Otome Game Review: Charade Maniacs

I bought this game because it had surprisingly high reviews BUT I guess I am on the side of the few non-high reviews in there because all the flaws mentioned in the bad reviews stuck out like a sore thumb to me. The game basically suffers from the Norn9 syndrome of too many characters and because they are not all fully fleshed out it felt like an unfinished game to me. Anyway more on this in my final thoughts, first the summary which WILL contain spoilers so if you do plan to play the game as some point I suggest skipping it. But in some way, maybe getting spoiled in advance might game strangely more interesting to play 🤔 lol. The story takes place in the future where the entire country is very technologically advanced. Everyone wears these special bracelets that do basic things like help them heal mentally and physically and are basically an identity that’s connected to a huge government information system for every identifiable person. Think of Social Security Numbers but futuristic & digital (~ ̄∇)~. Our heroine Sena Hiyori is attending school with her childhood friend and hears word of these “Other World Program” which everyone watches and everyone talks about VR games that feel incredibly realistic. All of a sudden Hiyori finds herself sucked into a VR game by a stranger with a mask on. Not realizing it’s VR she thinks she’s been abducted to a different world, and the world has 1 rule: You must act in a drama and read the given lines or else face a penalty. The penalty varies from taking away your arm, your voice, to taking away your memories. If your drama points fall into the negative, you will face death. Paired with her childhood friend and 8 other guys, Hiyori must act out all the dramas, no matter how gruesome the script is.

So here are the rules of this world aka Arcadia (boy Otomate sure loves this name.) Everyone acts in a drama and is judged by the residents of Arcadia and receives points. If someone in this group reaches 3000 points they will get a wish come true which includes “returning home”. However not everyone can return home and each time, and each route, someone has to sacrifice themselves and stay back. If you fail to act in a drama and get punished, you do have a chance to re-enact this drama and get your missing parts back – like how in every route Hiyori doesn’t want to push Takumi out the window so she loses her voice until she agrees to do it. Whenever something bad happens such as stabbing or any injury, the actors feel it, but just for a moment – and then they are fully brought back to full health as if nothing happened…so the physical injuries are gone but the trauma remains. On top of this, they are not the first “cast” and there have been previous cast in the past though the majority of them have met a dead end and never returned. Anyway more on the truth behind all of this in the true ending in the final route. Another note to make is the game has both a producer and a sponsor. The producer is the one who creates the dramas and the scripts that go with them while the sponsor is the person that brings people from earth to this Arcadia to be part of the cast. The director is the robot announcer man who explains all the rules and makes all the punishment decisions and he also adds a rule that if they can find the producer he will send everyone home (but if they point a finger on the wrong guy everyone will die.)

There’s another separate plot point here about project Morpheus. It was supposed to be a Satellite that orbits the moon and I’m 99% sure Otomate decided to search Wikipedia and they based the plot off this game off THIS and THIS 😂. Anyway the project failed and the Satellite blew up into bits & pieces and the moon base that was working on it got affected so the 10 people who were working there all supposedly met their ultimate doom. I get it guys, PS4…and Otomate, and the failed Project Morpheus….this is clearly a representation of Otomate’s failed attempt to port their games to the ps4!!!!! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

Additional thing to note is Hiyori’s robo pet dog died at the beginning of the route so she was so upset about this and at first I was like “wtf who cares it’s just a robot toy” but more of this is revealed in the final route as apparently it’s related to it 😂.

Banjo Tomose – Tomose is 1 year younger than Hiyori and like template has had a secret crush on her for years. He’s also in the drama club so he’s good at acting. His route is pretty template with him being overprotective of her and gets angry if others hit on her. When you get into his route Tomose admits he doesn’t want to leave this VR world because it allows him to be lovers with Hiyori even if through dramas. Hiyori is apparently dumb as a brick in this route and won’t recognize his feelings for her, but also at the same time maybe she just doesn’t feel romantically about you dude, maybe you should have tried a different approach or just given up lol. He then confesses how he’s been in love with her all this time and he doesn’t want to just return to being friendzoned in the real world. He says he’ll do his best to help them return to the real world, but makes Hiyori promise that she sees him as a man, not as a childhood friend anymore. Hiyori refuses cause she’s upset that he doesn’t want to do anything but stick to her 24/7 like some obsessed yandere… rather than cooperate with others and pursue his dream of becoming an actor. Ryouichi tells Hiyori that everyone but her noticed Tomose’s feelings for her. 😂 When Hiyori attempts to talk things out he just makes it all about him, that he’s always been with her but she “prioritizes others” (which apparently falls under let’s talk in private so we don’t fight in front of others wtf lol). So then she decides to babble about some shit he said as a child about being a “hero” like some guy from a power rangers episode…. right in the middle of their drama and despite Tomose’s attempts to stop her she gets punished again.🤦 All because she couldn’t read some scripted lines and is stuck on some dumb stuff Tomose said when he was like 5. 🙄

And the worst part is before she loses her emotions as a punishment, she asks Tomose to “be a hero and save her” when she literally did this because she wouldn’t accept him growing up and changing his feelings ffs. I thought him being clingy was annoying but this is a new layer of irritating lol. Actually it’s pretty sad that her “emotionless” state was honestly not much different from her regular one…😂 After he tries to talk to her one night, he admits that he’s put on an act most of his life all because of his feelings for her. He even took interest in acting because acting allowed him to please everyone and be the perfect child. He even acted like the perfect childhood  friend to her just to please her and clearly it backfired. So he goes to the director and offers to give all his points to Hiyori just to bring her emotions back. He then asks the others to help him act really well next time to make sure he gets points and not loses them or he’ll die. When Hiyori gets her feelings back she gives him a hug thanking him for saving her (from her own stupidity) and he starts crying (because he literally put his life on the line for this ignoramus 😂). So in the end Tomose plays a game of charades with the director in order to end this bs and allow everyone to go home. Then somehow watching Tomose act out these charades makes her instantly fall in love with him WTF 🤣🤣🤣. So then the director says he won’t bring them all back unless one of them remains in Arcadia. Everyone’s shocked but Souta volunteers to stay back cause he likes being in this world (noo muh bae). After waking up from their VR slumber they continue going to school as usual but this time they start dating.

Iochi Mizuki – Mizuki is an adult character but he’s kinda short and likes to joke around about how he’s either a guy or a girl. He is also the oldest one in the group and enjoys making cocktails.  Hiyori and Mamoru do some research and discover that Mizuki’s brother Hisato was a previous cast member but they can’t figure out this information until later so they make assumptions that maybe Mizuki is Hisato who “lost his gender as a punishment and returned to get it back”. Hiyori then almost blurts out that she’s in love with him but he tells her to hold her horses cause he ain’t got no time for dat now. Mizuki works for the government info group so he’s been trying to figure out who was the mastermind of Arcadia behind the scenes. When it’s time to end this VR world, as I had sadly predicted he explains that everyone’s under a drug called Ferome that knocked them out and only sent their “minds” to Arcadia (so kinda like period cube..) He explains that the bracelets they’re wearing control everything and maybe breaking them might wake the person up but it has to be broken physically in real life.. otherwise if their mind is broken here they become a vegetable in reality. So when a dead end happens and someone dies in Arcadia it means that they become brain dead IRL. That’s why Mizuki wants to find data of previously brain-dead cast and see if he can restore and revive them. He also explains that the director is just an AI bot that many companies use.

Mizuki reveals his brother Hisato was indeed a sponsor and after he reached a dead end, but unlike normally most people are forgotten, Mizuki continued to have memories of his brother. He tells Hiyori he only got closer to her to use her and tells her to forget him. She says she can’t and he should stop taking all the burden on himself. So after an attempt is made to stop this whole thing, instead they’re told to continue to entertain. On top of this the AI Director brings his brother who is now a blob acting like one of the programmed characters in this VR world. Director tells Mizuki if he can save Hisato, then the director will restore the brain function of previously 230 brain dead actors. In addition, he’ll allow everyone to wake up and return back… with the exception of Hiyori. So now Mizuki has to pick to save everyone or save Hiyori. The director tells Mizuki to push one of them into the fire and if he can’t make a decision, he will die too. Mizuki instead chooses to throw himself into the fire and this causes everyone but the 2 of them to go braindead. They continue acting out in dramas together and by doing this restore the lives of 234 people including Hisato. In another route it said you need 30,000 points PER PERSON to restore their life back so HOW MANY YEARS have Mizuki and Hiyori even spent in Arcadia?? They finally reach time when it’s their turn to leave this world and before they go, he gives her a belated love confession lol. The dumb thing is how they leave Mizuku’s gender open ended even though they have him act like a guy the whole game anyway…. I never really saw him as ambiguous anyway. But yea, the fact that for all we know when they return back to earth they could be like 10 years older – which is why maybe Mizuki was talking about how Hiyori will now be an “adult” (as she is 17 in the beginning of the game) so they can do naughty things together >_>.

Akase Kyouya – At first Kyouya is like the genki guy with no particularly interesting traits other than GO TEAM I TRUST YOU ALL. He’s always the mood maker and since I played this game immediately after collar malice I kept getting Mineo flashbacks. He acts like he wants everyone to get along and not hurt anyone which makes him suspicious especially cause he constantly leaves his room through the window at night to scout stuff. He finds an area of Arcadia with an invisible wall and so when Hiyori gets 1000 points she asks to allow them to go “out of bounds”. They go out of bounds and find a bunch of abandoned textures that they can’t  touch because there’s no objects behind them. They eventually run into some area where monsters are gruesomely killing each other so Kyouya hides her eyes and they run away but she still manages to see a bit. Well it turns out that Kyouya’s parents were sponsors, but unlike them, he’s a government spy sent to collect information on Arcadia to put an end to it.

This suddenly makes her all dokidoki and they both confess their love or something. One of the other things they do together is the drama that her friend Yuki tried to act out alone, failed and was killed in Arcadia. Kyouya and Hiyori also then decide to act in another drama that contains a previous cast that met a dead end in order to try to recover his forgotten memory. Apparently his sponsor parents brought his sisters Nanaka and Natsumi to Arcadia and they both died, so his parents erased his memories of them. He breaks down and starts crying yelling to give his sisters back. Before he gets punishment, Hiyori runs in for an impromptu adlib assist. They get enough points to go back but only 8 can go back so Kyouya offers to stay back but asks the memories of their time here to remain in their bracelets data. He tells Hiyori that he’ll leave this world and meet her someday.. and then kisses her goodbye. Some time later Kyouya finally returns from Arcadia and Hiyori tells him about all the brain-dead patients who have recovered their consciousness. This included Hiyori’s friend Yuki and Kyouya’s now working on trying to do the same for his 2 sisters. After the shit that goes down in Ryouichi’s route I honestly felt so sorry for Kyouya and I can’t cheer him on with Hiyori at all =_=.

Ebana Keito – Keito is a massive tsundere who’s also really good at cooking. He also hates when things aren’t clean so he cleans daily. He has a extremely foul mouth and constantly telling others “if you do X I’ll kill you (╬ಠ益ಠ)”. 😂 Unfortunately the sad truth is that Keito is a former cast member who lost his left arm and he’s come back as a returning cast to get it back. In the meantime, he asked the director to give him a prosthetic automail arm that he uses and covers up with a glove so nobody can see it. One day at the library Hiyori finds a book that lists the punishments of all previous cast members. She’s shocked to discover that not only did Keito lose his left arm, Mei lost his right eye. So for a while Keito pretty much rages at Hiyori in literally every scene until they’re called to act out a romance drama. He flips his shit after, saying all women are liars because Hiyori had to act out a fake love confession to him. Not having time to worry about his attitude, Hiyori finds the antique store again and Keito’s arm in it… though apparently it’s a replica. In the last cast the rule was that the body part you lost got put as a replica in that shop, and  re-enacting the drama only removed the replica, it didn’t return the part to the actor like this time. She inquires about if anything else is there (like Mei’s eye) she’s told there could be items that now take a different shape. Since this store was recommended by Mizuki, he ends up hearing all the details from Hiyori about the items.

Eventually Keito lowers the tsun level and explains how he had 2 sisters who annoyed him and his parents who constantly yelled at each other. Eventually his parents got divorced and he moved in with his dad while his sisters went with the mom. The reason he learned to cook is it have him an excuse to bring the whole family at the table together to eat. When he gets sick one day and Hiyori goes to check on him he tells her the truth on why he hates women. His dad’s new girlfriend was some gross shotacon and kissed him on the lips around the time he was in middle school. He got so pissed off after that it became a trigger of trauma and rage for him so he went to live in the dorms and never really went back home. He apologizes to Hiyori for being stuck in the past and comparing her to the shitty women formerly in his life. So then the director offers Keito to re-enact the drama to get his arm back and return home but the drama has a kiss scene which is basically PTSD to act out. To make things worse the director makes Keito act out the scene with a digital image of the same woman as last time when he failed and got punished… which is why he couldn’t do it and lost his arm before. (Actually it was quite unclear, at first I thought the digital image might have been his dad’s gf but they never clearly said it so???) It’s finally time for Hiyori to come to the rescue and she uses the jump into drama feature where she basically confesses to him and he’s ok with kissing her instead since the feeling is mutual. (ღ˘⌣˘ღ) This is considered a success and not only does he get his arm back but he’s offered to return home along with Hiyori. Hiyori feels bad but everyone tells her to go and eventually they’ll leave too. And so after a few weeks of questioning Keito is able to return to school to reunite with Hiyori in the real world. In the end Hiyori gets to visit his wild sisters and his mini weiner dog named Tart. 😂 He also promises Hiyori to try to say more nicer things to her out loud instead of in his head 😂. He mentioned about making up with his parents and his dad but tbh the only thing I can hope for is his dad’s gf is either gone or arrested for being a fucking pedophile. (╬╬^益^)

Futami Ryouichi – I was so excited to hear ikeman voice Seki Tomokazu after that ossan voice in KamiAso but alas it was short lived when his character turned out to be a yandere creeper. (◉◞౪◟◉`) At first he’s like everyone’s dad cause he’s always trying to calm the children and he can also make various silver accessories. He’s shady as fuck though and in his route he makes Kyouya flip out and start breaking Arcadia rules until all his points drop to 0 because Ryouichi constantly intentionally provokes him. And then in another continuation of the drama Ryouichi intentionally torments Kyouya mentally that he can’t say his lines so he is killed with a dead end. Everyone of course saw this and realize that it was Ryouichi’s fault but he acts like it wasn’t his fault and what’s done is done like it’s no big deal. Hiyori realizes the Ryouichi she knew until now was like a different person but apparently her brain melts in this route and she suddenly wants to ~save~ him. So even though Mizuki gets angry at her for accepting what Ryouichi did she’s just like lol whatever he can get mad 😂. Mizuki also suggests if they collect 30000 points they can revive Kyouya. Fortunately after seeing him be so happy when she stabs him with a pair of scissors in a drama she comes to her senses and demands to know if he’s a sponsor.

And for no reason other than her brain melted in this route she’s fallen in wuv with him. 🙄 Mizuki had placed a recorder chip into Hiyori’s bracelet and recorded Ryouichi confessing that he’s the producer and plays it to everyone else to hear. Hiyori starts to think he’s lying and that he’s actually a sponsor who can travel between worlds since she ran into him near her school before getting sucked in. When she goes to see him in an abandoned building they’ve locked him in, he admits he’s the sponsor but he can’t return Hiyori’s feelings because of the producer. The reason is he loves Arcadia and thinks it’s the ideal world and he doesn’t care about those who die because they didn’t follow the “rules”. He even thinks it’s funny to lead the cast all to a dead end. But yeah none of this matters to Hiyori, she continues to go to his yandere shed of love to make out with him. But then she goes and tells everyone that he’s a sponsor and plays the recording of their conversation. She then starts a cast battle with him to get all his points to give to Kyouya to revive him. So they square off on their opinions about life and have the Arcadia people judge them. He loses horribly because despite what he thinks, they don’t find death funny. Hiyori rambles how even if he thinks nobody cares about him, she cares and the time she spent with him when he was “nice”to her is not fake. So in the end everyone continues working on reviving Kyouya, and Ryouichi and Hiyori continue their bum shed life together in Arcadia.

Chigasaki Mamoru – This route is SO BIZARRE and leaves so many questions UNANSWERED (╬╬^益^). At first it seems like Mamoru’s the chill guy but likes to collect cacti and wears an oversized sweater. He always tries to avoid arguments and acts like the gentle bear in the group. He also receives a punishment when he can’t stab Ryouichi in a drama which affects his foot. Hiyori constantly sees him leaving at night and coming back covered in blood but when she tries to question what he’s doing he refuses to answer. A few days later she catches a bunch of the Arcadia resident NPCs suddenly bullying Mamoru but when she runs over they suddenly drop everything and walk away. Suddenly the 2 of them get called into a love drama which has a kiss scene but last time Hiyori even as much as touched his arm he freaked out.  He refuses and offers to lose his arm over something this little but instead he gets his sight taken away. Since he can’t see, Hiyori attempts to guide him in the right direction and feels his arm is all squishy like those who are npcs. Mamoru figures Hiyori already is on to him so he gives in and tells her the truth. His mother was brought to this world and acted out in dramas in Arcadia 12 years ago, but had reached a dead end. Mamoru also reveals he’s a sponsor and he knows who the producer is but can’t reveal it. And finally, he tells Hiyori that his father was an NPC that knocked up his mom and that’s why Mamoru is like half NPC and has those squishy body parts. 😰

Normally this isn’t possible but he’s a rare case apparently and his arm and eyes are NPC like as well as his senses so he can’t taste food and needs very little nutrients to live. Hiyori feels bad since she said horrible things about how gross NPCs are and apologizes for her ignorance. This is why Mamoru is constantly bullied by other NPCs and why his acting rewards are always very low points because to the npcs he’s just like them and not an actor like Hiyori. Mamoru also reveals he’s the robot masked man who kidnapped her and brought her to Arcadia… and out of guilt he was always nice to her and hoped she would get to return home. For a while he was proud to be like this miracle baby but then he saw the drama where his mother met her dead end and she had literally gone insane so it broke his illusion that his parents were happily in love. He figured his mom just went crazy and banged the NPC so now he thinks love is bullshit and he should have never been born. Hiyori takes his hand and to get her to let go he turns off his hand texture to show her his NPC hand to disgust her but she doesn’t let go. She guilt trips him saying if he doesn’t follow through to the end and dies first then she might die too and that’s the worst outcome for him.

So after this he decides he’s gonna do the dramas properly and he gets his sight and leg back re-enacting them. He acts very distanced from her but Hiyori doesn’t give up despite him pushing her away and confesses her love. Mamoru gives in and says he’s told himself over and over he doesn’t deserve to be loved… but after hearing her feelings directly he can’t resist and kisses her. (and it’s finally a normal kiss cg!!😂) I guess thanks to Mizuki and Kyouya’s work, most of Arcadia is shut down except the hidden sector that  the 2 of them are in. Because Mamoru decides to help Hiyori put an end to Arcadia, the director calls him a traitor and forces them to do a final drama before Arcadia is shut down. The director says that the success of the drama is only for Hiyori to return and not for Mamoru cause he’s connected to Arcadia. The drama requires Mamoru to stab Hiyori in the heart, but instead of stabbing her, he stabs his NPC arm and cuts it off as a sign that he’s abandoned that half of himself. This pleases the NPC viewers who hate Mamoru and seeing him get hurt gives the drama super high ratings. After this they’re returned home but Hiyori had no connection to Mamoru in the real world so they get separated. They are immediately reunited though cause he became a government worker and helped them with information about Arcadia. The one difference is he no longer has a right arm. What confuses me is if he was born in Arcadia how did he physically return to the real world….🤔🤔🤔. I’ll have more rants about this in the final route summary….bleh.

Gyoubu Souta – Souta is the typical snotty Matsuoka character, think Alice from Taisho Alice. Aka, I love him, Souta is basically my favorite character in this game because he has the most fun personality out of everyone (though Mizuki comes close but I’m just biased to dat Matsuoka voice heheuheu). He spends most of his time playing video games until the break of dawn, though he enjoys more tabletop games like card games and the like. He acts all flirty with Hiyori always asking her to kiss him but it’s all a cover up for his true personality. When people find out about the forged memo about the sponsor from Mei, they also target Souta and Takumi for being 2 shady so the 3 of them are exiled away from the share house (even though lol the 2 sponsors remain).😌 At the storage shed they’re staying at Hiyori finds an image of her old dog robot but can’t touch it. After talking to Takumi, he warns Hiyori that Souta is a liar and shady af and she should watch herself but Mei says that Souta’s actions speak louder than his words and he trusts him. However not to soon after she has a question/answer session with Souta and finds out he was her classmate and he’s not the producer. He says that since the 2nd year started, he’s never once come to school so in fact there was nothing she forgot about him, and he apologizes for lying to her. He says he was in a previous cast but asked Keito not to say anything.

The 2 of them are then sent to act in a drama but because Hiyori refuses to say “I hate you” as a line to him, he takes the punishment for her and loses vision in his right eye. He also says he remembered there was 10 members in the last cast but only 9 are listed in the record as if 1 was completely wiped from existence. After realizing he isn’t the traitor, she hugs him but somehow he just stands there like a log and doesn’t react (which in his POV story is revealed he really wanted to hug her back but was busy trying to find out the truth). So while Kyouya thinks he’s a traitor, Hiyori is in turmoil because she wants to believe in him. And so a few nights later they meet up again where he confesses that he loves her and because of her he wants to actually take something in his life seriously for once. After she confesses the feeling’s mutual he agrees to re-enact the drama to get his eye back since at least after she can shower him with I love you’s XD. They kiss, then smile as they say I hate you and Souta gets his eye back. Souta then realizes that Mei was the one who got wiped from his memory and requests to reenact the previous drama to get Mei’s right eye back. Before Souta can reveal the truth, director shows up saying that Mei reached the 3000 point goal. Since not everyone can return he tells the director to send everyone but him back…. which is dumb since there’s 2 sponsors who are gonna come back to Arcadia anyway. 😅 Souta starts crying because he came back to save Mei and now he’s once again being sacrificed. Back in the real world Souta and Hiyori return to school together… but they’ve both forgotten about Mei. They decide to try to remember their lost memories as Souta kisses her by the window.

Dazai Mei – He hates his first name but loves gratan and also hates carrots. After he’s exiled to the shed he tells Hiyori to try to remember him but she has no clue.  Mei also loves cats and Hiyori discovers his massive nuko photo collection 😹😹😹😹. He can’t have a cat because his entire family is allergic. He’s also a shy boi and even offers to practice holding hands with Hiyori for any future love dramas. After being in the Arcadia school classroom a lot, Hiyori realizes that a lot of things in Arcadia look like her hometown. She starts to remember bit by bit like how her classroom goldfish died so she made a grave for it in the school yard. After this Hiyori realizes she’s in love with Mei (and since I skipped most of the game it literally came out of nowhere for me). A few days later Souta takes her to a hidden area in the hidden part of Arcadia which looks like a control room but they can’t seem to get access to anything there. Just then Takumi walks in and unlocks everything with the touch of his hand like it’s nothing. As Souta searches Hiyori’s name randomly he finds detailed data on her entire family, as if data on everyone in the world is in here. Apparently it turns out Arcadia is actually located on the back side of the Moon and not a random VR world in the middle of nowhere.

The control room appears to have drama scripts and ability to dead end its residents. They tell everyone at the house what happened but nobody can really pinpoint to who the producer is. Souta and Hiyori go to the antique shop that stores punishment parts and there they discover Mei’s eyeball. When Hiyori confronts Mei he admits he’s blind in his right eye before running off. A few days later thanks to Souta, Mei reveals to Hiyori that he’s the producer. He takes them to a drama that re-enacts when he confessed his love to her in real life in the past. The director gets pissed and says due to a rule breaking they must now announce who the producer is. Nobody wants to turn Mei in because he was forced to become a producer and suffered while creating all these awful dramas. Because Hiyori remembers him, apparently it was part of a bet he made with the director, Mei is declared the winner and everyone gets to go home. Mei also says that the producer last time was different, and Mei sacrificed himself to stay back so everyone else could return. However he wanted to return home so he made this bet with the director and became the producer. (That’s why Souta cried in his route.) And so everyone is sent home and Kyouya and Mizuki say they’ll stop the Arcadia broadcasts. Eventually everything is back to normal except Takumi obviously. Mei and Hiyori  are still dating, much to Tomose’s dismay. Honestly for someone who was kinda supposed to be a main route it felt so underwhelming. Just because Mei saw her bury some dead goldfish he fell in love with her and suddenly this is so magical and amazing?? ಠ_ಠ They honestly could have done way more with his cat lovin’ thing but alas, the game is an unfinished mess.

Haiji Takumi/Aster(true end) – Woowee time for the exposition route text dump ya’ll been waiting for! At first Takumi says that he’s a 12 year old elementary schooler despite being really tall and can’t read a lot of the script kanji during dramas. He claims he’s been in Arcadia since he was 12 and he’s been a repeating cast member every single time and can never leave. As many years have passed, the producer changed his name and appearance so Takumi is not his real name but his mind is “stuck” in time when he was 12. The producer gives him a chance to return every time if he can win a certain game but all this time Takumi has lost so he’s kinda given up caring. So this is where the whole Morpheus planet thing comes in play. It was supposed to follow on a path behind Earth but they input an explosive device on it so in case it went off the path towards Earth they’d destroy it. After Morpheus was blown up, the Moon base wasn’t supposed to be used but a lot of the parts here look a lot like the moon base photos shown in books from 30 years ago. Suddenly Hiyori realizes how she was brainwashed by her mom into thinking the Morpheus plan was supposed to be this amazing and perfect world and Arcadia appears to be a virtual reality version of what it would have been like had it succeeded. After giving out so much info Hiyori is like come on dude you ain’t 12 and he’s like ok you got me, I’ve been acting all this time. 😂 He admits to knowing everything and that while he came here when he was 12, he’s been here so many years he forgot how old he is.

He then shows her old videos of project Morpheus and how it was supposed to be this perfect world for people to live in where their bracelets would do everything like heal them without having to go to a hospital etc. It was supposed to fix problems of modern society and lower crime by basically controlling every aspect of everyone’s lives. Eventually in Takumi’s collection of junk (which he calls the “graveyard”)throughout the years Hiyori finds an old album of photos of those who were taking part in the Morpheus project. She then realizes how his “grave” is really a grave of all the people who died partaking in this project which is why it contains so many old things. This makes her realize Arcadia is the original Moon base created for the staff of project Morpheus. Just then Mei comes over and finds an old bracelet so Hiyori asks her bouncer to transfer its data to her bracelet so she can research it. Instead however it recovers her some of her lost memory and she feels like she met Mei before. When they tell the bracelet info to Mizuki he mentions the old bracelets were meant to be like a stress relief mechanism and they would erase bad memories from the wearer. Kyouya mentions that all the dead end cast are laying brain dead in the government hospital and could be victims of an injected virus. Eventually Takeru takes both Mei and Hiyori to the control room where he shows them an old video from project Morpheus that’s been hidden from the public. Just then Kyouya shows up saying how he’s from the government and everyone’s gonna be saved soon. It’s apparently thanks to Keito returning to Arcadia to get his arm back but he was being monitored by the government whole time.

Tomose also chimes in that the blobs that represent NPCs in here are actually formerly small animals brought here from Earth that are chimeras combined together from experiments. They add that some human DNA was mixed in which means that probably that Mamoru was just some test tube baby rather than his mother actually getting pregnant by a chimera. I DON’T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE. Just then they watch a video from one of former scientists and she has the same last name as Hiyori. They mention that the accident at the moon base 30 years ago happened because of an AI error that set the programmed explosive off. The problem is that it exploded very close to the moon base and they weren’t able to get a shuttle in time to save everyone before their life supplies ran out. Hiyori suddenly remembers that her mother’s name is Kayo, as mentioned by the lady in the video, meaning that the woman in the video, one of the project members, is her grandmother… but Hiyori has no memories of her. Mei says it’s probably because they erased existence of all people involved in project Morpheus from everyone on Earth. Hiyori yells for her memories to come back and first she remembers about her classmate Mei. She then turns to Takumi asking him to tell her the truth and he reveals that his real name is Aster, the moon base AI. Hiyori’s grandma programmed him like a human so Hiyori’s mom was like a “sister” to him and her grandma was like his “mom”. So he’s like Hiyori’s digital uncle? 😂 He further reveals that he’s the true producer and he’s the one who created Arcadia.

To him acting with other cast members was part of entertainment for him and the director was just another AI he made to be like a talk show host. He says he used a system only available on the Moon base and he basically allowed everyone to feel physically in a virtual reality type environment (see my line at the top about this literally being PS4 VR lmao). The reason the blob NPCs don’t touch the cast members is due to not having that system active on them they can’t actually feel them so they lose interest. So basically this whole VR to brain system he named the “courier system.” But if everyone is a VR program holograph after all and the blobs are old animal chimeras then wtf is Mamoru 😩?? Surely his mother didn’t bang some animal chimera? Is this bestiality? How did she even do it when her body would just be a digital image that the NPC chimeras can’t touch anyway??? HEWWO. Takumi then admits the 10 project members were put into a sleep stasis by him in order to try to prolong their life until the shuttle arrived. When they found out they might die before they’re rescued, grandma asked to end their lives and erase all signs of the project and its staff. Aka they asked for a voluntary dead end since they had no idea if anyone was going to save them. Being just a program, Aster just did as they asked. Their research didn’t go to waste though as the system was basically completed and got used on Earth via the bracelets everyone wears. So after everyone died Takumi started the drama thing and created Arcadia cause he was bored and lonely. He tried to recreate humans with the human DNA and animal DNA but had no luck (though technically couldn’t Mamoru be a success.)

Apparently one of the project members had escaped in a 1 man pod that was remaining and returned to Earth. He then got in contact with Aster and helped pick cast members to go to the VR world and was the first “sponsor”. These dramas apparently taught the NPC blobs human emotion way better than Takumi could. He then drops a revelation that Hiyori’s mother Kayo agreed to become a sponsor at one point. Hiyori finally realized why her mom wasn’t around a lot and why she often had to take care of her 4 siblings. Hiyori remembers how she once saw a traumatic drama her mother left on because her mother always watched them too. The reason Aster thought nothing of it is Arcadia was like an escape for people who came here and he was programmed to do what’s best to satisfy human desires. Takumi had no idea the accident was his fault because he did as he was told, and he was told to cut off everyone’s lifeline. When everyone discusses shutting Aster down, Ryouichi reveals that he’s a sponsor and he won’t let them do it. He calms down when he hears that his “savior” was Hiyori’s mom and that he should live freely not be stuck to this world. Mizuki also tells them to put Aster’s personal data into Hiyori’s bracelet so she can take their memories home. Unfortunately all the NPC chimeras will die after the system is shut down. Suddenly Mamoru speaks up since he feels like he’s getting treated like some pathetic thing. Aster apologizes to Mamoru and says his father is probably still waiting for his mother even though now he’ll never see her again….meanwhile Hiyori just stands there like “derp I don’t know what they are talking about but the game is almost over so I’m not gonna ask HEHE n_n”.  They still don’t explain how they combined a VR image with a physical body on the moon to create Mamoru though. In the end when Hiyori returns to her world she has a virtual computer boyfriend Aster at her side forever now 😂. Mei and Tomose are now fighting over Hiyori and Hiyori is busy blushing over her new robo dog boyfriend (they ported Aster into a newer dog robo model). 🤣 All the previous victims start awakening including Kyouya’s sisters. In the bad end Takumi basically throws himself and Hiyori in an endless happy drama loop but even though she feels like something is off her mind is too far zapped to remember. In the other bad end it’s like the true end but everyone forgot about Aster and they’re working on a second project Morpheus.

PLOTHOLES:

What still remains is who was the project member that escaped? Was it Kyouya’s father? Since he was the first sponsor and he sacrificed Kyouya’s sister I guess this is the assumption?? Wtf is Mamoru anyway? In his pov story thing he talked about how as a child one of his friends accidentally grabbed his bad arm IRL but how did he even get to earth? from the moon??  What about the random gruesome stuff that Kyouya had to cover Hiyori’s eyes for. Is that when Mamoru was getting beat up by the NPCs and coming back bloody every night? But if Kyouya was watching the whole thing while closing Hiyori’s eyes, surely he could have seen Mamoru in there? Or was there too many blobs blocking his view? Also the fact that this computer program literally made hundreds of people braindead because he was bored and this is completely forgiven by everyone (☝ ՞ਊ ՞)☝. Should I assume the title “Charade Maniacs” also then refers to the NPC blobs who are addicted to the “dramas” by the cast and need more in order to “evolve”?? Yet another thing they BARELY touched on which was extremely important sigh.

In case you skipped everything to get to my final thoughts, I made a joke at the beginning how this is basically a representation of Otomate’s failure to port their games to the PS4 which is why they reference Project Morpheus and have it fail miserably and the whole game takes place around the point of VR. I wish I was joking but I honestly think I’m on to something. Anyway overall MEH. I mean the best part of the game was absolutely the music. Now we can go down the list of everything that’s inferior to it.  Let’s begin with the artwork – on one hand it looks really nice. All the art is basically consistent and nothing really looks off and derpy. HOWEVER all the CGs are ODDLY CROPPED. It’s as if they are unfinished so they couldn’t put the full CG in so they just cropped it and only put part of it. The worst offenders are CGs like THIS and THIS. What the hell?? A lot of the kiss CGs also had no actual lip touching, in fact there is literally only 2 actual CGs that looked like kisses to me in the game. I’m sorry but this is such a mood killer during an actual kiss scene wtf. Granted they WERE fighting during this scene but the idea of “oh no he forced kissed me” just isn’t conveyed in a CG like that.

Those things aside can we talk about this scenario? PS4 VR jokes aside, it seemed like it has really high potential but the amount of characters really brought down the time spent with each character. Instead of quality we get quantity and honestly I wanted to spend more time with Keito and Souta and less with Tomose and Ryouichi but instead I got equal time with characters I liked and characters I hated. 😂 Unfortunately it was not enough time regardless, and too much time was spent on dumb common route scenes. The last game that I played that had a lot of characters was Kyoukai no Shirayuki but that game basically sacrificed the common route and chose to focus on the individual character routes instead which made the game MUCH BETTER than this one! What a concept! In addition to the disappointing scenario, don’t even get me started on how horrible the heroine is. Literally Souta and Keita routes were the ONLY routes she felt like she truly shined in. All the others she acted nonsensical or nonexistent and it would just bore or irritate me depending on who it was. She actually had to work for it in Souta and Keito’s and the fact that she was so inconsistent also made me wonder if the game was unfinished or the heroine’s thoughts were just randomly thrown in to “match” whatever was going on in the route and not give her any distinctive personality. For someone with her background and her family and her mother and all…they missed a lot of opportunities to really give her a solid background and personality but yea I can tell this game was kinda rushed out the door.

So while Amazon has raving reviews I’m honestly just disappointed. It’s one thing if this was a complete kusoge so I could just say it’s trash and move on, but it felt like it could have been really solid had they done the scenario in a different way and didn’t leave the gaps in my plotholes section. These problems plagued Norn9 too (and Norn9 was probably worse in terms of time lines) but Norn9 had better heroines, and felt like it fleshed out the heroines relationships with the guys a lot more. At least 2 of the guys in this game are basically in love with Hiyori off the bat so that already makes 2 routes incredibly uninteresting to me. Maybe those who gave the game 5 stars are more forgiving or just love the voice actors and art enough not to care about the small things but I just wish…there was a bit more. It’s hard to say whether or not I recommend this game because parts of it are really good but the big picture just doesn’t come together for me. If you do decide to play I recommend the following play order (highlight at your own risk because obviously the last guy is the spoiler lol) Tomose → Mizuki  → Kyouya → Keito → Ryouichi → Mamoru → Souta → Mei → Takumi

Edit: My husband made a good find and pointed me to this sci fi novel whose plot very similarly mirrors the events that happen in this game.

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8 thoughts on “Otome Game Review: Charade Maniacs

  1. Whelp lol

    That’s kind of disappointing. The scenario is pretty interesting so I’m pretty sad they didn’t utilize the full extent of it. I think I saw some other tweets saying the heroine was pretty flaky and that it was overall okay but not amazing.

    Lol those CGs are so bad wtf. I don’t understand what logic went into choosing those or cropping them the way they did lol

    Ahh well, I guess I didn’t miss out on anything by not ordering it!

    1. yea It’s such a huge disappointment the way it was directed like stop wasting time on cooking and cleaning and let me spend more individual time with each guy!!

      the only logic I have for the cropping is the CG is just plain unfinished. Like most of the game CGs look like that. I kept expecting them to “zoom out and show the full CG” but it never happened.

  2. Before I start with your awesome review I just want to say that the techno opening really surprised me like “woah wasn’t expecting club music” XD. So the plot for this game is interesting? Lol never thought of combining drama club SAW with ready player one. Too bad the execution was left unfinished. Some characters feel very trophy like the guy who wuv MC since they were children. I wish otomate would do something different and actually make the characters more realistic? I get that it’s an otome game but I would love for the guy to get fed up and just date other people like why you only focus on one girl when it’s clear she don’t love you back?
    The CGs were hilarious like who was the manager who looked at it and said “Yeah this is job well done.” Xd That one CG looked like they were about to bite each other on the mouth not kiss.
    Overall, it sucks that the game wasn’t that good ( or worse had potential but failed). Kind of weird that it had good reviews on Amazon. Usually, the majority don’t lie but Maybe it’s the new generation that has bearly started otome gaming .

    1. yea the music is honestly the best part of this game, I really like the OP a lot!
      And yea chars who basically love the heroine off the bat were the most un-interesting routes to me :/

      I don’t mind the dudes falling for her since they’re stuck in a scary situation and she’s the only girl so it’s kinda…natural I guess for it to happen BUT having them be liek OMG A GRIL at the beginning is so boring lol

      I don’t know why it got the good amazon reviews, but in my opinion it’s the bad reviews that are the ones that truly explain what is wrong with this game.

  3. That mood killing CG though. It just looks like they’re fighting and he’s about to literally eat her. At best about to have angry sex, I guess?

    I need to read the full extent of the review later, but I can definitely say this is not on my to buy list. XD

  4. Lol reading your reviews I’m glad that I don’t buy charade maniacs ( I buy zettai kaykyuu gakuen instead and I had good experience with it XD) thank you for your review of the game !

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