BUSTAFELLOWS Gameplay Preview – Otome Visual Novel

Developed by NIPPON CULTURAL BROADCASTING INC, published by PQube Limited – July 30, 2021 (S, PC)
*MSRP: $39.99 – https://store.steampowered.com/app/1494470/BUSTAFELLOWS/

Bustafellows is a visual novel of the otome genre. You play as Teuta, a young journalist who has the power to travel back in time a short distance. The catch is that she ends up in a complete stranger’s body. She is forced into using this power when she stumbles into the dying Limbo, the infamous “crooked” lawyer of New Sieg, in an attempt to save his life.

Teuta uses her time travel powers in an attempt to prevent the assassination of Limbo Fitzgerald.

Before we start on the game, I’d like to note here that the game originally came out on the Nintendo Switch and was recently ported to the PC. The PC port has some technical drawbacks. Namely, the keyboard shortcuts are not explained anywhere and there is no option to quit out of the game as of the writing of this article. You must close the game in windowed mode or use ALT-F4. The game uses the HOME, END, PG UP, and PG DN keys as the main inputs for menu, roll back dialogue, auto skip on, auto skip off respectively. F1 and F2 are used for quick load and quick save respectively. The resolution also seems to be set to 720p and does not scale that well on other resolutions.

Now that we got that out of the way, I found myself enjoying Bustafellows quite a bit. The pacing of the narrative is quite slow at the start but it slowly ramps up. The characters and the narrative were to my liking. It does lean a bit towards stereotypical anime tropes but it didn’t take away from the experience. I guess to others, depending on their preference, this could be a bonus.

The game does a great job of introducing different plot threads into the story and weaving them together into an interconnected narrative. For example, the game introduces elements of mystery early on with an interview with a suspected murder who leaves behind clues to a secret organization. The game drops tidbits here and there to keep you interested while continuing to develop the main plot.

There are small moments where characters are just conversing about live, like Teuta trying to find a new place to live.

The game also takes the time to develop the characters. There are small, insignificant and droll moments where the characters are just interacting with each other as one would in real life. It creates plenty of time for the player to get to know the characters. The cast of characters is quite large and each has their own unique personality, though at times some of them do come off as a bit one dimensional.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and found myself enjoying Bustafellows. I normally don’t play a lot of visual novels, especially otome visual novels, but I found myself invested in the narrative and characters. Visual novels definitely are not for everyone but some may find themselves enjoying it like I did if people gave it a chance.

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