Suppose you arrive at the big city for university. Your meager scholarship won’t pay for a dorm, so you look on the internet for a place to rent and you find a decent-ish hovel to make your home. It turns out you’ll have to split it with a roommate though, and as you find out to either your joy or deep regret, that roommate is a very strong-willed girl.
This is the basic premise behind Re:Maid, an original English-language visual novel by developer Marble Syrup. Though a nukige (essentially a sex game with some story sprinkled in for effect) like Marble Syrup’s previous offering, Crusoe Had It Easy, Re:Maid gets pretty wordy, clocking in at over 100k words. It features multiple routes and endings, and while a fast reader should be able to finish it over the course of a weekend day or so, you probably won’t come out unsatisfied with the amount of content.
I’ll probably end up repeating this a lot, but it bears at least trying to get out of the way: the sprite artwork is pretty good. Like, really good.
The plot of Re:Maid puts you in the shoes of Nishi, a university freshman recently arrived in Tokyo from the countryside. At this point, the first thing that came to my mind was why set an OELVN in Japan? All things considered, Marble Syrup did a pretty good job of it – the atmosphere certainly feels authentic. You can tell at points that this isn’t a translated novel, mainly in the smooth prose and vernacular dialogue, but those are good points that don’t really take away from the Japanese ambiance.
At any rate, I digress. Back to the plot. Finding himself in Tokyo, Nishi is surprised to find that the roommate at the run down home he’s renting out is a strange, shy-but-bitchy girl named Erika – who is understandably not at all pleased at not having been informed her roommate is a man. The basic story of Re:Maid can then narrow its focus to Nishi and Erika’s strange relationship, and how it evolves into a sex-filled romance. It doesn’t have to, however, because Re:Maid incorporates multiple routes, as well as route-switching in the middle of the story. Nishi can also strike up a relationship with his sexy classmate Hana, or with offbeat, dyed hair, and hipster glasses girl Aina—if you’re into that. This totals up to over eight endings and, of course, includes the possibility to fuck up so bad that you end up alone and sexless. Through certain turns of events Nishi can also end up romancing his own cousin, his sister, an elf, and a demon among others, although this requires the use of a certain feature that I’ll go over later.
What I’m trying to get at is that if, like myself, you enjoy long reads, then with Re:Maid the content is there to give even a very fast reader multiple hours of entertainment. I had some issues with the pacing for some endings, and the writing while entertaining and fluid is not perfect, but as far as the “novel” part of a “visual novel” goes, Re:Maid holds up and does a hell of a lot better than many Japanese-original nukige, some of which, as you may have noticed from previous reviews of mine, border on the nonsensical. Score one for the English language.
And score four for two pairs of lovely breasts.
Visually speaking, Re:Maid is a treat. The backgrounds aren’t much to write home about, but at least, they’re actually drawn as opposed to some other VNs which use filtered stock photos. It’s really the sprite artwork that’s just striking, though. The girls are drawn as buxom beauties in the soft, rounded and yet incredibly shiny style of my favorite Chinese cartoons, and this carries over to the sex scenes, which are top notch and, given that this is an OELVN, completely and thankfully uncensored, not to mention numerous.
She’s a snotty bitch but a very good lover, if I do say so myself.
Re:Maid also gets a boost from being an OELVN, namely, it’s made by people who actually know integrated graphics and dedicated GPUs exist and that there are newer versions of Windows than XP. There’s an SD version available for free on Newgrounds, yes, but what’s really important is that Patreon backers get access to a full HD version in 1080p. Yes, you read that right, 1080p for a visual novel. Can you imagine? I’m reading that sentence aloud and can feel drool building up in my mouth. No more horrid tiny 800×600 windows. No more. Holy shit.
I think the resolution is more arousing than the actual fucking at this point. Damn.
If I had to criticize something about Re:Maid, it’s that the sound design and menu options available don’t quite match the big production values in artwork and resolution. The music isn’t unbearable by any means, but it never really rises beyond the standard piano plunking so common to VNs. A few hours after finishing another run through the game, I’d be hard press to recall a single musical theme except the one for the ringing alarm bell on Nishi’s phone, and that’s because it was so loud and persistent.
Sound effect wise, Re:Maid doesn’t really shine either. It’s not expected of nukige to have a wide array of beautiful sound effects or anything, but sex really should sound like sex, whereas in Re:Maid it sounds a bit like somebody bumping furniture against a wall. It’s almost believable the one time you fuck Hana on a bed, but not so much during all the other sex scenes.
As far as menus go, they’re really somewhat archaic. I mean, don’t get me wrong, perhaps I’m spoiled by the 1080p resolution, but I’d like a drop-down resolution menu instead of a binary HD or SD installation, as well as a way to visually save my files instead of just getting a vertical “Save File 1, Save File 2, etc.” list. That last one is pretty strange too, because the loading menu is visual and you use thumbnails to locate your saved file. The cheat menu is also rather difficult to use. It detects the cheat all by itself before you push enter, which is okay if a bit disconcerting, but it returns you to the main menu if you use the backspace key, so any spelling error means returning to the main menu, then going back in to type the word out again. Nothing too major, but still annoying.
But hey, 1080p fucking, right? I’m willing to forgive a lot for that.
This leads me to the last major feature of Re:Maid, one which is pretty unique and which I think really merits commenting on. By this, I mean cheat codes! Now, you may be wondering, what the Hell? Right? Cheat codes for a VN? But they exist. More importantly, and the reason they’re such a huge feature, is that they can radically alter not just the looks of the characters, but the content of the story. Yes, typing in “elf” or “catgirl” will give the girls elf and cat ears respectively. Typing in “cousin” will replace Hana with Nishi’s cousin Hikari, while typing “sister” will replace Erika with Nishi’s sister Eiko. Type “bitcoin” in and all the girls will be slutting around in Bitcoin-logo tramp outfits thanks to a new subplot where a Bitcoin millionaire pays them to advertise for him. This will open up even more sex scenes and scenarios for your entertainment, and beyond access to the HD version and the occasional “premium” CG, it is this most of all that makes it worth it to fork over the $10 reward tier on Marble Syrup’s Patreon, since it’s a ton of extra content, so much so that cheats can only be activated at the start of a new game, because that’s how much they change the story.
Another really interesting bit is that the cheats are also combinable, even the ones like “sister” and “cousin” which greatly affect the story. So yes, if you ever wondered how it’d feel to fuck a Mary Sue straight out of a 13-year-old girl’s fanfiction, you can turn the girls into elven catgirl demon zombies.
So if you think about it, it’s like a fantasy VN too!
Now, having gone over the last important feature, for the bottom line: Re:Maid is a really good nukige, with fantastic production values, a lot of zest to the writing, uncensored, originally in English, and with tons of content. The story, though it features well-crafted prose, has occasional pacing problems near the endings (I felt rushed at times), but it’s definitely entertaining. Sound effects and music are rather lackluster, though not atrocious or anything. The full premium paid version with cheats and extra CGs features full HD and a shitload of extra content which really justifies the $10 price. All in all, I recommend it, and you won’t regret spending an afternoon or three with it.
If you’re interested in trying out Re:Maid, the SD version is available on Newgrounds here . If my gushing over 1080p and the cheats convinced has you, the premium version is available for $10 at Marble Syrup’s Patreon here . Keep in mind that while some backer rewards are available instantly, some are password locked until Patreon processes your first payment at the closest first of the month, so if you don’t want to wait, you can also pay directly with Bitcoin, as detailed here.