Title: The Fox Awaits Me
Release Date: April 16, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Genre: Mystery Visual Novel
I find it interesting when the title of a game says everything you need to know about it. In the Cosen-developed mystery thriller, The Fox Awaits Me; you can probably guess that there’s going to be a fox that is waiting for you somewhere. However, what you might not have assumed is that underneath all of its cuteness, this is one dark and bloody visual novel.
The Fox Awaits Me introduces us to Kaito, our male protagonist, who wakes up in a bamboo field without a memory. As he looks around, he ends up running into a fox girl named Shua, who is crying for his attention. Evidently, she remembers him quite well and has even been looking for him for some time now. As she leads him back home, some things don’t seem to match up, and you are left with trying to piece together who to trust.
In later parts of the story, Kaito meets a Mountain Deity named Mim and a Grim Reaper named Karin, who add a bit of clarity to his situation. However, each character resembles someone you’d meet in Alice in Wonderland. They talk in circles and move around the screen sporadically, which only left me more confused. If Shua knew Kaito so well and even lived with him, I’m not sure why they didn’t sit down and have her explain everything to him.
Well, I guess this could be explained by saying that you can’t trust a damn thing any of these characters say. Everything is a joke with them that refers to something sexual. They are continually making advances on Kaito but then laugh at him when he tries to act on it, or something pops up from the left of the screen to stop anything from happening.
Being that this is a mystery visual novel, these strange characters do add to the game’s dark theme. During each conversation, you get little bits of what is real and what is fake, but you are never given the whole picture, at least during one playthrough. There are several bad endings here where Kaito meets his untimely end. These scenes typically come out of nowhere, but they act as a way to remind you that this isn’t just a perverted story about trying to date fox girls and grim reapers.
Playing this visual novel is like experiencing a conversation with the fast forward button turned on. These characters are just overly witty and clever, which turns every moment of dialogue into a punch line set up that doesn’t flow naturally, even if it’s funny. Regardless of this fact, I couldn’t stop reading their insane interaction. Surprisingly, I also found myself laughing at what they were saying.
The text is kept relatively brief during dialogue scenes. Characters pretty much wrap up everything they have to say in one sentence, and then someone else will say their sentence, and so on. Thankfully, the developers took the Switch’s handheld mode into account and made the text large enough to see on any screen. Still, I never like scenes that waste my time with dialogue that is just “…” over and over as the characters make sounds.
I really liked the character illustrations and the animations that the characters displayed throughout the entire game. Their movements generally fit the character’s tone and emotions, and it added a bit to the mystery of it all when the themes became darker. However, I didn’t like how the characters moved across the screen nearly every sentence. They would just disappear and reappear somewhere else. The backgrounds in the game are far better than the developer’s previous titles. However, some scenes look like a blob of colors.
The Japanese audio is fantastic, and I appreciate the actors really selling these eccentric and haphazard characters. It really showed just how crazy they are without overdoing it too much. There are also random sound effects used like slaps and bonks, which resembled someone getting hit, but sometimes, they were just inserted into random places, which I didn’t understand.
Kaito is a far better protagonist than what the developers have delivered before. However, I don’t think this game needed as many comedic moments as it had. They set up a great foundation within the first hour, full of doubt, mystery, and anxiety, which kind of falls flat in the later parts as you let your guard down. The worst part is is that the true ending doesn’t really deliver as well as it could have, yet, I was pretty hooked across each of the other endings. I should also mention that there isn’t an auto-save feature, so I encourage that you save during each choice made as they do weigh heavily on the characters and which routes you end up on.
The Fox Awaits Me doesn’t seem like it would be a gripping thriller, and yet, it is. There were moments during the story where I was entirely at the edge of my seat, but then the writers decided to put some perverted joke in that hurt the pacing tremendously. Thankfully, the thrill survives thanks to the desire to figure out the truth. I would really like to see a mystery from this team without so much reliance on jokes and puns. For now, The Fox Awaits Me is an excellent way to spend a weekend.
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