Strawberry Vinegar (PC) Review

By Athanasios 28.02.2016

Review for Strawberry Vinegar on PC

Visual novel creator, Ebi-Hime, decided to have a break from his usual style of storytelling, which means that, instead of something sad and depressing like Asphyxia, this one is cheerful and funny, and, despite one of the main characters being a demon from hell, very, very sugary… as well as salty, bittersweet, crunchy, spicy, juicy, cool and refreshing, aromatic, deep-fried, light and fluffy, and, generally, quite tasty. Oh, yeah. Strawberry Vinegar takes its cuisine more seriously than its actual plot.

Rie, the nine-year-old protagonist of this culinary-slash-romantic fairytale, is quite serious, mature, and cynical, despite being just a cute young 'un. To balance things out, her mum behaves like a spoiled stuck-up child, and her unbelievably naïve dad acts more like the over-sensitive mother-figure of the household by having an almost awkward love for everything pink and girly, as well as an exceptional passion - and talent - for cooking, with Rie usually being the one doing all the tasting.

After baking some cookies on her own, and just when she gets ready to enjoy them along with a glass of cool refreshing milk, she discovers that an unknown girl is gobbling them up. Sporting a pair of radiant crimson eyes, two curly horns, as well as a spade-shaped tail, this uninvited guest is surely as mysterious as she is adorable, especially for a demon straight from hell who threatens to reap Rie's soul, unless she keeps her fed for six days.

Screenshot for Strawberry Vinegar on PC

Despite this slightly, as well as unexpectedly, grim prologue, Strawberry Vinegar is just a light-hearted story revolving around the pre-teen demon Licia, her experiences with everyday Japan, her relationship with Rie, as well as how this relationship will change both of them, and, finally, food, food, and more food, with many of the choices that need to be made usually having to do with what kind of delicacy Licia should stuff her greedy mouth with.

While Asphyxia looked girly, this actually is girly, something that may disappoint some male readers. Fortunately, Ebi-Hime has, once again, used the talented hand of Sillyselly (be sure to check her out), who has simply outdone herself, a feat that deserves a hearty applause, since 99% of the "action" takes place in mundane kitchens, bedrooms, and so on - not to mention how mouth-watering she has managed to make the various dishes look.

Screenshot for Strawberry Vinegar on PC

The animation is pretty simplistic (read: almost non-existent), and, while good, the music is somewhat boring to listen to (especially the main theme), yet, as a whole, everything is generally pleasing to eyes and ears - but, of course, the audio-visuals are just an appetiser (no pun intended), with the main dish (no pun intended #2) being the story. Is it good? Well, despite being just a simple tale of the everyday antics of two young lasses, it's actually pretty good.

This is partly a coming-of-age visual novel, and partly a story with subtle yuri overtones, but, mainly, it's an easy-going comedy. It won't really lead to any rolling-on-the-floor-laughing-out-loud moments, but it's surely a cheerful experience, with some common themes being Licia's thirst for experiencing (and eating) as many things as possible during her six-day break from inferno, Rie's constantly decreasing patience, and, last but not least, her daddy's hilariously over-the-top feminine and naïve behaviour.

Screenshot for Strawberry Vinegar on PC

Gameplay-wise, there are lots of crossroads available, and most of them branch out quite nicely, something that raises the replay value substantially. The endings, however, are a bit of a disappointment. The first three are great; one is very sweet and heart-warming, another one is bittersweet, and the third is somewhere in-between. There are three more, however, which are just Game Over-type scenes, where Rie's soul gets reaped for not taking care of Licia.

This leads to something that's not so much of a problem, although it does make everything predictable, and that's that the choices - and their subsequent outcomes - are usually situations where the option is either black or white: either Rie takes care of Licia, or she is rude to her, either she buys her a crêpe, or she cooks her a meal on her own, and so on. Finally, and while Strawberry Vinegar is generally a pleasurable experience, it's a bit to short - even for a slice-of-life story.

Screenshot for Strawberry Vinegar on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Strawberry Vinegar might not be as emotive as the previous creations of Ebi-Hime, but it's entertaining nonetheless. The things that it does well? It's cheerful, well-written, oh so sweet and cute, has some heart-warming scenes, and is full of pictures of food that look so tasty that's it's hard not to experience a bit of stomach rumbling after a couple of minutes. The things that it lacks? Being the harmless easy-going tale that it is, it won't exactly shake the foundations of the genre. It's good… and that's just about it.

Developer

ebi-hime

Publisher

Sekai Project

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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