Loca-Love My Cute Roommate Review – Signing a Lease on Your Heart

    Title: Loca-Love - My Cute Roommate
    Developer: Frontwing
    Release Date: October 25, 2018
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Frontwing USA
    Genre: Eroge

When you see a visual novel titled “My Cute Roommate”, what do you expect that it is going to be about? Some sort of dating sim, maybe involving a cute roommate? The title doesn’t leave much to the imagination does it? Well, you’d be exactly right. In Frontwing’s latest English visual novel Loca-Love My Cute Roommate, what you see really is, what you get.

Taking up the perspective of an ordinary high school student, Aoi Ichitaro, Loca-Love tells the story of a boy who runs into a lovely spot of trouble when an explosion renders his apartment unavailable. Whilst 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 stay, revealing that she’s the titular “cute roommate”. And so begins their life together, which very quickly turns into a sugar-filled romance of sorts.

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The fact the game was developed by Frontwing should clue you in pretty quickly about the catch. The game, by default, is pretty safe for work, however, you can download a free R18 patch from their website adding a collection of H-scenes to the title. Which are totally optional.

If this is what you came for, which will be likely 90% of the players, you’ll be glad to hear the CG art is consistently very good and I can’t fault it. If you’re an outlier who doesn’t want to use the patch, you’ll be glad to hear that you won’t be missing out on any really important lines and the title runs perfectly enough without them.

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More importantly, the game is absolutely right calling Hiwa cute in the title. The combination of pastel color schemes, well-done character art and Tsuruya Haruto’s fantastic voice acting culminate in the dictionary definition of the word. The character herself is extremely endearing, sweet, and practically a joy to have on screen. Which is nice because she’s the only other lead aside from Ichitaro.

Ichitaro is almost always unseen and is quite bland so as to achieve his role as player wish fulfillment. I do feel he could have been written better since his only real personality trait is being sometimes perverted. It’s not a defining trait, but it’s frustratingly apparent when you follow up internal narration like, “Her small frame heavily accentuates her voluptuous breasts” with, “Gah, I’m such a hopeless romantic.” Please, don’t do that.  

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The only other grievance I do have with the game is the side characters. Whilst the impacts of other characters is minimal, I do feel there should have been at least a CG or two with some background characters there. Since there are only two other characters with portraits, Nio and Yachiyo, who have next to no screentime themselves, leaves the setting of the game feeling extremely empty.

This is accentuated by the fact that these two characters have major introductions in the game’s opening animation which depicts them in situations that aren’t seen in the title. I did find out after doing some research and reading their Kickstarter that Frontwing does plan on making ‘Loca-Love’ a series, which explains why this occurred but doesn’t justify it for the purpose of this particular title.

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There’s no real story depth to this title either. It’s a short kinetic visual that’s just comprised of chapters where the two leads end up doing cute stuff together. There are no stakes, no tensions, no lives in danger, no love triangles, or no problems to fix. That’s actually not a problem in the slightest though because the game is short enough to easily make it work, and knows exactly what to do to counter it.   

While the story and characters lack depth, in true Frontwing style, the UI certainly doesn’t. Chapter skips, text modifiers, log jumping, individual sound modifiers, touch controls for tablet support, every option you could possibly think of and more is contained in that beautiful options menu. Hiwa being the system voice was also a really good touch. I probably spent a solid five minutes in the options menu going over everything. My favorite is easily the formatting of the 4:3 aspect ratio, which puts the text box below the main game window leaving it to emulate a widescreen viewing without stretching anything.

The way the game moves between locations with all manner of transitions and title cards adds to a very satisfying feeling of progression which is quite charming. The game will also zoom into a background CG and then pan across it, which adds literal movement to a screen which is great for pulling the player in.

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As mentioned earlier, the art is consistently good looking but the game has one more trick up its sleeve. That is, these absolutely adorable chibi graphics, which carry their own small animations, and combined with all these other small movements, keep the player invested in a story where for all intents and purposes, almost nothing happens.

If you’re looking for an eroge to fill you with sweet thoughts this Friday night, then this the title for you. It’s extremely sweet and vanilla, to the point it’s a serviceable visual novel even without the H scenes. If Frontwing does continue Loca-Love as a series I’ll be interested to see where they go from here. As for what they delivered with this release as a stand-alone visual novel, I think they could have put a little more effort into the plot.

Score:
7.5/10
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