Whenever I play otome games, most of the time, the company behind them is either Otomate, Prototype, or even Extend or Broccoli. But more often than not, you see many developers and publishers trying their best to carve a niche inside the genre. After looking at Bacchanalia, though, it was clear that…it takes more effort than ever to make a compelling title, let alone one that manages to be even good.
Bacchanalia starts its story by introducing you to Hua Ping, a young girl who just graduated from college. All of a sudden, her mother falls ill due to overwork, and thus, she begins to scramble for ways to pay her mother’s treatment. Her solution? Join the entertainment industry to earn a little extra money on the side.
However, much to her dismay, even after landing a job, she is constantly bullied by the people around her. One such antagonist immediately makes an appearance is Mia, a snob idol who has garnered tons of fans and uses her connections to prevent Hua Ping from getting any work. However, when all hope is lost, she is suddenly transported to a magical place known as The Theater, where one can have any wish granted, so long as one completes their tasks.
In doing so, she meets a lot of new faces, from the young idol she met at a TV station to the CEO of one of the most prestigious entertainment companies. Still, I’m going to rip off the Band-Aid and say that their introductions are…not good. Mostly, they’re placed as “coincidental meetings” and don’t seem to improve later.
Still, several aspects of the game clearly show that Bacchanalia was released in an unfinished state because the story is riddled with plot holes, and it doesn’t do an excellent job of explaining any of the plots points it gives you and focusing on the love interests appears to be almost non-existent. Furthermore, it abruptly ends after Chapter 10, with a “to be continued…” just leaving a lot of questions unanswered. And if that wasn’t enough, it seems virtually impossible to max out your affection with the love interests, presumably because the story isn’t finished yet.
Many UI elements were left untranslated, and the translation is also an inconsistent mess, with awkward grammar typos and phrasing that are hard to ignore. To my eye, it doesn’t look like complete machine translation because there are some traces of good writing. Still, it might as well be because even the Love Catch system, a ubiquitous feature in modern otome games, has the character’s name of whose relationship you just increased with your choice simply untranslated.
And don’t get me started on the font. It’s decently readable, but it suffers from a curse I’m all too familiar with, and that is with specific glyphs not displaying as they should. Location names are also just…weirdly spaced out. The UI was not designed to support English, and it shows. In addition, Bacchanalia seems to suffer from a memory leak issue because performance gets increasingly worse, to the point that animations feel like a PowerPoint slideshow.
As a side note, in Chapter 6, the main character’s hair is entirely blonde, despite previous chapters showing her brown hair, and no mention of her dying hair ever crops up in the game’s log. I thought the inconsistency was only in the translation, but it seems to have also seeped into the art design. Shame because this game has fully voiced Chinese voice lines, and the art style isn’t half-bad either.
Bacchanalia seems to be an otome game that would fit all the checkmarks of what you’d expect from the genre, and while it is available for a relatively low cost of entry, that doesn’t excuse the fact that it is severely unfinished. From its awkward, inconsistent translation to even the plot having more holes than Swiss cheese, this title clearly should’ve just gone full-on Early Access, and I hope the developers are true to their word with their promise of fixing it all in the coming months.
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