Piofiore: Fated Memories Review

Otome in 1920s Italy? Please sign me up!

General Info

Release Date(s):
NA: Oct 8, 2020
Japan: July 25, 2019
Rating: M 17+
Developer(s): Otomate & Design Factory Co.
Publisher(s): NA: Aksys // JP: Idea Factory
Platform I Played On: Switch
Platform(s) Available On: Switch
Genre(s): Otome

Small edits and updates have occurred on 05/25/2022.

Synopsis

Taken from the Official Aksys Site
Piofiore: Fated Memories | Official Site | (aksysgames.com)

Liliana Adornato was born and raised in the church in the center of the Italian town of Burlone. Three criminal organizations control parts of the city, and Lili discovers that she is literally in the center of their turf wars. Her encounters with the leaders of the Falzone, Visconti, and Lao-Shu Families lead to danger and distraction. Once Lili is drawn into the shadowy world of crime, she realizes there is no going back.

Why You Should Play: The Shortened Version

>> Engaging stories with various scenarios and outcomes

>> Great heroine! Well grounded, realistic, smart, and observant

>> Unique backdrop, 1920s Italy

>> A fairly wide variety of love interests and unique side characters

Pros

  • Grounded and reasonable heroine
  • Interesting backdrop and time period
  • Routes have varying plots and outcomes
  • Not as predictable dialogue options
  • Love meter not highly present, makes you just play the story and accept the consequences
  • Enjoyable music, fits nicely with the theme
  • Variety of side characters
  • Doesn’t sugar coat the violence and morally wrong elements, works with the organized crime element and time period of the game

Cons

  • Wished Finale route had a tinge more substance for one of the outcomes
  • Some dark and twisted endings, be mentally prepared for tragedy

Before Reading

Beware there may be minor spoilers below depending on one’s qualification of a spoiler. Read at your own risk. However, in my opinion, this review should not spoil any new player’s experience with the game~

Disclaimer: This is my HOBBY blog with my own opinions, please take that into consideration~

Prologue

Concise // Sets the Scene // Different Outcomes

There are only two chapters to the prologue, so it is fairly concise at presenting the overall backdrop, a brief hint at all of the potential route choices, and Liliana’s background and overall personality. It really focusses on Liliana’s daily life whilst at the church and how she interacts with various people. I’d say it sets the tone of a seemingly nice city that has some interesting happenings on its underbelly. There are the basic introductory scenes to the various guys, characters, and some areas of the city. In most cases there is some event that draws Liliana into the mafia world which can differ greatly depending on which route you locked into.

As you progress and unlock each route there are additional scenes and characters introduced in the prologue. This made the prologue feel like a genuine part of the story each time you start a new route instead of feeling like mandatory and repetitive reading material. This is one of the few games where I was curious what new tidbits and dialogue would be added as the game progressed. Overall, the prologue is not a chore to read and with the subtle changes after the completion of each route incentivize a reader to want to read it again.

Update: Even upon replays the prologue is the kind where the choices that contribute to each route are not 100% obvious (at least for my replays). I really like that the prologue continues to feel like a part of the whole story and that I can still get stumped when trying to play a particular route when I play blindly.

Routes

They are listed in the order I played them however below are my personal ranking of the routes.

Gilbert > Orlok > Yang > Finale > Dante > Nicola

A Brief Note: Many reviews of Piofiore: Fated Memories had so many warnings about the mature content of the game to the point I was worried and somewhat afraid to read it. The game does have implied graphic content but it is not described in great detail. You typically feel really bad and scared for Liliana or other characters in some instances. Most of the violence just occurs and isn’t described in gory detail. Usually there are fade to black for the implied sexual moments. If you have played other mature games or watch mature movies and TV I would say most could handle the amount of mature topics in the game. However, if you are a bit wary of the content, the bad endings can have some pretty disturbing outcomes (some more than others). If you want to play it safe just stick to the best and good endings via a walkthrough.

A Brief Note 2: Throughout all the routes you are exposed to various brief side stories of various conversations or events taking place that Liliana is not a part of. All of them give more context to whichever route is being played. Some you have to read while others are optional (though I always have to play all of them for my inner sake of completion haha). I like how we are able to kind of see the grand plot unveil and become connected as you progress through the story.

A Brief Note 3: The game offers essentially 3 ½ types of endings; the best ending, the good ending, the bad ending, and the various bad endings without CGs. The bad endings are all quite dark or tragic, so beware.

Nicola Francesca

Random // Least Memorable // Meh

So, this is the route I ended up with first, due to my choices in the prologue. When you first start the game, you have two options, Nicola’s or Dante’s. I am personally glad I got this one first because it was my least favorite route in the game. Nicola is a flippant and secretive individual, and it shows in the story because you never really know what he’s thinking. To me there wasn’t anything earth shattering plot wise. I also didn’t feel like there was that strong of connection between Liliana and Nicola.

When I first played his route, it felt mediocre, but after playing the other routes this one felt the most random and almost as if this route was inserted as an afterthought. The romantic progression just felt odd, and it just didn’t click with me as a reader. I think the bad ending also took a very weird and twisted turn as well that just felt… well… weird and twisted… The main villain in his story felt like it came out of nowhere and it just made me question his route wholistically. After reading, I felt generally confused and immediately wanting to go onto the other routes.

The one interesting turn of events that I enjoyed in his route was the good ending scenario. I thought in many ways that the good ending was better than his best ending because it felt like both him and Liliana could grow and learn from one another in their implied future endeavors. Overall, I definitely recommend doing this route first to get it out of the way and to get the context of a few reoccurring major story events that occur in other routes.

Yang

Morally Grey // DANGER // Not everyone’s cup of tea

When I replayed the prologue again the next route I got through my choices made was Yang. And boy does this route have a very different tone than that of Nicola’s or all the other routes. Liliana is put in an environment where if she takes one misstep she could be a goner (and not just in terms of dying). This route felt like it had the highest “danger meter” moments just because of the overall situation and Yang’s personality. This story in my opinion has some of the most mature and heaviest themes in the game such as prostitution and drug dependency. Yang is not a good guy and Liliana never has a moment where she thinks “she can change him with her love~” He is a morally grey character essentially from the beginning to end which may not be for everyone’s tastes. It certainly is a different take on a more traditional otome route in my opinion.

Liliana in this route particularly really shows how strong and smart of character she can be. She is always aware of her situation and always has to think of how she can navigate the unpredictability of not just Yang but everything around her. I almost think this is the one where you actually feel like Liliana is fully aware of what lifestyle she’s throwing herself into by falling in love with Yang. Is it a highly questionable relationship? Very much so. However, for story purposes and potential outcomes this one is very different. I didn’t mind this route if you play it with that frame of mind, but again this route may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Overall, this route also felt more isolated in comparison to the other routes much like Nicola’s. The major difference from the other routes in that Yang is not as interconnected to the other two mafia families the story. I appropriate amount of deviation from the general knowledge gained in other routes without feeling like his route was a last-minute decision. Overall, I enjoyed Yang’s route despite the “danger meter” and thought the overall plot and romance was well executed. Though I completely understand that this route is certainly not intended for everyone to understand or enjoy to its potential.

Additional Content: Of all the additional content in the game Yang’s is my least favorite. I think every single story’s subject matter is within the same vein of Lilianna becoming extremely submissive and becoming a mere plaything of Yang’s. I think the reason why I liked core route of Yang’s is that there was enough story to tone down these elements. Without the overarching story I don’t quite like what Liliana is reduced to in that she’s a personal sex toy for Yang and his whims and has no personal agency whatsoever. This is definitely not within the realms of a healthy or even a reasonable relationship for the time period and place.

Dante Falzone

Slow Progression // Lore // The Maiden Plot Thickens

The third I completed was Dante’s route. And this one in some ways felt like the “canon choice” of the series which surprised me since it’s one of the first two choices in the game (and he’s front and center in the cover art). There is a considerable amount of lore dropping in this route and the reasoning for almost every villainous organization in town to be coming after her. This does help with the somewhat random context as to why all of a sudden, the mafia is after Liliana in a degree that isn’t fully explained in most other routes. This is where the “maiden” story takes a big part of the plot and I gotta say I could almost do without the maiden thing going on because its somewhat convoluted and strange. Since I’m not quite sure what you could replace it with plot wise, I guess we’ll roll with it haha.

Dante has a fairly fluff laden story sprinkled with more classical “mafia family” drama combined with the maiden stuff. Dante in the beginning is definitely does not have the strongest presence but over time he becomes more involved. Liliana and Dante’s blossoming love also doesn’t feel too forced. There are moments within the relationship that involve Dante and Liliana needing to gain a bit of clarification and understanding of one another. The romance and plot progression are kind of middle of the road for me. It was enjoyable to read in the moment but there are other plots and love interests that I find more intriguing and enjoyable. If you like generic fluff and kind gestures in tandem with the “maiden plot” this route I am sure is meant for a lot of readers to enjoy. I greatly appreciate that there many opportunities to expand the lore in this route especially in regard to Liliana and her circumstances.

Orlok

Tragedy // Dark // Just let them be HAPPY

So here we have to token Shota but not really. He is the most youthful guy of the routes, but this is far from the stereotypical shota route. In fact, I’m relieved they didn’t try to shoehorn in a shota persona in this game! Yay! Orlok comes in with much mystery as to his background, all we know is that he has a duty to protect Liliana. The core themes I got from this route were confronting the reality and the truth, trust, morality tied to faith, as well as religious conviction.

This route is an interesting one because it is the only route where you are not directly affiliated with one mafia family but still deal with all three families and the church. I think because of the lack of direct mafia affiliation this enabled this route to be the darkest and gruesome and really put into perspective of how dangerous of world Liliana is being sucked into regardless of whichever route you choose. The first ending I got “naturally” was one of the bad ones and I think it’s the more disturbing and sadder one out of all the routes… 😭😭 My heart ached when I read it all we wanted was for both Orlok and Liliana to be happy and that was not the case!

I like both Orlok’s and Liliana’s personal growth throughout the story coupled with overall growth of their relationship. They both grapple with their overall upbringings and religious teachings and how reality is playing out in front of them. However, this is definitely the route where you just want to scream LET THEM BE HAPPY because reality for these two is a roller-coaster of events and emotions. Despite his route is the most tragic the actual romance is rather innocent and gradual, and it does seem to have an appropriate resolution. While his route might not be my go-to replay route (because YIKES is it tragic) I enjoyed the different perspectives and not being privy to the inner workings of the three families.

Gilbert Redford

Favorite Route!! // Gentleman // Classic Crime and Court Drama

Gilbert is the leader of the Viconti Family and is a cheerful guy while also being the classic gentleman. This route is one of the locked routes and I was actually surprised that this was the route they chose to lock (this was before I played the Finale route). This one actually had a more mafia typical storyline involving the military and government not liking the mafia, counterfeit money, etc.. Gilbert is likable while never being the naïve or comedic character. He is simply a capable guy who is pretty observant and on top of most matters that pertain to the family. I think the fact that he has external problems such as the government and police gunning for the mafia opposed to the problems focusing on Liliana’s maiden debacle makes his route one of the more grounded and reasonable of the routes of the game.

In this route I felt like there was a lot of mutual respect between Gilbert and Liliana to the point that he asks and seems to value her insight. Gilbert always appears to be concerned about Liliana and is more understanding to how foreign of a world she’s been thrust into. While this route is very vanilla in a lot of regards it has the most fully fleshed out plot that has little to do with the maiden aspect which I appreciated greatly because it took the focus off of Liliana being some wanted entity from the mafia.

The other reason why I liked this route the best is because Liliana never feels overtly confined to a life of loneliness or completely stuck in a situation. She does have some relative freedom and choice which maybe is why this one felt the most comfortable to read. This route is my favorite route just because of the overall characterization of both Liliana and Gilbert and the overall progression of the plot and romance, it’s a feel-good plot which worked very well in my opinion 😍

Finale

Canon? // Happy Ending // Somewhat Random 😃

So, I won’t go much in detail here but essentially there are two branching endings with the finale route. One is fairly wholesome and gives a happy charming ending. The other isn’t inherently bad, but it does feel a bit of a random route given the lack of content leading up the end. Let’s just say I am intrigued to see what they will do in the sequel regarding this random outcome (which the sequel has been announced by Asksys for the English translation for some time in fall 2022 so YAY!!).

The happy charming ending is one where Liliana doesn’t end up with a love interest which doesn’t always happen in every Otome game. I like that they included this because it adds another possible outcome to the events Liliana could potentially experience. It does borderline on the feel-good side and there isn’t as much drama or tragedy as other routes.

Both Finale routes branch off of Gilbert’s route at Chapter 5 so much of the story from Gilbert’s route (which now we all know why his route was locked) is continued in this route just providing a different perspective and a slightly different outcome. Since I really liked Gilbert’s storyline so having more story tied to that particular plot was an enjoyable read.

Our Heroine: Liliana Adornato

Favorite Heroine // Smart // Strong Willed

Liliana is currently one of my favorite otome heroines out there. She’s smart, never overtly naïve, catches onto situations fast, and is such a strong-willed character. In most routes she has strong willpower and tact that gives her an edge when dealing with highly knowledgeable and intimidating individuals. She does have domestic skills such as baking but that is not her sole hobby or personality trait. In fact, I would say her level of domestic chores varies significantly throughout all the routes which just shows how well-rounded of character she is.

One of the reasons why I like Liliana so much is her ability to adapt to the situation. In every route she has core traits such as adaptability, tact, and kindness. The choices she makes in the different routes make perfect sense in one route but would be antithetical in another. For example, between Yang and Orlok, both routes are riddled with violence and danger. However, Liliana is very different in her interactions with Yang than she is Orlok, thus she is a very different person at the end of each of those respective routes. I guess the ultimate point is that I loved that Liliana has the potential of not being a carbon copy of herself in each route but is influenced and molded by the situation at hand.

In most cases I liked Liliana’s realization of her feelings towards the potential love interest. I think most of them were quite natural and she came to realize it in various ways. In some stories she’s quicker to catch on while in others it’s a slower burn. I liked this because it just reinforces the notion that she’s not a one noted character and does behave differently in different scenarios.

Keeping in mind the cultural backdrop and time period Liliana feels like a fairly realistic and reasonable protagonist in that not everything revolves around her. She is not privy to or brought along to every major event in the story which is different from many otome heroines. Overall, I thought Liliana was a strong character with ample number of smarts and tact that she was an appropriate heroine in the context of the story. She is definitely one of my top favorite heroines!

Honorable Mention(s):

The following side characters made appearances in various routes, but I felt like they all contributed in various ways to make Liliana feel less isolated and alone. These are the characters I think really stood out in the various routes that felt like they had an overall impact on Liliana, or I simply just liked the character premise.

Fei & Lan: the sibling duo. I think these guys add to Yang’s route quite nicely. They added enough juxtaposition to the overarching sense of danger in Yang’s story. They are still quite memorable to me, so they get an honorable mention!

Oliver Haas: Gilbert’s Lawyer. Love this guy, probably my favorite side character. He really adds to Gilbert’s route, and I like his sense of responsibilities. Overall, Oliver’s being more on the serious side was a good balance with some of the more carefree individuals throughout the story and I felt he added some good moments in Gilbert’s route.

Marco Calderoni: Burlone Detective. I really liked the brief moments we got with Marco. I liked the old wise detective aura he gave off and in certain routes he showed to be a real standup guy. I only wish we actually would have gotten a few more scenes with him in the prologue or some of the routes! I liked that he was actually on the older side, so Liliana didn’t seem like she was trapped in a world with only people in her age range.

Additional Content

This game has three additional short stories for readers to enjoy. One is a simple short story of a moment between Liliana and her love interest. These are the typical mundane moments that come with a CG.

The other stories are little episodes that expand upon the best and bad endings that also present new CGs. As one can imagine the extension of the bad endings are varying degrees of tragedy (for Liliana or love interest) or simply go in depth of the dark and twisted nature of the routes. For the best routes they all jump to the year 1926 and expand on how the events of the perspective routes have calmed down. Some stories are fairly innocent and pure while others have some implications of trouble down the road. I’m hoping these are setting up the events of the sequel game.

I always appreciate having extra stories and am glad they not only gave us a random short story but also minimal insight to both the best and bad endings. These extras really solidified the versatility of the construction of each route.

Game Ambience and Gameplay

Gorgeous Artwork // Wonderful Music // Standard Gameplay

The music, aesthetics, character designs, scenery, and CGs in this game are all wonderful! There is quite a bit of scenery variance so the city and surrounding areas of Burlone feel fairly fleshed out. The variety of background music only enhances the scenery with a wide variety of casual jazz to the Erhu (Chinese inspired) music. The casual music used in the game didn’t feel flat or stagnant and it was pleasant to have in the background.

I loved all the outfits of the characters and they all seemed to fit every personality. The voice acting was good and really was the final piece to making all the characters come to life. Now if I had one complaint concerning aesthetics something about Nicola’s face in his standard silhouette felt off, I think it could be something about the placement of his eyes (please Nicola fans don’t kill me 😭) however he looks fine in the CGs so Idk maybe it’s all in my head 🤣 Ultimately, I really have no complaints and really enjoyed the overall aesthetics and game ambience.

The gameplay is pretty standard for otome. The menu layout is fairly straightforward, and you can find everything without any issues. When you save your game, it does tell you which route you are on which I appreciated (since I utilize the maximum amount of saves haha) The overall love meter was a bit funky in that it doesn’t appear immediately after you make a dialogue choice, but you go to a separate screen. It took me about two routes to actually realize this is where the so-called meter was hidden. Honestly, I didn’t bother to use the love meter too often in this game and went with trial and error which can become a bit tedious ngl. HOWEVER, I think not having the love meter present after each choice made the game play out more like a story opposed to getting panicked over which choice you picked so that made for a more rounded experience in my opinion. Overall, there were no real game breaking elements, and it was a positive user experience.

Would I Recommend?

I really enjoyed Piofiore: Fated Memories because it was not afraid to dive into a variety of plots, had a wide range of characters, and it didn’t feel like every character was a cliché otome personality. Each route felt like it provided a different scenario for Liliana, and I really liked that the finale route is an additional option for readers who wanted to experience a different route.

I enjoyed how the game is set in 1920s Italy which is fairly different from the usual otome backdrops we get. I loved the overall setting of the town Burlone and really liked that throughout the various routes we got to hear not just about the mafia portions but mentions of some of the ongoing changes in Italy and Europe as a whole. This game really gives life to Burlone and the town is an important factor in many of the stories, the setting gives off the feeling that it matters to not just Liliana but various characters throughout the game.

Keep in mind that this game is rated Mature, and it is rated that way for a reason. I would not recommend the game if you were not prepared for a more mature storyline. For the otome world there are a lot of heavier themes prevalent and fully utilized in the game. I think most of the bad endings are when the maturity rating really kicks in so if you are sensitive to any heavy sexual themes, violence, or psychological stuff you may want to use walkthroughs to insure you only experience the good or best endings. Honestly for an otome game Piofiore: Fated Memories is quite violent which I actually appreciate they didn’t tone it down. I’m glad they showcased that the 1920s Italian mafia world comes with a lot of danger and potential for violence.

It was a pleasure to read Liliana’s adventures and how she handled each situation. The amount of variety in each route was noticeable and appreciated. If you want an otome that is more on the mature side, set in 1920s Italy, a smart reasonable heroine, and a fairly wide plot variance amongst all the available routes I would say definitely give the Piofiore: Fated Memories a try!