The themes of eroge visual novels aren’t always unique, yet we keep coming back for more. For example, Marshmallow All the Way Home has its protagonist working at a patissêrie, where a handful of adorable girls are employed. See, nothing out of the ordinary, but with a title like Marshmallow, how could keep away from seeing how sweet this narrative is?
Marshmallow All the Way Home tells the story of a young man called Ryo Miyahara, who ends up homeless after the death of his guardian. Living in a park, he drops out of school and finds himself unable to survive. As a result, he almost faints from hunger but is saved by a cute girl who offers him a piece of cake.
As he ends up in her debt, Miyahara decides to work at her patissêrie, Marshmallow Tree. It’s a cute, laid-back shop with only three girls, but it’s in a dire pinch. Only one customer buys there, so it is likely to close soon due to financial difficulties.
The young boy’s presence will have a significant impact on the store. After learning about the situation, Miyahara and the girls do their best to overcome this crisis. This is one of those stories where the staff becomes a sort of found family, and their efforts become a central element of the plot.
At first, Marshmallow Tree has three girls: the owner Kanon, the manager and cook Ushio, and the waitress JC. Kanon is an optimistic girl who lost her parents and now does her best to continue her family business. She is very considerate of others and tries her best to help anyone, even if she comes across as a little nosy.
Ushio is her longtime friend who used to study under Kanon’s father. Though she’s still improving her cooking skills, she’s a very reliable person who’s always doing her best. Though she looks small, she tries to act as an older sister since she’s surprisingly the oldest of the bunch, JC notwithstanding. Her size bothers her, as she doesn’t handle being treated like a kid well.
Though not a romance option for the protagonist, JC is a helpful hand in all routes. She’s initially wary of Ryo since the other two girls can be a little naive, especially Kanon. However, once she learns about his true nature, she’s just as mellow as the other girls. She’s very empathetic, and her unique, slang-filled speaking style is part of her charm.
As the story unfolds, the group also gets to know a children’s books writer named Sasa. Following a successful novel, she now faces writer’s block. With a very timid personality, she’s often apologizing just for existing with absurdly detailed comments that can be a little funny.
Another potential love interest is Raiha, a half-Finnish, half-Japanese girl known as a genius patissier. Her skills are indeed tremendous as she’s able to make cakes faster and better than anyone as if she was one with her tools. However, there was a lot of effort behind how she got to this level. The reasoning behind it impacts her backstory.
There are other side characters with only a few having illustrations but also feeling important to the story. Some of them can be a little inconsistent but contribute to the feeling of a close-knitted community. As everyone sticks together, this sense of unity moves the plot in a very comfortable, enjoyable way. For players who also played other Marmelade games, it’s also neat to see the small cameos from the Primal Hearts duology.
I loved the characters and the comfy feeling of seeing a good group doing their best despite all adversities in their backstories (including the protagonist’s). However, while Marshmallow All the Way Home‘s story can have some emotional moments and curious developments in the first half, the routes themselves feel a little lacking.
While spending more time with the girls and seeing their relationships with the protagonist bloom is enjoyable, it loses any sense of engagement. The second half comes off as if it’s holding back so the couple can enjoy their time together by solving the significant conflicts in the first half. This is particularly egregious in Raiha’s story, which pretty much skips the most important threads for the sake of a simpler wrap-up.
The game could have been an even more impressive experience but stuck with a straightforward orthodox approach. However, if you’re looking for a comfortable read, this should be good enough. The CGs, mostly sex scenes, are very well drawn with enticing angles, with Raiha’s and Sasa’s routes being particularly impressive in this sense as the two have some peculiar quirks.
The soundtrack isn’t noteworthy, with simple music that’s not memorable in the slightest. There is, however, one specific track that sounds more like an annoying noise. It is supposed to be a piece of music to simulate ambient silence, but it’s grating on the ears. However, the character voices are fantastic, doing an excellent job at giving life to all characters.
Marshmallow All the Way Home is an enjoyable, comfortable experience. While the routes themselves feel a little underdeveloped, spending time with the cast is a pleasure, especially when you’re feeling tired and just want some short bits of soft, fluffy life. The game provides readers exactly what they came for, and that’s all I was looking for, even if that doesn’t shake the genre up in any significant way.
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