Perhaps one day I’ll be caught up enough on all the games I want to play that I can review things that are new? But probably not. Nameless ~ The One Thing You Must Recall was released in English in November 2013 by Cheritz. It is an Otome dating game where your five bachelors are actually the main character’s collection of ball-jointed dolls.
Nameless is a bit more visual novel than dating sim. It’s a railroad text-heavy tale that has some selections that steer your relationships in certain directions, rewarding you with different endings, both good and bad. The stats are invisible relationship points per character rather than including other stat-based requirements like in Hatoful Boyfriend or Dandelion, Cheritz’ other work. In exchange for customization and exploration, Cheritz gives us an interesting story with great characters that is remarkably long. My playthrough clocked in at over 50 hours, a number I haven’t seen outside of an RPG. (Unless you count Hato, which I’m not, since I did an LP. That’s cheating.)
The boys in Nameless suddenly become human and end up having to go to high school with the heroine, Eri. So relive your high school days by dating cute boys who already love you: Yeunho is the shouta type, bright-eyed, childlike and sincere. Lance is the tsundere, prickly and condescending in spite of his pretty face. Yuri, a hopeless flirt, masquerades as your teacher as an adult doll made to appeal to women. Tei is the mom of the family, who works a part-time job and cooks for everyone. Red is the final route, an enthusiasic and dumb guy who was made as a sentai hero of justice who loves video games and power rangers.
My favorite part of Nameless is how the writers incorporate the boys’ roles as dolls into their personality and insecurities. Tei and Yeunho were purchased second-hand, and have plenty of baggage to address. Red was a prototype of a doll line that never entered mass production, so he is a one-of-a-kind member of a non-existent sentai team. Each of the boys has their own stresses and problems based on their individual doll concepts. It was a smart way to take advantage of this theme.
Another heartwarming element in the narrative is the love and fairness with which even the outsider characters are treated. Our heroine Eri, has a pair of friends that she spends time with at school, and Soi and Shinbi play key support roles in every route. It is often them who come to Eri’s rescue, and not one of her romantic targets. Sometimes they even come to save her from her dolls.
It’s also important to keep in mind that this game is consistently both intentionally and unintentionally hilarious.
There are only a few criticisms I actually have of the game. I only found one of the routes to be particularly unsatisfying, which resulted in that character becoming my least favorite. Cheritz took an interesting and disturbing concept but, I feel, didn’t take full advantage of it for fear of making the character unsympathetic and unromanceable. I feel like his arc was not fully realized in the end.
Secondly, there are quite a few translation errors that are usually fixed in an auto-correct way that make them pretty hilarious. Some of them are just language mistakes that maybe only a native English speaker would notice. (I’m here Cheritz if you’d like to hire me. I’d be happy to help.)
Lastly is the final route. There are actually two endings (as a note, if you are planning to pick up the game). The story was very good, but in many ways the writers chose to zoom in on the plot of the final route, and failed to draw cohesion in with the dolls and their involvement in the end.
If you are looking for a good Otome game, or an interesting romance story, I do recommend that you pick up Nameless. It is very good. However, if you’re looking for something with the ferocity/humor of Hatoful Boyfriend, you may have better luck looking elsewhere. Nameless is a romance game, and will fulfill you if that’s what you’re looking for – with some laughter and tears on the side.