STAFF REVIEW of Kuroi Tsubasa (Xbox One)

Wednesday, June 21, 2023.
by Peggy Doyle

Kuroi Tsubasa Box art I asked someone to ‘elevator pitch’ Kuroi Tsubasa to me before I reviewed it, and they said something to me that didn’t make a lot of sense but is definitely on point. A cute creature named Blackwing, who is a devil, leaves hell to come to the human world but his evil shadow also escaped with him. So far, so good. Blackwing (the devil) must team up with a local office lady named Kureha Kurono and her friends to defeat the evil shadow. Alright, I was sold on this bizarre adventure developed by Blackwing Gaming and published by Ratalaika Games.

Kuroi Tsubasa is a 120,000-word visual novel with an anime aesthetic. You play as Kureha, a 20-something office worker who is down on her luck. Blackwing is a devil who takes possession of one of Kureha’s plushies to keep his powers in check. Working together they battle to defeat the evil shadow of Blackwing that escaped hell when he came to the surface to be with humans.

A visual novel game is one that is based around a strong story. The story in Kuroi Tsubasa is well developed and the game is highly polished. I found the game to be easily relatable as it covers topics related to common fears and trauma that many experience. Bullying, poverty, the weight of expectations you put on yourself or those that others put on you, the need to please people and be liked. These are all evident in Kuroi Tsubasa. While the surface of the game appears to be magical and anchored in fantasy. It covers real problems and lets you explore feelings.

Blackwing’s evil shadow (yes, the devil’s shadow is evil, but the devil isn’t) can only possess people with emotional problems by promising them to fulfill their wishes. Blackwing takes possession of the plushie since it has such positive emotions ties to it, and after the initial shock of her plushies coming to life, agrees to allow Blackwing to turn her into a Magical Girl, complete with frilly dress and other typical accessories. Being a Magical Girl allows her to tap into the emotional state of other people she encounters.

Although Kuroi Tsubasa is a linear story and has only one main ending (and one secret ending acting as an epilogue) you will play through approximately 10 hours of gameplay. The choices you make will show you different scenes throughout the story, so it is possible to play through multiple times to get the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sides of the story. These include finding out some interesting facts about other characters in the game tat could be missed if you choose one dialogue option over another. In fact, you will likely have to play through twice to get all the achievements if you are a collector.

The graphic style is similar to other visual novels out there. 2D characters appear pasted over the backgrounds and they slide in and out of shots. There is no voice over, so there is a lot of reading involved. I am happy that there are a lot of ways to customize the text windows as well. In the beginning I found it difficult to read the white text on the light background, but I was able to pop into the options menu and make a dark window to make the text stand out. This is highly appreciated, especially in a game with as much reading as this had.

As with other games of this genre, you can manually tab through text, or allow it to auto play. Fast forward is also available to you. This was particularly useful when playing through a second time, only wanting to pick the alternative dialogue choices and decisions, and not needing to see everything I had on my first run. There are over 50 original songs in Kuroi Tsubasa, all created for the game and there are two music videos in game as well. The console release also has a bonus chapter not available before.

**Kuroi Tsubasa was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 7.6 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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