Himegari Dungeon Meister! Follow the adventures of a Maou who, after his defeat, ends up as a wandering spirit until one of his familiar demons, Lily (or whatever you name her) discovers him. Weakened and close to vanishing from existence, the Maou tells Lily to head above ground and to find him a suitable container for his soul in order to make his return possible. While Lily’s got the heart and loyalty to follow the Maou’s orders, she doesn’t quite have much in terms of experience, and despite her bumbling nature the guy has no choice but to leave his fate in her hands as all his other more capable subordinates and demons were slaughtered before he was sealed away and she’s the only one he’s got left to use. Lily then successfully makes her way above ground and starts to search for a proper vessel for the Maou when she trips, sending the Maou’s soul flying…and right into the body of a small human named Emilio. Who is, coincidentally, serving as the gardener of the Princess who was responsible for sealing the Maou’s original body away. Despite this massive fuck-up, the Maou (henceforth referred to as Emilio) starts hatching schemes as to how he can retrieve his former body, with Lily as his willing but incapable subordinate.
That’s the prologue of Himegari Dungeon Meister in a nutshell. It’s got a mix of RPG and ADV, with the RPG manifesting itself in SRPG-style movement and combat systems through an ever-progressing subterranean dungeon.Out of all the elements of Himegari, I’d say the gameplay is what really drew me in first and kept me hooked, so I guess I should talk about that first.
As I mentioned earlier, the dungeons are laid out in an SRPG manner, with movement done by clicking on the appropriate square containing the area where you want to go. If there’s an enemy occupying that area, combat begins, with a maximum of two turns allotted for the fighting. If your unit eliminates the enemy then they get to occupy that area, and if they didn’t then they end up falling back one tile. You can have a maximum of nine units out in every dungeons, barring story limitations, though bringing out units reduces your maximum mana and you can only put out units around a captured mana pillar.
Most of the dungeon trekking will have you eliminating every enemy and taking their stronghold in order to progress to the next area, save for some dungeons with special objectives (such as the one where you have to play hide-and-seek with Estelle). Dungeons may also contain items, cards (they give random effects), or traps as well as secret areas discoverable only with units that have a certain skill. And as their Maou, of course, Emilio can utilize various spells to aid his units’ progression, which uses up Mana in the process: there are spells to heal his units, teleport them to various occupied areas, summon them back and bring them out of the battlefield, and many more.
Most of the units can equip only one type of weaponry as accessible in the Item menu, while Lily can equip virtually all the weapons in your repertoire, making her a very important character to have. Initially you will have Lily AND ONLY LILY as your usable unit, but later on you can capture enemy troops and subjugate them to your command – capture enough of them and you will be able to summon them at will for your use! You can also recruit or capture then brainwash special characters, depending on your route progression. Characters like Sylphine, Estelle, Sassoone, Vidal, Nelly, Tiofania, and Oktavia are available only through certain routes or brainwashing, while Femme, Colette, Bridget and Oktavia will join you after certain stages, with the Eushully maids obtainable only through cards.
When dealing with captured units, you can either do the aforementioned brainwashing and subjugation to turn them into your units, OR you can choose to turn them into magical sustenance by raping the ever-loving shit out of them having them participate in a ritual against their will! You can do this for most of the enemy units, even the special ones (though with those characters they also get story-related scenes so HURRAH but you only gain mana and not incur their deaths) – Lily even gets stat boosts from certain units when you pull this off. Doing so however will increase your Chaos rating by 1 every time you do it, and will result in the permanent loss of that unit after the ritual (since they DIE and all). The mana that you get from these rituals can be used for in-dungeon spells, power up your weapons, or H up Lily to boost her various stats and affect her alignment while in dungeons. You also get clear points by completing an area’s objectives, and the faster you finish the more points you get, which you can then use for enemy summoning, item synthesis, for ranking up Emilio’s abilities or to level up Lily into her next stage of development.
Uhh….yeah. Top row are samples of the scenes with the generic enemy units, while the lower row are three from Lily’s Law H scenes with the mana ritual scenes of special characters added. Just to spice things up for your fapping pleasure give you an idea of how those things go. WOW THAT TOOK A FUCKLOAD OF WORDS, so to sum it all up, the gameplay is pretty great and fun to get into, even if the random stat boosts while levelling was, is, and forever a bitch because of all the save-load fuckery that I kept doing due to my obsessive nature to get the best points I could get.
Now for the story and characters. First off, I LOVE LILY OMG! And that’s not just because Kazane, who is one of my most-favorite seiyuus EVAR, voices Lily. No, sirree, it’s because she’s wacky, loyal, and awesome. She’s also the “improved” version of another of Eushully’s characters from an earlier game: Seobit, of Meishoku no Reiki (TOO BAD I WON’T BE TALKING ABOUT THAT TITLE HERE! HAH!) which doubles her awesomeness.And Emilio, depending on how your alignment goes and which routes you go into, turns into one badass antihero, or one evil dude who eats babies for breakfast, lunch and dinner then spits out the bones and pisses on them. Sylphine’s another one of my favorite bishoujos in this titles, partly because she’s weak and vulnerable yet determined and we all know that’s pretty moe, but mostly because of her route which I’ll cover later. Not to mention her maids, who are just as om nom nom delishuz as Sylphine is.
There’s Estelle and her companions as well; too bad you only get to access Estelle’s route down the Chaos path once you’ve turned her into your brainwashed loyal subservient bitch, cause she’s too much of a HERO OF JUSTICE to ally herself with you. That’s pretty much her character in a nutshell. GO JUSTICE, DOWN WITH MAOU, BOOOOOOO MAOU! Deirdre CLEARLY appears to have NO ULTERIOR MOTIVE whatsoever, she’s just there to test Maou Emilio’s ablities, you know? OBVIOUSLY SHE HAS NO SECRET PLOTS NOR DOES SHE HAVE ANY HIDDEN AGENDA THAT INVOLVES MANIPULATING EVERYONE AS HER PAWN IN ORDER TO GAIN A SECRET POWER THAT EVERYONE BELIEVES IS SAFELY LOCKED AWAY FROM ANYONE’S GRASP. No, she doesn’t; she is just, as Lily calls her, a “hentai-san”.
Route-wise, aside from the story’s major twists here and there, they were as predictable as could be expected. The Chaos routes present Emilio in a manner befitting that of a Maou, with him being evil, ruthless and stuff like that, while the Law routes have Emilio having a change of heart and reviving as the Maou but using his army for self-preservation instead of spreading anarchy throughout the lands. The best route for me would be Sylphine’s, as a lot of things happen in it enough to change her from a suffering, tragic character who believes that she must live up to the idea of a hero in order to protect her people, to a pragmatic leader in the harsh face of helplessness and reality. Even Emilio’s role in the face of Sylphine’s character development was a very welcome one, though I kinda wanted something more concrete between them in terms of closure. I don’t really want to spoil much of what happens there so I’d recommend you go and CHECK IT OUT INSTEAD, seeing as there’s also delishuz Sylphine ichaicha to be had! All the routes pale in comparison and content to Sylphine’s, IMO, and that’s just not my character preference talking. I guess the second best route would be the Harem one, if only because of its unintended hilarity.
Let’s see…what else is there? Oh yeah, the menus are all nice and it’s fun to notice the random things like what appears to be Lily’s scribbles, the interface is still the same old Eushully one that we’ve all come to know and get familiar with, the music is relatively decent even though there are some looping pieces that sound rather uninspired and monotonous which never fails to drive me to play something from my foobar playlist instead, and the voice acting is decent, even nice to listen to in some scenes. Combat effects are simple but nice, and I love it when Lily wields the whip-sword-like weapon. And I STILL love those Raumakl angel demons or however you put their name romanized.
It might have its shortcomings, but to put it neatly, GET HIMEGARI! At the very least it’ll be a very good filler until Ikusa Megami Episode 0 Verita comes out!