Loca-Love My Commuting Crush Review – On the Train to Happiness

    Title: Loca-Love My Commuting Crush
    Developer: Frontwing
    Release Date: August 20, 2020
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Frontwing
    Genre: Visual Novel

With a title like “My Commuting Crush,” what do you expect the game to be about? Some sort of emotional and compelling romance, perhaps involving having a crush on someone who takes the same public transport service as you? To be honest, the title doesn’t leave much to the imagination when it comes to Frontwing’s latest English visual novel to come west, Loca-Love My Commuting Crush. What you see is what you get.

In Loca-Love My Commuting Crush, players take the perspective of an ordinary high school student, Aoi Ichitaro. Ichitaro runs into a lovely spot of trouble when a burst pipe renders his apartment unavailable due to flooding. So, while the landlord gets to work on building repairs, Ichitaro is left looking for some temporary accommodation. Luckily for him, his co-worker, Kojika Hiwa, offers him a place to- hang on a second. That’s not right; that’s the plot of the previous entry, Loca-Love My Cute Roommate.

So Loca-Love My Commuting Crush actually takes place in a parallel universe where the first thing Aoi did was call his parents who were able to spontaneously convince some relatives to let him stay with him. This has the downside of meaning Ichitaro’s journey home has increased from a ten-minute train ride to an hour-long train adventure. On the upside though, it means he’s catching the train home with Nio Aritagawa, a popular girl in his class who he is crushing on hard. In other words, his commuting crush. There’s the title folks.

For whatever reason, this game was banned from Steam a year ago. So if you wanted to pick this up, you’d need to go through other online storefronts, which means no hunting through extra links for R18 patches. A good thing because this game would have been tricky to cut down. It’s like 90% hornier than the previous entry with constant throwbacks to those H-scenes.

Loca Love My Commuting Crush 3

Nio is an odd character as well, and she doesn’t have the same sort of cohesive setup that Hiwa had. There’s a real lack of character exploration for her until the very end, playing a passive role. All they can really muster otherwise is a couple of pieces of narration over a single re-used flashback scene between Nio and her grandmother. Additionally, she’s got a pretty crude and lewd introduction that I’m just not going to go into for the sake of age rating this review.

Luckily, the CGs and character art are fantastically drawn, and the voice acting adds a lot to the overall experience. There is less fluffy cute stuff happening during the narrative compared to My Cute Roommate, but it does manage to become quite charming during its final scenes. That’s because this tale, while very short and shallow, does have an ‘arc’ involving Aoi’s attempts to figure out how Nio thinks and how he can become closer to her.

Loca Love My Commuting Crush 1

In this end, It’s incredibly minimal, but it leads to some of the later scenes gaining a bit more weight to them. Not like the story is trying to accomplish much more than the bare minimum, but it’s short enough to make that work.

Aoi is almost always unseen and is quite bland, doing nothing more than necessary to fulfill his role as player wish fulfillment. I really do feel he could have at least expressed some sort of interest in, literally, any topic because his only real personality trait is being a pervert every now and then. At least he has some cute chibi sprites for things.

Loca Love My Commuting Crush 2

The sequences for the heroines of other titles are more functional this time and amusing than they were in the previous entry, but it still doesn’t stop the world from feeling just as empty as it did before due to the lack of other background characters.

While the story and characters lack any real depth, in classic Frontwing style, the UI never fails to disappoint as it’s full of options. Chapter skips, customization modifiers for the text log, jumping, individual sound modifiers, touch controls for tablet support, every option you could possibly think of, and more are contained in that perfect and pastel options menu. Nio taking the place of the system voice is also a pleasant touch. The way the game shifts between scenes with its collection transitions and title cards creates a very satisfying feeling of “chapter clear” after each sequence, which I will always enjoy. The game will also zoom into a background CG, pan across it, or mess with the focus, which is a great little tactic for pulling in the player’s focus.

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Loca-Love My Commuting Crush is a quick and satisfying game to play alone on Friday night. It’s not dripping with fluffy romance like its predecessor, but it does provide a bit of substance that expands upon the better moments of storytelling this series offers. Regardless of why you play it, there’s enough to look forward to in the next installment, Loca-Love: My Pure Priestess.

Score:
7/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Jacob Kavanagh

Staff Writer - Illusions to illusions. Will solve murder mysteries for money so he can buy more murder mysteries. @JacobPFZE on twitter