Title: Strawberry Vinegar
Publisher: Sekai Project
Played on: PC
A review copy of this game was provided by the publisher for this review.
Visual novels are unique among video games, if one wishes to consider them such at all, in that without gameplay, they must rely on their story, music, and art to captivate the player and immerse themselves in the story’s world. This, in particular, is what Strawberry Vinegar fails to do even from the outset.
Regarding narrative, Strawberry Vinegar spins a tale that anime and manga fans have heard many many times before. Our heroine, a girl, named Chiri, suddenly finds a cute demon girl in her kitchen one day and the two then begin living together. Hearts flutter, cheeks blush, and three hours later we have ourselves a bonafide lesbian couple. While Yuri, visual novels about two girls falling in love, are rare, the plot here is simply so bland that I found myself wondering why I even was bothering to read through it. On display here are all the annoying tropes you’d expect from the yuri genre and school romances all blended into a package that includes things like:
- Our protagonist wondering if its ok for two girls to love each other.
- Our protagonist’s slowly realizing the person she loved was right in front of her all along
- A school trip
- And strangely enough, more than a handful of references to the Fate/Stay Night franchise.
The game’s author admits in the note section of the extras that she wanted to make a “slice of life” novel after a previous dark project. And while this is all well and good, SV goes too far into “slice of life” territory and consists of nothing but the two heroines doing cute things, cooking food, and playing dress up. This leads to underdeveloped, and one note characters who’s entire arc is “Do I love this girl or not?” That is all fine and well, but I was expecting a bit more metaphorical meat in this story, rather than the copious amount of food porn that the author manages to cram into the plot.
The music here is all right and consists of a few forgettable tracks that loop endlessly in the background, and I will leave it at that. As for the art, it took some getting used to, but each character is rather cute and boasts some different outfits (including maid outfits, yukata, and school wear) and, at least, ten or more facial expressions each. That is rather impressive for such a small title, and I have to give credit to the game’s artist for a job well done. The backgrounds are few when compared to the sheer number of character sprites on display here, but are clean, colorful, and none too distracting as characters pop right out, never overshadowed by the background work.
Maybe game either needed more characters, or to be longer, but either way, this novel is as light and breezy as a visual novel one can play. And if that is right up your alley, and you like yuri in some capacity, you’ll likely enjoy Strawberry Vinegar, though it is a short experience.
That in mind I give Strawberry Vinegar a 6.5/10
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