…that will release on the 23rd of February as a port of the vita game with some extra scenes.
I’ve played the surprisingly short demo that is available on the Japanese eShop and give you my first impressions!
You wake up in a giant suitcase and remember the headache from sleeping pills. There you are greeted by three strange men, who brought you here.
Tsukumi is the master of the café. He’s polite and gentle and seldomly gets angry. He wants to make your life as pleasant as possible.
Voice actor: Tamaru Atsushi田丸 篤志 (Kasuga in Variable Barricade)
He seems friendly, but I don’t know what to think about him…
Izuna seems cold and unsociable, but has a passion for cooking and coffee and quickly warms up to you and starts caring for you.
He kind of seems boring to me honestly though.
As you have lost your voice, the guys give you a smartphones to “talk” – and that is also kind of used as the heroines face. It seems to be the same as from your institution, and thus makes you remember a men, telling you not to talk about anything, to forget everything as he lets you go, rescues you from that institution. You remember lights like from a laboratory or doctor and shudder at that memory.
These men turn out to have an underworld café, and especially take contract killings as a part time job to their café life and that is why only people of the underworld come to this café at night. But now it is also their job to protect you, as they were apparently told by that man… As that institution also was part of the underworld, you reckon it will be similar and don’t want to return at all costs, because is seems that this exact dubious institution made you lose your voice half a year ago.
From now on you shall work as a waitress, to earn money to buy cloths and underwear – yes, they specifically say underwear!
On the way to change into your new waitress outfit you meet with a strange doctor, thinking you’re one of his patients, but before anything can happen, Izuna clears that misunderstanding – wonder what kind of experiments they do there…
A shady, but very skilled doctor who works behind the café. He’s rational and prefers to work alone, but has a passion for miniatures and wants to help you regain your voice.
Voice actor: Nojima Kenji野島 健児 (Shion in Variable Barricade)
Creepy doctors, definitely peek my interest!
This slightly creepy scene is followed by a funny conversation about your waitress outfit, that looks like a cosplay – probably one of the killers just has a thing for these kinds of outfits… You are warned not to speak or hear anything while you work there (for your own good).
Then you meet the next killer, who is quite cute and friendly:
A friendly and chatty fellow, who somehow always ends up with debts due to spending his money on too many weapons.
Oh god, he looks so happy and friendly, I cant stand him
After him you meet the weapon dealer, who also had tanks etc., but almost looks underaged!
Noin is the only locked route and can also be considered the true route, because only in his route the mystery around you is resolved (with a short info dump about sci-fi elements).
He is a self-proclaimed 16 year old, though his true age is unknown, he is a weapon dealer but for the right price he can get anything, like clothes for you.
Voice actor: Hanae Natsuki花江 夏樹 (Kanon in Shiro to Kuro no Arisu)
A kid as a true route…dont understand that choice…
After you’ve met everybody you have to remember everyone’s favourite drinks. As you are not allowed to leave the café at all, you ask the weapon dealer, who turns out to be an Apple Pie junkie, whether he can also buy cloths for you, and as he is a nice guy, he happily obliges. But he as well is taken aback by your outfit and yet again you have a conversation about the strange maid outfit.
Before you got to bad after this strange night, you wonder if this is just a dream caused by an experiment from that institution? Though you don’t expect to be saved, you don’t want to feel hopeless either, and so you decide to just carry on…
What brings me to my thoughts about the heroine:
You can’t change her name, as Ichigo is her chosen pen name.
She seems extremely week, because though she cannot speak, you still have other means to show your opinion! For example when a creepy doctor wants to examine you, you can just struggle, but don’t need to just stand there helplessly.
On the other hand she must have been through some heavily traumatising experiences, she somehow withstood. But reviews say that her trauma is not properly acknowledged or dealt with in the game.
And using the phone instead of her face, is a really a weird design choice – ever thought that she could convey her feelings even outside her phone?? That could have given her at least something like a character. But this design choice probably also shows that neither her character nor character development really was a focus of the game.
On the next day you meet the American mafia boss and his bodyguard who is treated a bit poorly:
Hasegawa is a bodyguard of an American mafia boss. He’s quiet and easily misunderstood due to his appearance, but actually has a kind heart and loves sewing and cooking.
And that is where the demo suddenly ends.
Because that already was the common route. I kind of wished they would have allowed us to also play the first chapter of each character route, to get more impressions, but I’ve heard that the first character chapters also feel quite similar to each other.
And I wonder whether the game is also that short as well? I mean I’ve heard its actually more about a medium length, but still would hope for around 40 hours to be honest. But if you trust Japanese people, they can play one route in three hours…so maybe around 5 hours for each route? Yes, that’s medium length.
Concerning the art, only the character design was done by Kazuki Yone, who is famous for Kamigami no Asobi and some Hakuouki games, BUT she did not make the ingame art!
And also the friendly sprites with their mostly high pitched voices represent the tone of the game,
they don’t seem like scary killers, they seem like nice dudes who just love the smell of coffee
Same goes for the soundtrack, though it’s quite good, its mostly café music.
The Japanese level is surprisingly, or the actual setting considering, actually not so surprisingly easy, as it’s mostly café talk, it should be manageable for upper beginners or lower intermediate learners, with some more complicated vocabulary when it either goes in depths with café words or with some weapons or criminal vocabulary. So I would definitely recommend to check out the demo!
That means the tone of the game definitely will be more café than anything else. Reviewers talk of 80% café, 20% action, but only at the end of the route and it’s not the real focus of the story. There even is a scene about defrosting the refrigerator! So I think the demo reflects the tone of the game actually quite accurately. It’s a fluffy game, with some cute romance, without being too romantic or even steamy, that does not have much in common with games like Piofiore or Collar x Malice, not even as much with Café Enchanté, as it’s probably way fluffier, but definitely confusingly advertised as something it not really is.
I think Koroshiya and Strawberry (plus) might be for people, who want a shorter game, enjoy some fluffy sweet romance without too much angst, but still in an extraordinary setting.
The Switch edition comes with an after story, but I don’t expect it to be a major upgrade to the Vita version, so if you are interested, but can’t justify the full price in front of your wallet, I think to choose the Vita version would also be a good option.
“That was helpful!
To show my appreciation I’m gonna purchase the game via Lin’s amazon link to support her!”