VenusBlood HOLLOW International is an amazing game and a solid upgrade from VenusBlood FRONTIER in almost all aspects… once you are able to figure out how to play it. What we have here is half visual novel and half turn-based tactical strategy. If you aren’t familiar with the term visual novel, don’t let it scare you off… you can substitute the phrase “story driven” instead. Both compliment each other very well, but to fully enjoy both, a bit of work will be required from you.
First you will need to download an external patch to restore the “too hot for TV” scenes. They are worth it, and there are a lot. All are uncut and there are no mosaics. Do keep in mind that this is optional, and the game is perfectly playable and enjoyable without the adult scenes added back in. The game was created with these scenes in mind, but without them still lies a very solid title in the turn-based strategy genre with a great story to boot.
Next, you will need to figure out how the heck to play the game. There are tutorials, but they don’t really delve into all of the necessary mechanics. There are classes, titles, passive and active skills, stats, titles, equipment, affinities… even your battle order and lineup can decide a match, but again this isn’t explained in detail.
Regardless of the game’s inability to fully equip you with knowledge, everything is easily within reach after some experimentation. The battles in this game definitely warrant some replay, and I definitely felt reward upon success. If you’re here just for the story, the combat can be skipped on easy mode.
The art, music, story, and gameplay are all excellent and I can easily recommend this purchase. Newcomers shouldn’t be turned off as the previous game is in no way required for context or enjoyment. The international version received some extra content due to its kickstarter campaign, so if you’ve been unsure about this series now is a great time to get started.