William Shakespeare | Character Review | Ikémen Vampire

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind. And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”

– A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By now, we’re familiar with the indulgent, melodramatic style of Ikemen Vampire and its turbulent romances. Through a myriad of historical figures, CYBIRD has given us every vampiric trope we could ask for. Through Jean d’Arc, we explored the idea of the bloodthirsty monster, racked with self-hatred and condemned to darkness. Through Leonardo Da Vinci, we crossed the bridge of time to heal the aching heart of a lonely immortal. Through Arthur Conan Doyle, we confronted the trauma of death and the guilt of survival in order to find new purpose in a twice-given life.

But, while Shakespeare’s route continues this theatrical style of writing, the spotlight shifts away from conflicts born simply from the romance between a human and a vampire. Instead, we begin an intriguing, morally ambiguous journey to understand the complexities of the heart, a journey reminiscent of Shakespeare’s own tales. And, much like his plays, once we’ve grasped the evasive truth of the vulnerable man behind the mask, we’re encouraged to greet the flaws we find with acceptance, not judgement.

Ikemen Vampire may have changed the events of Shakespeare’s past in the process of fictionalization, but, in doing so, they’ve achieved something far more impactful. The writers of this story have captured the essence of Shakespeare’s own works – told through the tale of a true and beautiful love that never should have been, yet so powerful it overcame everything that would stand in its way…

Character

Similar to: Akechi Mitsuhide (Ikémen Sengoku), Sakamaki Laito (Diabolik Lovers), Loki Genetta (Ikémen Revolution)

In the lead up to the release of William Shakespeare’s route in Ikemen Vampire, the promotional material focused heavily on the appeal of ‘forbidden fantasies’. We were told that Shakespeare would be similar to Mouri Motonari, from Ikemen Sengoku, and that the game developers, “hope you like being chained up“. And, while this isn’t necessarily untrue, I do feel this description doesn’t quite do him justice.

Don’t get me wrong, Shakespeare’s route is a yandere dream – an enemies-to-lovers masterpiece – with just enough of the danger that makes these tropes appealing without crossing the line into anything too dubious or controversial. When I started Shakespeare’s route, I was prepared for whips, chains, and kidnappings, but, by the time I had finished his story, I realised these dark and twisted desires were a mere footnote in a much more complex, compelling tale of love, fear, and the fragility of the heart.

Trickster / Ouji-sama / Yandere

My first impression of Shakespeare was that of a troubled, cunning playwright who toys with the lives of others for the sake of inspiration. His background in theatre naturally suits the ‘Trickster’ archetype; his skills as an actor allowing him to don many masks, from the noble gentleman-prince to the cold-hearted villain, employing whichever he deems necessary to achieve his goals. Shakespeare is described as ‘fae’; a mischievous, cunning man with a sharp tongue and wit to match. If you’ve ever wanted to be insulted with words so elegant they count as poetry, now’s your chance!

But, insults aren’t the only way in which Shakespeare uses his mastery of language to incite emotions in others. With just as much eloquence, he’ll capture your heart, peering into your deepest fears and desires until he can pen even your own destiny. In fact, his ability to read the hearts of others is so uncanny, he’s attracted some tragic, terrifying rumours…

“My only love sprung from my only hate,
Too early seen unknown, and known too late!
Prodigious birth of love is it to me
That I must love a loathed enemy.”

– Romeo and Juliet

About yanderes: In yandere stories we often come across some sort of fantastical dream world, designed to seduce and ensnare, capturing the object of the yandere’s affections in such a way that they never want to leave. Whether this is simply due to the couple being so obsessed with each other that the world figuratively vanishes around them, or whether the main character (MC) is quite literally put in a type of confinement, there’s typically an element of intensity to the romance that causes everything else to fade into the background.

This trope is achieved in a much more subtle manner in Shakespeare’s route, one which is difficult to describe without revealing any of the twists in his story. The yandere archetype is something that otome fans seem to either love or hate, but in the case of William Shakespeare, the intense, obsessive nature of a yandere’s love is handled delicately, without glorifying anything twisted or problematic. As such, his route becomes enjoyable not only for those who enjoy being chained up, but also those who don’t.

Story

“O, what upturned expectations have come at the arrival of this new player?”

– William Shakespeare (Ikémen Vampire)

I typically only read Ikemen Vampire routes using the five free chapter tickets given each day, but for Shakespeare I bought a lot of extra tickets. Intrigued by the secrets, captivated by the masterful use of language, and fascinated to see how such a famous figure from history would be adapted into an otome game, I just couldn’t stop reading. Full of twists and surprises, Shakespeare’s route will keep you enthralled until the last, just like his plays.

Elizabethan English: I expected Elizabethan-style English to be used when Shakespeare was speaking, but what surprised me was how it was incorporated elsewhere. As Ikemen Vampire is set in late 19th century Paris, the characters are already written in a way that makes them sound slightly old-fashioned, but this is especially noticeable in Shakespeare’s route. Their dialogue sounded even more elegant and fanciful than usual, and the tone of the narration changed to become more theatrical, which suits not only Shakespeare’s character, but also the melodramatic tones of the rest of the game.

While this style of writing may seem difficult to understand, you don’t have to worry about cracking open a dictionary or studying on sparknotes. MC often translates whatever Shakespeare has said in her own inner monologue – meaning it’s expected that the reader won’t always be able to clearly interpret his words. Shakespeare’s manner of speech is designed to be flowery and riddled with hidden meanings, not only because this is how he wrote in real life, but also to further express his deceptive, duplicitous nature.

By using language reminiscent of Shakespeare’s own works, the player is made to feel like they’ve stepped into one of his plays, only to fall in love with the playwright himself. If the Elizabethan English had only been a gimmick, it would be easy to make it sound awkward, forced, or over-the-top. Instead, the language and themes taken from Shakespeare and his writings were woven expertly throughout the story, intrinsic to this unique experience I have yet to find elsewhere…

Story Options: Premium vs. Normal

Story branches: at several intervals in the main route, you will be prompted to choose between a ‘Normal’ and ‘Premium’ story option. The normal story is cheaper and can be purchased with in-game resources, whereas the premium option is purchased with ‘Diamonds’, an in-game currency bought with real money. The appeal of premium stories is that they are longer, typically more romantic, and saved to your collection, meaning you can return to re-read them at any time.

Premium Story: Chapter 4
The Taming of the Shrew

Sweet: 2/5
Spicy: 0/5
Recommend: No

As with most of the initial premium story options in the Ikemen series, this scene takes place before any major development in the romance between MC and the relevant love interest. While ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ is certainly dramatic, it’s neither particularly lovey-dovey, nor sexy. If you’re enjoying the tone of the first act of Shakespeare’s route, then you may wish to purchase the premium option anyway, but otherwise, there are more memorable and impactful options later in his story.

Premium Story: Chapter 10
The Tempest

Sweet: 0/5
Spicy: 4/5
Recommend: Yes

If you’re here for the spicy vampires, you’re in the right place! I loved this premium story, which is fitting, as The Tempest is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. This isn’t your typical sexy scene; it’s creative, exciting, and shocking, especially considering the events of the previous chapter. I was gawking at the screen the entire time and I’m eternally grateful to have this bonus story saved to my collection. Unless you desperately hate spicy content, I wholeheartedly recommend this premium story.

Premium Story: Chapter 15
Much Ado About Nothing

Sweet: 3/5
Spicy: 0/5
Recommend: No

In ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, you learn a lot about Shakespeare’s character. It shows an endearing moment of vulnerability to this mischievous trickster, and it serves as a significant milestone in his romantic relationship with MC, but it’s not so memorable that I would recommend purchasing it unless you’re fervently committed to your Shakespeare collection. It works well as a reminder of the route, and of Shakespeare’s backstory, but I wasn’t blown away by anything in this scene.

Premium Story: Chapter 19
Love’s Labour’s Lost

Sweet: 5/5
Spicy: 3/5

Recommend: Yes

If Chapter 15’s premium story wasn’t particularly memorable, then Chapter 19’s ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ more than makes up for this. If you’re an Ikemen Vampire fan, then chances are you like a good, dramatic moment brimming with juicy, passionate romance. After a long build-up of tension, this bonus story is the satisfying release of long-held, pent-up emotions. The stage, the dialogue, the scene… everything about this premium story was beautiful and I wholeheartedly recommend this option.

Premium Story: Chapter 24
Love’s Labour’s Won

Sweet: 5/5
Spicy: 5/5

Recommend: Yes

If you only choose one premium story in Shakespeare’s route, make it this one. ‘Love’s Labour’s Won’ was easily my favourite of the premium stories, with a 5/5 in both sweet and spicy content. I won’t say anymore to avoid spoiling the scene, but, by the time you reach this point in the story, you should be able to guess what will happen next. For once in Shakespeare’s route, there’s no deception, no tricks, no mask, just a well-deserved moment of indulgence in a hard-earned love.

Endings

Romantic

Sweet: 5/5
Spicy: 3/5

I chose the ‘Romantic’ option for the art (CG), and I do NOT regret my decision. The CG is spicy, but, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the rest of the ending. It’s definitely sweet – I loved Shakespeare’s final grand gesture – and it ties in well with the character growth he experienced throughout the route, but the art did indicate it might be a little bit more on the sexy side. There were also a surprisingly large number of typos, which is odd considering how much attention to detail was paid to the main story. Still, it’s a romantic ending befitting the rest of the route, I just wish the final spicy scene had escalated further than it did. We were promised chains, after all…

Final Thoughts

If you’ve made it this far in my review, it will come as no surprise that I absolutely adored this route. From the characterisation of Shakespeare as two of my favourite archetypes (yanderes and tricksters), to the incorporation of references to the famous playwright’s works, to the delicately balanced usage of Elizabethan English to create an immersive, uniquely Shakespearean experience, this story is undoubtedly, beautifully crafted.

The famous Bard of Avon didn’t write about infallible heroes and irredeemable villains; he wrote about complicated, flawed, real people put into impossible situations. He wrote of their decisions and their struggles when there was no clear choice between right and wrong. In all the best ways, Shakespeare’s route in Ikemen Vampire embodies the appeal of his plays, as we venture into the vast expanse of grey between good and evil.

Shakespeare’s route serves as both an intriguing tale on its own, and an homage to the man himself. The more you read of his story, the more you can see how each carefully-constructed sentence, each moment, each reference, was created for the purpose of allowing the player a glimpse at what it would be like to star in their own, tragically-beautiful, Shakespearean play.

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

– As You Like It

You’ll like Shakespeare if you like: melodrama, poetry, romantic sonnets, Shakespeare’s works, fairy tale romances with a twist, complex characters, tragedies, flawed love interests, complicated love, tricksters with a sensitive heart, yanderes, and, yes, even chains…

If you would like to use a walkthrough, I recommend Otome Obsessed’s guide. I used it a lot in this route!

Voice Actor

Hirakawa Daisuke (平川 大輔)

Also voiced:

  • Frankenstein (Noblesse)
  • Ryugazaki Rei (Free!)
  • Sakamaki Laito (Diabolik Lovers)
  • Melvin Weins (Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files {Rail Zeppelin} Grace Note)
  • Saint-Germain (Code: Realize)
  • Nakaoka Shintaro (Hakuoki)
  • And more!

Game Info

Game Name:
Ikémen Vampire: Temptation in the Dark
イケメンヴァンパイア・偉人たちと恋の誘惑
Producer:
CYBIRD / Ikémen Series
Platform:
Mobile
Available to download: here!
Age Rating: 17+ / Mature

Cast Your Vote!

Support Sweet & Spicy

As our site is ad-free, we rely on your generous donations to maintain Sweet & Spicy Reviews. If you would like to support us, you can do so by checking out our Ko-fi page via the button below:

For business enquiries, please contact us at: sweetnspicyreviews@gmail.com

Twitter | Facebook | Reddit

More like this…

2 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.