Review: Sweet Fuse: At Your Side

by

Developer: Idea Factory, Comcept
Publisher: Aksys Games
Platform: Playstation Portable (PSP/PS Vita)
Release Date: June 14th, 2012(Japan), August 28th, 2013(USA)

The last game available in retail stores in North America for the PSP, Sweet Fuse is an Otome mystery-solving Visual Novel.

The game’s characters are hostages inside a theme park. The protagonist, along with 6 others, is then forced into a survival game, in which the lives of the other hostages are at stake. Solving the puzzles is the key to surviving and discovering the secrets that bind all the characters together, as well as to romance the character of your choice.

Story

This game’s setting is very similar to Danganronpa’s plot, except it’s an Otome game. Unlike Danganronpa, there is no map movement or any investigation that need to be carried out, becoming a classic, linear Visual Novel.

Although game’s choices aren’t very difficult to figure out, the game’s larger underlying plot makes the story interesting enough for you to care for the developments.

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Gameplay

A classic Visual Novel combined with basic romance mechanics. You may get bad endings during the game by making bad decisions, and you may also get a bad ending at the very end if you do not get enough romance points with the character whose route you picked. Beyond the 3rd chapter, depending on your choices, you will automatically enter one of the male character’s routes.

Several times during the puzzle solving, there is a mini-game in which you recollect events and find the answer to the current dilemma the group is facing. Failing this mini-game results in a game over.

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Sound

Sweet Fuse’s audio is rather average. The musical themes for each of the chapters are fitting for the atmosphere of each challenge the crew is facing, but otherwise none of the other tracks are memorable.

Graphics

Each of the male character’s models fits the stereotype for which they are writen. The protagonist herself is a rather bland girl, the same way the protagonists in male-oriented games are boring and generic. Each character has quite a large number of CG images related to the events of his route, and the art itself is of good quality.

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Downsides

Failing to trigger the specific romance events in each of the routes will cause you to miss the CG and the ending for the character you’ve picked, which will force you to replay that route in order to see the true ending of the story.

Furthermore, although the game’s plot and story are interesting to follow, it feels as if the challenges and puzzles aren’t hard enough. More mysteries and a bit of non-linearity would go a long way towards making the gameplay more engaging.

Overall

Sweet Fuse: At Your Side has a quick start and an interesting plot, but rather bland execution. The mechanics are the classical otome-game formula, which might seem archaic to those who aren’t particular fans of this genre. A game worth playing for Visual Novel fans, on the PSP.

Pros:
– Classic Otome game mechanics
– Interesting plot

Cons:
– Generic music and art
– The characters are bland stereotypes

The Reviewer has given this game a Final Grade of 5/10.