Welcome to... Chichester OVN: The Beach (2019)
Disclaimer: I received this game for free from the developer.
Having an up-and-running curator profile with all my reviews on Steam has given Sleepy Toadstool reviews a little more exposure, and therefore different kinds of developers are reaching out. This is the second game I've received from a developer directly through Steam, and I was surprised to see that it was a visual novel from an existing franchise. Welcome to... Chichester OVN: The Beach is an anime visual novel about a group of girls who receive a strange invitation to "The Beach", where a quest turns into a haunted and cursed experience.
Second disclaimer: I’m not into these type of cheesy hot-anime-girl visual novels. However, lately I have been trying to try out different types of games so I wanted to give it a fair shot. I'm sure there's many gamers who enjoy this genre and therefore this title actual caters well to them. However, it’s definitely not me, and I’m going to review it very bluntly and honestly from how I felt about it. I will call this game The Beach, as the full title is quite a mouthful.
I looked up the Welcome to… Chichester franchise before starting this game and found that there were quite a few more games within this universe. It wasn’t clear what order they go in or how they connect to one another, but I was given a description said that you did not need to have played the other games to understand this one. For most of the game, this is true. However, near the end there is a mention of all of these names and organizations that were never explained to you, so I didn't really understand what they were talking about. I wanted to look up some sort of series summary but I couldn’t find one, and I also can’t find any further information on the developers; they don't seem to have a website from what I could find.
As soon as I booted up The Beach I had a bad feeling. The title screen was so disorganized and all over the place that the actual title text just blocking character faces. When you start a new game, you’re given 3 choices of character - male, female, and "random". For a second, when I saw a third choice, I got excited that this game might let you choose a different gender identity. However, random just picks randomly between male and female. Not really sure if that’s a very useful option.
The Beach feels like it was written by someone who doesn't know what women actually sound like when they interact with each other. I know, harsh. The writing is that bad, though. I played as the female protagonist, and basically every character conversation the entire game was bickering and constantly insulting each other, often about boob sizes? I’m sure it’s meant to have quirky anime humor but even the trashiest harem animes are a little more realistic than this. The type of relentless childish jokes, insults, and punch sound effects would maybe be funny to a younger audience? I don’t know if comedy was the goal, but I didn’t laugh a single time, it was constantly just uncomfortable. I decided to try the male protagonist for a little bit just to see if it would be any different. Basically, the bickering and undermining is all the same except there’s less unwanted sexual advances happening to you from the other characters (rolls eyes) and there’s no more “jokes” about your boob size. I didn’t play the entire game again as a guy, so I don’t know what other changes there might have been further on.
Now that I’m done ranting, I’ll talk about the things that were good in The Beach. The background art has a smooth and bright hand-painted style. These background are all colorful and they portray well what environment you’re in. The game also kicks off with an music video type of intro, with a fun pop anime-intro style song. It’s the most visually-appealing part of the game for sure, even the text looks clean and polished. It contrasts so strongly with the actual aesthetics of the game (especially the title screen) that it makes me think someone else completely worked on this part.
I actually took a LOT of screenshots during this game so I could show specifics about issues I refer to in this review. When I finished the game I realized all the screenshots were bugged - they all were screenshots of title screen. Apparently this game can't take screenshots in full-screen mode for some reason. Below is the only screenshot I went back to get because I'm not going to go through the game all over again; I do wish I could show all the moments from this game that just had me very confused and bothered.
The Beach has some quality art and music, but unfortunately the writing made the game difficult to continue through. It tries to kick in the humor, but it's so juvenile and misogynistic that it's not really any fun to read. If you're an avid fan of anime visual novels, despite how messy the writing and characters are, then maybe you'll have an okay time with this. However, I really can't recommend it at all. I think I've learned to know my own game interests and perhaps in the future just reject requests from games that will obviously not be enjoyable to me.
Welcome to.... Chichester OVN: The Beach is available on PC.
Played on: PC
Playtime: 1 hr