Café 0 ~Drowned Mermaid~ is a mystery otome visual novel developed by roseVeRte, published in 2011 and released in Steam around 2016. Honestly, I picked up this game because the developer’s bundle was on sale and it’s been a while since I played a visual novel.
I finished the whole game in around 3 hours. It could have been completed sooner but it took a while for me to get out of the bad ending loop.
I would say this is time well spent for the fun I got out of this story. You play as the protagonist, Marin Umiko, a high school student with memory loss. She learns that she’ll die in a week no matter what action takes place and it’s up to the player whether they want to recover their memories or not. There are a total of 6 endings in this game, though the true ending can only be unlocked once you get the other 4 endings.
There is a mechanic where the protagonist can view themselves in the mirror. The outfit of the protagonist determines what route you are following. The art-style is decent enough to sit through the story to unlock the different images of the protagonist. It is a nice way to motivate the player to recover the memories and unlock the alternate endings.
The voice acting delivered the lines well. It’s just that I can’t wrap my head around how they were able to take certain parts of the dialogue seriously.
The bonus content after the true ending is unlocked was entertaining. You get to interact with the waiter of the game. It’s just that the questions you get to ask them are pretty limited until you’re lead to the home screen again. I wouldn’t say it’s common to have bonus content planned out as route-like dialogue so kudos to roseVeRte for putting in the effort to think it through.
Technical problems I had encountered with the game being related to the side menu. There’s only a quick save and quick load function that you can access during the game play. If you wanted a new save slot entirely, you would have to exit the story to start a completely new slot. The route is short so it would have been inconvenient to leave in the middle of the story. This is a visual novel meant to be completed in one sitting.
Other aspects of the game I had an issue with would be the characters’ art, writing of the characters, and the soundtrack choices for certain scenes. With the characters, I found that some of them looked odd put together when they have a conversation on screen because the proportions seem so different. The biggest difference would be with Ami (the best friend) and Tooru (the ex-boyfriend). I couldn’t tell Ami was meant to be the same height as him until they mentioned it in the story, I just thought they drew her head a little too big for her body. The characters have pretty shallow motivations and just don’t seem believable enough to take seriously. With the music, there were scenes where the music seemed too upbeat even though the conversation was so serious, and some of the not so serious scenes have eerie music playing.
The charm of the story would be its atmosphere. It’s a story reminiscent of the antics in the anime/manga xxxHOLiC. Each character played their part well to deliver the atmosphere of mystery. The way the player figure out how to learn the full story is fulfilling. You just have to set some logic aside and enjoy the ride.
+ Good voice acting
+ Decent Art
+ Fun read
~ Soundtrack did not always suit the mood
– Some buttons did not function properly
– Characters aren’t fleshed out well
Overall Rating: 6 / 10
Not sure if I would pick this up in full price so I would suggest waiting for a sale to play this game.
I haven’t played its other in-universe game, “Café 0 ~The Sleeping Beast~”, yet but I feel that this series still has potential to expand from the 2 games that had already been published because of Café 0’s nature.
Thanks for reading this far and hope you can read up my following review of Café 0- The Sleeping Beast-!