Welcome to EXPlay, (Explain & Play) the review series where we care not for scores but tell it how it is when it comes to every game we get our hands on, whilst also taking the time to include some lengthy gameplay, to give you the reader, the chance to shape your own impressions and views whilst watching and reading.

In this explanatory review, we’re covering Charade Maniacs by developer Otomate:

Charade Maniacs (The Explanation)

From the developer behind games such as Cupid Parasite, Cendrillion palikA, comes yet another otame (visual novel styled game developed for female audiences) title, this time in the form of Charade Maniacs. First released on the PS Vita, as far back as 2018, Charade Maniacs was once a Japanese exclusive, but a lot can change in five years and now, Charade Maniacs is ready for its western debut. Just keep in mind the only language you will be hearing, is in Japanese and Japanese only.

As a visual novel, Charade Maniacs is the story of Hiyori Sena, a sophomore student in high school, whose life suddenly gets turned upside down. What was meant to be a simple walk home, accompanied by a childhood friend, the pair are jumped by a masked figure, appearing behind them before swiftly abducting them.

Of course, this would be no normal kidnapping for when the pair would awaken, they would find themselves in a world different to the one they come from and the fact that there are two moons, swiftly becomes the least of their problems.

For now, they are in Arcadia, a land where dreams can come true, allegedly, but it’s going to take a lot of work and the only blessing Hiyori Sena has, is that she’s not alone for others have been taken as well and now our team of ten will have to work together to attain freedom, or die trying.

The time has come for our ten heroes to put on the show of their life by acting out little scenarios called “dramas” and earn stream points based on their performance, but there’s one little problem. The masked figure who kidnapped them, while he is the director of the show, the producer is one of the ten characters that were kidnapped and the remaining nine who are innocent, will only get one chance to guess who among them the producer is.

Now, being as though Charade Maniacs is a visual novel, players would be right to assume gameplay is next to nonexistent, outside of the typical button inputs to skip dialogue, skip scenes, enable auto progression and the like, but some minor tidbits of gameplay mechanics still remain. For instance, any player that wishes to change Hiyori Sena’s first name, you are free to do so. Also, you won’t have to rely solely on button inputs as touchscreen controls work as well.

It might even delight you to know that there is a flow chart in game, which is a handy contraption for helping players get an idea as wo where they are in the game’s story and indicates upcoming story branches, so should there be a certain path players wish to go down with certain male characters they wish to romance, the flow chart can help with that.

Then, in-between performing dramas, there are moments where players can conduct an investigation around Arcadia, visiting different locations to further Hiyori Sena’s understanding as to what is going on, whilst also getting the chance to deepen her relationships and bonds with her co-stars.

Then of course, like in many visual novels, there is a gallery mode where players can depart from the regular game and check out fun little extras that allow them to access a gallery, where all your unlocked art will be available to view from. Then when you feel up to it, you can swap still images for movie sequences or just check out the many tracks that help to make up Charade Maniacs complete soundtrack, composed by music collective, Tokyo Logic.

With multiple story paths, a traitor to sniff out, unlockable content and even a dictionary that covers information on the items mentioned in game, Charade Maniacs is a visual novel that certainly has a lot going on. With more than one male costar to romance and a multitude of dramas to perform, for lovers of otame games, there is plenty for you to fall in love with before moving on to the next one.

Charade Maniacs (The Gameplay)

Game Specifications:

Developer: Otomate
Publisher: Idea Factory
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Simulation, Adventure, Lifestyle
No. of Players: 1 (Single System)
Release Date: June 27, 2023
File Size: 2.8 GB
Nintendo.com Listing

By Jack Longman

In 2015, when rumours of the NX and Zelda U were everywhere, my brother and I started Miketendo64 and we've been running it ever since. As the Editor-in-Chief, I have attended video gaming events in three different countries, been to preview events, and penned more than 4,000 articles to date, ranging from news, to features, reviews, interviews and guides. I love gaming and I love all things Nintendo. I also love Networking, so don't be afaid to reach out. Email: contact@miketendo64.com / jack.lo@miketendo64.com Website: https://miketendo64.com/ YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyVMO4QgcniAjhLxoyc9n8Q

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