[Review] Café Enchanté – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Idea Factory
  • Publisher: Aksys Games
  • Release Date: 05/11/2020
  • Price: £44.99 / $49.99
  • Review code provided by Aksys Games

Introducing: Café Enchanté Switch Review

Otome games tend to fall under one of two categories; story-focused, or relationship-focused. I personally prefer a nice, meaty story to a spicy romance, so the idea behind Café Enchanté was right up my street. Aksys have published quite a few top-notch visual novels for the Switch, so expectations were high!

Magically Mellow

After the death of her grandfather the protagonist, in my game named Koharu, receives a letter, stating that she’s inherited his cafe to do with what she wishes. Upon arriving, the true value of the cafe becomes apparent. In the back room lies a door, a portal to other worlds, through which come a number of mysterious and handsome patrons.

Misyr is a cheeky and confident demon lord from Asmodia, who’s far too obsessed with coffee but is very protective of the protagonist and always willing to help. Il, a fallen angel from Caelm, is a classic pretty-boy who has no idea how to do things for himself, preferring to spend his days absorbed in an otome game as opposed to venturing into the outside world. Ignis is a Firewolf from the demon beast realm of Bestia, with a fiery temperament and a soft heart but he can be very grumpy at times! Canus, a Dullahan from the fairy world of Medio, is the most mature and down-to-earth of the otherworldly patrons, though his headless nature sometimes makes it difficult to figure out what he’s thinking.

With the 4 non-humans frequenting the cafe Kaoru Rindo, a human in the Intelligence department of the Government Paranormal Measures (GPM) likes to hang around to keep an eye on them. He’s an older man with a haunted past, but seems to have genuine friendships with the oddities regardless of how much he complains about their antics.

Trouble seems drawn to the patrons of Enchante, as they get themselves into one scrape after another regardless of how careful they are! There’s so much story to Café Enchanté that I wouldn’t advise trying to rush it – it’s a long game for sure, especially once you start going after each character’s happy ending. One thing to note; while Café Enchanté may come across as a happy, wholesome game on the surface, I consider the PEGI 12 rating a little low as there’s a whole lot of death and darkness hiding under that adorable veneer!

Otome O’Clock

As a story-heavy otome game, Café Enchanté has thankfully chosen a rather organic progression style. Scattered among the visual novel gameplay are various conversational options. While each of these options does contribute to the ending you’ll get, it isn’t obvious where your story is going until the final scene of the common route. This allows for an air of mystery along the way, but if you’re aiming for a specific character’s ending there are walkthroughs available online. 

The only character who’s route is not initially available is Misyr, as his ending is the most story-heavy of the entire game. He unlocks after completing every other character’s ending, so you’ll be in it for the long haul if you want that epic fantasy goodness! I would recommend tackling Il 2nd to last (before Misyr) as he also has a very story-focused ending, though not as heavy as Misyr’s.

Impeccably Inhuman 

The graphics of Café Enchanté are gorgeous. The charming, anime-esque art style lends itself perfectly to the whimsical and quaint environments that make up much of the game. Darker or more tragic scenes really stand out, even giving me shivers once or twice, with an ominous feeling that can’t quite be put into words. The character designs are absolutely on point as well, from Misyr’s in-your-face attire to Rindo’s sharp suit, rounding out each individual perfectly.

The sound design of Café Enchanté was a wonderful blend of mellow, invigorating, and moody. Different soundtracks accompanied different locations and situations, and while the more action-packed sequences had a much more lively accompaniment they still held a subtle undertone that really tugged on the heartstrings. I’m not going to lie – this game made me cry, more than once! The inclusion of full voice-acting for the bachelors was a lovely touch, though I’d have much preferred it to be available in something other than Japanese.

Regardless of docked or handheld, I didn’t notice any issues with how Café Enchanté ran. The lack of significant animation meant that the device wasn’t hot even after hours of playing (I’m not kidding, I spent a solid 6 hours playing one day). Even the text was still quite easy to read in handheld, which is something that most games fall short on.

An Enchanting Experience

All in all, I absolutely loved Café Enchanté. Despite being very story-heavy, there was a lovely balance of light-hearted moments in relation to the occasional gut-punches and edge-of-your-seat sequences. The graphics and sound design played their part perfectly, rounding out the experience into one that can truly tug on the heartstrings one moment and drum a beat of anxiety in the pit of your stomach the next.

The only complaint I have, which personally did bring the overall experience down quite a bit, was localization issues. There were so many instances, particularly later in the game, where sentences simply didn’t make sense or were notably translated without being adjusted properly, that it started to grind on my nerves somewhere in the third playthrough. If it weren’t for the language issues, I’d have happily gone out and bought the game myself despite it’s rather hefty price tag – Café Enchanté is beautiful, long-lived, and considerably more organic compared to a lot of otome games.

Again, it may be a little dark for the age rating with some upsetting and quite tragic scenes, but that may just be me being oversensitive!

Pros

  • Plenty of hours
  • Very story-heavy
  • Genuinely likeable and well-written characters

Cons

  • Some translation/language errors

Verdict
Café Enchanté is a truly enchanting game, with a wonderfully written story and top-tier visual and audio design. A little more care in the localization would’ve earned it pride of place in the visual novel genre.

One thought on “[Review] Café Enchanté – Nintendo Switch

  1. Yeaaah I can see how the translation might kinda-sorta ruin the fun at times or at least sabotages the overall experience .__. I mean right now as I’m playing Age of Calamity with English subtitles but Japanese voice casting, there’s quite often a rather big difference between what’s being said and what they’ve translated it to. And it was the same with Breath of the Wild too >_> The translation tends to be overly dramatic and I often find that the translator(s) picks the wrong words and expressions; that it doesn’t rightly express what the character is trying to say or the tone being used.

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