Tengoku Struggle Strayside [Switch] Review – Hell’s Never Been So Hot – Gamezebo

By admin May9,2024

It’s that glorious time again when I get to review another Otome game! This one has thrown me through a loop, and I can’t stop thinking about it. In this Tengoku Struggle Strayside review, I’ll be discussing my overall thoughts regarding the game – including how my first route went, and who it was with (hint: he has long dark hair and likes to flirt).

World Building

I was pleasantly surprised at how much world-building there is within Tengoku Struggle Strayside. I appreciate an Otome that sets the scene and gets you invested in not only the storyline but the characters as well. We’re first introduced to the world of Hell and the politics that come with it. One thing leads to the next, and we’re suddenly thrown into the human realm with a bunch of prisoners – each of which have committed serious crimes.

I don’t know if I’m just impatient, but I found the prologue stages a little long. After all, it’s an Otome game, so I was excited to get to the romance as soon as possible. In hindsight I’m grateful for the time that was put into exploring the plotline, personalities, and environments before the route options though. I wish I’d appreciated them more at the time, but luckily I can go back and replay these stages if I wish to do so.

All I’ll say is, I went from giggling, to being sad, to laughing again, to blushing at the romance, and then sad again. It was certainly an emotional rollercoaster.

The Characters

screenshot of yona and kikunosuke from tengoku struggle strayside as they sit on beach loungers in the living room of the apartment, kiku is wearing a cowboy hat and drinking a strawberry milkshake while yuna has his arms stretched behind his head

The way all of the main characters interact with each other is one of my favourite parts of the game. They all have their own personalities, with the underlying issue of the crimes they’ve committed in the past. I may have forgotten to mention that everyone is ‘dead’, and some have been alive much longer than others. This leads to some of the characters having different ideals and cultural habits due to the time period they lived in, which makes for an interesting dynamic between them all.

Yona is the angry Tsundere type, Goemon is sultry but sensible (and likes to make coffee), Kikunosuke is the quirky type, and Sharaku is flirty, mean, and likes to clean. I absolutely adore each character. There’s an unexpected amount of comedy in the game, most of which comes from the side characters and main guys. It reminds you that they’re a bunch of men who just like to have a good time, and now find themselves free in the human world, away from the clutches of Hell’s prison.

The Main Character

screenshot of dialogue in tengoku struggle strayside between hayai the skeleton and rin enma as the skeleton drives a taxi while wearing a suit and tier and hat, he is saying "apologies for making you wait, I'm Hayai, the Hell taximan, where would you like to go?

Even the players that you can’t romance are likeable, including the hilariously loud King Enma, and the mysterious Takamura (or the ‘Corporate Slave’ as some in-game like to call him). I have a love-hate relationship with the main character, Rin Enma however. After completing my first playthrough, I understood her a little more, but some of her dialogue and actions got under my skin.

Our first impression of Rin is that she hates all men, and this bleeds into her daily life and how she interacts with the men around her. Some of the lines she says in the prologue stages can be described as a little ‘cringe’, but her heart is in the right place.

As you play through the story, her beliefs start to change, and she finds herself enjoying spending time with the villainous boys – even going as far as falling for one of them. As much as I wasn’t sure of her at first, I started to empathise with her as her personality started to shift within the human realm. Rin became much more likeable and much less annoying… it just took a while to get to that point. She starts to battle with the decision between who she truly wants to be and who she thinks she has to be.

I also want to note the ‘amnesia’ trope that’s interlaced in the plot, as Rin Enma cannot remember who she was before she died. This trope can sometimes be overplayed, but I quite liked how it was implemented into Tengoku Struggle Strayside. This is largely because the main characters are all from Hell, so there’s already a layer of mystery there. But, we experience flashes of memory coming back to her as she explores the human world every day.

Romantic Routes

Right, onto my favourite part! Admittedly, I wanted to pick Goemon, but his route was locked at first. The first routes that you can choose from are Kikunosuke, Sharaku, and Yona. I was torn between Sharaku and Yona (I’m not immune to a Tsundere), but I decided to go with Sharaku for a few reasons – I’ll leave you to guess what those are. All I’ll say is, I’m glad I chose him first.

I should probably explain the ‘Blood Bond’ feature a little before I delve into my ramblings about my first route. The Blood Bond is essentially the score between you and the character of your choice. To increase the score, you need to spend time with them via their route and pick the ‘Happy’ options in the dialogue. The stronger the bond is, the better.

Within the menu, you can also open up the Blood Bond report between you and your chosen guy. This report details information about them that you learn throughout their route, as well as your current Blood Bond score, and what they think of you.

Sharaku Toushuusai

screenshot from tengoku struggle strayside as rin enma the main character is standing against a wall as sharaku leans in front of her, his hair covering most of his face as rin blushes

Sharaku’s route took me by surprise. Your first impression of him is that he likes to put his cleaning outfit on whilst scrubbing and dusting the apartment you all share. That and he’s got a mischievous flirty side to him. However, as you spend more time with him for the Blood Bond, you discover his dark past. He’s a little messed up, but who can blame him? His route is great for those who like the ‘I can fix him’ trope too. His flirty quips and innuendos annoy Rin at first, but she starts to think back on them throughout her day.

Now I know Otome games can get steamy sometimes, but some of the dialogue and art for Tengoku Struggle Strayside had me giggling and kicking my legs like a teenager. That’s a good thing, trust me.

The good

  • Great comedy
  • The romantic options are all extremely likeable
  • The art is stunning
  • The plot is unique and easy to get invested in
  • Brilliant world building
  • Mature themes make it perfect for adult Otome fans

The bad

  • The prologue stages take a while
  • The romance kicks in after you finish the prologue stages
  • Rin, the main character, can be annoying at first

By admin

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