Most people have friendships while growing up with people that they never see again caused by a long distance move or changing of schools. Thinking back on it now, it would be interesting to go and try and see what some of these people that I grew up with are up to. While this premise is touched on in the Cosen developed visual novel My Girlfriend is a Mermaid, they seem to take some huge liberties with the results of the reunion by, as the name suggests, coming to terms with a childhood friend being a mermaid.
Being that this is a Kickstarted game from a rather small studio, I was interested to see how the team pulled off this crazy premise. I must admit, I began the adventure holding onto a bit of curiousness myself about what it would be like dating a mermaid. With that said, My Girlfriend is a Mermaid is a truly outrageous and comedic romance adventure, that has plenty of content available to players who enjoy the cast, but that depends on if players enjoy the type of character tropes that this game offers.
My Girlfriend is a Mermaid has players assume the role of Hiroto, a boy who left his rural country home for the big city and years later had the urge to come back and see what has changed in the town. However, the game quickly explains these events and simply starts begins with Hiroto in front of who is believed to be his female childhood friend named Ion who was once a human girl but is now a mermaid. I don’t consider this to be a spoiler since the title gives it away. Following the reunion, Hiroto carries Ion back to town and their adventure together begins.
Throughout the story, other characters are introduced who just add to this already insane cast of established characters, a younger mermaid named Petako and a shrine priestess named Rin. These two characters are nothing close to being normal as Petako is a younger mermaid who suffers from short term memory loss and Rin has an extreme case of dissociative identity disorder where she’ll switch from a mean and hostile character to a sweet and loveable one in a matter of seconds.
During the game, players will make choices that can lead to events involving the girls or sometimes of them depending on the choice. However, the game doesn’t tell you which girl is behind a choice so it’s pretty much trial an error whenever you’re given the opportunity to decide how to spend your day. Each route is a decent length and completing the entire game will take you about 20 hours to see everything.
What’s unexpected is just how much content is here for the player to unlock. My Girlfriend is a Mermaid offers several extra stories featuring the girls after completing their respective route. These stories give the reader the chance to spend more time with the girls and learn new things about them even after the main story is complete which is a nice touch overall and gives players something extra to do after the main story is complete.
The developers are clearly trying to make all of these girls unintelligent and over-the-top to a point where anything can happen and it comes off as normal in this world. For intense, as Hiroto hangs out in the garden, an angry deer emerges, screams, and then attacks him. While this would be out of place in any other visual novel, it fits in this particular story because there’s no character here who can address the situation as a normal person would. My Girlfriend is a Mermaid has the comedic timing of a slapstick movie from the ’90s and its unapologetic to a fault given that there isn’t a character here to balance out all of these insane situations.
As the main character, Hiroto is just a simple pervert who got caught up in this story and must now deal with it. He puts up with tons of cruel jokes from the girls and several beatings to the point where it gets pretty irritating to see him get hit by the girls for the fifth time in one scene. As for the female leads, as annoying as they are, I found myself laughing quite a few times throughout the story at the things that they said. The writing in the game is actually really quick and clever and handles fast conversations well as each character hastily puts in their 2 cents and Hiroto addresses their remark only for the conversation to shift in tone within seconds, but the comedic timing is perfect.
Character designs and CGs are well illustrated and fit the character’s personalities. I was also surprised to find out that the developers included a few different wardrobe changes for the girls which isn’t something that is usually included in smaller indie games like this. The backgrounds seemed to be real life images given a watercolor effect which worked for the game, but a few of them just looked like blurs of brown and green. Additionally, the game’s UI settings are rather simple and don’t offer the same amount of customization that some players are used to from other visual novels.
Audio design was okay, and I only say okay because the girls scream and react hysterically in almost every scene of this game which can be extremely off-putting at times. It got to a point where I turned down Ion’s audio because she seemed to be the one who screamed and overreacted the most. With that said, I couldn’t help but laugh at the times where she hissed at a situation or tried to do something cool, but just ended up hitting her head.
My Girlfriend is a Mermaid is a romantic comedy with an emphasis on comedy. Every scene tries really hard to make you laugh so when the moments of romance happen, I couldn’t help but expect a frying pan to hit the main character in the face or something along those lines. This made the game’s serious moments less impactful, but the conclusion of the story does offer enough to respect the players time by delivering a well rounded ending to this relatively short visual novel. This is a visual novel for fans of slapstick comedy and fantasy situations brought to real life and the developers do not shy away from presenting it as anything else, which I can applaud them for.
My Girlfriend is a Mermaid offered much more than I expected in terms of player interaction and beautiful character design. The zaniness of the story is like a speeding train that doesn’t stop for a second after taking off in the very first scene. Even though I rolled my eyes at times, I laughed just as much and the extra story content unlocked after the game was a great way to for players to spend more time with the girls after the credits, given that they enjoy this type of humor. My Girlfriend is a Mermaid is a fun adventure that might be a little tough to get through at times for some, so while I can’t recommend it to all, the developer seems to only really care about their target audience.
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