Diabolik Lovers: Haunted Dark Bridal-In Depth Review and links
Hello everyone! With Diabolik Lovers: Vandead Carnival upon us, I decided that I would like to give an in-depth review (or attempt to, anyway) on the game that started it all.
The fandom has increased exponentially since the release of the anime, however many have still have not had the chance to play either Haunted Dark Bridal (HDB) or More Blood (MB). My hope with this review is to help smooth out the transition into playing these great games for those interested.
Warning: Spoilers and a long post awaits you! DiaLovers is a dark series that explores themes such as: rape, physical and verbal abuse, neglect, depression, suicide, and the consequences around said themes among many other things. If you are sensitive to triggers surrounding these themes then Diabolik Lovers is not a series you should force yourself to play. The anime barely scratched the surface of this series, I assure you.
Now that you have been warned, click that “read more” to continue to the review!
Contents: use ctrl+f to skip to any section you like
 The Premise
 The Characters and Story
 Audio: Reign of the Dummy Mic!
 Finally: Where can I get the game!?
 Final Verdict and Opinions
 The Premise:
In Haunted Dark Bridal you play as Yui Komori: a 17 year-old who is a second year in high school. Yui was raised by her father, a priest, while staying with the local church. As such Yui sports a strong foundation in Christianity.
However, one day her father reveals to her that he must travel abroad to missionaries on behalf of the church, and that Yui cannot go with him. She doesn’t have to fret though, because her father has arranged for her to stay with some relatives of his.
But Yui immediately realizes something must be wrong because the address her father gave her leads her to an old mansion. Even more disturbing is that the mansion houses six brothers who appear to be around her age.
And of course these men are vampires! Suddenly Yui’s every move is watched, and with no way to contact her father she must do what she can to survive living among the Sakamaki brothers. What dark secrets lie within their pasts? And what will happen to Yui to herself?
Let me start off by saying that this is not the typical otome game in which the player tries win the heart of the prospective candidates. Diabolik Lovers is a game about survival. Any love that comes from the potential brothers is hard-won and usually is a slightly twisted view on love (with a few exceptions, but we’ll get to that).
Once you get through the prologue you are presented with the first choice of the game: who are you going to allow to suck your blood? Your choice will determine which character’s route you explore and play through.
Now typically I’m a bit biased against this game mechanic. I much prefer games like Hakuouki where you don’t blatantly decide on a character. Games like Hakuouki only asks for your reactions to different scenarios in the plot itself, and those reactions will determine which characters you bond with. To me that feels more natural and immersive than “pick your man and good luck!”.
However, this mechanic actually works incredibly well with HDB because it plays with that idea of survival again. Before the choice is presented Yui boldly claims:
“It’s my body and my blood! Shouldn’t I get to decide who gets to drink from it?”
This is after the boys discuss how they will drain you dry; aka how they will kill you. After Yui’s declaration they treat it almost like a game. Which man appears most capable of impressing the silly human? But in Yui’s case it’s a decision to see which brother you think you have the highest chance of getting out of this alive with.
This is because you’re not just deciding who gets to have your blood; you’re essentially deciding who owns you during your stay with the Sakamaki. So hopefully you paid good attention to how each brother acted towards you/Yui in the prologue because it does give very insightful hints as to how each man will treat you and how they’ll feel about their ownership over you for the rest of the game.
In your first playthrough of the game you can only pick between one of the triplets: Ayato, Kanato, or Raito. Once you complete one of their endings you will then unlock the ability to play with any of the six brothers (get your minds out of the gutter!).
With the choice made the game will then split up into sections:
Each route is composed of Dark, Maniac, and Ecstasy chapters. Dark is when you first get to know the character you chose and is usually when he’s the least caring/most abusive. This will vary between characters, but essentially don’t expect any fluffy feels during the Dark portion of the game. This is the part of the game you get told constantly that you amount to nothing, you’re only value is your blood, you are his toy.
Maniac is a transitional section of the game in which more of the plot involving Yui begins to be questioned as well as the game’s plot overall. It is also here that the character you chose begins to have some actual bonding with you (again, varies per character). There’s a lot of mood swings in this portion, from ridiculously cuddly feels to just plain outrageous abuse. Be prepared.
And finally, Ecstasy can be interpreted as when the man you picked finally begins to assert that you’re his, but not just as a toy. How this comes across and the depth of love, if it is love, again is different in each route. This is usually where all of the best cuddly moments tend to appear.
In other words, depending on the guy you’re in for a very, very long ride before you start hearing words of endearment from any of the boys.
Within each section there is a prologue, an epilogue, and ten individual scenarios. The first six are “situations” that showcase your/Yui’s everyday life with the guy. Each one proposes one choice that allows you to react to the situation at hand. Like in most other otome games, these choices will determine whether or not the guy gains affection with you.
The last four situations (7-10) are story scenarios. Now this is where the game truly becomes interesting because like before, you are presented with a choice in each scenario. However this doesn’t determine your affection with one of the brothers. Instead you gain points for one of two meters: Do-M or Do-S.
(The above screen is from More Blood, not HDB. However the bars are exactly the same.)
Within the story scenarios you are usually put in a situation where the man you’re with poses a demand/request to you, and you get to decide how you answer him. Each answer will lead towards Yui becoming either more masochistic in nature or sadistic.
For example, how will you respond to the guy wanting to suck your blood out in public? Do you retaliate and state boldly that you can’t in such a place? Or do you hesitantly submit to his request out of fear of what he’ll do otherwise or just to get it over with?
This brings us back to the constant theme of survival and also gives us an interesting amount of control over Yui’s personality. Usually in otome games the heroine is relatively flat in personality (and even Mary Sue-ish at times) in order for her to easily adjust in character for each love candidate and for people that like to self-insert when they play.
Yui here isn’t like that. Yui has a very distinct personality regardless if you go Do-M or Do-S. The choice between the two is the player’s way of deciding how Yui should act in order to receive as little abuse as possible and live through her stay with the Sakamaki. We essentially get to watch as Yui’s psyche changes and adapts to the world around her.
To me this is by far the most interesting aspect of Diabolik Lovers. This isn’t a Beauty and the Beast kind of story in which the heroine appears in the lives of these boys, heal their traumatized hearts, and change them for the better.
Instead Yui herself is forced to change how she behaves and how she views the world in order to live with these emotionally abused characters that in turn take out their frustrations on her. All the while trying to retain as much of her old self as she can along with her sanity. In some endings it works out quite well. In others we see Yui completely lose it (and even turn the tables on the boys!).
And you as the player gets to decide how her mind shall be warped to cope with it all.
 The Characters and Story:
Trauma and drama everywhere! And it’s beautifully executed. The plight of the six Sakamaki brothers is set up through a series of disputes that were fought between their parents. Each brother has a pretty distinct set of baggage and emotional issues caused by how they were treated in the past by their family.
Karlheinz (lovingly dubbed the ketchup man 8D) is the head of the Sakamaki family, and throughout the story is hinted to be considered the pureblood vampire king. He is also the father of all the brothers you play with in the game.
In order to secure his position as vampire king he married Cordelia: a woman whose father was known as the great demon king. So her blood is very special and powerful being a mix of vampire and demon.
Where Karlheinz only wanted to marry Cordelia for political and power gains, his younger brother Richter truly loved Cordelia and even had relations with her before the marriage was solidified. Cordelia loved Karl, however she felt spited by him and used Richter’s love for her to her advantage.
Karlheinz would go on to marry two more women: Beatrix, a pureblood vampire who gave him his first two sons, and Christa: another pureblood vampire whom Karl loved desperately but she did not return his feelings. More in a little bit.
How does all of this relate to the Sakamaki brothers? Well, it’s the foundation for their personality quirks and traumas, something the anime did not get to fully explore:
Main trauma: severe depression and disinterest in life
The eldest son, and son of the second wife: Beatrix. In noble families usually it’s the duty of the first wife (in this case, Cordelia) to produce the head of the family a proper heir. However Beatrix produced the first son instead with Shu. And in being a pureblood on top of his status as first-born, Shu became the top candidate.
Despite these advantages, Beatrix knew it wouldn’t be difficult for Cordelia to find a loophole as the first wife to rip the position of heir away from Shu, and thus jeopardize both his and her own security within the Sakamaki family. So Beatrix lavished Shu with attention, to the point where he felt prisoner within his own home from not being allowed to leave the mansion.
Shu found solace in secretly leaving the mansion to meet with a human boy named Edgar: his first true friend. However one day Edgar dies, and Shu blames himself both by his own conciousness and Reiji’s constant insistence that Shu was the cause of the tragedy that took Edgar’s life.
Shu couldn’t deal with the guilt and the pain. In order to never lose anything precious again or cause them harm, Shu fell into a depression where he distanced himself from the world. In HDB he is disinterested in everything and wants nothing to do with anyone, preferring to just sleep his life away. Life and attachment to people is “troublesome” (his key phrase is “mendokusai”) and not worth his energy. And it’s not worth your energy to try and care about him.
Main trauma: Neglect and a disdain/fear of not being good enough for people.
Shu’s full blood brother and second eldest, Reiji’s backstory centers around a serious case of neglect. Whether it was on purpose or not, Beatrix completely neglected Reiji and anything he did in favor of watching over Shu. Because of this Reiji grew to resent both his brother and his mother and sought to become someone so utterly perfect that his accomplishments couldn’t be ignored.
However, no matter what he tried, it never worked. The neglect eventually pushed him over the edge. During his childhood he killed Edgar and made Shu believe he was at fault instead so that Shu would feel the same pain of being useless that Reiji was forced to face every day. As a teenager Reiji then sought to kill his mother in order to impress that he was truly the superior and gain her attention.
However she smiles at her death, and claims she knew Reiji was always a good and powerful man. Not satisfied with this reaction, in HDB Reiji works relentlessly to create a drug that can bring back the dead so that he can kill his mother one more time for the perfect revenge, all the while proving that he is more worthy to become heir of the Sakamaki over Shu.
Main trauma: Becoming useless and uneeded. Not valuable unless he is the best.
Despite being in a set of triplets, Ayato was deemed the eldest of the Sakamaki triplets mothered by the first wife: Cordelia. As such Ayato actually faced a very similar upbringing to Shu. Even though Ayato was not a pureblood vampire (remember, his mother his half demon), Cordelia was determined to make him head of the family and secure their futures.
However, whereas Beatrix utilized a gentle (albeit a very suffocating/overprotective) approach, Cordelia used an iron fist and threatened Ayato. Whenever Ayato failed Cordelia would reprimand him, and remind him that he wasn’t her son if he wasn’t number one. She makes it very clear that he’s her tool and nothing more.
Unable to take it anymore, Ayato convinces his brothers of how their mother was using them all and leads them in an attempt to murder Cordelia. Which was successful.
As such, Ayato has grown a deep inferiority complex, which he tries to combat by asserting himself as someone more important or deeply valuable (hence why he refers to himself as “ore-sama” ). He has a deep-seated fear of being unneeded, and will cripple your freedoms until you absolutely cannot live without his care.
Main trauma: Afraid of being alone/of someone else taking away what’s his. Has lost trust in all women.
I’m not as versed in Kanato as the rest of the brothers, so it might do interested readers well to look him up on tumblr. Kanato however was pretty favored by his mother Cordelia as she would turn to him to help relieve her stress. Kanato found happiness in singing for her and in turning the women she killed out of jealousy for Karlheinz into wax dolls.
Teddy was a gift from his mother, the one symbol of her “love” that made him feel special and needed. It was also a gift to distract him from Cordelia’s relations with his uncle Richter. Kanato was ignored and often exposed to Cordelia having sex with Richter in front of him, Cordelia claiming that since he was a child he wouldn’t understand what was happening in front of him anyway.
Kanato deeply dislikes his uncle Richter and in general hates infidelity because of this. To him In his route in HDB he is deeply possessive of you, to the point where even talking to another man is grounds for punishment. He will not let his woman betray him the way his mother did his father.
Main Trauma: was raped by his mother Cordelia. Now believes that love and lust are the same and that all women are secretly sinful.
Yes, you read that right. Once Raito was in his teens his mother Cordelia turned to him to have sexual relations when neither Karlheinz or Richter was able to return her advances. As you can imagine this had very deep repercussions.
And yes, even though he “consented” to having sex with his mother and enjoyed it, it is still rape because it is an abuse of power between mother and child (This is Cordelia we’re talking about. I doubt saying “no” would have actually done this boy any good and the sex would have happened anyway). Therefore it is rape and no one can tell me otherwise.
Raito came to believe that he was special in Cordelia’s heart, only to be punished by his father after their secret got out. While he was imprisoned, his mother engaged in sex with his uncle Richter in front of him, claiming he was a good child for obediently keeping her secrets and watching. This is where Raito’s voyeurism fetish was born.
He eventually grew tired of the abuse and under Ayato’s suggestion aids in Cordelia’s murder. In HDB Raito is not against using force to get you to comply with his sexual desires and insists that you/Yui are just as sinful as he is. Love and lust are one in the same. In fact, there’s no such thing as “love”.
Main Trauma: Was born from his mother after a rape. Was told repeatedly that it was his fault, not the rapist’s, for his mother’s slow dip into insanity. Was also asked to kill his mother. Sees himself as useless, worthless, and ugly.
I swear Subaru has the most angsty back story alongside Raito. Remember how Karlheinz was desperately in love with Subaru’s mother Christa? Well Christa did not love Karl. In fact she saw him for his wicked nature and utterly refused marriage to him. She was often called the “white rose” because she was a kind and sweet woman who was pure.
But Karlheinz wouldn’t take no for an answer, and forced Christa into marriage. During this marriage he raped her repeatedly, and Subaru was born out of it. What makes this even more saddening is that Subaru looks just like his father (and after playing More Blood I can confirm that he’s practically his double).
As such, Christa would verbally abuse Subaru. Yelling at him to stay away because he had the face of her rapist. It was Subaru’s fault she was forced to stay married to Karlheinz because he was born. If Subaru wanted her to be free from Karl’s abuse, it was his duty to kill her. Hence why he has a silver knife.
As you can imagine, Subaru grew to absolutely hate himself. He hates it when people are afraid of him because of his mother’s reactions to his face, however at the same time he doesn’t understand how to get close to people because he was always pushed away. He grew up weak and powerless against his father so he compensates in his older years by breaking material things in fits of rage.
His abuse towards the heroine, despite his violent nature, is more on the verbal side like his mother did him.
All of these stories are ridiculously sad and somewhat frightening to play through at times, to be perfectly honest. However each route is well worth the time put into them.
 Audio: Reign of the Dummy Mic!
This is essentially one of the main reasons why this game started becoming so famous. For those of you that don’t know, a dummy mic is basically a giant microphone in the shape of a head. A dummy mic is capable of recording the sound and: distance from the mic, what direction the sound is coming from, and movement of the voice as the speaker moves. The effect of this recording comes to life when you wear headphones to play the game.
If you’ve already listened to some of the drama CDs then you know full well how this works. It’s done incredibly well, and many times during gameplay I had to pull off my earphones due to whispering in the ear that’s too sexy to handle, or jumped in my seat from a voice suddenly behind me.
The use of the dummy mic does more than just set the player in a fit of blushing and muffled cries of embarrassment. It’s another layer of immersion that allows us to get to know the characters.
What I find incredible about its use here is that where the voice comes from in your headset can change in mid dialogue.
If you’re not familiar with otome games already then let me explain. Usually if there is a change in voice direction (let’s say from in front of you to directly in your right ear), in quite a few games this doesn’t happen unless you advance to a new dialogue box. This signals you to how close the character is to you, as does the size and cut of the character’s sprite on screen.
In HDB, this change can occur within the same dialogue box. There were several times where a character…let’s say during a bite, would move from speaking in the left ear to your right. In mid sentence the audio traced the recording so you could hear the voice actor speak in one ear, the voice changing as his face shifts to be in front of yours, to finally landing in your right ear.
That is insane because it lends a good deal to picturing what’s going on. It also gives a glimpse into the character’s body language (and in turn, their personality) we wouldn’t normally get to see.
In short, the audio is amazing and you’re cheating yourself if you don’t play with headphones.
 Finally: Where can I get the game!?
Unfortunately, as of the posting of this review we do not have a localized version of this game for Western audiences. This means that you must purchase a copy directly from Japan, or download a rom to play on the computer via emulator or with a PSP with custom firmware. You will also need to understand some Japanese or have translations at the ready.
If you don’t know Japanese (or you’re not confident in your skills) then I highly suggest you go here:
The wordpress blog linked above has Haunted Dark Bridal translated in its entirety, and in a story-esque format that’s easy to read. You can follow almost line-by-line with the game itself. Or if you can’t get the game, you can still read the posts under that link and not be lost at all.
In fact, you’ll probably be more knowledgeable than a good chunk of the fanbase. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it!
As for actually getting the game: when it comes to purchasing HDB from Japan (or any otome game for that matter), breadmasterlee at wordpress also has a great guide which you can read here:
You can also do it via third parties on Amazon or Ebay. Regardless of the route you pick, be prepared to drop anywhere from $50-80 depending on the seller. Sometimes more.
If you wish to try the game before purchase, or do not have a PSP/PS Vita, then you can download a rom at nicoblog here:
Just make sure you have a program to extract .rar files such as winrar or free extract frog. And follow the instructions on the nicoblog.
I will say that if you do have the funds, please do purchase the game as it’s very well made and thought provoking. However I also understand the limitations of ordering import games/not having money, so the rom is there for those who can’t.
 Final Verdict and Opinions:
I absolutely love this game and this series, and I didn’t think I was going to. Like many others I discovered Diabolik Lovers through the release of the anime. The artwork and the premise was what drew me in.
However, the anime actually turned me away at first. It was very rushed and didn’t make sense at all (to me at least). Then when I read the comments under the episodes from the people who did play the games I was actually surprised that the games had more explicit content. To be frank I avoided this title like the plague for a good number of months.
Then curiosity killed the cat (or should I say rabbit?). I broke down and tried the game for myself. I’m not going to lie: if this game ever gets localized in the west, it will most certainly be rated M (or whatever the highest maturity requirement rankings are for your country). Every single guy starts off as very abusive in one form or another, there’s very blatant sexual references (and sometimes flat out sex), and the language is explicit.
However it makes the game brilliant. Diabolik Lovers came out during the vampire fever that praised Twilight-esque vampires: misunderstood, truly gentle creatures.
DiaLovers literally says “to hell with that shit!” and gives you a cast of messed up, traumatized youths that are out an out hunters. You are trapped in a house as the prey of six sadistic vampires who have zero issues with killing you and who don’t give a damn about your feelings or your self esteem. How do you cope with that situation? Well this game puts you to the test and you’ll find out!
There’s several layers of symbolism too within the game: from music choices to colors associated with the characters. All of which I intend to analyze at some point. At the end of the day Diabolik Lovers: Haunted Dark Bridal is a truly unique game experience that gives you a lot to think about (should you choose to want to do so).
It’s well made with a great voice acting cast. The artwork and overall design in menus and themes is gorgeous. And even though the story is very complicated and kind of convoluted, it’s put together pretty nicely with each character’s route. Like all other games it has it’s short comings and some of the routes you can see where the writing effort began to dwindle. But it doesn’t take away from the overall experience too much.
If you’re the least bit interested in DiaLovers and you’re not uncomfortable exploring really dark themes not normally addressed so openly in games, then please do give this game a playthrough! Be prepared however, as it is not for the faint of heart.
Do you already adore DiaLovers? Feel free to send me responses to this review or just your overall fangirl thoughts about the game in my ask box! Thank you so much for reading, and enjoy your night~ <3
7 years ago 25 notes
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