Taking a Look at Otome Jam 2021

Now that Otome Jam 2021 has come to an end, it’s time to take a look at some of the submissions!

The Otome Jam has finally come to an end after two months! It’s always an exciting time to see what the participating teams come out with. With over twenty entries, I wanted to take the time to talk about some of the games I’ve played in my free time. Let’s get into the games!

Anise Flowers

The plot for Anise Flowers is a simple one. You play as Letti (name changeable), a farmer who notices that her anise flowers, a white plant, are red. That’s when she discovers an unconscious man lying in the flowerbed, covered in blood. Despite being hesitant, Letti helps him and takes care of the mysterious man’s injuries. When the man finally awakens, he reveals himself to be Kisabel, an angel who is being hunted by a group called the “Seers.” Seers are a powerful group of angels with a gift: they can see into the future. They saw into Kisabel’s future in which he broke a law and is being hunted as a result. When Letti asks what law he’s going to break, Kisabel blushes and avoids the question. However, judging by his reaction and the fact that this is a romance game, it’s obvious what it is.

Kisabel is insistent on leaving, but Letti refuses to let him until he fully heals from his injuries. So the fallen agrees to stay.

One thing that stands out to me is the humor. My favorite bit is when Letti and Kisabel go to a fair. Kisabel wants to tell Letti something, but she gets distracted by cheap fodder. You see this a lot in games, movies, shows, where the main character’s attention is grabbed away right when the love interest is about to discuss something important. Normally, the main character never comes back to this and asks what the other was going to say. However, Letti immediately asks what Kisabel what he was going to say. She apologizes for ignoring him but says that “cheap fodder always comes first,” which got a chuckle out of me.

One issue I have with the game are the time skips. Right after Kisabel agrees to stay with Letti, the game fast-forwards three months and we’re given brief summaries of how Kisabel has grown. Personally, I would have rather at least seen a couple of days where I got to actually experience this growth rather than being given a quick summary. Like Kisabel counting the sheep and chasing after them for the first time? That would have been cool! The only thing we see of Kisabel experiencing Letti’s world is when he goes to the fair, but he doesn’t seem to have much of a reaction to seeing the square full of life. The way he describes his life before he came down to Earth was one of strictness, where if you fall in love with a human, you’ll be put on trial and possibly be killed for it. You’d think he’d be shocked at what he’s seeing, possibly even jealous that he can’t really be free.

With that being said, while we don’t really get to see that, we do see growth in Kisabel and Letti’s relationship, which can be one of friendship or one of romance depending on your choices. We get to see more of Kisabel and Letti’s chemistry in the romance route, them poking fun at one another and doing things for each other. There’s especially one cute moment involving a stew that really made me smile.

Overall, Anise Flowers is a title that I liked but I wanted more out of it. It delivers on the romance aspect, but in terms of content, I felt like there could have been a lot more added that would have taken this game up a notch.

In Game Crush

The best way to describe In Game Crush is a visual novel inside Discord. You play as someone who created a Hamocord server with a couple of their online friends. As you chat with them, you’ll be able to subscribe to different news feeds to get updated on the latest gaming news. Your choices and what games you subscribe to will determine the story and who you end up pursuing romantically.

Now, there are a couple of things that bug me. One, the messages go by way too fast. Normally in these types of games, the player will be given some time, maybe a couple of seconds, to read a message before the next one pops up, or the player can click anywhere on the screen to advance and see the next message. Both of these options not only allow the player to soak in what’s being said, but also don’t overload them with too much information. Because the messages go by so fast in the game, it feels like a chore to scroll up and read the past 5-10 messages.

Two, the writing. Even though the two people in this game are supposed to be my friends, they never came off that way. I felt like I never got to know either character all that well beyond a couple of aspects of their life, like how Pocky likes to be indoors and Can is an outdoorsy person who loves sports. The game only scratches the surface with these characters, and as a result, I couldn’t connect with anyone on a personal level. Even when I ended up with Can, I didn’t feel anything.

Three, there are a lot of technical issues. I tried to replay the game after my first playthrough, but I couldn’t. I used my first save file, but instead of a brand new game starting up, I was brought back to my old game. I tried clicking through the game to see if that might do anything, but nothing. So I made a new save file thinking that would work. It didn’t. I was once again shown old messages I got on my first playthrough with no way to restart. I clicked through and the messages started to glitch. I managed to get a new playthrough working by restarting the game.

I like what the game tries to do: create a romantic story in a messaging app. There are a lot of relationships created online now thanks to services like Discord. However, it wasn’t executed well. In Game Crush had potential to be something fun and dive into online relationships born from games and a messaging app, but it never goes beyond surface level.

The Witch and Her Assistant

By far the cutest game out of all the Otome Jam games I’ve played so far. At the time of writing, I’ve only completed Zailehl’s route, and I’m excited to do Miryhn’s after what I experienced!

The Witch and Her Assistant focuses on a witch who lives by herself in a cottage with her familiar, Sally. Despite having Sally, our protagonist can’t help but feel a bit lonely and overwhelmed with the duties of being a witch. She has a ton of chores to do alongside having to grow plants in order to make potions and remedies to sell on the market. She wishes for an assistant, and one day, she finds one. In my case, she found Zailehl, the most adorable deer spirit I’ve ever seen. The two go back to her cottage and learn about one another, trying to help with each other’s problems.

The Witch and Her Assistant is an incredibly short game that I wish I could have had more of. I love the little world it creates in such a short amount of time. There are mentions of water creatures, the possibility of humans existing, earth spirits, and angels. The game talks about each of these topics briefly, but enough to satisfy the player. Speaking of the writing, that, the art, and the music all come together to create a cozy and comfortable game that anyone can relax to.

Like I said, I wished there was more to this game because I loved it so much! I highly recommend checking out The Witch and Her Assistant, you won’t regret it.

Kristi Jimenez

Spooktober 2022 Visual Novel Jam

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