Publisher: Idea Factory
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Fantasy
Platform: Nintendo Switch
The latest otome visual novel from Idea Factory and Otomate, Cupid Parasyte is as different as can be from their previous release, Olympia Soirée. Here we follow Lynette, a bridal adviser and matchmaker in an alternate reality city based on New York – things get difficult however when she’s tasked with sucessfully finding partners for the infamous Parasite 5. The Parasite 5 are known to be a group of unmarried men who all suffer from certain personality quirks which make them unable to truly commit to someone – these range from one guy who grades people purely on their looks to someone who can’t get over their lost love. They’re a quirky bunch and Lynette certainly has her hands full with each one of them – but is Cupid’s arrow heading in her direction?
Cupid Parasite was a game which caught my eye straight away from it’s promo trailers and announcements mainly because of it’s bright and colourful design concept. Indeed, the aesthetics of the game are one of it’s most unique selling points, and it’s one of the best looking otome games I’ve ever played. The home screen greets you with multiple cute moving animations and selecting options gives you sound effects, whilst you handily get a quick profile of the five bachelors early on to familiarise yourself with them. The music overlaying it all is bouncy and fun, and very fitting for the cool city style the game exudes. These menus do have a tendency to get a little busy however with all these things going on, but overall it’s a really lively experience. The game favours extravagance over simplicity and honestly whilst this would hamper many other games, for this game it works as it perfectly fits the overall tone of the story. Little things throughout modernise the gameplay such as vibrations whenever the heroine gets texts, and a handy city map which can be accessed from the main menu (along with a flowchart and love meter to measure the plotline). A first I’ve never seen before in an otome as well is that the main game’s ost is voiced with actual singing, rather then just instrumental music. Each bachelor seems to have their own specific song which plays on their scenes (and likely is sung by the matching voice actor). It’s a nice touch and whilst again, this could distract at times, I found it very unique to have each bachelor being announced by their own theme song essentially. The whole game screams quality and it’s clear that no expense has been spared in making this game as flashy and modern as possible.
The story initially follows a similar idea to Cafe Enchante (ironically the two games share the same key artist), where the whole cast are together for a good portion and interact with one another, forming friendships. I always liked this element of that game as it felt more realistic to me that we get to see the relationships between all the cast, rather than just that between the heroine and the men. This is supplied by an interesting sub plot involving the five bachelors and Lynette taking part in – of all things – a reality tv show to help boost memberships of the marriage company and presumably show off their advisor services. It’s a bit of a silly plotline but again, it’s in keeping with the modern feel of the game and it did help with getting to know the main cast a little better. After this, depending on what choices you’ve made so far, you split off into a main romance route with one of the bachelors. There’s a heavy emphasis on the the comedy elements throughout, though the game isn’t afraid to get a bit more serious once you get out of the common route. Lynette is a really likable main heroine also – very intelligent and passionate, and extremely driven. She’s also extremely kind hearted, though unfortunately rather oblivious as to the romantic overtures of those around her – played off for that ultimate irony as she is in reality, the real mythological goddess, Cupid. There are five main routes in this game and a secret extra route which unlocks once the previous five have been played – I wasn’t aware of any recommended order at the time of play, but accidentally ended up doing the usual first choice of Ryuki anyway. (For those curious, the recommended route order to get the least spoilers to most is: Ryuki ➤ Shelby ➤ Gill ➤ Raul ➤ Allan ➤ ???)
I think one of the game’s main flaws lies in part with the central premise of the Parasite 5 having huge flaws that make them unmarriageable – all of them struggle with real problems but it was a bit of an issue for me that marriage was seen as the end goal to their success. Thankfully this is a theme which is addressed by the main protagonist herself at times, but even so it felt like a bit of a hamfisted approach at times. All of the bachelor’s flaws are played up for mostly comedic effect in the common route before being developed more fully in their romantic routes, but this does end up making the characters feel rather shallow in the common route as they’re issues are mainly played for laughs. It’s probably the most uncomfortable to see in the case if the Lovelorn Parasite, Gill Lovecraft, who is a huge sweetheart apart from his one fatal flaw – he just can’t seem to get over his first love (who also happens to be our heroine, surprise surprise). Everyone seems to be rather frustrated at him for this, and again he’s made fun of a lot. Also, many of the bachelors are shockingly young to be considered the huge disasters at romance the game presents them to be – Ryuki is even under age and clearly more focused on his career right now then making a huge life changing decision at the tender age of 19. Still, if you can past these issues, there’s a lot of fun to be had with this game and the supernatural twist was a quite unique also.
At the time of release, the game developers have issued a notice that there are some problems with the text in part of Ryuki’s and Raul’s route, and some general grammar and text overflow issues. They’ll be releasing a patch to fix these issues in approximately four weeks, but I didn’t find that it affected the overall experience of the game. Still, if you want to play the game in it’s completely finalised state, you might want to hold off until this patch release. Overall, this game was a very fun one and it felt a lot like reading a trashy romance novel or watching a romcom movie at times (but in a good way!). Idea Factory games have been getting gradually more and more polished as the years have gone on and Cupid Parasite is a true example of how far they’ve come.
Overall, this game was a very fun one and it felt a lot like reading a trashy romance novel or watching a romcom movie at times (but in a good way!). Idea Factory games have been getting gradually more and more polished as the years have gone on and Cupid Parasite is a true example of how far they've come.