It’s been a surprisingly long time since my last actual otome game thoughts post. At first I looked at the time stamp on my Sanzen Sekai Yuugi post and thought “hey December last year isn’t that long” then looked at today’s date and yes, yes it has been a long time. For those who don’t care for my normal twitter/mobage banter, welcome back to a whole new console, since my last game was on the PS Vita (Beast Darling doesn’t really count to me because it’s a mobile game port).
Moving on, I finally got my hands on Gensou Kissa Enchante (roughly, Magical Cafe Enchante in English), my most anticipated announcement at Otomate Party. Its themes were: “cafe”, “other worlds” and “non-humans”. For those more well-versed in popular tropes in Japan at the moment, it’s an isekai themed otome game.
The story is about Awaki Kotone, who inherits her grandfather, Awaki Souan‘s cafe after his sudden death. Having experienced her fair share of early career hardships, she wonders what to do with her life and his cafe and discovers a strange door in the cafe that when opened, allows customers from other worlds to visit Cafe Enchante. At first not believing such a fantastical thing was possible, with the guidance of Souan’s long time customers, Miser Rex (for some reason his name is read as Michelle Alex in common English, CV: Akabane Kenji) the Demon King of the demon world Asmodia, Canus Espada (CV: Umehara Yuichiro) headless knight of the fairy world Medio, Il Fado de Rie (CV: Ishikawa Kaito) fallen angel of the heavenly world Caelm and Ignis Carbunculus the strongest of the magical beast world Beastia, she slowly comes to accept that Cafe Enchante is a place for patrons of other worlds to rest. As it turns out, the Japanese government is well aware that such otherworldly beings frequent Cafe Enchante as well other other parts of the country and have an unofficial branch dedicated to the observation of them, with Rindou Kaoru (CV: Suwabe Junichi) being assigned to Cafe Enchante. As Kotone decides to continue running Cafe Enchante, the game follows her growth and interactions with being from this world and others.
The whole game is a decent length from my first playthrough of Canus’ route, with a Prologue -> Common route (8 chaps, one focusing on each char) -> Char route (3 chaps) -> good/bad ending (1 chap) -> credits -> post credits scene. However I can forsee that after finishing one route, the rest of them are gonna be a breeze, perhaps with the exception of a “true” ending or whatnot.
In the common route, it starts off pretty light hearted with all the characters blending into the human world way too much against Kotone’s expectation which leads to many jokes. In particular, Canus’ is well-known in the neighbourhood as a polite gentleman but slightly odd.
But as the chapters progress and with some of the more suspicious events (Kotone getting dragged away at the door and separating from everyone when they visit Medio, getting mind-controlled and sent to Amasaki Island) we start to get the sense that there’s more to the plot than what the early atmosphere gave away.
As usual since it’s the first route I’m still not sure what’s happening but I know for sure Il’s route has something to do with Mikado’s Helper-kun (CV: MIDORIKAWA FUCKING HIKARU). There’s this weird secretive part where it’s like:
????: Tch, how could he?
And the voice is just, so distinctive. But hey if I’m wrong and come back eating my own words, that’ll be a kudos to Otomate.
Canus’s route is focused on his world Medio, where we find out that he’s actually a soul reaper, killing fairies for Medio’s survival. Kotone witnesses this and doesn’t know how to feel, knowing that Canus is gentle and kind but is then pushed away by Canus when she asks him about it. When the truth about the world is finally revealed; that Medio (and the giant tree that makes up Medio) is actually feeding on its inhabitants, it gets damaged by a random phenomena (which we are lead to believe is not random in the overarching plot). To repair this damage, the tree goes into a feeding frenzy and Kotone is sacrificed by one of the locals she trusted so that they could get the help of the other patrons of Enchante to kill the tree which they hate.
Canus and the others save Kotone in time, the tree is killed. Everyone is free, all is better. At first they left some doubt about how the tree would rot and wither away so no one knows what would happen with Medio but of course, being the good end, miraculously everything is all good again sort of thing happens.
As I expected, since Canus doesn’t have a face, there’s no kiss scene. Which was, well, ok I guess. In the common route, it’s mentioned that Canus does in fact have a face, it’s just that no one can see it….or feel it.
Personally there was room for a “suddenly Kotone can see Canus’ face since she inherited some of the fairy power from the world tree!” but I feel like that would be a huge let down, given the whole backstory of not having a head. I’m glad they kept this approach to his character.
Everyone gets to Kotone too late and she’s permanently fused with the tree with her life slowly being drained from her. Canus decides to stay by her side even though she’s in deep sleep. He knows that she would prefer that he kill her and the tree together, but cannot bring himself to do it and continues to slay fairies to appease the tree so that it would stop chipping away from Kotone’s life.
In my opinion this was a nice bittersweet end, but really lacked some kind of oompf. But nevertheless I enjoyed it as it was.
At first I expected this game to be like those common isekai-food themed stories (thinking along the lines of Isekai Izakaya Nobu, Isekai Shokudou and the such) but this was a pleasant diversion from my expectations. One of my gripes with Isekai Shokudou was that they delve too much into the other world that it started to take away from the slice of life feeling that Nobu does very well.
Also unlike the female-targeted isekai food genres, Kotone is in every aspect, normal. This pertains to both her knowledge and abilities. Unlike Period Cube where the heroine doesn’t even know how to play a game, Kotone has the basic knowledge any young Japanese adult would. Unlike the cheat-like heroines common in other isekai stories, Kotone’s cooking doesn’t particularly power anyone up etc. So this story is very much focused on a normal human and some not-so-normal non-humans but at the same time retaining the normal female-focused isekai tropes like…….reverse harem ✌(՞ਊ՞✌三✌՞ਊ՞)✌
While that kind of thing is something most people would just expect, I think my surprise just shows how out of touch some of the previous games I’ve played were to their audience….
One thing I do worry about is that, since every character is from a different world, and there will be clearly deeper involvement of each world in each route, that each will be properly developed. Its difficult enough to create one world and write a story in it without breaking its own rules, but to create several….But that’s something we’ll see.
Length-wise, I feel like the information was necessary in a way, the common route is just way too long. And in that respect, the actual character’s route is way too short. I don’t know if this is limited to Canus since he has 10 CGs less than the next character and like 20 less than Miser but I’ll check on that when it comes to my final thoughts.
One huuuuge gripe I have with the system interface is that Otomate took a bit of a backward step compared to other companies on the text display part. Most of the time its easy to read but…………sometimes not so much because of the colour choices. Other games usually have an “adjust opacity” of the text box option but there’s none of that here.
See what I mean?
Another is the skip speed.………to get Canus’ bad end I had to go through all three chapters of his route…….and that took a good half of an hour. Now imagine having to do that for each route I’m……………………….The skip to chapter function on the game opening screen is useless too because it means you’ll miss events up until that point too.
Otherwise I really like the look of the game interface. The in-game option screen is really cute in my opinion.
And the game recollection contents are designed in a menu format which adds to the whole Cafe vibe, which I found cool.
Another thing is that Il is a huge otome game fan so there are a lot of easter eggs in his scenes……
I’m actually quite enjoying this game. It looks, feels and sounds good. Everyone is likeable and the story flows well.
- the design is quite polished and cute
- char interactions are all good and gets a laugh from me every so often
- its been a while since i actually enjoyed a game
- the text box
- that damn text box
- skip is slow
- pretty short char route
For those thinking about playing the game as well, there’s a route order that the Director Joe suggested to follow:
My next routes will follow this order too and will post which way is better as usual (not that I think anyone really follows my advice lol).
Until my final thoughts!