Sakura Shrine Girls
Gameplay 6
Graphics 7
Sound 7

In Sakura Shrine Girls you step into the shoes of Toru, a young priest-in-training, who gets more than he bargained for when following in the footsteps of his grandfather. Toru has always been a skeptic, but when he encounters two guardian sprits at the shrines he is supposed to maintain his whole world is turned upside down. Sakura Shrine Girls features decent art, but the story is fairly predictable and the characters not that memorable. It is still an entertaining read and you can pick which one the girls Toru ends up with, but don’t expect to be blown away by anything.

Gameplay: Not bad, but unfortunately quite predictable.

Graphics: The artwork is lovely, but sprites and CGs are limited to only two characters.

Sounds: No voice acting, but the soundtrack is quite good

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Sakura Shrine Girls

Developer: Winged Cloud | Publisher: Winged Cloud | Release Date: 2016 | Genre: Visual Novel | Website: Patreon | Purchase: Steam

Although Toru, the protagonist of Sakura Shrine Girls, comes from a family with a long lineage of priests, he is more of a skeptic. Despite generations of his family all dedicating themselves to the understanding of the spirit world, Toru simply doesn’t believe in gods or spirits at all. However, Toru does believe in keeping old practices alive, despite how silly they seem to him, which is why he goes and lives with his grandfather to receive training in the family tradition. Initially Toru thinks that his grandfathers ramblings about seeing odd things are just due to age and senility, but soon he discovers that there might just be some truth to all the talk of spirits.

Sakura Shrine Girls is another entry in the Sakura series by Winged Cloud and this time the focus is on the young priest in training, Toru, and his interaction with the mysterious shrine girls he finds at the temples he is tasked with maintaining. The two cat girls, Nayoko and Kayo, couldn’t be more different, so Toru has his hands full not only wrapping his head around what’s going on, but also maintaining the peace. As Toru discovers more about the spirit world and what his duties will be, he also discovers that his feelings towards the two girls are becoming more than just platonic. Sakura Shrine girls isn’t just a kinetic novel either as players get to make the choices that will determine which one of the girls Toru will ultimately end up with. While the story isn’t the most interesting or compelling, it does provide a good excuse for plenty of fan service and hanging out with cute cat girls.

The artwork for Sakura Shrine Girls was done by Inma, whose work fans will remember from previous Sakura titles such as Sakura Santa and Sakura Beach. Overall the visuals are decent and while there aren’t any outright nudity, there is plenty of fan service. This includes a couple of obligatory CGs of Toru accidentally walking in on the girls in various stages of undress. In total there are about twenty CGs, all of which can be viewed from the main menu of the game after you’ve unlocked them. The background art is quite nice as well, although there aren’t a lot of locations. Most of the story takes place at the house where Toru resides with his grandfather or at the shrines. In addition, there are a couple of scenes at the school Toru attends with the two shrine maidens and even a brief trip to a hot-spring. The girls are clearly the focus of the story as they are the only ones who are graced with sprites and CGs. Toru’s grandfather, as funny as he is, is never shown, and neither are any other characters. It is worth noting that unlike other Winged Cloud titles, Sakura Shrine Girls does not have any patches that can be downloaded to accessed any censored content. With this visual novel what you see is what you get.

As far as audio is concerned, Sakura Shrine Girl features a nice relaxing soundtrack with Japanese influences that sets the mood perfectly. Of course, as is typical for these types of visual novels, there are also some quirky tunes that plays during the more risqué scenes. While the game has a gallery section to view unlocked CGs, there is no jukebox where you can listen to the tunes. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t feature any voice acting at all, which is a pity as it could have made the girls more endearing. The interface is pretty straightforward and you can click to advance text, let the text advance automatically at the speed of your choosing or skip text that you’ve already seen. The game can also be saved or loaded at any time. Sakura Shrine Girls doesn’t support Steam achievements, but does feature trading cards that can be crafted into some nice emoticons and profile backgrounds.

Sakura Shrine Girls is one of those visual novels where you know pretty much exactly how it is all going to end as soon as you start playing. There are no major plot twists or turns and the story is one that has been done many times before. While both Nayoko and Kayo are cute there is very little character development in the game. The girls simply adhere to their respective stereotypes and quickly fall for Toru even though there is nothing particularly remarkable about him. This can be a little disappointing for players who actually play these types of games for the story while the lack of hentai scenes will obviously be a drawback for those who don’t really care about the story. There is nothing about the game that can be described as outright bad, but at the same time there is very little to set it apart from other titles in the genre. This is a pity as the setting is quite nice and had a lot of potential, but ultimately this is a title that is fun while it lasts, but quickly forgotten afterwards.

System Requirements

  • OS: Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7/8 (32 bit or 64 bit)
  • Processor: 1.8 GHz Pentium 4
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 1280 x 720
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 200 MB available space
  • Sound Card: Any audio output
  • OS: OS X 10.6
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL compatible card
  • Storage: 200 MB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 12.04 or higher; SteamOS
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz Pentium 4
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL compatible card
  • Storage: 200 MB available space

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