Ayakashi: Romance Reborn — also referred to as simply Ayakashi — is a Free-to-Play game that was released in English and Thai on iOS and Android platforms in the summer of 2019. The original Japanese version (Ayakashi Koimeguri) had a prior release in the fall of 2018.
Unmarked spoilers are present. You have been warned.
The game is set in a city simply referred to as 'the Capital', a city to which evil creatures known as wraiths drawn to in large numbers. The story revolves around the main character Futaba Saotome (name changeable), a girl who teams up with the Capital's local Ayakashi to both save her father and to put an end at the wraith influx. The Capital is an unusual place, with powerful Ayakashi disguised as humans, people being plagued by wraiths, and a character who may not be entirely what they seem...
The game is a hybrid of Visual Novel/Otome game and card RPG where the player controls a team of up to 5 characters, gathering materials to level the cards up as well as banishing wraiths. The further the player levels up, the more of the story gets revealed.
The main story consists of four chapters total: Prologue, Dawn, Twilight and Night. Each chapter save for the Prologue also has a second book, featuring the individual character side stories.
Ayakashi provides examples of:
Tropes specific to the game itself
- Anti-Frustration Features: You don't have to finish all three goals of each patrol at once, and once you finished one or several, you don't have to try finishing them again. Same goes with the patrol chats; once one is played, it's kept in the story forever.
- Similarly, chapters already opened can be read whenever.
- April Fools' Day
- The English version announced the release of "Rebirth 2020" on 4/1/2020, where players would supposedly be able to patrol modern Japan. Event patrol previews were released with the characters saying hilarious lines over photos of modern Japanese locations, but the patrols themselves were locked until a later date after the official end date. The next day, the event was "cancelled" due to unspecified "unforeseen circumstances." At the bottom of both the event announcement and the cancellation, small print stated that the whole thing was indeed a prank.
- The Japanese version replaced the characters that normally appear in patrols with chibified versions on 4/1/2020. Images of gems earned were replaced with food.
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You're limited to up to 5 cards per patrol, plus the support. With HQ orders though, you can also take two other teams along with the base five at the cost of some SP.
- Color-Coded Elements: Strange case as there are only three 'types' of cards - Power is red, Technique is green and Speed is blue. It only matters in two cases: the Spirit Board nodes naturally lean towards the type of the card, and in Headquarter missions, one type needs to be used each time (luckily, this type will become obvious as you need to choose a friend).
- Dating Sim: Unusual case. There is a main story, which splits off into side stories (which are about two third shorter) in which the main character learns more and romances the character the side story focuses on. These side stories are read as sequels and considered to be kind of mandatory if you want to know how the cliffhanger at the end of Dawn I resolves. Another strange thing is that there is a certain character who has always been loving you no matter the route/side story (Aoi).
- Real-Place Background: Yep.
- Too Long; Didn't Dub: The word '妖'. The term itself means (depending on the language) 'evil', 'gorgeous', 'demon', 'bewitching' or even 'calamity'. In Japanese, one of the pronunciations is 'ayaka/shi', the one that's used both in the original and the English version. Since Ayakashi are Youkai, they could have used 'youkai' in the narrative. However, they chose not to, in order to match up with the spoken narrative. It would have been kind of a different story if the word was translated as 'demon' in the story...
- Virtual Paper Doll: Twist on this. If you obtain a characters R card and unlock their respective node on the Spirit Board, the outfit on the card will be unlocked. The character on your home screen can then be set to wear it.
Tropes specific to the story
- Adults Are Useless: Averted; in fact, most Ayakashi are confirmed to be old enough to grow out of the minor age.
- All Myths Are True: The Ayakashi are initially introduced as just being another fairytale by Yakumo (and Tatsuomi doesn't believe in their existence either).
- Amnesiac Hero: MC is an interesting case in that its her memories about her previous life that disappeared.
- In the Dawn chapter, a memory returns whenever she renews her contract with one of the Ayakashi. Her past life is explored more fully in Koga's route, where she remembers the day she died.
- These memories are an important plot point in the Twilight chapter, where we get a much bigger story of what actually happened during her previous life.
- Badass Normal: While Ayakashi are beyond their league, the army soldiers are capable of fending for themselves against minor Wraiths when left alone by the powerhouses.
- Baku: The game has a variation on the baku's mythology, where if Yomi loses control over his emotions, all the nightmares pour out of him and enter the minds of anyone in the vicinity.
- Bishounen: Every single love interest. It is an otome game, after all. Although it also has its grounds in the fact that several yokai who disguise themselves as human, have an otherworldly beauty (case in point being kitsune and yuki-onna).
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Akiyasu at first seems like a very sweet and shy bookworm. However, later on it's revealed that he has a much darker side, and is entirely capable of being a Manipulative Bastard.
- Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Of course (see Bishounen above)! Besides our heroes, some of the side characters are pretty easy on the eyes too.
- Cast Herd: Every character save for MC and major Aizen is placed in either Dawn, Twilight or Night. The Dawn faction contains the five Ayakashi you are the closest with initially. The Twilight faction contains other powerful Ayakashi important to the story, and the Night faction contains important side characters.
- Christmas Episode: The "Making Spirits Bright" event story. Kuro wants to celebrate Christmas so a party is thrown at Raccord. Meanwhile, Yura tries his hardest to find the perfect gift for Gaku.
- City of Adventure: The Capital. For some reason, it's experiencing a massive uptick in Wraiths and Ayakashi.
- Dehumanizing Insult: Masanobu thinks that Nachi calling Koga "Oni" is one, but hilariously, it's not.
- Everyone Is Related: Because of the way their social structures work, practically everyone knows everyone else. To elaborate:
- Yakumo, the friend of your father, is politically linked to Tatsuomi (your childhood friend), who is linked to Akiyasu (a fellow onmyouji) by sharing the same barracks. Akiyasu is linked to Kagemaru by a contract, who is linked to both Shizuki (Toichirou's valet) and Ginnojo by a Dark and Troubled Past. Ginnojo is linked to Kuro as friends and has his shop seated next to the Milk Hall where Aoi and Oji work (of which both are regulars to boot). Kuro admires Gaku, who is the twin brother of Yura and the 'rival' of sorts of Toichirou. Yura has been in contact with Koga for quite some time, who is living in the same house as Kuya. On top of that, Kuya, Koga, Shizuki and Toichirou are childhood friends. See a full chart here. (which isn't even everything)
- Amusingly also pertains to the Fandom, which is so small that everyone has seen everyone's posts.
- Fantastic Racism: Human xenophobia towards ayakashi is an important plot point in Koga's and Kuro's stories. Kyonosuke's prejudice against oni puts Koga in danger, and Kuro has had a very hard life because humans fear nue. Kuro's route also features a raiju who the humans assume wants to eat them, despite making no move to attack.
- Fights Like a Normal: In comparison to the rest of the Dawn Faction, Koga. He uses his sword for fighting wraiths, which, compared to Kuya (using a fan), Yura (song to kill), Aoi (magic-repelling gun) and Ginnojo (Making a Splash) is kind of mundane.
- Kuro, in comparison to the rest of the Twilight Fashion. He uses a whip, while Toichiro has his fox-fire, Oji has shadow magic, Shizuki is An Ice Person and Gaku's drum produces Magic Music.
- Both turn out to be justified, as is they were to use their full power, Koga would lose control of himself and Kuro would reveal himself as a Nue.
- Foreshadowing: It is eventually revealed that one of the sources of said uptick is hex totems and talismans. Who is the only person we've ever seen with one of those? Akiyasu.
- Also, why does Akiyasu hate cats? As is often said, a cat can see the beyond.
- It Makes Sense in Context: This is the crux of the entire past tragedy in Twilight Book I. Midway, you get to hear the last words of your brother, 'I'll never forgive you'. So logically, you assume that he uttered a curse within his dying moments. However, this wasn't at all aimed at you - it was aimed at past!Toichirou, who did a Mercy Kill on him. He told past!Toichirou not to perform suicide as to follow him in death, because he would never forgive him for that.
- Like an Old Married Couple: Aoi and Kuya, although it's more like Aoi's a mother who tries getting her lazy son to do stuff.
- Little Bit Beastly: Nachi and Toichiro, in their Ayakashi forms.
- Mood Whiplash: The ending of the Dawn chapter.
- Only One Name: About 3/4th of the cast has no last name. In some fanworks, Nachi is referred to as Nachi Saotome. Notably, they make his last name the same as his owner.
- Meiji Restoration: The game is set after these changes are made. Important to note that Onmyouji are forbidden by the state.
- Onmyōdō: As you and Akiyasu are Onmyouji. It follows Onmyoudo to the letter, even with the phrase uttered at the end of each time you and he use magic. Five (pentagram) is an Arc Number too.
- Power Incontinence: Koga and Shizuki both suffer from one (though Shizuki's turns out to be a Subverted Trope). The raiju also cause storms when they're angry or scared, which is unfortunate in Kuro's route when one accidentally causes a fire in the capital via lightning strike, causing the humans to fear it even more.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: The Ayakashi normally hide their nature, and the twins purposefully disguise themselves as being younger than they actually are as to seal their powers. As such, they do a good job of looking mundane. However, when they use their powers they become achingly beautiful.
- In many fans' eyes, this also goes for the past versions of the characters, in particular past!Aoi.
- Shown Their Work: Kagemaru's opium practices. The game is set after the first World War, so Japan has banned opium. The fact that Kagemaru is leading an opium smuggling ring is significant if you know this.
- The ritual Akiyasu tries to do is an actual thing.
- Kanda Shrine really exists, and Taira no Masakado, too.
- Tastes Like Friendship: Kuya's a friend of Oji because of the latter's rice omelet. Likewise, Ginnojo and Kuro are friends with them both because of Aoi's cooking as well.
- Wham Episode: The last part of Dawn Book I, where the identity of the "fox-masked fiend" is revealed.
- The last part of Twilight Book I, with the reveal of who killed the heroine's twin brother in her former life and why.
- Yura's route, which is arguably darker than the other Dawn routes.
- Wham Shot: The white egret emerging from the raiju.
- Yura revealing black hair during the cursed plane scene in his route. This shot leads a particularly Nightmare Fuel-filled scene.
- In Twilight Book I, Kuro shifting into his true form.
- Youkai: The Ayakashi are, in all but name. In fact, 'Ayakashi' is a different name for Youkai although it initially referred to water spirits.