Review: LoveKami -Divinity Stage-

LoveKami -Divinity Stage- is a visual novel with a seriously interesting situation surrounding its creation. Back in 2010, Japanese developer Pulltop created Lovekami, an 18+ title. The game centered around the idea that goddesses had come to save Japan from its declining birthrate problem. In 2013, publisher MoeNovel brought If My Heart Had Wings to PC. Their nervousness with regard to the visual novel market resulted in a title that was highly censored — even going so far as to remove simple PG sequences. As you might expect, this caused a great deal of anger in the scene. Somehow, over the past year, these two companies got together and decided to create a sequel to Lovekami called LoveKami -Divinity Stage- for English-speaking audiences first and foremost.

It appears that the modern acceptance of visual novels has changed MoeNovel’s outlook. LoveKami -Divinity Stage- is an entirely different VN from their previously published game in ways that reflect the Steam marketplace. Instead of censoring content (which is impossible as this is an English original release), they’ve gone all out with sexualized depictions of the entire female cast. It appears the Winged Cloud school of visual novel design has informed this decision. However, the storyline has changed to be a little less overtly sexual in nature. This time around, the tale contextualizes the visitation of goddesses as a result of Japan losing its connection to traditional faith and hope. With the return of goddesses to the nation, the citizens may once again feel hopeful about life and their distinctly wonderful culture.

How will the goddesses manage to instill happiness in the population once again? Simple – become idols and perform pop songs for them. The biggest and best known group is none other than L☆SEVEN. While currently seven Divine Idols make up this girl group, they’re looking to add another woman to their roster. As such, the streets of Akihabara are lined with young goddesses hoping to make their dream of joining L☆SEVEN a reality. Our protagonist is not an aspiring idol but simply a teenager named Yamato. He helps out at his family’s clothing shop and just so happens to be close friends with Sara – the most well known and adored of the Divine Idols. What really sets the story in motion is when Yamato somehow comes into contact with two other goddesses in the span of a single day.

Shuri is a pink-haired goddess who just so happens to be the sister one of one L☆SEVEN’s members. However, she is keeping her plans of auditioning a secret from her sister. Despite her incredible talent as a singer, she also suffers from a fair amount of self-doubt about being good enough for the role. The other goddess is Kagura who Yamato meets at a Goddess Cafe. Her happy personality and seductive dancing have earned her many fans in the cafe, but will it be enough to get a spot in Japan’s most popular idol group? Yamato becomes the central figure in both their lives when he comes up with the idea to have Shuri and Kagura become a duo. That way they’ll gain more fans and ascend the idol rankings faster. However, they’ll have to split up once the final competition gets under way.

From there players get a front seat view of two young women chasing their dreams wholeheartedly. There are bumps in the road, to be sure, but the trio help each other out to overcome them. By the end, players end up with one of the three female leads and get a slightly different ending to the story because of it. An important thing to note about these three routes is that they diverge based off a single choice made about halfway through the game. This choice very obviously points to the fact that it will bring you down a character’s path, but it was still surprising to see no other choices in LoveKami -Divinity Stage-. It will only take players around three to six hours to complete all three routes.

There’s certainly some effort given to creating personalities for each character as well as a decent storyline to get the plot across. With that said, there’s still a huge focus on pushing fanservice to players. A key component of the Divine Idol concept is that all goddesses dress in incredibly suggestive ways. That’s just something they do, which means you’ll get an eyeful of anime character skin throughout. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, just as long as you go in expecting barely covered breasts and thighs. LoveKami -Divinity Stage- does manage to keep its plot (mostly) coherent and relevant throughout all the fanservice, though. That’s more than can be said for some other visual novels on Steam.

While there’s not a hugely compelling story to play through, the art and voice acting do make this feel like more of a high quality production. There are dozens of CG scenes to unlock, each with bright colors and some with fancy goddess effects. When sprites are on screen they utilize the E-mote engine to jiggle and wiggle about. There isn’t a ton of music, but there are multiple songs with lyrics which jive perfectly with this musical group-focused tale. Each of the three main characters (disregarding Yamato himself) have full voice acting. The Japanese voice work is great and appreciated when many other Steam releases offer no VO at all.

Closing Comments:

LoveKami -Divinity Stage- is an incredible about face from MoeNovel. Once poised to strip any hint of sexuality from visual novels, they’ve now completely reversed course with their fanservice-filled release. The storyline of goddesses vying to become idols is cute, offering character building alongside its scintillating artwork. If that’s all you need then go ahead and play. You’ll get quite an eyeful, that’s for certain. If you’re looking for more focus on great storytelling or even 18+ content, well, you won’t find either here. Perhaps an adult release is incoming, or maybe this is as far as they’re willing to push the envelope.

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LoveKami -Divinity Stage-