looks just like your elusive Moon Goddess shortly after you're sent off. Whether you solve the mystery of the Moon Goddess or find love in the arms of another is all in your hands...
One of my bishoujo game frustrations has always been the fact that I had not been able to play the bishoujo RPG "Knights of Xentar" when it was released by the now defunct Megatech Games. I've loved Japanese RPGs for as long as I can remember, and Knights of Xentar was the first English-translated bishoujo RPG ever. When Peach Princess first informed me that they were going to release Brave Soul, I was as excited as any RPG and bishoujo game enthusiast could be. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I've waited years to play this game...and my expectations were high.
In Brave Soul, you take on the role of Rudy, a swordsman who joins a guild to become a hunter. The game's premises are actually quite simple: be the best hunter you can be, fight evil, and get yourself a girlfriend/wife. There's a grand total of six girls you can end up with: Alicia, the dead-ringer for the Moon Goddess; Ruby, a sassy Robin Hood-esque female thief who steals from the rich and gives to the poor; Carroll, a powerful magician who's deathly afraid of the undead; Marine, the playful cat girl who's descended from an elder race; and lastly, two secret characters whom you have to unlock on your own.
Unlike the usual bishoujo game where all you have to do is pick a decision, Brave Soul requires much more of an effort to play through. You form parties, visit towns, buy and sell items, solve puzzles, battle through dungeons -- all that along with picking the right answers in order to impress the girls you're with. You score love points by taking on missions that the girl(s) like and approve of, and by staying at inns in order to seek the girl(s) out during your free time. Special events unfold if you have enough love points by the time you go see a girl. You can only take along two girls in your party and so you'll really have to replay this game several times to get all the endings and bonuses.
I wasn't expecting the RPG elements to be challenging since this was primarily still a bishoujo game. Lo and behold, most dungeons consisted of at least ten levels with a gazillion monsters ready to attack your party... and at the last level there would almost always be a big boss, just like most RPGs. I was so confident that I made the grave mistake of choosing the difficult setting for the game, which almost drove me to tear my hair out in frustration many times. This game is packed to the gills -- additional dungeons, quests, and modes can be unlocked every time you beat the game. Worth a special mention is the map mode. After you finish the game once, the map mode becomes available in your camp screen. It shows you exactly where you are in a dungeon, and more importantly, where the exit is. If you beat the game several times you'll be given the option to start off with the highest level attained and all your items intact so that going through the game on your nth time would be a breeze (unless you're a masochist and you choose the nightmare mode).
In terms of visuals, Brave Soul is excellent in all aspects. I really liked the character designs and the CGs were nothing short of perfect. The 2D sprite mode when you're adventuring is reminiscent of how earlier Japanese RPGs such as Final Fantasy 1-6, Arc the Lad, and the original Legend of Zelda looked. The sex scenes were pretty graphic albeit in a few CGs, Rudy's penis would either be hidden from view or invisible. There also isn’t any hardcore stuff like S&M or bondage. It's all straightforward heterosexual action. Take note that you can only make love to a girl if you stay at an inn, and getting one girl to bed automatically locks out all the other girls... so better make sure that the girl you're going to do is the girl that you want to end up with.
If there's one thing to gripe about, it would be the fact that Brave Soul is rather buggy. Downloading the patch from the Peach Princess website helps a lot, but the game still has the tendency to freeze up when it can't keep up with your multi-tasking (i.e. trying to access your item screen in the middle of battling hordes of monsters). This can be a pain if it happens on your first round on the tenth level of a certain dungeon... you'll have to restart your game then.
Brave Soul is to date the most massive, most challenging, and most rewarding bishoujo game I've ever played. Replaying is anything but tedious since there are a gazillion things to unlock and discover, and there are numerous features that make your life a whole lot easier each time you go through it. Whoever feels that bishoujo games are thin on gameplay and entertainment value should give this one a spin. This is definitely one title any bishoujo game fan should not miss.
Extra features include a CG and music gallery. Oh and remember... the Tab key is your friend.

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Review Title:
Brave Soul
Approximate Length:
20-40 Hours
Suitable For:
Adults Only
General Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
Hentai Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
Action, Adventure, Fantasy,
Romance, Normal Sex
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