Arcade Spirits Review – An Old-School Place to Experience Romance

    Title: Arcade Spirits
    Developer: Fiction Factory Games
    Release Date: February 12, 2019
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: PQube
    Genre: Visual Novel

To be honest, before starting Arcade Spirits I had mixed feelings about it. I wasn’t sure what to expect since this game doesn’t seem like it has that much of a plot. To put it simply, Arcade Spirits looked more like a weird and crazy game, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. However, after playing through the game, I was pleasantly surprised. I found myself constantly laughing at the game’s hilarious references and weird dialogues that made Arcade Spirits a lovely game to experience.

The story of Arcade Spirits begins in 20XX, Ari Cader is unemployed and her best friend suggests her to use an app that will help to find her ideal job. She’s hesitant at first, but we all know she is dying to try her new app out. A weird AI, with the name Iris, pops out of her screen and takes her to her new future job. Ari is very surprised at first because Iris recommends her to work at an arcade called Funplex. Nonetheless, she is still curious and ends up applying for the job. Lucky for her, the arcade needs a replacement for a guy who recently quit and so she is hired. This arcade is a place where everyone is fighting for the same thing: To fulfill one’s dreams. Ari ends up meeting many different people with unique personalities, so it’s possible that along with this new job, she can find also find love.

As I already implied, each character is special in their own way. Arcade Spirits mainly revolves around relationships and interactions of the characters with each other. While you spend more time with a character, you get to know them better, which includes learning about their past. The story really focuses on a unique story for each of the characters. This also applies to each personality in Arcade Spirits. The story is very light-hearted and it starts off slow, so if you’re expecting a serious game, you should look for another visual novel. Arcade Spirits, though, is so weird that it’ll end up making you blush, laugh, and get embarrassed. I enjoyed how the story brought these people together in a way that made it believable that they all care about one another.

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Arcade Spirits is a highly customizable game. You can not only choose a forename and surname at the beginning of the game, but you can also optimize your character and choose your own hairstyle along with your hair, eye, skin, and clothing color. There aren’t really many options available though, as the hairstyles only contain three different choices, which felt more like deciding on the hair length instead of an actual hairstyle.

Also, you can only change the color for your hoodie, but not your whole outfit per se. Since there is an option to decide the pronoun for yourself (He/She/They), you can basically even chose if you want to play as a male or female. You should keep in mind that the character looks quite manly because the customizable options are very limited and you can actually see that they have tried to make the character sprite unisex. I suppose you could also interpret that she’s simply a tomboy, even though it looks quite weird when she is wearing a proper dress. On the other hand, the other characters in the game look decent.

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While playing Arcade Spirits, there are various different choices and of course endings available. There are a total of seven romanceable characters, three guys and four girls, so you’re free to create your own Yaoi or Yuritopia. When you’re deciding on an answer, you can gain points for your personality. In total there are five different personalities you can aim for: Quirky, Steady, Kindly, Gutsy, and Basically. They’re also labeled with different icons and colors, so it’s impossible to mix them up. Also, there is the option to enable the icons in the choices, so you can always see what answer will give you which trait point. There’s also the option to turn it off, so it’s possible to just enjoy the game and make your choices naturally. During the game, each choice you make influences the story and offers a different outcome.

The artwork is pretty and colorful, even the text bar is decorated with neon lights. It fits in with its arcade theme. The soundtracks are lively and jumpy as well, yet there is a serious tune when it’s necessary. The only thing I really disliked was that Ari looked like a guy. Instead of making a unisex model, they could have designed a proper female and male sprite. It feels a bit off when you play as a female character because of how manly she looks. Additionally, Arcade Spirits is partially voiced, during key scenes and emotional reaction lines. The English audio sounds decent, which makes it a shame that the whole game didn’t receive more recorded lines.

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So, in the end, would I recommend Arcade Spirits? While it has its flaws, it was an enjoyable experience. Most of all, Arcade Spirits’ writing is hilarious, which made it fun getting to know the characters better. You should definitely keep in mind that this game doesn’t rely on a good story, but instead on character development. If you don’t mind a slow-paced game with a lot of Slice-of-Life elements and less serious tone, playing Arcade Spirits is definitely a nice way to spend your evening.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Lynn Caramella

an enthusiastic writer, who spends her free-time with rather uninteresting and boring things, while absolutely being in love with cute and girly stuff.